Saturday, June 2, 2007

Global Warming- Not Just Science It's Also a Diet Plan

Now I am not a chemist, astroligist, physicists, or even an ex-vice president. I do know a lot of science. Most of it useless. Some is good stuff though. I am not bad at putting it into terms average people understand, sometimes. Here is my best attempt to describe "global warming". Along the way you could also pick up some tips to help shed a few pounds too.


First you have to grasp a few difficult physics concepts that I will try my best to simplify. The first of which is that hot objects loose their heat faster then cooler object. It is called the "Mpemba effect". You can prove this, and it is handy to know when having a party, by filling an ice tray with your hottest tap water and then fill another ice tray with your coldest tap water. Check the status of the Ice every 2 or three minutes. I know that would be the difficult part. Only slightly more exciting then watching paint dry would be watching water freeze. As a testament to my oddity I have performed this task. What you will find is that hot water freezes faster then cold water. Why? Because I just said hot objects loose heat at a faster rate then cooler objects. Remember the old train story problems in algebra class? "train 'A' left the station... Train 'B' Left at some faster rate, how long before 'B' Catches 'A'? Well hot water gets to freezing faster then cold water. That is the law and the proof is in the ice tray. I am trying to keep this simple. Follow the link if you are more curious.



The second difficult concept that needs to be simplified is the one that states that Planets are near a state known as "equilibrium". No no, it is not out on the left coast or in the Middle East and we don’t have to ban it or bomb it. Equilibrium is a situation where heat absorbed by a planet equals the heat lost to the coldness of space. Our bodies can be used as examples of this concept. Although, we regulate our heat in different ways and have our own internal heat source, this is still a good way if not a better way to explain how the earth works. No matter how cold or how hot it is around us, we give off or absorb enough heat to keep our bodies at 98.5 degrees. If we were the only heat source in a room, eventually everything in that room would be 98.5 degrees.


Concept three, is actually the first law of thermodynamics. It is also known as "energy conservation". It states that "Energy can neither be created nor destroyed." Unless you are a quantum physicist you can not argue with that fact. And since it is a law, we must obey it. (Here is your first dieting tip comes into play.) What it means to the rest of us is that when you sit up in the morning you use energy which is manifest in the rise in your temperature ever so slightly, that heat is absorbed by the surrounding air. That will raise the heat level in your house that could be the final straw that tips the scale and turns on your air conditioner. Then a whole slew of "give and take" happens in the way of energy exchange. All this happened just because you got out of bed in the morning. Imagine what happens when you walk to the stove to light the burner to cook the egg which you move your arms to feed your face to give you energy which you will use to wash the dishes when you are done. "I’ll never know why she swallowed that fly." Everything you do has an energy cost and earning and cost associated with it. Dieting is easy. Simply spend more energy then you consume. Consumable energy you know as calories.


Two more and then we will tie it all together. The fourth concept is the greenhouse effect. It is actually a few ideas rolled into one. However, let us simplify. The greenhouse effect is s situation that occurs allowing us to have beautiful Bohemian beaches. That is because we have a layer of gasses that work like a blanket to cover the earth. With out that blanket the whole world would be something like 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember that we said objects that hotter loose heat faster then objects that are colder. So let us say that you are sleeping in your bedroom and your bedroom is 72 degrees and you body is, of course 98.5 degrees. If stop producing heat, you died, you too would eventually reach 72 degrees. (That is how on CSI they know how long a body has been dead.) However, you are still alive and you long to stay at 98.5 degrees with as little effort as possible. I mean you are trying to sleep right? That is what goes on in my bedroom anyway. And that is about it. So you put a blanket over you. A blanket that was on the bed that was in that room that was 72 degrees all day long. Going back to objects trying to obtain equilibrium, what did we learn? Right the blanket is also 72 degrees. So why would we put a 72 degree blanket on our body that we are trying to keep at 98.5 degrees? Man great questions you guys are asking today class!! The answer is you are looking to recreate the greenhouse effect. You are a body hotter then the object it is acting upon, the blanket. The blanket is cooler so it is what? Right loosing heat slower then your body. That means the blanket is actually raising in temperature because heat is coming from your body faster then heat is leaving the blanket to the outside air. So the blanket is heating up.




Got that? Good. Because the next thing is going to blow your mind. The blanket doesn’t just loose heat only to the outside room. Like a log from a fire, it "radiates" heat in all directions. That includes the direction in which your body lies. So the heat energy is reflected right back down towards your body. If you stay snuggled under that blanket long enough the temperature exchange between you and your blanket will be about 98.5 degrees.


The last concept that is related to the blanket idea is that the earth has an atmosphere. This atmosphere is made up of gasses. But for ease of understanding think of these gasses like a cotton fabric of a blanket. They create a layer that can be heated and cooled. Much like a fabric blanket, if you want to warm up faster or keep warmer, simply add more layers. If you remove layers then a cooling effect will occur. The list of gasses that are trapped between earth and space by gravity are called "greenhouse gasses". We have heard much of them over the years. There is a two part special properties of this type of gas. It lets heat in the form of visible light, (try to get a tan when there is no visible light.) to reach the earth, while at the same time greenhouse gasses do not let non-visible infrared light (also a heat source) pass back through. infrared light is often reflected back off the earths surface. This light energy turns into heat that warms the blanket covering the earth.


Oh yah one more concept. Not really a concept as much as a factoid. Energy exists in two forms. It is either "potential energy" or "kinetic energy". Potential energy is exactly as it sounds. It has potential to be used to do something. My wife will tell you I am full of potential energy. Kinetic energy is energy in use. Once it starts moving shifting from form to form (hope you are not dyslectic) it is considered "kinetic". A battery, a tank of gas, water at the top of a fall, and of course fat cells are forms of potential energy. A moving drum beating bunny, a speeding motorcycle, a turning water wheel, and a jogger are example of energy in motion, kinetic energy. Fat cells are biological batteries. If you want less fat you must turn that potential energy into kinetic energy.


Oh yah, what is a "form" you ask? Energy exists in many forms. Heat, light, electrical, chemical, and mechanical are some of the most common. Heat can be used to boil water. The water could be used to force a steam engine’s wheel. That wheel could be used to turn an electrical generator. That generator could have a light plugged into it. This is kinetic energy shifting forms.


Alright, and that is the reason why we have global warming thanks. Have a nice day.


Oh OK, for those of you who might be a little slow I will tie it all together for you. First lets refresh what we just learned. First when two objects are touching, the hotter one will get cooler at a rate faster then the cooler one. Second we learned that an object that doesn’t produce its own heat will eventually become the same temperature as the surrounding room until it releases exactly the same amount of heat it takes in. We learned that the French fries you just ate created enough energy to power your legs for a 10k race. We learned if you want to stay cool while running off those fries, you had better run naked. If you wear cloths, the heat created by your fat cells turning into kinetic energy will be partially reflected back onto your body. I don’t want to see your fat egg and french-fry eating ass naked. So wear some cool cloths. It is a good thing that you sweat to cool down instead. We learned that the earth is snuggled nicely in a blanket of its own that keeps the earth warm and lets you bask on a beach and show off that new bikini you got after running off those French fries. Seeex-see. We learned that the reality of your new wardrobe exist in you having more kinetic energy then potential energy. Last but not least we learned that if my wife was efficient she would let me attach an electrical generator instead of a motor to her treadmill and she could produce her own cup of morning coffee as she takes her jog. In this way she would change her potential "fat" energy to Bio-Mechanical, to mechanical, to electrical, to heat, and back to potential again.



So that is what we learned. How does this make the glob warmer you say? Remember how I said that we humans "regulate" our heat. We do this by breathing, sweating, and moving. The earth doesn’t have these regulatory measures. It must rely on simple physics to get rid of its heat energy. Now remember I said "as long as the object didn’t have it’s own internal hat source it would remain at a constant temperature?" Sure you do. Well the earth’s core is molten rock that often erupts in volcanoes. If that isn’t bad enough, it has us. We are sucking up potential energy in the form of crude oil from the ground, coal from the mines, and natural gas from the crust. Then we are turning that into heat energy. If that isn’t bad enough in itself, when we burn these sources of potential energy they create greenhouse gasses that add layers of blanketing to the earth’s atmosphere. These gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. So the sun is still heating us. Now billions of motors, millions of factories, and trillions of burners are adding not only heat, but layers of blanketing to the earth simultaneously. How could the globe not get warmer.


You will hear stupid things about cow farts, and eating meat causing global warming. I mean there is a case for carbon dioxide taking hundreds of years to dissipate. But the science enters the realm of theology I meant theory. Lots of calculations and graphic assumptions have to be made to rectify that logic. There are too many factors. Just know that if we people learn to use energy sources that are not sucked from the Earth’s surface innards like a McDonald's chocolate shake, we will win the battle of the bulge. Energy coming from wind, water, and solar are the most effective combatants.


On the other hand, I haven’t seen the Al Gore movie, but all the dangers of the Earth’s temperatures rising are real. We are seeing some of the effects already. It is not some "cycle" that the earth goes through. The earth does go through a cycle, however it happens every 23,000 years. I have a friend who just came back from the South Pole. When I presented that idea to him. He said that, "we have seen changes that usually takes thousands of years happen over the course of a few decades." If the cycle has sped up that much we need to start making other living arrangements on another planet. Like a top towards the end of its run it would signal we are about to spin out of control.


Well, that is it. Now you know. Tell all your friends to stop eating french-fries. and start running naked in the winter time.

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