Kepler’s Laws

Tycho Brahe was not able to explain laws of planetary motion so enlisted the help of Johannes Kepler in 1600. Kepler tried to relate his findings to Tycho’s theory of circular orbits. But after small discrepancies Kepler decided to abandon Tycho’s theory. Kepler’s Laws of planetary motion are broken down into three principles. They are,

1. The orbit of each planet about the Sun is an eclipse at one focus.

2. A planet moves faster in the part of its orbit nearest the Sun, sweeping out equal areas in equal times.

3. More distant planets orbit the sun at slower average speeds, obeying the relationship p squared = a cubed.

In order to connect what was learned in class and a current event, had a useful article that explained Kepler’s laws of motion. On January 3, 2018 the Earth and Sun had their closest encounter of the year. Earth’s orbit reached perihelion or its nearest point in the yearly orbit. Kepler’s principle that  a planet moves faster in the part of its orbit nearest the Sun, sweeping out equal areas in equal times, means that Earth will travel faster at perihelion rather than at aphelion. In the lecture tutorial completed in class it was further studied that Kepler’s second principle can be understood through the completion of an illustration showing a planet obeying the law at nine different locations.

For me I understand how Kepler was able to examine and justify theories regarding how a planet in our universe follows a set of laws of planetary motion. Earth and other planets do not have a circular orbit but rather a ellipse.



Newton’s Laws

In this objective I can effectively explain and relate Newton’s Laws to class and current events. In class and in the textbook Newton’s Laws of Motion were examined. After reading the text I can state Newton’s laws:

1. An object moves at constant velocity if there are no net forces acting on it.

2. Force= X acceleration (F= ma)

3. For any force there is always an equal and opposite reaction force.

In order to relate Newton’s Laws back to class and my understanding of said laws, I found an article from In this article is a video from NASA’s Astronaut Randy Bresnik demonstrates whether or not Newton’s second law will be true in space. explains the following; ” In the video, Bresnik uses a bendy slingshot to put a ChapStick, a miniature replica of a space capsule and a large stuffed storage bag all into motion. Sure enough, the ChapStick goes flying faster than the big bag, because if the force acting on the object remains constant in all the examples, the larger object will not be able to accelerate as much.” ( What this shows is that Newtons second law of force= mass X acceleration is valid in space.

This article ties into the lesson presented in class which is based off of newton’s law and gravity. “Newton’s Laws of motion describe how objects in the universe move in response to forces.” (Pg. 95 textbook). For me what this means is that when a force acts on an object in space certain rules are applied to determine how this is happening. For example the law of gravity can be expressed mathematically through his universal law of gravitation.


Light Waves are the New Radio Waves

According to, Philips has created intelligent light panels that will completely change how the internet works in our home and workplace. This technology is called Li-Fi. Li-Fi is a two way broadband connection from light waves that can reach speeds over 100 times faster than Wi-Fi. Where Wi-Fi is transmitted and receives information by radio waves. Philips’ press release claimed that Li-Fi bandwidth can hit 10,000 time faster than Wi-Fi. It can also stream multiple HD quality videos while being on video calls. The only down fall of this is that light waves can not pass through walls like radio waves can, but this makes the Li-Fi more secure than normal Wi-Fi. Li-Fi is also very expensive and is currently only being sold to government businesses because it is still in testing. Apple dabbled with this technology with the iPhone 7, but never followed through with this technology. Li-Fi

This article relates to what we did in class because we started off this objective talking about radio waves and how it is electromagnetic radiation. They have the longest wave length and that is why we use it for our current Wi-Fi because it has the biggest range due to its wave length and are called microwaves. In class we also went over a clicker question on which type of wave has the longest wave length and the answer was radio waves.

I personally enjoyed reading this article because it is interesting what we are able to do with light and Wi-Fi. Who would of ever thought that we can use light waves to create Li-Fi. I would of thought we would of found a way to make I thought we would of found a was to make radio waves move just as fast as light before we started using light waves.


Newton’s Laws of Motion and Gravity

Generally, when the words “Newton’s Laws of Motion” or “Newton’s Laws of Universal Gravitation” reach my ears, I automatically assume that it has something to do with physics or some other mechanical aspect of science. I never associated Newton’s laws with just basic things here and there. For instance, in the article “NASA Astronaut Uses Popular Fidget Spinners to Test Newton’s Law of Motion” by Benjamin Raven, we see how something so scientifically intricate can be applied even while using a fidget spinner, a toy. I am baffled! I am not such a science-geek to want to apply the laws of motion during daily tasks, but it definitely gave me something to think about especially, since everywhere we go these days, that’s all we see. There’s even a “virtual spinner” on google in case someone couldn’t get a hold of real one. It was the new big thing. I never cared for fidget spinners because I viewed them to be nothing but just another source of distraction (as if we didn’t have enough of that) but, this piece of writing pushed me out of my comfort zone – view things beyond the obvious!

Anyways, going back to the topic, so how exactly do fidget spinners test Newton’s laws? Well, NASA astronaut Randolph J. Bresnik posted a video of what happens to a fidget spinner when it is expended in space. At first, he was not sure how long it would spin for, but he tweeted that “it’s a great way to experiment with Newton’s laws of motion!”

As seen in the video, the fidget spinner kept spinning at a high speed so long as someone let it. The astronauts were having some fun with it at zero-gravity. “Allowing the fidget spinner to float reduces the bearing friction by permitting the rate of the central ring and outer spinner to equalize, and the whole thing spins as a unit,” Bresnik writes.

Oh! The astronauts were also having some fun. . . Bresnik’s team conducted some tricks and even mimicked the spinner’s movements with some barrel rolls. What on earth does this have anything to do with Newton’s laws? The answer is, any and all physical activity methods are based on the laws of inertia, acceleration and counterforce. When one is physically active, they are either moving in a straight line or in an angular motion which includes rotation and not forward motion. These activities, how rapidly one performs them and gravity’s effect on one’s body can all be detected with Newton’s laws of motion. How cool!

Moreover, as for Newton’s third law, it states that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” This idea was reinforced in the lecture tutorial “Newton’s Law and Gravity”, where in one of the questions, the reader was told to suppose that Earth is much larger and more massive than the moon, how does the strength of the gravitational force that the moon exerts on the Earth compare to the gravitational force that earth exerts on the moon? The answer is, whenever one object exerts a force on a second object, the second object also exerts a force that is equal in strength, but in the other direction. So even though the earth is bigger and more massive than the moon, they still pull on each other with a gravitational force of the same strength, just in different directions. This reiterates Newton’s third law.

Newton’s third law has to be the easiest one to comprehend as I can probably practice it while doing some physical activity. Who knows?! Maybe I will make a conscious effort to apply it in my daily practices. Or maybe if I was stuck on the International Space Station for five months like these astronauts, these are the kinds of the things I would test out upon myself. Oh what the thirst of science does to a person!

Geocentric and Heliocentric Model

If one of us was to fly above the plane where the Sun and the planets are, what would we find in the center of our solar system? Well, this question led to a historical debate and took a while for astronomers to answer it. The debate was between what we know as the geocentric model and the heliocentric model. According to the geocentric model, the earth is the center and according to the heliocentric model, the sun is the center of the solar system. As we discussed in class, Nicolaus Copernicus, a renaissance-era mathematician and astronomer formulated the heliocentric model. Until then, everyone believed that the universe was geocentric model. But, the essential question is, although initially the heliocentric model was developed, why was the geocentric model of the universe adopted?

But before delving into that, allow me to explain another concept which goes hand in hand with the models above. When we perceive the sky from Earth, the planets seem to move from east to west. Sporadically, the planets will look as if they are moving in a reverse direction–this phenomenon is known as retrograde motion. Ancient astronomers had trouble clearing up this motion. Ptolemy’s proposed explanation of this movement was epicycles: “In this case, the planet moved on a little circle, the center of which rotated on the circumference of the large circle centered on the Earth,” according to Rice University’s Galileo Project website. So here comes the heliocentric model which solves this problem. But how? Well, the heliocentric model assumes that planets farther away from the sun orbit slower than the closer ones. This idea was reiterated in our lecture tutorial on “Observing Retrograde Motion” where we learned that the in retrograde motion the planet would move across east to west of the sky in a single night – rising in the east and setting in the west.

With the context given above, allow me to get back to our topic. As mentioned earlier, Copernicus proposed the heliocentric model (earth-center model), but there was a slight problem with his conjecture. He theorized that the planets moved in perfect circular trajectory around the sun and due to that, the model was questioned as it was not accurately predicting the position of the planets. So, what did we conclude? Well, accepting heliocentrism was a gradual process and by the 18th-19th century, it was clear that the sun was not the center of the universe, but only a star among many others. In fact, we learned that the sun is not even the center of the solar system but rather it is the concentration of the elliptical orbits crossed by the planets.

Okay, this all makes sense. But the discussion doesn’t end there. Another important matter that needs attention is, it is well recognized that the earth circles the sun, rather than the other way around as had been deemed previously. However, if the earth and the other planets go around the sun, is the sun motionless in space? Or is it going around something as well sequentially? Now, this was my favorite part of my research. The answer is. . . yes! It is going around something and it is not slow in its movement. In the piece, “Myth Debunked: The earth orbits the sun, but does the sun orbit anything?” it is detailed, “the sun orbits the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way, pulling us and all the other bodies in the solar system along with it at a breakneck speed of about 230km every second. Even at this speed, however, the sun takes around 225 million years to make one complete turn round the center of the galaxy. The Milky Way is enormous, around 100,000 light years across. That means that light, travelling at 300,000km every second, would take 100,000 years to cross from one side of our galaxy to the other. And what is at the center of the galaxy? It is now thought that at the center of every large galaxy is a massive behemoth, hiding in the light of the billions of stars that make up the galactic bulge; a super-massive black hole. Sagittarius A*, the super-massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way is estimated at a mass of over four million times that of the sun”.

I. . . just. . . love. . . this! Wow! Who would of thought! Not me, for sure.

It’s clear that the discussion of the heliocentric model and the geocentric model begin in the 17th century but it certainly did not end there. It has not only answered questions but also birthed new questions and perspectives. Honestly speaking, I hated the struggle to find some cool, recent discoveries for this conceptual objective. The struggle was reallllllll! However, what I found mesmerized me completely and made the struggle worthwhile. Phew!

Seasons. . .

Ever wondered how planets have seasons? First and foremost, it is important to recognize that only a few parts of the world undergo the standard four seasons of winter, summer, spring and fall. Many parts only experience one or two at maximum. So, what’s the matter with seasons? We had studied during our last conceptual objective discourse that earth rotates on its axis and our planet is not perfectly upright when it spins. Due to some collisions in earth’s construction, the earth is titled at an angle of 23.5 degrees. As deliberated in class, as the Earth takes it yearly trip around the Sun, several areas of the planet face the Sun more directly during their daylight hours at various times of the year. However, what effect does this Earth’s incline have? This tilt correspondingly affects the daily amount of light. Otherwise, the entire planet would have twelve-hour days and nights every single day of the year.

So, we know about our planet’s atmosphere and seasons. But, what about some other planet? Does it have seasons? It is important to bear in mind, if a planet is inclined towards an axis, it is more probable to have a discrete seasonal cycle. For instance, let us take a glance at Mercury! Ever wonder what the atmosphere of Mercury is? Mercury, an airless body does have a shaky exosphere and experiences seasons of a kind. It is known for being extremely hot and scorching as well as extremely cold and stingy such that ice can exist on its exterior. Of course, it is by no means what we are familiar with, but, Mercury still experiences some kind of “weather”.  As mentioned, mercury is small and has extreme temperatures and there is not much of an “atmosphere” to speak about. Basically, Mercury is a planet of extreme motion. It has a strange rotational cycle and rotates thrice in two if its years. Aside from that, Mercury’s orbit is also peculiar. It follows an extremely elongated path around the sun. This makes the Sun’s journey through Mercury’s sky very different than its journey through Earth’s sky. Therefore, all this irregular movement makes it impossible to tell the beginning or the end to any season on Mercury.

In the article, “What is the Weather Like on Mercury” by Matt Williams, it is stated, “[Mercury’s] distance from the Sun ranges from 46 million km (29 million mi) at its closest (perihelion) to 70 million km (43 million mi) at its farthest (aphelion). As a result, the side facing the Sun reaches temperatures of up to 700 K (427° C), the side in shadow dips down to 100 K (-173° C). With an average rotational speed of 10.892 km/h (6.768 mph), Mercury also takes 58.646 days to complete a single rotation. This means that Mercury has a spin-orbit resonance of 3:2, where it completes three rotations on its axis for every two rotations completed around the Sun. This does not, however, mean that three days last the same as two years on Mercury”. Now, that was some cool stuff about Mercury’s orbital resonance, although, I cannot completely visualize the large numerical values.

Furthermore, another interesting thing about Mercury is that in spite of the heat its Sun-facing side can bring, the presence of water ice and even organic molecules have been long-established on Mercury’s surface. As stated in this piece, “These icy regions are believed to contain about 1014–1015 kg (1 to 10 billion metric tons, 1.1 to 11 billion US tons) of frozen water and may be covered by a layer of regolith that inhibits sublimation. The origin of the ice on Mercury is not yet known, but the two most likely sources are from outgassing of water from the planet’s interior or deposition by the impacts of comets”. Woah!

Personally, I found this conceptual objective more interesting and comprehensible. Perhaps because it is something that can be perceived through the mind and experienced physically throughout the year. Aside from that, further research enhanced my understanding of the tutorials we covered in class and the discussions we delved into during the week. Now, every time something comes up regarding seasons, I can wear my thinking cap and apply this knowledge along with spreading it to others. I never thought the most basic and necessary changes that take place in our world are due to such logical but influential factors. Oh, and one more interesting fact I learned during this objective is, distance from the earth to the sun has no effect on the seasons. How eccentric is that! This fact alone answers so many questions and clears so many doubts.

From an apple falling to understanding the universe

in the link above, shows an astronaut demonstrating how Newton’s second law works. Showing how object one, a storage bag, and object two, Chapstick, move in space. “Surprisingly” the Chapstick moved  extremely fast and the big bag had little acceleration. Newton’s 1 laws says, that at object at motion stays at motion, the 2 second law states that a net force of an object  can cause the acceleration of that object and the last law states that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.

I think it’s amazing how 3 simple, yet complex laws can define the whole universe and more. I can’t imagine a world where we didn’t discovered what gravity is or what the 3 laws where. It’s hard to imagine.

When we where leaning this in class, it was very easy to understand, because we’ve been learning this topic pretty much out whole lifes. In our workbooks we where learning about the gravitational force of earth, mars and the moon and understand which would overcome the other. That part was kinda hard to understand, because earth has a huge gravitational mass and the moon doesn’t have much, but the moon is pushing the same amount of force back. So I find that every interesting.