Unsustainable (by Muse) is both a great song and one of the best descriptions of the 2nd law of thermodynamics I’ve heard. That is quite an achievement and just goes to show that there are other places to find a bit of science in your art.
Are you looking at huge boulders and crashing waves, or small ripples rolling over a single rock? Continue reading
Most people will say that the wind is blowing to the right in this picture without even thinking about it, because leaves don’t get blown onto trees. That’s because of the 2nd law of thermodynamics, which is something that almost nobody can explain to another person, but almost everybody understands intuitively thanks to things like this we see every day.
Apatite is the mineral found in our teeth and bones, but it also comes in hundreds of other forms and is found in many types of rock. It gets its name from the Greek for “deceive”, because it is sometimes so difficult to tell what type of apatite you are looking at, or even if it is apatite at all. For example, what you are looking at right now is part of an x-ray diffraction pattern for fluorapatite, but it looks more like some mountains and trees.
This week I couldn’t decide whether to do a landscape or continue the diffraction theme, so I did both! Any time a wave meets an object about the same length as it, it gets diffracted and changes direction, and more objects means more diffraction. So in theory**, if you have a big farm and set your fields up carefully, you can do some serious messing with your neighbours radio reception. That particular example might not seem very helpful, but the same idea is used in all kinds of measurement systems, such as the electron diffraction in crystals from last week.