Saturday, 27 April 2013

Question of the Millennium-"Which came first, Chicken or Egg?"- Simplified!

Question of the Millennium-"Which came first, Chicken or Egg?"- Simplified!

It is a question that has perplexed human since the ancient Greece to the 21st century and we're still dying to know. Which came first, chicken or egg?

This question would be very simple if we take it literally. Egg laying creatures existed far before chickens (340 MYA), so the egg came first. Therefore, a better refined mode of the question is, "Which came first, chicken or the 'chicken' egg? Thus if a chicken is born from an egg, where did the egg come from? Ergo if the egg is laid by a chicken, where did the chicken come from?

Research suggests that the protein essential for the formation of the chicken egg called OV-17 is only found in chicken ovaries. Without it, the chicken egg shell could not be formed. So without a chicken. you technically can't get a chicken egg. This is where biology and genetics comes into attack. 

During reproduction, two organisms pass along their genetic information in the form of DNA. But the replication of this DNA when a zygote differentiates is never 100% accurate and often produces minor changes for the new organism.

These small 'mutations' in DNA over thousands of generations create new species.But these mutations must occur only in the zygote, or the initial egg.
                                                                 So, a creature very similar to chicken, which we could call a 'proto-chicken' would have mated with another proto chicken and because of a small genetic mutation created the first chicken, which grew in an chicken egg. Or, it is also possible to call that it was a chicken growing in a proto- chicken egg.

Comparing both the scenario's, either the first chicken came from a 'chicken egg' or a 'proto - chicken egg', in the end of the day we can say that it came from an egg, being it a chicken egg or a proto-chicken egg. So, the EGG came first!

"Childbirth vs Getting kicked in the balls"- Simplified

What causes more pain? Childbirth or Getting kicked in the balls?

Who has it worse when it comes to pain? That now is probably the question equivalent to "What came first, Chicken or Egg?". In one hand, women are left with a task of fitting a watermelon sized fetus in her coin sized uterus. On the other, men complain that even a slightest hit on their jewels (:P) can leave them for dead.So which one hurts more?

Before we start, there was a recent rumor on the internet claiming that when a woman gives birth, she suffers 56-57 del of pain which apparently is equivalent to the breaking of 20 human bones, while when a man is kicked in his balls, he suffers 9000 del of pain which I'm assuming will be equivalent to all the bones of our body and the limit to which a human body can withstand pain is 45 del. Apart from the absurd logic that both  of these events can surpass the alleged limit of 45 del, the unit "del" does not even exist. There was once a unit called "dol" from the Latin word 'Dolor' for pain. So that internet fact was bullshit. Before we can move on further, let's talk about 'pain'. What is pain?
                                                                 Pain is the sensation we get when a specialized group of receptors called nociceptors pick it from a stimuli. Unlike other receptors which fire to sensation like temperature, pressure etc. , nociceptors fire when it has passed a specialized  pain threshold, i.e a certain minimum limit required for the pain to register. Some of these nociceptors react quickly which produce a quick sensation of pain like touching something hot or sharp, allowing us to react quickly. While others transmit more slowly and are responsible for a prolonged pain or a 'dull ache'. 

For males, the testicles are internal organs that have migrated out of the body which have a lot of nociceptors, making them extremely sensitive. Also, testicles are also attached to many nerves of the stomach as well as the 'vagus' nerve which in turn is connected to the brain's 'vomit' centre and this is why when hit, the pain spreads throughout the abdomen. To add to that, the human psychology enhances the pain due to testicles being of the minimal protection and utmost importance, and creates symptoms like nausea, increased blood pressure, heart rate etc.

For females, even tough they are not hit with any direct blow to the internal organs,  the mechanical distention   of the uterine area also triggers nociceptors and causes the same kind of visceral pain, mentioning the fact that labor lasts 7-8 hours on an average including nausea, fatigue and increased tension due to stretching. 
Okay! So obviously both of them hurts a lot due a lot of mechanical stimulation by sending signals to pain center of the brain. But this where it gets twisted because pain isn't simply a physical response, rather it is a partially subjective experience based on human to human. This means that every single individual perceives pain in a slightly different way. And not only individual, it also depends on our mood, alertness or previous experience. And because of that, pain may affect each one of us differently. Due to this, we cannot really confine pain in terms of units, for it may affect us differently. 

Thus, pain is not a stimulus, it's an experience that's different for everybody and, both the events of child birth and getting hit on the balls can hurt a lot! So, we call this one a TIE. Apart from the fact that both the events are completely different, and there are so many variables to consider like age, angle and velocity of the hit, baby size and time of labor etc, a man could receive more pain, and vice versa. The only difference being that one results in a new born baby, while the other decreases the chance of having one! (:P)

Friday, 26 April 2013

Albert Einstein, "Who is that guy" & Theory Of Relativity Simplified

Albert Einstein- How do we know him?
We all know who Albert Einstein is. When asked about him, we generally have only one answer, “He was a great scientist, probably the greatest theoretical physicist we have ever witnessed”, or some may say “He was the one who gave us the equation ‘E=mc²’, for which he became very famous”. But was that all?
Albert Einstein was born on 14 March 1879 in W├╝rttemberg, Germany, to a Jewish family. He was not a brilliant student in school as he felt very uncomfortable to study history and remember dates, but he was very interested in science. Later, he moved to Switzerland to attain a teaching diploma in Physics and Mathematics. He then received his doctorate and in due time, he published the most revolutionizing papers on physics, which changed the shape of Astronomical physics forever.
Einstein was a theoretical physicist; a person who finds or creates theories based on previously or newly found observations. His most noted works, for which is widely known is regarding light (the photoelectric effect), matter (his famous equation e=mc², which is energy=mass times the square of speed of light) and his most famous work for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize is on his general theory of relativity. So let’s try to put some light on it and know why he was so famous.
So what is the general theory of relativity or simply, general relativity? In simpler words, Einstein gave an absolutely new definition of gravity, and explained that why gravitational field of high masses bends light. Till then we knew that light doesn’t bend, but it gets reflected from shining surfaces, until he gave the theory of relativity. General relativity states that “if a light ray passes through the path of the sun (heavenly body); you would actually see it shift, just a little bit because of the heavy gravity of the sun”. This concept seems impossible to believe with the classical theories of space and time, until he gave a new term which unites both space and time as one, called the spacetime continuum, which changed the concept of gravity which we now study in physics.
To know relativity, we first need to know about spacetime. Consider millions of horizontal and vertical lines weaved together to form a fabric, with the lines representing time and space respectively. This one fabric is spacetime, which is laid throughout the universe. And this spacetime is the new definition of gravity. Gravity isn’t just a force, it’s the depth formed by a heavy mass on this fabric, which causes objects like satellites and asteroids to revolve around it. For instance; if you stretch a big rectangular elastic blanket from its four corners and drop a heavy mass (or a ball) in its centre, you will observe that it creates a depth on the blanket. And now on the blanket, if you gently keep a mass of comparatively lesser than the heavier mass, you will observe that the lighter mass revolves around the heavier mass for a period of time. This concept of the blanket or fabric is somewhat known as spacetime, in terms of gravity in which gravity is directly proportional to the depth it creates in spacetime. So in simple words, the more depth a mass creates on spacetime, the more will be its gravitational force to attract other masses.

Now imagine this blanket is laid all across the universe, and masses heavy as stars, suns and especially black holes are kept on it! Imagine the depth they would create on spacetime, and the gravitational force caused by them. This immense gravitational force, caused by the depth created on spacetime causes light to bend when it passes through the sun’s or the black hole’s path. Now you may know as you have heard as why light cannot escape black holes. The immense mass of a black hole (heaviest mass known till yet) causes an infinitely large depth on spacetime, which doesn’t allow light to pass through it. This also creates an idea as why the heavenly bodies in space are suspended at their respective places, as due to their respective depths in spacetime. This theory of relativity made Einstein the most famous man on earth and was awarded the Nobel, when his theory was experimentally proved by Arthur Arrington during a solar eclipse, that light bends near the sun when it comes a star farther than it.

  So this is what we call, the general relativity, explained in simpler words. And this is how we know Albert Einstein. Einstein wasn’t just a physicist; he was the greatest physicist of all time.
-     Maharshi Chakravortee