Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Is The Force Of Gravity Weakening?

Even though gravity is still the least understood of the four fundamental forces of our universe, is there any evidence that the force of gravity is actually getting weaker? 

By: Ringo Bones 

When compared to the other fundamental forces of the universe – i.e. the strong and weak forces and the electromagnetic force, the force of gravity is currently the least understood. Until the results of the experiments done at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN makes us gain a handle on String Theory, Albert Einstein’s Theory General of Relativity is the best one yet explaining how gravity works. But is there any evidence that the force of gravity is actually getting weaker? 

There have been many challenges to Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity since its presentation in 1916 – all of them unsuccessful. But that record did not daunt astronomer Thomas C. Van Flandern a researcher at the US Naval Observatory, who back in 1974 found evidence of what he believes is the gradual weakening of gravity, a force that according to General Relativity never varies. 

Van Flandern’s evidence is based on the motion of celestial objects, which would be affected by a change in gravitational force. By studying the precise times that the moon has blocked from view various stars over the past 19 years, Van Flandern calculated the changes in the moon’s orbital velocity. The rate, Van Flandern said, was twice the amount of slowdown that would be expected from known causes, principally the mutual tugs of the tides on earth and moon. The difference could be accounted for by a decrease of the force of gravity of one part in 10-billion per year. 

A discrepancy in the changes in the earth’s rotation, also caused by the tidal effects, could similarly be explained by a decrease in gravitational force, according to Van Flandern. The same gradual phenomenon may even account for a gradual increase in the size of the earth and thus explain such geological phenomena as sea-floor spreading and the movements of crustal plates. 

Thomas Van Flandern is not the only one who finds Einstein’s General Relativity wanting. The late physicist Paul Dirac also conjectured that that the universal force of gravity is slowly decreasing. And the idea that the universal force of gravity is gradually decreasing even gave the idea to science writer Robert Schadewald who back in April 1978 wrote an article about his “Schadewald Gravity Engine” the first true working energy generating device that works on the principle of perpetual motion. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Chemically Dehydrating Seeds: Longest Botanical Experiment Ever?

Even though the results of this experiments now guides us in effectively storing seeds in the Svalbard Doomsday Vault, is Dr. Fritz Went’s chemically dehydrated seeds experiment now the longest ongoing botanical experiment ever? 

By: Ringo Bones 

This botanical experiment started back in 1947 in order to find out how long humanity can store seeds slated for future germination in a farming field in the far-off future and was intended to last for 300 years. But does the chemically dehydrated seed experiment that was started by Dr. Fritz Went still the current holder for the longest ongoing botanical experiment ever? 

Ordinarily, seeds can be stored for only one or two years before humidity makes them dissipate their stored energy and they will no longer germinate. Those seeds with firm, hard coats retain their viability longest and most seeds keep best when stored in dry storage at low temperatures like that in the current Svalbard Doomsday Vault seed repository. Under such favorable conditions, seeds of common farm and garden plants have lasted from 10 to 25 years. Would these seeds last even longer if kept completely dry? 

Seeking to find out the answer, Dr. Fritz Went launched an experiment back in 1947 which is designed to continue for more than 300 years. Seeds of 120 California wild plants were chemically dehydrated in a vacuum and then the seeds of each species were divided among 20 vacuum-sealed tubes and stored in dated jars that stated their date of germination, some as far as into 2307 A.D. Since the start of the experiment, seeds from the four sets of tubes have been germinated. The results: so far the test seeds have proved on average to be viable after 10 years’ storage as they were immediately after drying. 

During the experiment, Dr. Went shelves 20 identical sets of seeds according to date of future use. For each tube, 60 to 100 seeds will be remoistened at a temperature of 18 degrees Celsius to start germination. Some seeds from each tube will be raised for future comparison of the revived plants with their wild descendents. And such procedure invented in 1947 would then be applied to the seeds that are stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault - also known to "pessimists" as the Doomsday Vault - located halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole.