Comparing ⁴He with ²H₂ – An Atom with a Molecule?

Astronomy, Physics
The title of this article may seem a bit strange. How do we begin comparing a helium-4 atom with a molecule of deuterium hydrogen? It may become more apparent if we examine illustrations of the two species. Note the similarities and the differences. If you do, comparing ⁴He with ²H₂ should not seem so strange. Helium-4 Helium is element number two in the periodic table. This means helium has an atomic number of two—it has two protons. Protons are positively charged. Now an atom is neutral, thus electrical neutrality dictates a helium atom also has two electrons. The only variable is the number of neutrons. Helium-4 (sometimes written ⁴He) is a very stable form of helium and has two neutrons. Deuterium or Heavy Hydrogen Atomic hydrogen (symbol H) consists primarily…
Read More

Origin Earth: From External Matter or By On Site Fusion?

Astronomy, Education
[caption id="attachment_15593" align="alignright" width="440"] Nuclear fusion in a red giant.[/caption] Origin Earth: As elementary school students, we are taught many subjects, including science. We are taught proven facts, which is a fine thing. Yet some unproven ideas may be included disguised as actual fact. A science theory may be popular yet wrong. Recall the ancient idea that Earth is supported in space by objects such as elephants and turtles, rather than by gravity. Also recall our planet was thought to be the center of the universe, while the sun rotated about it. Finally, remember, recall, realize that some felt the earth was one heck-of-a huge flat pancake. The Big Bang Theory One popular origins theory is the Big Bang. Simply put, a large explosion occurred that propelled matter and energy…
Read More

What Is the Difference Between an Orbit and an Orbital?

Astronomy, Physics
[caption id="attachment_15523" align="alignright" width="440"] A 5-D atomic orbital, m=5[/caption] Although words can have multiple meanings, we will consider only the difference between an orbit and an orbital, the path of planets and that of electrons in atoms. Planets (and other astronomy objects) travel in orbits. Jupiter and Haley’s Comet orbit the Sun. Electrostatic forces and selection rules hold electrons in specific atomic orbitals. What is an Orbit? Orbits are generally elliptical in shape. Ellipses are circles that are stretched out along one axis. The degree of stretching is termed eccentricity.  The greater the stretch, the greater the eccentricity. Consider the figure below for comparison. The object doing the orbiting travels strictly in the path of the orbit. It does not deviate. In this respect, orbits of astronomical objects are different…
Read More

How I Became the NRAO Electroplater / Electroformer

Astronomy, Chemistry
[caption id="attachment_9605" align="alignright" width="440"] NRAO Green Bank Telescope.[/caption] Little did I know my future lay with the NRAO. As early as the 8th grade, my teacher informed us we needed to choose a career. I chose astronomy. My mother informed me, “No. There is no future in astronomy.” I was downhearted! Her friend’s husband worked for Union Carbide. I asked Mom if chemistry was acceptable? She said that was fine. Curiously, in high school I became a close friend of a kid from Canada who loved chemistry, Charles Harris. I greatly admired him. He was instrumental in my growing appreciation of chemistry. From College to Employment Beginning in my junior and senior years at high school, and later at college, I found myself drawn to organic chemistry and to quantum…
Read More

50th Anniversary Celebration of the 140′ Radio Telescope at Green Bank WV

Astronomy
[caption id="attachment_9549" align="alignleft" width="300"] NRAO 140-foot radio telescope at Green Bank, WV.[/caption] We want to explore the history of the 140′ Radio Telescope... Sometimes people are honored for their achievements in the sciences. On Tuesday, October 13, 2015, a most interesting object was recognized for its groundbreaking exploration in the field of astrochemistry. It is the 140′ Radio Telescope completed in December of 1964. It is owned and operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) located in Green Bank, West Virginia. As a retiree of the Charlottesville, Virginia Central Development Lab, I was invited. It was an invitation I heartily accepted. Official Statement This NRAO public announcement of the event includes the proclamation by the Governor of West Virginia of the historical importance of the telescope. Included on the…
Read More

Dust Storms on the Moon

Astronomy
[caption id="attachment_6211" align="alignright" width="440"] Earth's Magnetotail - Image by NASA[/caption] The solar winds blow, shaping earth's magnetic field. What happens on the moon when it encounters the magnetotail? Can dust storms on the moon be affected by earth's magnetic field? Apples and Oranges The earth's magnetic field receives constant bombardment from the sun's solar wind. This forces back the flux lines into a long extended tail on the side of earth opposite the sun. This extended stream is referred to as a magnetotail. The Moon's Time of the Month Most of the month the moon is not under the influence of earth's magnetotail, but is exposed to the solar wind. Yet, part of each month the moon does cross into earth's magnetotail. This occurs over a period of about six…
Read More

Characteristics of a High Mass Star

Astronomy
[caption id="attachment_5770" align="alignleft" width="440"] Crab Nebula - NASA & ESA[/caption] A high mass star has more matter than a low mass star. More matter increases a star’s gravitational field. Gravity produces the heat that initiates fusion. Fusion occurs more readily in a high mass star. It also lowers life expectancy. It can result in a supernova event and the producing of a neutron star. Some say it can even result in a black hole. Fusion Fusion begins by combining hydrogen atoms into helium atoms. As hydrogen diminishes, it is predominantly helium atoms that fuse. Helium concentrates at the center since gravity pulls it more due to its greater mass. As the helium fuses, it forms carbon atoms. Carbon then gravitates to the center of the star. Over time, layers form.…
Read More

The Fabric of Space Time

Astronomy
[caption id="attachment_5108" align="alignright" width="440"] Fabric of Space Time -  GNU Free Documentation License Version 1.2 by LobStoR[/caption] This morning I read the Quantum Day article "Binary White Dwarf System J0651 Emits Gravitational Waves". It says just as sound waves require a medium such as air to travel through, gravitational waves as predicted by Einstein though as yet undetected would require a medium of travel as well. That medium would be the so-called fabric of space time. Quirky Ideas Though I am not certain such a fabric exists, I feel it is one of the more believable concepts in modern physics. I decided to speculate on the nature of that fabric. Is it absolutely continuous and smooth? Or might it only appear such, as air and water appear smooth, when they…
Read More

Where Does Light Go? Why is the Universe Dark?

Astronomy
[caption id="attachment_3236" align="alignright" width="440"] The Andromeda Galaxy (M31)[/caption] Where does light go after it issues from a flashlight? On a universal scale, what happens to all that light? If Space is not infinite, goes the line of incorrect reasoning, then all the light that has ever been radiated by stars and galaxies should make the Universe a blindingly bright place. Hence, the universe, based on this reasoning, must be infinite. But, if the Universe is not infinite, the light should bounce back and forth, building up. Most scientists consider the universe to be expanding, yet not infinite. So where does light go? First, let's discuss what light actually is. What Exactly Is Light? Light is a form of energy that radiates outward—it is radiant energy. Radiant energy is readily absorbed,…
Read More