Ask A Science Question!

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TashMonster
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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by TashMonster » 03/24/14

Question:

The Earth is constantly gaining mass due to cosmic dust and meteorites crashing into it at something like several hundred tons per day, I believe.

However, does the same hold true for a black hole? As objects, planets, dust, and light fall into a black hole, do they increase the mass of the singularity and thus increase the size of its gravity well? Can a "normal" black hole gather up so much material as to become a supermassive black hole?

Along a similar vein, what happens when two black holes collide?

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Lyah
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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Lyah » 03/24/14

TashMonster wrote:The Earth is constantly gaining mass due to cosmic dust and meteorites crashing into it at something like several hundred tons per day, I believe.
Roughly 40,000 tons of material fall to earth every year. Supposing it were uniform, that would mean that the radius of the earth is growing by about 0.02 nanometers every year, roughly a billion times slower than the continents are moving.
TashMonster wrote:However, does the same hold true for a black hole? As objects, planets, dust, and light fall into a black hole, do they increase the mass of the singularity and thus increase the size of its gravity well? Can a "normal" black hole gather up so much material as to become a supermassive black hole?
Yes, the more mass in a black hole, the stronger it gets. The term "supermassive" black hole doesn't denote anything more than a certain "weight class" of black hole. However, because of the relative sparseness of matter, it's highly unlikely for a sun to collapse into a black hole, and then scoop up enough matter to become "supermassive". That term is exclusive to the gob-smackingly huge black holes at the centers of galaxies.

However, one could envision a third black hole of such size being formed as the result of a collision of two galaxies. FYI, we're collide with the Andromeda galaxy in 4 billion years. We'll wreck it. M33, the Triangulum Galaxy, is going to get scooped up in the process as well.

In 3.75 billion years, this will be your night sky.

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TashMonster wrote:Along a similar vein, what happens when two black holes collide?
When two black holes collide, they just merge into one big black hole of composite gravitational force, or so says the math. We have never seen this happen, and it's unlikely to unless both stars in a binary or system go black hole at roughly the same time.
Implied Question wrote:Can black holes lose weight??
They, do, in fact. It's called "evaporation", or more scientifically, "Hawking radiation". According to the quantum theory, rotating black holes should create and emit particles in the form of Hawking radiation. This reduces the mass and the energy of the black hole. Because of this, black holes that lose more mass than they gain through other means are expected to shrink and ultimately vanish.

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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Shizouka » 03/25/14

Some of the simulations I've seen have stars cast about like marbles over a floor when two galaxies "collide". I expect anything advanced enough will want to be doing some heavy calculations to try to predict if their star will go flying off and where to.

That gives me a few ideas...

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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Lyah » 03/25/14

Shizouka wrote:Some of the simulations I've seen have stars cast about like marbles over a floor when two galaxies "collide". I expect anything advanced enough will want to be doing some heavy calculations to try to predict if their star will go flying off and where to.

That gives me a few ideas...
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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Erithe » 03/25/14

Y2K bug, was it real and what effect did it have overall?

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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Sairina » 03/27/14

Nope, it sure wasn't. FORTRAN and other systems, which were the biggest concerns of the bug, adapted to rolling over to Year "00" without a problem.

On the topic of colliding galaxies... I thought I had read somewhere that the Milky Way is currently colliding with another galaxy?

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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Zilvrae » 03/28/14

Erithe wrote:Y2K bug, was it real and what effect did it have overall?
Yes, the Y2K bug was real, in that there were still in use software systems that performed calculations based on dates but only used a 2 digit year. In some cases such software was running on very old server hardware that lacked the capability to handle a 4 digit year.

If left unresolved, the rollover to 1/1/00 could have made a mess of financial systems. However, all of the hype and hysteria was way overblown. Critical infrastructure, particularly stuff that doesn't care about dates, were perfectly safe.

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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Scrappers » 03/28/14

The next problem will be 2038 for legacy 32 bit systems. Unix time stamp measures seconds since Jan. 1 1970. It is stored in a 32 bit signed integer.

Dates before Jan. 1 1970 are represented as a negative number, and dates after are a positive number.

After Jan. 1 2038 that number will overflow the storage capacity of a 32 bit integer which will switch it to a negative number and start counting down to zero.

For 64 bit systems, that won't roll over until Sun, 4 December 292,277,026,596 (after the sun expands, swallows the earth, esplodes, apocalypse, whatever)

Let's just pray we don't have any 32 bit systems or software left by 2038.

Unfortunately, here at work we still have 386's running. We get really old crap to repair that hasn't had a software update since I was a kid, and won't run on anything faster without shitting itself. So unfortunately, this is a big worry for me. So please, if I am still working here by then, just shoot me, m'kay! Thxk bai! :P

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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Lyah » 04/03/14

Erithe wrote:Y2K bug, was it real and what effect did it have overall?
The biggest problem with Y2K was that people wrote programs in the 90's, 80's, and 70's and couldn't imagine that they will still be running by the 2000's. And by all rights, they should not have been. But legacy systems that long ago should have been replaced never were. It's not that programs was badly designed, or that people were lazy, it's that nobody who designed, say, DBASE-IV ever imagined that anyone would still be using their code 20 or 30 years later.

Yet that's exactly what happened, and it cost hundreds of millions of dollars industry-wide to correct that. This irony is that even these emergency fixes will still probably cheaper overall, though they were a short-term bite into people's budgets. By and large, most of the Y2K issues were fixed, and the storm was weathered.

That said, if the problems had been ignored, a LOT of things would have broken. Some of them in terrible ways. The Y2K problem was very real, and very dangerous, but it was also very well patched, and in time to prevent major disaster.

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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Lyah » 04/06/14

phpBB [media]

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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Psia » 04/12/14

Is the Blood Moon Festival a sign of the Apocalypse? :P

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"The food is good, the wine is excellent, the staff timely. All that is lacking is your company." - EQ2 Raven Mythic FAQ

"Let me tell you something. Don't. Don't let them promote you. Don't let them transfer you, don't let them do anything that takes you off the bridge of that ship, because while you're there, you can make a difference." - Kirk to Picard, Star Trek Generations

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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Tregarde » 04/22/14

A little bit of motion + fluid dynamics!
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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Tregarde » 05/29/14

-How can the Universe expand faster than the speed of light if Einstein said nothing could?
-If objects are moving apart faster than the speed of light, how do we even receive the light to see it?
-How did the Big Bang happen only 13.8 billion years ago if the observable Universe has a diameter of 93 billion light years?
-The Universe seems to be infinite, so how could there be one tiny starting point?
-If there’s nothing outside the Universe, what is it expanding into?

This video does a pretty good job explaining these things in only 5½ minutes.
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Lyah
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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Lyah » 05/29/14

Artist's logarithmic scale conception of the observable universe with the Solar System at the center, inner and outer planets, Kuiper belt, Oort cloud, Alpha Centauri, Perseus Arm, Milky Way galaxy, Andromeda galaxy, nearby galaxies, Cosmic Web, Cosmic microwave radiation and the Big Bang's invisible plasma on the edge.

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Scrappers
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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Scrappers » 05/30/14

Thank you for posting that Lyah. That's pretty badass!

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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Attamark » 06/02/14

This is a bit of a dumb question but it ties in with the Q- teleport thread.

I swear Ive heard this both ways, but is it supposed to be Supraluminal communications, or Superluminial communications for faster than light communication methods?

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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Scrappers » 06/03/14

There are no dumb questions, just smart-ass answers. :P

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TashMonster
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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by TashMonster » 06/03/14

Here's a biology question:

When one has an itch, scratching the itch is generally considered to do more harm than good. So why is it such an instinctive compulsion? Why does it feel good to scratch an itch if scratching is a harmful act?

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Lyah
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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Lyah » 06/04/14

Attamark wrote:This is a bit of a dumb question but it ties in with the Q- teleport thread.

I swear Ive heard this both ways, but is it supposed to be Supraluminal communications, or Superluminial communications for faster than light communication methods?
I think this is a bit like Inflammable, which means, perversely.... flammable.

The prefix "supra-" means "above" which makes it the more accurate of the two terms, though. "Super-" is a general term, where "Supra-" is more distinct, indicating, in this case "above light speed". But both are used.

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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Lyah » 06/04/14

TashMonster wrote:When one has an itch, scratching the itch is generally considered to do more harm than good. So why is it such an instinctive compulsion? Why does it feel good to scratch an itch if scratching is a harmful act?
In the wild, with no supplemental medical aid, it's probably an evolutionary advantage that you DO scratch at an itch. Itches tell you when you have burrs, and splinters, bugs, bores, leeches, and other things that really should be removed. Since the skin/brain doesn't really know the difference between things on the skin that SHOULD be scratched at, and things that do not. All we know is that something is setting off nerve receptors.

Almost all animals scratch and itch, even fish scratch themselves. Scratching seems like such a natural reaction that it took a while before scientists figured out something more was going on between the skin and the brain.

One study showed scratching brings relief even if you miss the itch and scratch far away from the bite or rash. To see this interaction in the brain, researchers hooked up 13 healthy people to MRI scan machines. Then they began to scratch the volunteers on their legs in 30-second intervals. Simply scratching the skin, even without an induced itch, has a compulsive effect on the brain.

Scratching activates areas of the brain associated with memory and pleasure, while at the same time it suppresses areas associated with the sensation of pain and emotions. It puts in that message to continue it. That's why it's so repetitive, it's associated with a reward, so the more you do it, the more it feels better.

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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Tregarde » 06/17/14

Ever wonder what the spectra of each element is?
(for the record, I actually have!)
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And here is an interactive table, where clicking on the element will bring up a larger picture of it's spectra.
https://chemistry.bd.psu.edu/jircitano/periodic4.html

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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Tregarde » 06/26/14

Just imagine how much more we'll know in another 90 years
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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Lyah » 06/30/14

Tregarde wrote:Just imagine how much more we'll know in another 90 years
I don't think we CAN imagine how much we will know in 90 years. :)

The technological singularity, or simply the singularity, is a hypothetical moment in time when artificial intelligence, human biological enhancement, or brain-computer interfaces will have progressed to the point of a greater-than-human intelligence, radically changing civilization, and perhaps human nature. Because the capabilities of such an intelligence may be difficult for a human to comprehend, the technological singularity is often seen as an occurrence (akin to a gravitational singularity) beyond which the future course of human history is unpredictable or even unfathomable.

The first use of the term "singularity" in this context was by mathematician John von Neumann. In 1958, regarding a summary of a conversation with von Neumann, Stanislaw Ulam described "ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue". The term was popularized by science fiction writer Vernor Vinge, who argues that artificial intelligence, human biological enhancement, or brain-computer interfaces could be possible causes of the singularity. Futurist, and inventor of the portable reading machine for the blind, Ray Kurzweil cited von Neumann's use of the term in a foreword to von Neumann's classic The Computer and the Brain.

Proponents of the singularity typically postulate an "intelligence explosion", where superintelligences design successive generations of increasingly powerful minds, that might occur very quickly and might not stop until the agent's cognitive abilities greatly surpass that of any human.

Kurzweil predicts the singularity to occur around 2045 whereas Vinge predicts some time before 2030. At the 2012 Singularity Summit, Stuart Armstrong did a study of artificial general intelligence (AGI) predictions by experts and found a wide range of predicted dates, with a median value of 2040. Discussing the level of uncertainty in AGI estimates, Armstrong said in 2012, "It's not fully formalized, but my current 80% estimate is something like five to 100 years."

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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Einh » 07/04/14

I wonder if Graphene will be the new material that carries us forward into a new, unfathomable generation of quantum computing,

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Re: Ask A Science Question!

Post by Scrappers » 07/08/14

My guess for the tech. of the future will be just shrinking older obsolete tech. until it is new again, ala...

https://spectrum.ieee.org/semiconductor ... of-nothing

I find it interesting that the physics changes a bit when you shrink it small enough.

Thoughts?

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