Black Holes

I was snooping around the house to look for some interesting books to read. Well, I got my wish. Found  a book near the bag of my brother’s which was titled “Stephen Hawking’s Universe”. I thought: Hey! Why not? It’s been awhile since I last read about Physics anyway…” so I took it, flipped to the content page, nodded and went back to my room.

I decided to start off with Black Holes (thus the post). Black holes are truly fascinating don’t you think? One can’t see them but we are all 99.999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999% certain they exist! That’s truly intriguing. It totally throws away the literal meaning of ‘Seeing is Believing’. (just a warning, this post might be a bit on the dry side for those who do not understand or like Physics/Astrology)

So what are Black Holes? Okay simply put they are rips in the fabric of space and time so dense and distorted by unimaginable gravitational forces that for years physicists believed nothing could escape from one, including light. Hence, by definition, they are deemed as invisible. Well which is quite true, one does need light in order to see things. Nobody can ever see one, nor will ever see one, not even if he or she uses the most powerful telescope in the entire universe. (Try switching off the lights, boarding up your windows and taping up the gap between the door and the floor. I think it’s a good enough simulation)

As Stephen Hawking said, “Within black holes, space and time we we normally perceive them come to an end.” Exactly how or what the difference is I have no idea and I sure do not want to try. Chances are if I enter a black hole, I don’t think I’d be able to tell anyone about it =D The gravitational force in a black hole is so strong that if let us say I would throw a sphere towards the black hole (assuming i can see it) you would see the sphere being stretched into an oval-like shape when it reaches the edge. After that, poof! It disappears ^^ That is how strong the gravitational force of a black hole is. It basically sucks up everything.

In my JC days, I had one amusing lecturer who used to go: “Gravity sucks” yeah well it’s true. It sucks things in literally and figuratively because he knows some of us dread that topic. Talk about your typical intended pun XD Well, your dear friend black hole sucks in anything and everything (something along the lines of being like a vacuum). There is no way of escaping a black hole (Don’t some of us wish that we could throw our homework in? =D Jkjk)

Stephen Hawkings and other theorists are convinced that the long-sought unifying concept in Physics (which explains the central interaction of the universe), lies at the periphery of black holes or similar peculiar constructions arising at one point of another in the evolution of cosmos.” ~ John Boslough, author of Stephen Hawking’s Universe

So how are black holes formed in the first place? Well, they are actually result from the death of stars (think astronomy not entertainment) Physicists say that a black hole is “described as the final stage in the death of a star before the point of singularity is reached.” This is how a break with our usual perception of space-time is created. That point of singularity is masked. (Gravitational Singularity: a point in spacetime in which gravitational forces cause matter to have an infinite density and zero volume ~wiki)

Let us look at the sun. There are two forces contending against each other. It was therorized that gravity will eventually gain the upper-hand as the sun’s nuclear fuel is spent and will then begin to collapse. When sufficient condensation has occurred, the sun becomes a ‘white dwarf’ – basically a ball of atomic nuclei + loose electrons. For the sun, this white dwarf would only be about 4x as large as the earth (minute in cosmic terms)

The mass, however, would remain as it ias and hence the gravitational pull on the surface atomic particles would increase drastically in strength. (think 380 mps to 2.1K mps) The collapse can continue but in order to reach the point whereby it literally annihilates itself, the star has to be really humongous. The sun, in which case, has only an initial mass of average value. It is theorized by Physicists that the sun will no longer continue to collapse once it turns into a white dwarf. This is because a law of physics called exclusion principle intervenes

The law of exclusion principle states that two electrons cannot occupy the same energy space, meaning there is a limit to how tightly matter can be packed together. By ordinary standards the limit is high and at the white dwarf stage, a thimbleful of the sun would weigh tons. Chances of an electron meeting another electron in the same energy space would jump.

If, however, the star has an original mass which is much greater (app. >1.4x tt of the sun) gravitation overpowers the law of exclusion principle. It thus passes through the ‘white dwarf’ stage and continues down the path of gravitational collapse: being drawn down further and breaking atomic nuclei apart, even destroying atoms. It is now what one would call a ‘neutron star’

This ‘neutron star’ is a (heavy) mass of neutrons and is no more than a few miles across. At the surface, escape velocity would be 120k mps (compared to the earth which is only about 7mps without air resistance). We should wish any star which has a mass of about 3.6x or more that of the sun because it will continue contracting at the neutron star stage. Gravity literally draws the star down into itself and that it becomes ‘a victim of its own weight’. It then reaches a point so far in deep that escape velocity becomes 186,282 mps aka the speed of light o.o At that instant if you watch the star, it is nothing more than a dim glow which would flicker out pretty soon.

Light is finally claimed by gravity. The star is now a black hole and is utterly invisible to the naked eye and even the most powerful telescope that one can possibly find. Of course, it will remain so for an extremely long time (i’m thinking aeons)

So if it is invisible? How do Physicists know and why do they agree in general that Black holes do exist? Both astrophysicists and even theoretical physicists would like to take a look. Hawkings himself, however, has become convinced, along with some other physicists that one has actually been found. The constellation of Cygnus.

There are stars which travel in pairs. (binaries) These stars orbit around a common center of gravity. It is reasoned by Astronomers that if one of the stars die and turns into a black hole, that now-invisible-black-star would still have a gravitational hold on its..um…well…lifemate? partner? mate? Oh well. Moving on, Hawking is certain that there is such a thing. Astronomers actually discovered it. The constellation of Cygnus is 6k light-years from Earth. The one which is visible is blue and it looks as if someone invisible is pulling it from one side, hence the shape of an egg.

cygnus
Left: Cygnus Constellation; Right: Cygnus X-1

Discovered in 1973, Cygnus X-1, the apparent black hole in the binary system, threw everyone into a state of excitement. Think about a kid who has just received his first game console and multiply that excitement level by a hundred. It probably barely reaches the same level XD

Just a little bite of history, there was a mini bet going on between Hawking and Kip Thorne (a friend of Hawking who was a respected theorist at the California Institute of Technology) about the ancestry of the mysterious object in Cygnus X-1. The interesting thing was that Hawking actually bet against it. Of course, Hawking himself was fairly confident and certain that it is a black hole.

“If it isn’t a black hole, it really has to be something exotic.”~ Stephen Hawkings

More than one might have been discovered by Astronomers. Another black hole announced by a team of Canadians and Americans in 1983 was discovered outside our own galaxy. This little baby apparently emits powerful X-rays and that was how it was found. In the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way visible only in the Southern Hemisphere.

This black hole’s distance from earth is estimated to be 180k light-years, has the weight of about 10 suns with its distance from its binary mate a mere 11 mil miles. These were estimated whilst using a 158-inch telescope at the Inter-American Observatory at Cerro Tololo, Chile.

In the 1970s, Black holes started to become a cultural phenomenon. They were a common topic on talk shows and the subject of gags and jokes (I personally do not think it will be funny if you actually get dumped into one).

With the existence of a black hole, it is deemed to be a strange resident of the universe, perpetually straining the laws of physics. And what is stopping it from further collapsing onto itself? To the point of singularity, an infinite density, and perhaps causing another phenomenon similar to the Big Bang? If a star can collapse onto itself, why not the whole universe?

I thus end my very very very long post on Black Holes. Hope you enjoyed it =) Please feel free to comment on any mistakes that i made.

P.S. This whole post is inspired from and credited to: Stephen Hawking’s Universe by John Boslough.

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Mariah Carey ~ Through The Rain

When you get caught in the rain
With nowhere to run
When you’re distraught and in pain
Without anyone

We keep praying to saved
But nobody comes
And you feel so far away
That you just can’t

Find your way home
You can get there alone
It’s okay
What you say

I can make it through the rain
I can stand up once again
On my own and I know
That I’m strong enough to mend
And every time I feel afraid
I hold tighter to my faith
And I live one more day
And I make it through the rain

Hoo…hoo…doo doo doo
Ooh…hoo…mmm…hmm…

And if you keep falling down
Don’t you dare give in
You will arise safe and sound
So keep pressing on

Step fastly
And you’ll find what you need
To prepare
What you say

I can make it through the rain
I can stand up once again
On my own and I know
That I’m strong enough to mend
And every time I feel afraid
I hold tighter to my faith
And I live one more day
And I make it through the rain

And when the wind moves
And shadows grow close
Don’t be afraid
There’s nothing you can’t face

And sure they tell you
You’ll never pull through
Don’t hesitate
Stay calm and sane

I can make it through the rain
I can stand up once again
On my own and I know
That I’m strong enough to mend
And every time I feel afraid
I hold tighter to my faith
And I live one more day
And I make it through the rain

I can make it through the rain
Can stand up once again
And I live one more day
And I’ll make it through the rain

Ooh, yes, you can
Mmm…hmm…
You can make it through the rain

The first time I listened to this song…it was probably a couple of years back when I was still in lower Secondary. It is a truly inspirational song, one of the top in my list of favourites. Since it was one of the good old classics and I have never done it before, I decided to try analyzing the song…parts of it of course not the entire thing.

This song is basically telling us not to give up no matter how bleak things see. The word ‘Rain’ is mainly used, not in a literal sense in this song, but to symbolize the problems which we have in our lives. Thus, from the title ‘ Through the rain’, it basically refers to the problems we encounter and go through.

When the song starts out, it evokes the emotion of fear, sadness, loneliness, hopelessness; emotions that portray our helplessness in general. I do not know about every one else, but for me, the image which enters my head is me myself being trapped in my own head. I am alone with no one around me, a complete void of some sort, no navigation nor direction, no humans, no living creatures. Nothing, but a barren land. I lose myself and I fall, sitting down and not wishing to go anywhere.

As the song reaches its first chorus, I see a tiny bud from beneath the ground, close to where I am sitting, sprouting but not reaching its full bloom. I shift my position a little, letting my fingers stroke the bud and having a small smile form on my face.

At the second verse, I see a wolf pup limping towards me. It seems…injured…and I pitied it…until it looked at me straight in the eye. Then, I realise what it was feeling was not helplessness but determination, and that starts off the second chorus of the song.

With that, as the chorus starts playing again, I see myself standing up full, filled with slightly more confidence, with the wolf pup by my side. I stood there, with my white dress billowing in the wind and I took my first step, with the white wolf next to me as well. Each time I stepped, I realized the wolf pup grew stronger and larger too.

However, at the bridge of the song, I see my inner demons, manifested in my worst fear, loneliness, again. I hesitate, seeing myself again as a loner and no one with me. However, as the bridge of the song was about to end, my wolf pup, now almost the size of a full grown wolf, stood next to me and nudged me forward.

As the song climaxes into its last, strongest, most powerful chorus, my inner demons disappear. For once, I see life around me. Lush green grass filled the place and my bare foot no longer tread on sand but soft grass blades. My wolf is now full grown and I see something in the distance. Just as the song ends, I realize that what I saw in the distance from before are all my closed ones…and the wolf turns into someone whom is the closest to my heart.

Everything ends with the scene showing the flower in full bloom at close-up.

Yup. That’s the image I got when I listened to Mariah Carey’s Through the Rain =) And now it’s off to bed for me. Ja ne~

3rd GEMs Lesson

First of all…I was appalled at my lesson. Believe me my legs were screaming at me to just run out of the class! What was so horrifying you ask? We were singing nursery rhymes in class! YES! NURSERY RHYMES! Baa baa black sheep have you any wool~ holy cow I was doing some serious head-banging man…no not those rock style head-banging. I meant head-banging as in banging my head against the table and ruffling my own hair out of horror.

If that was not enough, he improvised the rhythm and it became like what…pop-rock style? I was horrified. HE JUST TURNED A NURSERY RHYME INTO A POP-ROCK! There goes my innocent mental image of the song. Oh yes and if one were to learn music, one would find that Baa Baa black sheep and twinkle twinkle little star actually has the same melody. He suggested us going to a kindergarten/nursery school and tell those little kids “Hey did you know Baa Baa Black Sheep and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star are actually the same?” I was thinking…I highly doubt they would believe you nor understand what you are saying in the first place =)

Just as I thought that was the end…I realized I was actually thrown into a group…I panicked cause I missed my previous lesson and had no idea who my groupmates were. I found out later that I had one group mate who seemed to be forever MIA….and she had to be the only other girl in the group. I was thinking….this feels like when I started out my Project Work in Secondary Two.

Well that about wraps up my third GEMs. When I got back to clubroom, I slumped down and was trying not to scream my lungs out. After that…well…that’s another story…

Joke…A Women’s Story

Okay I admit. I was kind of bored and in need of humour…so i went ‘surfing’ on the internet to find some good jokes. This one kind of made me laughed my head off. It’s apparently about a cuckoo clock, a drunk wife and her husband.

*~ When the cuckoo clock has gone cuckooed ~*

The other night I was invited out for a night with the girls. I promised my husband that I would be home by midnight. Well, the hours passed and the margaritas went down way too easy. Just before 3 a.m., a bit loaded, I headed for home.

Just as I got in the door, the cuckoo clock in the hall started up and cuckooed three times. Quickly realizing my husband would probably wake up, I cuckooed another nine times. I was really proud of myself for coming up with such a quick-witted solution (even when totally smashed), in order to escape a possible conflict with him.

The next morning my husband asked me what time I got in and I told him “Midnight.” He didn’t seem pissed off at all. Whew! Got away with that one!

Then he said, “We need a new cuckoo clock.”

When I asked him why, he said, “Well, last night our clock cuckooed three times, then said, “Oh shit,” cuckooed four more times, cleared its throat, cuckooed another three times, giggled, cuckooed twice more, and then tripped over the coffee table and farted.

Well well well, I guess in the future if any of us would like to mimic her, do it when we’re sober otherwise we might end up in a similar situation…or worst o.o

‘Pet Shop of Horrors’ Anime and Manga

"Count D"

The first time that I came across this was on a site: www.watchanimeon.com

I remembered browsing through the ‘Horror’ Category when I saw this. I love horror so I thought I would read the plot. Almost immediately, I fell in love with the plot. Moreover, for this anime/manga, the horror is more of subtle rather than shocking (my kind of thing =D)

General Plotlines…

This anime is slightly different from others which I have watched or come across. Instead of having one main plot with several subplots throughout, this one has different mini stories in each seperate episode. However, there is one main theme which all mini stories revolve around.

A mysterious Pet Shop in Chinatown run by someone who goes by the name of ‘Count D’. Just so you know, that is not his real name and it was never revealed throughout the series. I’d just call him D. He literally has an aura of mystery surrounding him. For starters, he definitely is not human. What he is exactly it’s left open for guesses. Some say vampires (though I don’t quite agree since he doesn’t burn in the sun n he’s vegetarian), incubus? nah…he doesn’t seduce people. He is, however, what you would call a pretty boy. (Believe me, the first time I saw him I thought he was a female! How embarrassing >.<)

Count D’s Pet Shop holds many rare and exotic animals. This shop is special and unique in ways that are both mysterious and creepy, sometimes beyond the comprehension of normal humans. Count D’s pet shop, according to Count D himself, sells not pets but ‘Loves, Dreams and Hope’. In each chapter (sometimes going up to two), Count D sells a pet to a customer. This comes along with a contract where the buyer has to follow 3 rules, which differ according to each pet sold. One common rule i that the pet owner is not allowed to show his or her pet to anyone else. If any of the 3 terms in the contract are breached (usually with strange and disturbing consequences), the shop does not claim any liability.

Not just the pet shop, but the pets themselves are also fairly peculiar. They are humanoid creatures. For every time a buyer enters the shop to purchase a pet, they would see the pet in a human form. In this story, the animals are all able to take on the forms of human according to the buyers’ desires (most of the time being their loved ones). Sometimes, this is the core reason why the buyers breach the contract. They do not see the pets as animals but rather as the ones whom they sorely miss.

This entire story is disturbing and definitely not something you would watch or read as a family gathering. Of course, there are bits and pieces of humour mixed in. Detective Leon Orcot is mostly the running gag in this show and I cannot help but laugh my head off at his antics at times. He is, however, smart at exploiting the weakness of Count D (which happens to be sweet things, sorta’ reminds me of L) to dig out information.

Oh yes…Count D himself has had a treacherous past with humans. He has a grudge against humanity as a whole because of what humans did to his family. Apparently a long time ago, his family was killed by humans for reasons…well…again i do not wish to be a spoiler. Interestingly, he seems to be on all right terms with Leon, even going to the extent of joking around with him and being extremely comfortable in his presence. Man…if I were Leon I would jump for joy! Staying with Count D and his animals *having a wistful look in her eyes*

Differences btwn Manga and Anime

Simply put: The Anime has a whole lot more serious, mysterious and dark as compared to the Manga. It does not have as many humorous bits as compared to the Manga.

Chris Orcot, Leon’s younger brother, exists only in the Manga and not the Anime. Due to a past traumatic experience (read the manga, I shan’t be a spoiler =D) Chris lost his ability to speak and thus his ability to interact with humans. He did, however, gain the ability to see the humanoid animals in their human forms. Chris even made friends with a 3-headed dragon, without knowing as he was the dragon as a Chinese girl clad in ancient Chinese robes (You can imagine what happened when Chris’s parents entered and saw Chris with the 3-headed dragon for what it was)

The Anime is also a lot shorter, spanning only a total of 4 episodes. ‘Daughter’, ‘Delicious’, ‘Despair’, ‘Duel’. Each of these stories have different animals that are bought from the store with different backgrounds. They are, however, all similar in the sense that one of the rules in the contract is broken, with eerie results. If you can get past the gory and disturbing scenes, you will sort of pity the characters. The Manga has all 4 of these stories plus a lot more. Apart from those animals which we are familiar with, you would also see mythical ones like Dragons (as stated in the previous para), Mermaids and even a Qilin.

Qilin

Mermaid

Dragon

Personal thoughts and favourite parts

I thought that this story was very well plotted out. It was interesting and intriguing. After reading the manga and watching the anime, I had a whole new perspective on the relationship between humans and animals. (Of course to be dead honest there was a period of time when I wished I could communicate with animals just like Count D himself)

I find it similar to the play Monkey’s Paw in the sense that it portrays the dark side of humanity as well, except there are many more negative traits of humans which are shown here, with two of them being jealousy and vanity.

I would say one of my favourite parts was close to the ending. Count D is shown floating in space on a boat, along with all his animals (it sort of reminded me of Joan’s Arc). Leon, for the first time, managed to see the animals in their humanoid forms. He, however, was not allowed to stay on the boat, as quoted from Count D ‘Humans have not yet gained the right to board this boat’ or something along those lines.

Another story which I find quite touching is the one about the dog called Jasmine. Jasmine first appeared as a human girl. She entered the shop along with her ‘family’. Count D long suspected but chose not to say anything till the end as usual. She did not know that she had actually passed away a long time ago and mistook a new family for her own. Hanging around with them for awhile, Jasmine one day realised that she could not communicate with them. It was during a fire, the same one which killed her previous family. (No it is not arson. It’s actually suicide) That was when she nearly went into hysterics. However, the pet which her new family bought could talk to her in his human form and he explained everything to her. It was at that moment that her real family came, all in the form of spirits. It was then Jasmine reverted back to her true form, a dog, ready to once again join her family and be reunited. I cried when i read that one. It was touching.

Well…that is all for my short little introduction to this story ‘Pet Shop of Horrors’. I strongly recommend those who are interested in subtle horror to read. Guranteed, it will ensnare your senses =) Now…for dinner. I’m starving!!! =D