Physics is the science of how atoms work, how the universe works, how cars go around corners and how taps drip. Physics is the science of the tecnological age, of how magnetrons cook food and how home cinema, wireless LANs and bling phones work. Physics is also the science of atmospheric composition and its influence on weather and climate, and of brain chemistry and protein folding. Physics is the science of everything and ultimately is the science of life itself.


LASER is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Lasers have a myriad of uses including industrial, medical, scientific and... Rock and Roll. Drums have a vibrating membrane and a resonant column of air. Guitars employ a multitude of traveling and standing waves in variable length metal strings sensed by a reluctor pickup. Keyboards, synthesisers, mixers and amplifiers use semiconductor electronics.


NICMOS, the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer installed on Hubble Space Telescope during the second servicing mission, was cooled by a 104kg lump of solid Nitrogen ice. The coolant was expected to last 4.5 years but a fault increased heat load and the Nitrogen sublimed after only 2 years. HST was serviced in orbit 5 times, demonstrating the feasibility of repair and maintenance missions in space. Here, HST has the more efficient and therefore smaller solar panels which were installed on the final mission.


This spider is gold plated. Why? Elemental metallic gold, Au, is electrically conductive. Biological and other specimens must be plated so they are opaque to electrons, to make suitable samples to be imaged in a scanning electron microscope.


Constructing a laser is well within the capability of a talented amateur with a home lab. This transverse excited flowing gas laser 'Querfloete' was built by Diane Neisius. It can be used with Neon, Nitrogen, and other gases including ordinary air. The major components, left to right, are. Front: laser head, vacuum pump. Rear: gas cylinder and pressure gauge, high voltage transformer, voltage multiplier rectifier.


The twin Keck telescopes do not use conventional solid mirrors but segmented mirrors, each segment aligned by computer controlled actuators. This provides the correct overall mirror shape counteracting influences such as gravity and temperature in a lighter structure which is easier to manufactuer. Combined the two telescopes can be used as an interferometer with a baseline of 85 meters on the preferred axis. Keck is located at Mauna Kea in Hawaii, possibly the most valuable astronomical site in the world due to high elevation, good weather and the absence of light or atmospheric pollution from human activity.


The enabling sciences, such as physics, are at the core of emerging interdisciplinary fields of science such as synthetic biology. This is where engineering meets biological systems to form genetically engineered machines. For example, a ring oscillator can be built from a genetic circuit. The circuit above is called a repressilator. Each of the three modules represses the next in sequence, resulting in the oscillation shown by Green Fluorescent Protein.


Seventeen of the twenty-nine attendees at the 1927 Solvay conference, where Quantum Mechanics was discussed, either were or subsequently became Nobel Prize winners. Back row: A. Piccard, E. Henriot, P. Ehrenfest, Ed. Herzen, Th. De Donder, E. Schroedinger, J.E. Verschaffelt, W. Pauli, W. Heisenberg, R.H. Fowler, L. Brillouin; Middle row: P. Debye, M. Knudsen, W.L. Bragg, H.A. Kramers, P.A.M. Dirac, A.H. Compton, L. de Broglie, M. Born, N. Bohr; Front row: I. Langmuir, M. Planck, M. Curie, H.A. Lorentz, A. Einstein, P. Langevin, Ch. E. Guye, C.T.R. Wilson, O.W. Richardson.


The high voltage produced by a Tesla coil exceeds the breakdown voltage of air ionising it and causing current to flow, which then heats the air. The hot electrically conductive gas is plasma, the fourth state of matter. The behaviour of the plasma is simultaneously governed by both gas laws and the laws of electro magnetics, resulting in the complex web of filaments.


The first practical modern blue light emitting diodes were created by Dr Shuji Nakamura at Nichia Chemical in the early 1990s. The RGB colour triplet was finally complete decades after the first feeble red emitters were made. Blue LEDs have also led to improved green LEDs, violet and ultraviolet LEDs, and blue and UV semiconductor lasers. Applications include solid state jumbo TVs, Bluray media, architectural lighting, and even advertising where they are replacing traditional 'neon' signs. There are no true white LEDs. They are in fact a blue LED combined with phosphors similar to those in a fluorescent lamp. Blue LEDs are made from the semiconducting material GaN.


Ferrofluid is a colloidal suspension of magnetic nanoparticles in a liquid. These particles are small enough to be suspended by Brownian motion. Under the influence of a strong magnetic field the fluid settles into a spiky shape, due to the the conflicting influences of gravity, surface tension and the magnetic field.



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