Flying windmills!

“Energy”, don’t know how many times we use this word, but we surely use energy everyday. By now, we know what renewable energy sources are( if not go ahead and click here Renewable).

One of the most effective renewable sources of energy is wind energy, till now we have seen only the windmills on the ground producing energy. But, here are the new ones that are situated above the ground so called “Flying Windmills”.

So, what is the reason to put the windmills above the ground? Well… Higher altitudes offer upto five times stronger winds that are also consistent.

This thing flies with the help of helium filled shell. The airborne wind turbine will be held steady by making use of strong tethers which will also transfer the electricity generated to ground. And Flying windmills are actually tested!

Ben Glass, is the one who came with this idea. Learn more about these flying windmills from the video below.

And please do visit informaticcoolstuff.in

 

Solar Panel! How does it work?

“Energy”, one of the most important necessities worldwide. There are a lot of ways to generate energy, creating energy through sun is termed as “Solar energy”. To generate energy from sun we use solar cells, solar modules and solar panels, and what are all these different terms? Well… Solar cells are often bundled together to make larger units called solar modules, and solar modules coupled into even bigger units known as solar panels. When the sun light falls on a solar cell, electric energy is generated!

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Firstly solar panels harness solar energy from the sun in individual solar cells. The energy is then transferred to an inverter which converts it to electricity, suitable for use in your home.

A semiconductor material such as silicon absorbs particles of light when the sun shines on the photovoltaic cells (PV cells) within solar panels. Particles of electricity (electrons) which are negatively charged, begin to flow through the solar cells in a single direction, which means that a current is created. The solar panels are constructed from a series of interconnected cells.

Is it that simple? Well.. Actually a lot is happening inside the solar panel, that is what we are gonna see now.

Solar cell is made of? Solar cell is a sandwich of two different layers of silicon. Why silicon?? To know why, first we need to understand a few terms. Conductors: These conductors conduct electricity.. Insulators: Other materials, such as plastics, wood etc… Don’t really conduct electricity at all.. Those materials are called insulators. Now Semiconductors like silicon are neither conductors nor insulators, they only conduct electricity under certain circumstances. Those are the circumstances we are interested in, now.

This silicon is actually specially doped, That is the “circumstance” we need to let electricity flow through them in a particular way. The lower layer is doped such that it has very few electrons. It’s called p-type or positive-type silicon, Why positive? Because electrons are negatively charged and this layer has too few of them. The upper layer is doped in the opposite way to give it slightly too many electrons. It’s called n-type or negative type silicon.

Now, if  light (made of photos) falls on the solar panel, that is on the silicon cell with a sufficient amount of energy to knock out the electron from its bond. A hole is formed. And as the electron is negatively charged, the electron goes to the n-side and the hole goes to the p-side. These freely moving electrons are collected, through which an external circuit is powered…

The power generated through these solar panels is DC (Direct current). Our homes run on AC, not on DC power. The inverter changes DC to AC or alternating current.

Each silicon cell can generate only half a watt of power, which is very less.. But when, these solar cells are combined to form a solar module, the power generated is high. It is even higher in the case of a solar panel. And there is nothing wasted in a solar cell except the never ending energy emitted by the sun, so these solar panels can sustain for decades.

There is a lot of “clean” and infinite energy coming from the sun, if we could be able to make use of it, there won’t be any energy crisis anytime soon.

Black spots on one side of the moon??

If you have read my previous article( Dark side of the moon), you might be knowing that, what this article would be all about… Well.. Go ahead and read it! If no time, here’s a quick recap… Only one side of the moon face our earth all the time, due to tidal locking. Now, let’s see  how those black spots are formed on one side and no such spots on the dark side..

When we see the moon from our earth, we can see some dark spots on the moon. But when the first ever photo of the dark side of the moon was captured, unlike the side of the moon we see, it was observed that there were no dark spots on the other side of the moon!

The technical term for those black spots is MARIA. Now, the rare side or the far side consists of massive mountains but the side of the moon we see does have those black spots or MARIA, why?

Before all these, how did those blackspots were formed??

One of many theories is… A few billions of years ago, a planet sized object hit the earth and the debris due to this collision resulted in the formation of the moon. At that time Earth and moon were just two hot burning ball and as the moon was smaller compared to earth, it cooled faster than earth but the way it was cooled was uneven, this uneven cooling was because of the fact that the side of the moon that is facing the earth was still experiencing the heat due to the earth. And the side that isn’t facing the earth was cooled already, well before the side of the moon facing the Earth.

Because of this uneven cooling of the moon, one side of the moon is denser than the other, this is also responsible for the moon to slow down and causing only the bulged side of the moon to face our earth or technically the “Tidal Locking”.

When asteroids kit the moon on the dark side, massive mountains were formed, on the other hand when asteroids hit the side of the moon facing the earth, the lava eruptions took place due to the weak crust and we see the solidified lava as the black spots from the Earth.

 

Dark side of the moon!!!

When we look at the moon in the night sky, all the time we only see one side of the moon. We on Earth  never get to see the far side or the dark side of the moon! Ever thought why?

Well… Let’s see why? the Moon makes one revolution around the Earth about every 29 days, and that’s what causes the Moon phases. But the Moon also rotates once every 29 days also. Because of this, the same side of the Moon always faces the Earth. This is because of something called tidal locking.

Tidal force is like, When you are standing up, Gravity acts on you. And your feet are just a little bit closer to the center of the Earth than your head, this means that the Earth pulls with a slightly larger gravitational force on the lower half of you than the upper half. This slight difference is called a tidal force.

When something like a Moon is close enough to a planet, these gravitational tidal forces cause the Moon to spin at the same rate that it revolves around the planet. When this happens, we call it tidal locking, and that’s why we always see the same side of the Moon!

If you want to know, how tides are formed on ocean, read this What really cause tides?Also, do you know that the far side of the moon doesn’t have the dark spots like on the near side of the moon? Find out why on my next article..

 

Machines that never stop!! Perpetual motion machines?

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Ever heard of a machine which never stops! Well… Technically it’s called Perpetual motion machine. Even if we manage to create one and set it going, it would keep on going until the Big Freeze. Big Freeze is theoretically the end of everything. It’s not set to happen for another 100 trillion years or so.  If that’s a perpetual motion, then it should run for atleast that time!!! Now, you know what to say when someone says, they have built a perpetual motion machine!!

But let’s see the origin story of these perpetual motion machines. The most common of these, and the oldest, is the overbalanced wheel. In a typical version, flexible arms are attached to the outer rim of a vertically mounted wheel. An inclined trough is arranged to transfer rolling weights from folded arms on one side of the wheel to fully extended arms on the other. The implicit assumption is that the weights exert more downward force at the ends of extended arms than is required to raise them on the other side, where they are kept closer to the axis of rotation by the folding of the arms.

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One of many perpetual motion machines are continuous motion that would supposedly be possible if hindrances like mechanical friction and electrical resistivity could be eliminated. But these are not those science problems where they give “IDEAL” objects.

Some part of those forces can be minimized but they can never be completely eliminated without spending additional energy. For instance superconductive metals, whose electrical resistance disappears completely at low temperature. Unfortunately, the energy required to maintain the low temperature exceeds the work that results from the superconductive flow.

There are a lot of machines like these, though there aren’t perfect perpetual motion machines, yet they are super cool to look at them. Some of them are:

Self-winding clock:  It dirives energy from changes in the temperature or pressure of the atmosphere. It depends upon the energy delivered to the Earth by the Sun and is not, therefore, a perpetual-motion machine.

Perpetual energy generator: Of course they don’t completely fulfill our requirement, yet that’s a very good idea..

 

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With water:

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Magnetic perpetual motion machines: They are a bunch of these around. Using and playing with the attraction and repulsion properties of magnets makes it even cooler..

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I have a question for you, I have come across this image on the internet;);)… My question is, does it work? And if yes, how?

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With all this, we can conclude that, for now actual perpetual motion machines can’t be build… And please do answer the question above;);)

 

RFID! Is that the future of barcodes?

These days we see barcodes everywhere. Almost every product has a unique barcode, which contains all the information about the product. 1D barcodes can only hold a maximum of 85 characters and 2d  Barcodes can store over 7,000 characters. With 2D barcodes even complex information like expiration dates and serial numbers can be seen easily.

Before we get into RFID, let’s see how does a barcode and a barcode scanners work? 

If you look at a barcode, you can’t just make a wild guess on where one number ends and another one begins. Each digit in the product number is given the same amount of horizontal space: exactly 7 units. Then, to represent any of the numbers from zero to nine, we simply color those seven units with a different pattern of black and white stripes. So, in order to denote each number, there is a certain combination of white and black for each number from 0-9. The combination for each number is shown in the image below.

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So, how the scanner knows to read these? When light reflects back off barcode into a light-detecting electronic component called a photoelectric cell. White areas of the barcode reflect most light; black areas reflect least. The cell generates a pattern of on-off pulses that correspond to the black and white stripes.

RFID(Radio frequency identification): 

In barcodes, scanner could only scan one barcode at a time, but in RFID, a bunch of tags can be scanned at a time even from longer distances (up to 100 meters in some cases). RFID tags can be used in many places hotels, aeroplains, railways etc… With this technology in operation, you can just walk out of the grocery store with your products through the RFID scanner and without even waiting in a long billing line, get your total bill and payment done.

How RFID works?

A RFID has a tag or label and a reader. Tags are embedded with a transmitter and a receiver. The RFID component on the tags consists of a microchip that stores and processes information, and an antenna to receive and transmit a signal. The tag contains the specific serial number for one specific object.

To read the information encoded on a tag, a two-way radio transmitter-receiver called an interrogator or reader, emits a signal to the tag using an antenna. The tag responds with the information written in its memory bank. The interrogator will then transmit the information.

A passive RFID tag will use the interrogator’s radio wave energy to relay its stored information back to the interrogator.

A batter powered RFID tag is embedded with a small battery that powers the relay of information.

So, definetely it might be the future of barcodes…

Fun fact-  If a smartphone is inside an aluminum foil, covered with aluminum foil, it can’t be detected by any RFID scanner even your phone can’t recieve any calls.

 

 

Antimatter?

For every type of matter particle, there is a corresponding antimatter particle. Antiparticles look and behave just like their corresponding matter particles, except they have opposite charges.

Antimatter particles are created in ultra high-speed collisions. In the first moments after the Big Bang (learn more about it in my previous article Origin of our universe), only energy existed. As the universe cooled and expanded, particles of both matter and antimatter were produced in equal amounts. And the biggest question for which we have no answer yet is, why there is more matter than antimatter in the universe??

For instance, a proton is electrically positive whereas an antiproton is electrically negative and gravity affects matter and antimatter the same way, because gravity is not a charged property and a matter particle has the same mass as its antiparticle

In 1928, British physicist Paul Dirac came up with an equation that combined quantum theory and special relativity ( learn more about it here Special relativity), just a simple one x2=4, this equation can have two possible solutions (x=-2 or x=2), one for an electron with negative energy, and one for an electron with positive energy.

HOW CAN WE USE ANITIMATTER?

The most interesting and even frustrating fact about antimatter is, when matter and antimatter come into contact, they disappear producing energy (annihilate is the technical term for it). This led scientists to think of antimatter-powered spacecraft for more efficient space exploration. Of course that costs billions of dollars though..

Now, the frustrating part is, it is damn tough to contain antimatter because all our equipment is made of matter and as we try to put them in any of those containers, they disappear leaving back some energy. But scientist have managed to contain some antimatter for about 15 minutes, sufficient for scientific study.

So, do you have any clue about having more matter than antimatter?

Wanna know what dark matter is? visit Dark matter.

 

 

What is “BIG” data?

Before we get into “Big data”, let’s see what actually data is. Data is a value assigned to a thing. For example, assume a chocolate. For a chocolate to be unique, there are a few specifications(data) like colour, cost, type, small candy or a big chocolate. Each specification above is a data, but individual data is purely meaningless by itself.

When all those data is combined, we get meaningful “information”. This is something brief about Data. Now, let’s see what Big data is.

Previously only companies used to enter data into the computers, but now with the internet, even users (we) POST or enter huge data, it is estimated that we produce 2 quintillion (which means 1 followed by 18 zeros) bytes of data every day.

How?? For example through facebook or twitter or for that matter any social networking  website the data is given, when we signup or enter our data or post photos or even tweet makes it a data. This is kinda huge data, from just companies entering data to users entering data. Now, we even have machines entering data on a daily basis, like entering the weather information, traffic info, even satellites etc… This huge amount of data is called BIG DATA.

Big data is very useful in various fields, for example, if all the traffic data is accurately taken and processed everyday and everywhere or atleast for a confined place, then it is easy to build a self driving car with all the “traffic” awareness;) Even useful for INTERNET OF THINGS(Internet of things ) This is just a flick on how big data can be used.

Processing is nothing but getting information from the data right! So, how do we process that huge millions of bytes of data?

Well, in those old days, we used to give the data to the computers to process. But now with the tremendous amount of data, we are bringing multiple processors to the data. If you have ever seen server rooms containing data, each server contains processor to process the data.

Quick thought: Some tasks that humans find easy are still difficult for computers;)

Image from Google…

Iris Scan vs Retina Scan…

With the introduction of Iris scan on a smartphone by Samsung, Iris scan has become more popular now. On a smartphone, initially we had no locks then we had password, later on finger-print scanners. Now, to reach the higher level of security we have IRIS scanner on a smartphone.

There is still a subtle confusion among people between iris scan and retina scan. So, let’s see the difference.

Retina: it’s the thin layer that is on the inner back of the eye. The thing is even identical twins do not share the same pattern of retina. However the retina patterns can be changed in case of diabetes or degenerative disorders of the retina.

How a retina scan works?? A retinal scan is performed by sending out an unobserved low-energy infrared light beam into a person’s eye as they look into the scanning device. This beam of light traces the systematized path of the retina. As the blood vessels of the retina are more light absorbent than the rest of the eye, the amount of reflected light varies during scanning. The result received is the pattern of those variations. And that received pattern is the unique identity or life saver or atleast information saver;)

Retina scan requires a very close encounter with the scanning device, that might be one the reasons why a retina scan is not preferred on smartphones.

Iris scan: Unlike retina, iris is flat, ring-shaped tissue behind the cornea of the eye.  The color of the iris defines the eye color.

How an Iris scanner works?? Iris recognition uses video camera with infrared illumination (NIR) on the smartphone or any iris scanner to capture images of the structures of the iris.The images are turned into digital templates and stored. These templates provide a mathematical representation of the iris. It represents a unique identity.

Iris texture always remains extremely stable, doesn’t change at all, because it is internal and protected.Moreover Iris scan can be done from a distance, that is one of the reasons why an iris scan is being used on smartphones.

 

 

What is Gravitational lensing?

Gravitational lensing is extremely helpful in discovering new things in our universe, how? let’s see that in a bit. Gravity itself is fascinating, when a phenomenon occurs where there is something to do with both Gravity and light, that’s something amazing.

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From Einstein’s theory of relativity, we know that mass curves the space around it. This is where the phenomenon called  Gravitational lensing comes into picture. Light gets deflected(or bends) when it travels along the curvature of space and time containing a massive object, this phenomenon is called  Gravitational lensing.

Astronomers use gravitational micro-lensing to detect planets around other stars. The foreground star acts as a lens for a background star. As the star brightens up, you can detect further distortions which indicate there are planets. It help discover new planets. But the thing is, they are very rare events.

It was first observed by Arthur Eddington and Frank Watson Dyson in 1919 during a solar eclipse. The stars close to the Sun appeared slightly out of position, showing that the light from the stars was bent.

Gravitational lensing acts as a magnifying glass for distant objects making them easier to observe.

And the most funny yet helpful thing with gravitational lensing is, we can even observe invisible things in our universe like “Dark matter”. It doesn’t emit or absorb light on its own, we can’t see or observe or contain it. BUT, it has mass and responds to gravitational lensing.

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Here is an example of a gravitational lensing called the Einstein cross. In this image, a single object appears as four objects. A very distant quasar(quasars are distant and extremely bright objects powered by black holes a billion times as massive as our sun) is thought to be positioned behind a massive galaxy.

The gravitational effect of the galaxy has created multiple images through gravitational lensing on the light from the quasar.

So, this is a very special scientific happening which gives us a hope or even a start to play with dark matter;) Of course that’s super tough. Lets see!!

 

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