Sunday, April 13, 2014

Does Plutonium Really Glow?

This is truly the stuff of movies and T.V. The big bad Plutonium is seen as an oozing green, glowing substance. The question is, does Plutonium actually glow like that?

In short, the answer is not really. Plutonium can give off light through intense radioactivity, though. To be radioactive means the substance is unstable and its atoms fall apart into smaller elements. Energy is released in these decays. Plutonium is artificial, partly the reason why it is so intensely radioactive. Past the radioactivity, Plutonium is also pyrophoric. This means that small pieces of it will burst into flames. Iron is pyrophoric, which is why it sparks when hit. Plutonium's pyrophoric qualities and intense radioactivity make it warm or even glowing hot. So Plutonium can glow red in some cases. But in reality, Plutonium is a silvery colored metal that is intensely radioactive, and not a green ooze.
A red hot pellet of pure Plutonium. 

There are some elements that do glow some really cool colors. Einsteinium, another man made element, will glow blue entirely on its own. This is truly a remarkable quality. You don't see copper glowing blue in the dark. In fact, you don't see most of the 92 natural elements glowing on their own (Minus phosphorous).
Einsteinium metal, glowing from its intense radioactivity. 
Curium is yet another man made element that glows. 

Curium glowing, this time a nice purple color. 
Plutonium, Einsteinium and Curium make some very intriguing and beautiful displays of light. Unfortunately, they will never make their way into the market as nuclear powered lava lamps. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Could a Black Hole Really Swallow the Earth?

Has a person ever fallen into a Black Hole? Could a Black Hole swallow the Earth?
These are common questions asked about Black Holes. The biggest question, and a great starting point is : what is a Black Hole?

Let's answer it! A Black Hole isn't much like a hole really. Black Holes are objects in space that are made from stars. Imagine a random star in space. Stars are massive balls of burning gas, like the Sun. The Sun is 109 times larger than Earth. These are big objects people! Now take these giant stars and mush them down to something the size of say a basket ball. This makes these stars really thick and dense inside. Because of this, they have a ton of gravity. All of the gravity they had before has to exist in that little basket ball we have now. In fact, weird things start to happen. Black Holes can pull objects in toward them. These objects that are sucked in are exposed to very complicated physics, some of which are not entirely understood. To put the force of gravity into perspective, not even light can escape a black hole. Their gravity is so intense that light gets sucked right into them. This is why they are known as Black Holes. They eat up all the light, making them invisible to the human eye.

Well can a Black Hole swallow Earth? Hypothetically, a Black Hole could swallow Earth up. Luckily for us, we don't have a Black Hole nearby. The Sun is a fairly small star, and it will never be able to become a Black Hole. A Black Hole called V404 Cygni is thought to be about 7,800 light years awayThat means if you went the speed of light, you would reach V404 in 7800 years. We have plenty of space, fortunately.

Has a person ever fallen into a Black Hole? Another fortunate answer :  no. Humans have never approached a Black Hole. If we were to get up near a Black Hole, we would get to a place called the Event Horizon first. This is basically your no going back point. At the Event Horizon, very weird things happen. There are things being sucked into the Black Hole, and energy being shot out of two ends.  A human would certainly die at this point, if not before. Its not entirely clear as to what would happen though.

That's our first post! We hope you enjoy.
Black Holes are thought to lie in the center of galaxies, 
The gravity of Black Holes can even begin to consume stars or other large objects in space.

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What's This Blog About?

We are a new blog about science. Science is a topic seen by people as a crazy, reckless, or complicated field. Science is everything, though. Our Earth spins, and our bodies wake every morning because of science. There's more to the word science than a lecture. Our goal is to disperse common myths and bad con nations about various scientific concepts. We hope to make them a little more cool and interesting along the way.