Monday, January 21, 2008

5th Letter of the Alphabet, Letter E

E is Mr. Fricken Popularity, the King of Pop. He is used 130 times out of every 1000 characters typed in the english language, no letter comes close. E is the stud of the alphabet, the Grande Pooba. E demonstrates his popularity with charisma, changing the sound of other letters without having to make a sound himself, Mat to Mate, or Hat to Hate, the list goes on.

In the Alphabet of the Sublime, E stands for one of it's crowing achievements, Einstein's famous Theory of Relativity: "E=mc2"

What is the theory of relativity? In a nutshell, it's about how much energy is held within matter, and what would happen if that energy was released. So take for example a kilogram of water, turning it into pure energy would release 10,000,000,000,000,000 Joules. That's a crazy amount of energy, considering dropping a brick from three feet onto the floor releases one Joule of energy. How did we get to that large number? we used E=mc2:
There is about 111 grams of hydrogen atoms in 1 kilo of water, and the speed of light is 300,000,000 meters per second. So, we go .111 x 300,000,000 x 300,000,000 = 10,000,000,000,000,000 Joules. That's the same amount of energy as burning hundreds of thousands of gallons of gasoline! Crazy.. If you could annihilate hydrogen in a car engine using E=mc2, you would only need a teaspoon of water a year to operate it. This, however, just is not feasible due to the fact that atomic annihilation would require the use of anti-matter, and that my friends is where the deal ends. Anti matter can not be contained here on earth... yet.


The Big DC said...

Not to throw a wet blanket on the whole sexy science lesson, but I am afraid you have undersold the kick that comes in a kilogram of water..or a kilogram of anything for that matter.

While it is true that there is 111 grams of hydrogen in a kilogram of water, that on it's own would yield the 1 x10^16 Joules you mentionned in your lesson, that is only 11.1% of the mass and hence, energy in the system. There is also an additional 889 grams of oxygem in a kilogram of water that would yield an additional 8 x10^16 joules of energy for a grand total of 9 x 10^16 joules of energy.

Just a little perspective on how much energy this really is. The "Little Boy" A-Bomb dropped on Hiroshima contained roughly 5 kilograms of enriched uranium and had a yield of roughly 15 kilotons equivalent of TNT. Not too shabby considering that the bomb design is only about 1.5 percent efficient - meaning only 1.5 percent of the uranium goes nuclear before the explosion blows it all apart. So in effect 75 grams of uranium (slightly less than one teaspoon) contained enough energy to flatten the city. Now you know why the Americans are so anal about knowing where all the enrighed uranium is sitting on the planet. It doesn't take too much to go missing before somebody could have enough to develop a bomb.

So while it would be cool to run your car on a few grams of water, it's much more visual to picture how many buildings it could flatten.

Alex said...

Yo Biggie Smalls..
I KNOW there's O2 in water, I'm just trying to simplfy things for the sake of brevity. Please don't think for a nuclear second that you are smarter than me.

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