Gheorghe Curelet-Balan Blog

Monday, June 27, 2005

Relativistic rollercoaster.

One of the most interesting movies shown during the Through Einstein's Eyes session at the Perimeter Institute was the Relativistic Rollercoaster. Below picture was taken during the movie presentation. The movie explanation could be found here.

Uptown Country Festival.

Summer festivals in the Waterloo city have started on June 18th with the Uptown Country Festival. Unfortunatelly I've got there close to the end of the event.

The star of the festival was the last singer Beverly Mahood that proved that she remembers her Ontarian root. Her performance was a delight.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Superstrings and the Theory of Everything.

The next Perimeter Institute public lecture The Superstring Adventure presented by Rob Myers on June 24th (at University of Guelph) will show us if superstring theory is indeed the final theory.

Rob Myers is a well known theoretical physics personality.

Here are some of the awards that he won:

Canadian food and living recipes.

Are you interested in some barbeque or picnic tips or want to learn about Canadian healthy eating choices? If yes then follow this link: to learn more.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Robin nest in the frontyard maple tree.

One of the risks of having an organic garden is to become the godfather of a new generation of robins. There is lots of good stuff in an organic garden that a robin can use as food. Unfortunately I have no worm handy as a treat for the little fellows :) I should get out of here as fast as possible since I'm in big trouble if the parents find me taking pictures of their nest.

The guardian parent is watching me even if I'm the godfather :) Trust but verify as Ronald Reagan often said.

Organic garden in the frontyard.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Visitor in the neighborhood.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Puzzle's solution.

I didn't know that a microwave oven could be used to determine the speed of light till last Saturday when I went to the Perimeter Institute (PI)'s weekly Black Hole Sessions. I always learned something new and interesting at these sessions. The seminar room on the PI's 4th floor proved to be small for the physics enthusiasts that had the scientific curiosity to take a journey through the world of Einstein's special relativity theory. Late comers were unfortunate as any free standing spot was already taken. The room's doors had to be left open so that they can watch from there.

Damian Pope, the new PI's Director of Scientific Outreach, started the presentation with a live demonstration of the use of the microwave to determine light's speed. He microwaved the chocolate bar on a dish for few seconds. The audience was assigned to say when it sees the first signs of chocolate melting. By the way, if you didn't know Percy Spencer discovered by accident that microwaves could be used to cook, when a chocolate bar melted in his pocket while he was working to built radars.

This was the result of the chocolate bar cooking. Damian explained to us that the 2 points where the chocolate bar kind of exploded indicate where are the hot spots of the microwave oven. For more information about microwave ovens follow this link.

Then a volunteer was needed to measure with the ruler the distance between the middle of each of "exploded" parts of the chocolate bar. Among numerous volunteering offers Damian picked this boy, probably because he just finished his coloring activities :)

The distance turned out to be 12.5cm. We were told that this is the wavelength of the electromagnetic waves generated by the microwave oven's magnetron.

Now mathematics skills were needed. Damian read on the back of the oven the frequency of the electromagnetic waves it generates: 2450MHz per second. By multiplying it with 12.5cm (the wavelength) he obtained the approximate value for the speed of microwave electromagnetic waves: 306250 Km per second. Considering the tools used in this determination the audience agreed that this result was a good enough approximation for the speed of light that is an electromagnetic wave.

After this short animated introduction, Damian explained his goal to show us just a glimpse at the Einstein's world. How the world where things move at very high speed, looks like.

First he started to get us the feeling of how fast is fast? How the highest speed of a man-made ship, compares with the speed of light? Voyager 1, the most distant from Earth spacecraft, travels on an interstellar mission, at a speed of 17.2 Km/s (3.6 AU per year).

Then he was trying to answer the question of how did Einstein come up with his relativity theories. Damian had hard time explaining the concepts of time dilation and length contraction since people curiosity made them to interrupt frequently.

Time was up for a break, so I had a chance to take another picture of the huge blackboard in the Black Hole Bistro.

From the Black Hole bistro balcony I took a shot of Abraham Erb's Gristmill.

Then, I spotted some latecomers that were rushing to catch the second part of our session :)

After that, a few computer generated movies of the Einstein world were shown. Between movies Damian had hard time answering the avalanche of questions from the audience that was amazed by the number of surreal and counter-intuitive effects that could be seen when things travel at a velocity close to the speed of light. Our volunteer got a chance to ask a question, after keeping his arm up for almost 10 minutes: "if we are on a ship that travels close to the light's speed, are we shrinking indeed or the people that are watching, see us this way?". Well this question kept Damian and the audience busy in a debate for the next 10 minutes.

After such a spiritual delight it was still time to get some food from a Romanian/German/Hungarian vendor at the Kitchener Farmer's market.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Physics Puzzle.

How could you determine the speed of light having only a microwave oven, a ruler, a chocolate bar and some mathematics skills?

University of Waterloo in the news.

This link talks about the success factors of the University of Waterloo that has the largest co-op program in the world.

Cited as the top “comprehensive university” by the Maclean’s magazine, University of Waterloo is one of the main supplier of talent to the top employers.

I've discussed in an earlier post about the contribution the University of Waterloo makes to the Waterloo region.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Life of a Romanian geologist.

If you want to see lots of pictures of Romanian mountains visit the following page:

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Another plea for exercise.

Walking can prevent breast cancer as explained on this page:

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Encounters on an Elmira trail.

Last weekend our hiking group decided to go on a trail around Elmira, Ontario. Close to Waterloo, Elmira is mainly known for its Maple Syrup Festival.

A mennonite farm around Elmira.

And the weather turned out to be quite good.

Going around the lake.

And we meet another group of "hikers".

That decided to go on their own "trail".

Another "hiker" that we pass.

The biggest trillium I ever found.