Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Dr. Iffic Lecture 4: Blorfo the Wonder Marmot


Published on

Published in: Education, Technology, Travel
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Dr. Iffic Lecture 4: Blorfo the Wonder Marmot

  2. 2. Felicitous salutations, seekers of knowledge! On behalf of the Online University of New Reykjavik, my research assistant Dmitri AlekseyevichDemokritov and I are excited to introduce a very special colleague: Blorfo the Wonder Marmot.<br />Who? <br />
  3. 3. Blorfo the Wonder Marmot, the sensational sciuridan whose logic-defying powers of pedagogic exposition allow him to break the very laws of physics.<br />Hello.<br />But how can a lowly marmot break the laws of physics? <br />
  4. 4. The same way he can converse in human speech, or wear a propeller beanie. He cannot! And yet he does. These are among the many impossible things that Blorfo can accomplish in the service of education.<br />His beanie is educational?<br />Blorfo! Justify the preceptive value of your beanie! <br />
  5. 5. Well, it demonstrates Bernoulli’s principle – the fact that when air or liquid flows at different speeds across two sides of an object, the side with the faster flow experiences a drop in pressure. This is why propellers push harder in one direction than the other. Which is good, because otherwise they’d be pretty useless.<br />IMAGE: BERNOULLI’S PRINCIPLE<br />Like, for example, a beanie.<br />IT IS EDUCATIONAL!<br />
  6. 6. So what else can he do?<br />Anything at all. For example, he can travel faster than the speed of light. Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light – we know this from the brain-swelling mathematical underpinnings of physics, and the math seems to be right because we’ve never, ever observed anything traveling faster than light. Science fiction authors have therefore devoted countless hours to coming up with ways around this speed limit, like hyperspatial dimensions that connect to ours in funny ways, so that a short trip through hyperspace covers an immense distance in normal space. Or warp fields that create a bubble of some nonspatial substance that has a much higher speed limit. <br />But Blorfo, being a Wonder Marmot, doesn’t need to bother with such narrative devices – he simply goes faster than light, no asterisks. <br />FASHOO!<br />
  7. 7. I thought the relationship between space and time started doing brain-swellingly weird things when objects travel at or near lightspeed.<br />That’s correct. If you were travelling past me at near-lightspeed in your nonbranded subcompact automobile, I would perceive you as incredibly heavy, and also as slowed down in time. And thanks to the tripped-out crazy nature of near-lightspeed travel, from your perspective looking out at me from your nonbranded subcompact automobile, I would appear to be incredibly heavy and slowed down in time. <br />This is what puts the “relativity” in Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity – there’s really no difference between the thing that’s moving and the thing that’s standing still; only their velocity relative to each other matters.<br />
  8. 8. But if I crashed into a wall, that would only affect me. Doesn’t that contradict relativity?<br />No, because acceleration is not relative. You’re either accelerating or you’re not, regardless of what anything else is doing. And deceleration is just accelerating in a backwards direction. And crashing into a wall is just decelerating at a truly alarming rate.<br />FWA-BAM!<br />Blorfo, however, doesn’t need to accelerate – he can change his velocity instantaneously, another impossible feat. <br />Zero to sixty in zero seconds! Or less! <br />
  9. 9. Or less, indeed, because the amazing Blorfo can also …<br />VWOORP!<br />VWOORP!<br />… travel in time!<br />
  10. 10. Travel in time, a major no-no where the laws of physics are concerned, right up there with (and in some cases related to) going faster than light. Blorfo can also violate the laws of cause and effect and generate totally impossible paradoxes. <br />Say! Here’s a fun idea. Rather than traveling back in time by thirty seconds – which you already did thirty seconds ago from my perspective, which is why I am here in the first place – why don’t you just stay put?<br />I just can’t say no to you.<br />
  11. 11. Voila! The time-traveling Blorfo has interfered with the event that caused him to time-travel in the first place, creating a totally impossible paradox. <br />And as a bonus, I have totally dissed the laws of conservation of mass and energy.<br />Indeed! The total mass/energy content of the Universe has now increased by one Blorfo’s worth, a blatant violation of the laws of conservation, which state that mass and energy cannot be created or destroyed, only converted into different forms.<br /> <br />
  12. 12. There seems to be no end to Blorfo’s scientific illegalities. <br />None whatsoever. Blorfo, my good marmot, is there any scientific law that you’d especially like to violate as we close out today’s lecture?<br />I have always had a particular fondness for blithely ignoring the Second Law of Thermodynamics. <br />A classic! OK, let’s see … Dmitri, are you perfectly comfortable? Would you like to be any warmer or cooler? <br />I suppose I wouldn’t mind being a little warmer. <br />POOF<br />
  13. 13. Warmer it is! Take it away, Blorfo! <br />There you go, Dmitri – the thermal energy in the air has spontaneously migrated into your body, leaving you pleasantly warm.<br />Um, thanks, I guess. But why was that impossible?<br />
  14. 14. Due to the Second Law of Thermodynamics! This venerable axiom has been stated many ways and has often been the source of confusion for students of science. I prefer to state it this way: energy, including heat energy, has a tendency to spread out, and every single event that occurs in the universe leaves energy more spread out than before the event occurred.<br />
  15. 15. Every single event?<br />Well, for individual quantum-scale events it wouldn’t be so weird to have energy just happen to get more bunched together. But the odds of that happening in a macro-scale event are brain-swellingly low -- like having an electron from one of your personal possessions wind up in the orbit of Jupiter. <br />I could make that happen if you want. <br />
  16. 16. Perhaps later, Borfo. You see, Dmitri Alekseyevich, before Blorfo cooled you, the thermal energy in your body and the surrounding air was spreading itself out as much as it could, via the thermal transfer processes we discussed in Lecture 2. Because your body is warmer than the air – due to the heat created by the biological processes of your cells – thermal energy was leaving your body and spreading out into the cooler air. <br />Blorfo reversed this process, causing the thermal energy in the air to bunch up into your body and leaving the air cooler. The energy was more bunched up after the event than before. This simply does not happen in nature. <br />
  17. 17. But I was warmer than the air to begin with – heat was more bunched up in my body than in the air. Wasn’t that a violation of the second law, even before Blorfo warmed me up more? <br />No, because the chemical energy of the food you’ve eaten is even more bunched up than your body’s heat energy, or the motion energy of your body’s muscles. So when you convert the chemical energy into energy and heat (a process called respiration), that still counts as spreading the energy out. <br />
  18. 18. Then how did the chemical energy get bunched up in the food?<br />Plants converted the solar energy of the Sun into chemical energy, along with some heat energy. Since the solar energy was more bunched up than the chemical and heat energy, that still counts as spreading the energy out. <br />
  19. 19. And the solar energy? How did that get bunched up? <br />The Sun converted the Strong Force energy of hydrogen nuclei into solar radiation. The Strong Force energy was really bunched up, so that definitely counts as spreading the energy out. And the Strong Force energy got bunched up like that in the early stages of the Universe, when all sorts of energy was really, really bunched up. The Universe started out with extremely bunched-up energy and has been spreading it out ever since.<br />
  20. 20. And now it’s impossible for energy to bunch up again?<br />If you want to bunch it up in one place, you’ve got to spread it out even more somewhere else. For example, you can build a battery with energy bunched up in it – more bunched up than it was in the raw materials that you started with. But in the process of building the battery, you’re going to convert energy into heat. And when you combine the spreading-out of the heat with the bunching-up in the battery, the total energy is going to be more spread-out than before you started. <br />
  21. 21. Heat seems to crop up an awful lot in this discussion.<br />Yes, heat is a very effective way to spread out energy, and most events involving energy create a certain amount of heat along with whatever else is going on. This is why it’s called the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Another term often used in these matters is entropy: a fancy word which essentially means spreaded-out-ness. The Universe started out with very low entropy: it was not very spread out, or in other words, highly bunchy. Thanks to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, it is constantly progressing toward a state of higher entropy: more spread out and less bunchy. <br />
  22. 22. So there’s no way to get back to a state of lower entropy? <br />Well, only one way. Blorfo! Would you kindly return the Universe to its initial state?<br />No problem. Do you want to burn out the eyes of your viewers with the unfathomable amount of radiation that is about to pour out of this slide? <br />Hmmm … probably not. <br />We should stop the lecture here, then.<br />So be it. Fare you well, adulatory seekers of knowledge! Remember not to break the laws of physics unless Blorfo the Wonder Marmot is around to help you get away with it. Now, Blorfo, let’s return to the brain-swelling bunchiness of the early Universe in 3 … 2 … 1 … <br />