On October 24, 1946, a group of American military engineers and scientists did a very strange thing: they used a Nazi V2 rocket to take the first picture of the Earth from space. It was a strange but perhaps fitting time to find this kind of perspective—World War II was barely over, NASA did not yet exist, and Sputnik wouldn’t be launched for another 11 years. The only people who had seriously given thought to spaceships were the Nazis, who developed the V2 rocket bombs that wreaked havoc in London and Antwerp towards the end of WWII. When the Allies captured Nazi factory and launch sites, America seized some of these V2s and took some to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, where they were launched into space for testing. Clyde Holliday, an engineer there, understood that images would be a powerful tool for space exploration, so he developed a 35mm camera that could take a photo every 1.5 seconds, and sent it up with a V2. Before this, the highest pictures ever taken were by the Explorer II, a balloon that reached 22 kilometres high in 1935, but Holliday’s V2 rocket climbed to an altitude over 100 kilometres. It snapped photos every 1.5 seconds, then fell back down and slammed into the Earth, destroying the camera—but luckily a steel cassette protected the film. The image seen above is the first image the camera took: the grainy grey Earth against the vast blackness of space. Later images stitched together in a panorama can be seen here. National Geographic released these photos in 1950, giving the world our first real glimpse of how small we are, and how high we can reach.
A mathematical concept that explains that it is possible to get random results from normal equations. The main precept behind this theory is the underlying notion of small occurrences significantly affecting the outcomes of seemingly unrelated events.
Chaos theory has been applied to many different things, from predicting weather patterns to the stock market. Simply put, chaos theory is an attempt to see and understand the underlying order of complex systems that may appear to be without order at first glance.
Do you need to be told about chaos, or is your desk a permanent example? As everyone knows, beneath what those intolerably neat and tidy people consider to be chaos, there is a form of order. The chaotic housekeeper can always find the item of their desire - as long as no-one tidies up!
Many systems which scientists have considered totally random, unpredictable and without form have now been found to be otherwise. There is form and pattern hidden within the CHAOS . It is a part of the natural form - a definitive ingredient of Nature itself.
The Oxford Concise Dictionary defines chaos as "Formless primordial matter; utter confusion." The day has come when there is a need for an update - Chaos Theory is changing the way scientists look at the weather, the way mathematicians plot equations and the way artists define Art. Population dynamics is one area which can be very sensitive to small changes in initial conditions. So can the weather. A butterfly flapping its wings in a South American jungle, it is said, can lead to a hurricane in China. This is the signature of Chaos Theory!
In playing with these ideas, a new way of doing science grew. These computers could not only calculate they could communicate too. Information flew around the globe. You no longer had to be in the right place or talk to the right people. The equipment and information was available to masses of people all over the world. And their mathematics produced images which were stunningly beautiful, and, at times, awesomely like nature.
A new art form was born and a whole new set of questions arose about the nature of nature itself. These images, called FRACTALS were fun. They had an ever growing fan club who became obsessed with their generation.
M.T.: For me, it’s usually when there’s an unexpected connection between two things I thought were unrelated. Imagine if you walked into an art museum and saw a very beautiful sculpture in one corner, and something else…
We don’t have any trouble coping with three dimensions – or four at a pinch. The 3D world of solid objects and limitless space is something we accept with scarcely a second thought. Time, the fourth dimension, gets a little trickier. But it’s when we start to explore worlds that embody more – or indeed fewer – dimensions that things get really tough.
Ten dimensions, and we finally reach the fabled land of string theory. For all the vitriol that has been thrown at it, string theory is for the moment the only real game in town when it comes to attempts to bundle up quantum mechanics and general relativity into a “theory of everything”. It holds that all particles that make up matter or transmit forces arise from the vibration of tiny strings. Those strings are one-dimensional. The space they wiggle about in is not. In fact, it has 10 dimensions: nine of space, and one of time.
Why? In a nutshell, because the theory doesn’t work with any fewer, as physicists Michael Green and John Schwarz showed in 1984: mathematical anomalies crop up that translate into violent fluctuations in the fabric of space-time at scales smaller than the Planck length of 10-35 metres.
In string theory, as in guitar playing, the string must be stretched under tension in order to become excited. However, the strings in string theory are floating in spacetime, they aren’t tied down to a guitar. Nonetheless, they have tension. The string tension in string theory is denoted by the quantity 1/(2 p a’), where a’ is pronounced “alpha prime”and is equal to the square of the string length scale. If string theory is to be a theory of quantum gravity, then the average size of a string should be somewhere near the length scale of quantum gravity, called the Planck length, which is about 10-33 centimeters, or about a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a centimeter. Unfortunately, this means that strings are way too small to see by current or expected particle physics technology (or financing!!) and so string theorists must devise more clever methods to test the theory than just looking for little strings in particle experiments.