20 Things You Didn’t Know About Nothing

Nothing is not just ‘nothing‘, it’s Nothing ! Check out these twenty facts about nothing. 😉

  1. There is vastly more nothing than something. Roughly 74 percent of the universe is ‘nothing‘, or what physicists call dark energy; 22 percent is dark matter, particles we cannot see. Only 4 percent is baryonic matter, the stuff we call something.
  2. And even something is mostly nothing. Atoms overwhelmingly consist of empty space. Matter’s solidity is an illusion caused by the electric fields caused by sub-atomic particles.
  3. There is more and more nothing every second. In 1998, astronomers measuring the expansion of universe determined that dark energy is pushing apart the universe at an ever-accelerating speed. The discovery of nothing – and its ability to influence the fate of the cosmos – is considered the most important astronomical finding of the past decade.
  4. But even nothing has a weight. The energy in dark matter is equivalent to a tiny mass; there is about one pound of dark energy in a cube of empty space 250,000 miles on each side.
  5. In space, no one can hear you scream; Sound, a mechanical wave cannot travel in vacuum. Without matter to vibrate through, there is only silence.
  6. So what if Kramer falls in a forest ? Luckily, electromagnetic waves, including light and radio waves, need no medium to travel through, letting TV stations broadcast endless returns of Seinfeld, the show about nothing.
  7. Light can travel through vacuum, but there is nothing to refract it. Alas for extraterrestrial romantics, stars do not twinkle in outer space.
  8. Black holes are not holes or voids: they are the exact opposite of nothing, being the densest concentration of mass known in the universe.
  9. Zero‘ was first seen in cuneiform tablets written around 300 BC, by Babylonians who used it as a placeholder (to distinguish 36 from 306 or 306, for instance). The concept of zero in mathematical sense was developed in India in the fifth century.
  10. Any number divided by zero is … nothing, not even zero. The equation is mathematically impossible.
  11. It is said that Abdulhamid II, sultan of the Ottoman Empire in the early 1900s, had censors expunge references to H2O from chemistry books, because he was sure it stood for “Hamid the Second is nothing“. 😂
  12. Medieval art was mostly flat and two dimensional until the 15th century, when the Florentine architect Filippo  Brunelleschi conceived the vanishing point, the place where parallel lines converge into nothing-ness. this allowed for the development of perspective in art.
  13. Aristotle once wrote,”Nature abhors a vacuum,” and so did he. His complete rejection of vacuums and voids and his subsequent influence on centuries of learning prevented the adoption of the concept of zero in the Western world until around 13th century, when Italian bankers found it to be extraordinarily useful in financial transactions.
  14. Vacuums do not suck things. They create spaces into which the surrounding atmosphere pushes the matter into.
  15. Creatio ex nihilo, the belief that the world was created out of nothing, is one of the common themes in ancient myths and religions.
  16. Current theories suggest that the universe was created out of a state of vacuum energy, that is, nothing.
  17. But to a physicist, there is no such thing as nothing. Empty space is filled with pairs of particles and antiparticles, called virtual particles, that quickly form and then, in accordance with the law of energy conservation, annihilate each other in about 10-25 second.
  18. So Aristotle was right all along.
  19. These virtual particles popping in and out of existence create energy. In fact, according to quantum mechanics, the energy contained in all the power plants and nuclear weapons in the world doesn’t equal the theoretical energy contained in the empty spaces between these words.
  20. In other words, nothing could be the key to the theory of everything ! Cheers !

Source: LeeAundra Temescu


Fertilization: A Key to Your Existence

Fertilization starts just after the transfer of gametes takes place and ends with the formation of zygote, which then differentiates to form your physical self. It is not just the fusion of the nucleus of a sperm with that of an ovum, but a sequence of events that takes place even before the sperms reach the ovum. In humans, it usually occurrs in the ampulla of the fallopian tube of the ♀ reproductive tract. Read more

The Mystery of Aurora

In 1621, a French scientist, Gassendi, saw the lights in polar regions like Alaska and Northern Canada and named after the Roman goddess of dawn, “Aurora“. He added the word “borealis” for the Roman god of the north wind, “Boreas“. In the southern hemisphere, they are called Aurora australis. The lights are usually seen after dusk near both poles. Although they look elegant and calm, aurorae are produced when a large number of charged particles undergo collision while being trapped in Earth’s magnetic field.

This splendid display of colours and appearance of dancing lights is fascinating, and equally puzzling. These haunting lights are a form of intense space weather, a result of the atmosphere shielding the Earth against fierce solar particles that would otherwise make our planet uninhabitable. Millions and millions of electrically charged particles in the solar wind wash over Earth and smash into upper atmospheric gases. The energy from each collision is released as photons – particles of light. This causes the particles to glow.

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A Physical Pendulum Problem

About 2 weeks ago, Former MIT Professor Walter H. G. Lewin posted a Physics problem on his YouTube channel as a part of his series of problems for the viewers of his channel. This question was divided into two parts – the first one, which was quite simple and a trickier sequel to it. The videos have been embedded and the solution is derived along the problem.

The First Part

Question 1.

What is the time period of a swinging pendulum made out of a uniform rod which is oscillated about one of its ends ?

Possible Solution

We have an uniform rod of mass M, length L and the acceleration of gravity is taken as g. The pendulum is oscillated about one of its end. The center of mass and center of gravity of an uniform rod lies at the center of the rod i.e. at a distance L/2 from one end of the rod. Read more

Properties of Alcohols

Continuing the post on Alcohols, the physical and chemical properties are discussed in this post. Classification, Methods of Preparation and Important Compounds are in the former post. Click here to go that post.

Physical Properties

Alcohols and phenols consist of two parts, an alkyl/aryl group and a hydroxyl group. The properties of alcohols and phenols are chiefly due to the hydroxyl group. The nature of alkyl and aryl groups simply modify these properties.

Boiling Points

The boiling points of alcohols and phenols increase with increase in the number of carbon atoms (increase in van der Waals forces). In alcohols, the boiling points decrease with increase of branching in carbon chain (because of decrease in van der Waals forces with decrease in surface area). The –OH group in alcohols and phenols is involved in intermolecular hydrogen bonding as shown below:


It is interesting to note that boiling points of alcohols and phenols are higher in comparison to other classes of compounds, namely hydrocarbons, ethers, haloalkanes and haloarenes of comparable molecular masses. For example, ethanol and propane have comparable molecular masses but their boiling points differ widely. The boiling point of methoxymethane is intermediate of the two boiling points.The high boiling points of alcohols are mainly due to the presence of intermolecular hydrogen bonding in them which is lacking in ethers and hydrocarbons.

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Alcohols and Phenols

Alcohols and phenols are formed when a hydrogen atom in a hydrocarbon, aliphatic and aromatic respectively, is replaced by –OH group. From the ordinary spirit used for polishing wooden furniture, a compound containing hydroxyl group, ethanol to the sugar we eat, the cotton used for fabrics, the paper we use for writing, are all made up of compounds containing hydroxyl groups.

An alcohol contains one or more hydroxyl (-OH) group(s) directly attached to carbon atom(s), of an aliphatic system (R-OH) while a phenol contains –OH group(s) directly attached to carbon atom(s) of an aromatic system (Ph-OH or Ar-OH). Read more

The Father of Genetics

Gregor Johann Mendel was the first to demonstrate the scientific basis of inheritance and variation by conducting hybridisation experiments. He is best known today for his work on Pisum sativum (Garden pea) and proposal for the laws of inheritance in living organisms. But it should be very much clear that he was not the first to conduct these experiments, rather he perhaps the first to consider several characters of the parental generation at once. His experiments were in fact, the extension and development of experiments on the pea done by workers like Knight and Goss.

Progeny receives the characters from the parents in form of genetic information in gametes. This can be summed up in a phrase ‘like begets like‘. The transfer of characters from the parents to the offsprings is inheritance and the degree by which offsprings differ from the parents is variation. The branch of science which deals with inheritance as well as the variation of characters is Genetics.

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Giving Birth: The Challenge of Parturition

The average duration of human pregnancy is about 38 weeks, which is known as the gestation period. Nearing the end of pregnancy, vigorous contraction of uterine muscles causes expulsion of the fetus, or delivery of the baby. The process of delivery of the fetus (childbirth) is called parturition. Since it is regarding birth, we decided to start of the journey with a discussion on the process and gave birth to ScienceBits.

Parturition is induced by a complex neuroendocrine mechanism. The signals for parturition originate from the fully-developed fetus and the placenta to cause mild uterine contractions. This signal is sent to the posterior pituitary of the mother through the servous system and triggers the release of Oxytocin. This is the fetal ejection reflex. Facilitated by estrogen, oxytocin binds to the receptors on myometrium of the uterus and results in stronger and stronger contractions. This leads to the expulsion of the baby out of the uterus through the birth canal. Soon after the infant is delivered, the placenta is also expelled out of the uterus. Read more