SCI-ART LAB

Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

Q: How does a lighter produce fire?

Krishna: The science behind the lighter is both simple and fascinating. To produce a flame, a lighter needs both fuel and a way to create a spark to ignite that fuel. Modern disposable lighters combine those two elements in a simple, cheap package that allows us to create fire on demand easily.

Stored under pressure inside the lighter in its liquid form, butane quickly converts to a gas when depressurized. Butane is used because it produces a more controlled flame and exudes the least amount of unpleasant odor. Butane in a lighter is pressurized and stored, which causes it to exist as a liquid. When depressurized, the liquid will immediately vaporize to form gaseous butane. The gaseous butane, being flammable, will catch fire even when incited by the slightest of sparks. The metallic wheel on the lighter, when pushed down by one’s thumb, will rub against the ferrocerium to produce a scorching spark. Simultaneously, a valve opens, from which the butane is released, which is vaporized (depressurized) as soon as it exits the container. The spark is produced just above the valve, which then simply ignites the plume of gas. The result is an ovate, tranquil flame.

Some newer lighters have replaced ferrocerium with a piezoelectric crystal. When compressed by the push of a button, the crystal creates a voltaic arc that ignites the butane. Otherwise, most lighters work the same way.

Some of the other fuels used in lighters are kerosene, Naphtha, and  Natural Charcoal Lighter Fluid.

Krishna: Without science this universe won’t exist in the first place. Because it is based on scientific principles. Science controls and runs this universe.

Without science - the study with which we understand the universe around us, half of the population would die of hunger (because there won't be benefits brought by agricultural revolution). Most of the rest who survive hunger would die of deadly diseases ( because there won't be drugs to cure them). Your average life span would be reduced to 30-40 years again ( because of poor nutritional statuses and diseases). Rest of the people would die of natural calamities like cyclones, hurricanes, earth-quakes, etc.

What would remain then? Empty Earth!

Humanity is surviving because of science now. If it survives in the future, it is because of science.

Q: What is it like to have your world view completely disproven?

Krishna: Hmmm! Most people would deny it and continue living in their pseudo-world.

Because it takes courage to accept evidence based facts, come out of your comfort zone and the emotional support of your friends, family, groups and relatives.

The scientific era has caused such a turmoil in several people when science disproved religious stories, cultural and traditional beliefs. Then these things happened:

1. Some people started hating science altogether.

2. Some denied the evidence - even refused to consider it and pretended it didn't exist.

3. Some tried to make wrong connections by integrating science and religion and authenticating their beliefs using science, creating pseudo-science in the process

4. Some stubbornly said they can deal with both science and religion at the same time - i.e., making strange arrangements with cognitive dissonance - the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioural decisions and attitude change.

5. Some, like me, accepted the facts and evidence and completely abandoned the old world and entered the fascinating new world. I am totally at peace with my inner world and extremely happy to take this radical decision.

Q: What is Jeans Escape?

Krishna: Molecules escape from a planet's atmosphere to outer space. This is called
Atmospheric escape.
A number of different mechanisms can be responsible for atmospheric escape. These processes can be divided into thermal escape, non-thermal (or suprathermal) escape, and impact erosion.

Each loss process depends on the planet's escape velocity, its atmosphere composition, and its distance from its star. Escape occurs when molecular kinetic energy overcomes gravitational energy; in other words, a molecule can escape when it is moving faster than the escape velocity of its planet. Categorizing the rate of atmospheric escape in exoplanets is necessary to determining whether an atmosphere persists, and so the exoplanet's habitability and likelihood of life(1).

For gases to escape, they must be carried up through an atmosphere, converted to the form that escapes (often through decomposition into atoms, which are lighter than their parent molecules), and overcome gravity. Usually at least one of these steps is slow and controls the escape rate.

Jeans escape is a thermal escape mechanism. It is the escape of individual molecules from the high tail of the Maxwell distribution, at a level in the atmosphere where the mean free path is comparable to the scale height. Maxwell's distribution prescribes the kinetic energy distribution of the molecules, which depends on the mass and the velocity according to

From this we see that the more massive a gas molecule is, the lower its average speed at a given temperature, meaning it is less likely to reach escape velocity and leave the atmosphere. This is why hydrogen escapes from a given atmosphere more easily than carbon dioxide. Also, if the planet has a higher mass, the escape velocity is greater, and fewer particles will escape. This is why the gas giant planets are able to have significant amounts of hydrogen, while they escape on Earth. The distance to the star also plays a part. A close planet has a hotter atmosphere, which generally leads to a faster range of velocities, and more chance of escape. This helps Titan, which is small compared to Earth but further from the Sun, keep its atmosphere (2).

Footnotes:

  1. http:// https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_escape
  2. CreationWiki, the encyclopedia of creation science

Q: Why shouldn't we marry our sisters?

Krishna: Oh my. 

Because if you marry your close relatives, this leads to inbreeding. Inbreeding is not beneficial to a species. Parents that are closely related have a higher chance of sharing the same recessive genes, and if you inherit two recessive genes, one from each parent, there is a risk of passing on possibly harmful traits to your offspring.

In humans, incest is closely associated with sickly children. For example, recently it was revealed that King Tutankhamen of Ancient Egypt’s deformities and lifetime of illness and pain were the result of his parents being siblings.

But some animals do this. Watch this video which explains it all.

Q:We know that we only see anything because the object reflects light and that light reaches to our eyes, but how do we see black objects as they don't reflect any light, although they absorb all the light?

Krishna: Objects are visually perceived when they reflect light. A black object absorbs light of all frequencies, but that doesn't mean that it absorbs all light at all frequencies. Some is reflected.

Image source: Google images

Can you see this black cat? You can because there are various shades of black here.

Human eyes detect photons, but the human visual system perceives contrast. You can "see" any object that contrasts enough with its background or surroundings, whether that's by reflecting/emitting more photons or fewer photons.

When we look at a black object the Photoreceptor cells in parts of our eyes light up a whole lot less, so our brains interpret it as black. We would therefore still be able to see even a black body.

If no photons hit a part of your retina, you “see” black there.

A black shape on a colored background appears black because its brightness approaches zero relative to its surroundings. Being black is not the same as being invisible or “not creating an image”.

The black butterfly here creates an image because you can see other colours and the butterfly is just a silhouette.

And if you have a black object in a total dark room, you won’t be able to see it at all because there won’t be any contrast created for your brain to interpret it as an object.

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