Genesis of the Elements

Genesis of the Elements

During the 20th century, scientists discovered the genesis of the elements in the periodic table. Einstein's theory of gravity precipitated a revolution and renascence period in cosmology; it transformed our picture of the large-scale universe. We learned that, contrary to the ideas which has prevailed for centuries since Newton's time, the universe is actually expanding and that in some distant epoch—the earliest moments of the young universe—all of the matter and energy in the universe must have been on top of each other and concentrated into a single, very small amount of space no bigger than the size of a grape fruit. The temperatures and pressures were so extreme in this early universe that hydrogen and helium could be formed. Later, the universe cooled and vast aggregates of atoms condensed into galaxies and stars. In the latter-half of the 20th century, we learned that the heavier elements in the periodic table were created in the nuclear furnaces and death-roes of the stars. We really are made of star stuff!

Snowball Earth

Snowball Earth

The Proterozoic Eon is a sweep of time beginning when the Earth was 2.5 billion years old and ending when the Earth was 542 million years. During the first 500 million years, cyanobacteria and photosynthesis were invented which oxygenated the world. The proceeding one billion years was a time of enigmatic calm as the Earth did not change much. But in the last roughly 350 million years, the Earth's systems were spun into a whirlwind. The Earth experienced one of the most dramatic series of ice ages in its history and turned into a giant, white, ice ball. But after these ice ages ended, a second great oxidization event occurred. The last step was taken in the march from the simple to the complex: there was finally enough oxygen to support large, multi-cellular creatures and the Ediacaran fauna emerged.

Early Earth History

Early Earth History

After ancient stars exploded, their remnants conglomerated through gravity to one day form a place called Earth. Primordial Earth was a giant, red ball of magma and smoldering rocks; it was hellish and ablaze with erupting volcanoes and fiery skies. But over time hails of comets and asteroids bombarded the Earth to form the oceans causing Earth's outer layer to cool and turn grey; those heavenly bodies also seeded the oceans with rich organic chemistry which, somehow, eventually turned into the first microbe. Nearly one billion years later, photosynthesis was invented—this oxygenated the world, a little, and was the first step in the march towards the emergence of large, complex, multi-cellular organisms.

Colonizing the Asteroids and Comets of our Solar System

Colonizing the Asteroids and Comets of our Solar System

The extraordinary Carl Sagan long ago envisioned in his book, Pale Blue Dot, humanity eventually terraforming other worlds and building settlements on the asteroids and comets in our solar system. He imagined that these little worlds could be perhaps redirected and manuevered—used as little rocky "space ships"—in order to set sail for the stars. In this article, we discuss some of the techniques which could be used towards this telos.

Introduction to Einstein's Theory of General Relativity

Introduction to Einstein's Theory of General Relativity

General Relativity is hailed by many as one of the greatest achievements of human thought of all time. Einstein's theory of space, time, and gravity threw out the old Newtonian stage of a fixed Euclidean space with a universal march of time; the new stage on which events play out is spacetime, a bendable and dynamic fabric which tells matter how to move. This theory perhaps holds the key to unlocking H. G. Wells time machine into the past; according to Kip Throne, it will pave the way towards the next generation of ultra-powerful telescopes which rely on gravitational waves; and it also perhaps holds the key to breaking the cosmic speed limit and colonizing the Milky Way galaxy and beyond in a comparatively short period of time.

Superconductors: the Future of Transportation and Electric Transmission

Superconductors: the Future of Transportation and Electric Transmission

Superconductors are the key to unlocking the future of transportation and electrical transmission. They enable the most efficient approaches to these industrial processes known to present science. A maglev vehicle, to borrow Jeremy Rifkin's wording, will shrink the dimensions of space and time by allowing distant continental and inter-continental regions to be accessed in, well, not much time at all. But superconductors also offer unprecedented efficiency: they eliminate the problem of atoms colliding with other atoms and would allow vehicle to "slide" across enormous distances with virtually no loss of energy and it would allow a loop of current to persist longer than the remaining lifetime of the universe. Much of the damage accumulated in the components of vehicles can, in some way or another, be traced to the friction against the road; maglev transportation circumvents this issue.

Thermodynamics and the "Arrow" of Time

Thermodynamics and the "Arrow" of Time

The second law of thermodynamics specifies the arrow of time—the direction in which the flow of time runs. Before the discovery of the laws of thermodynamics, there was nothing about classical mechanics which did not allow time to run both ways. Just as a cup could fall on the floor and shatter into many pieces, it was also conceivable that a shattered cup could spontenously resemble and climb back on top of the table without violating the laws of energy and momentum conservation. It was not until the discovery of the second law of thermodynamics that the laws of physically finally declared that events can only happen in one direction, thereby giving time a sense of direction.

Light Fidelity (Li-Fi): Ultra-Fast, Wireless Communications System

Light Fidelity (Li-Fi): Ultra-Fast, Wireless Communications System

Li-Fi was invented in 2011 by professor Harald Haas and is a form of wireless communications technology which would allow us to transmit information and data at least 100 times faster than Wi-Fi. Even more significantly, Li-Fi is essential—and in fact, it is necessary—for us to transition to a Third Industrial Revolution (TIR) infrastructure where everything in the environment—from buildings, roads, and walkways—becomes "cognified."

Exponential Growth of Information Technology

Exponential Growth of Information Technology

In this short article, we discuss that the character of an exponential function is such that when it is viewed linearly, it'll start off very gradual and then suddenly "blow up." This character of exponential functions is the reason why the number of internet users seemed to blow up out of nowhere and why the cost and size of computer chips have diminished so rapidly in such a short period of time. But when viewed on a logarithmic scale, nothing appears to "blow up" and behavior, which looks rather wild from a linear view, seemed inevitable when viewed logarithmically; this allowed Ray Kurzweil to predict that the internet would one day have billions of users in a time when perhaps only a few thousand people had access to the internet.