Monthly Archives: January 2011

A Word on Quarks…

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I have talked extensively about atoms and the bits which hold them together but, perhaps I have left out key details about the forces which bind them and keep them happy.

Charges

Each particle of an atom carries an electrical charge as well as a “color charge” (see below). Most people know what an electrical charge is from grade school. Remember that two magnets repel if their + or – (sometimes North and South, respectively) sides are pointed together and attract if they are mixed, e.g. + and – or – and +. Taking a more scientific look at it, a + is equivalent to a charge of 1 and a – is equivalent to a charge of (-1). Having a neutral charge means zero charge.

If a proton, having a charge of 1, and an electron, having a charge of (-1) are bound together, they are said to be in equilibrium. In this state 1+(-1)=0. This atom would have a total, net, charge of 0 and be somewhat stable. Likewise, an atom with two electrons and one proton would have a net charge of: 1+(-1)+(-1) = -1. This atom would be more negative and may even give up an electron to another atom if need be (called a valance electron).

So.. you understand electrical charges, right? Electrons have a -1 and protons have a +1… neutrons are in the middle with zero… Simple enough.

Color Charges

Now for Color Charges! Color has a charge? Not really. When talking about subatomic particles, the “color” is really a property which has be labeled “color”. It is just a arbitrary name. There are three “colors” and three corresponding “anti-colors”. If you combine an electrical charge of -1 and +1, you get 0, right? Well, if you combine Blue and Anti-Blue (yellow, the opposite of blue), you get white. White is effectively zero. Creepy stuff which probably exceeds the scope of a simple tid-bit of info.

Quarks

As much fun as these electrons and colors are, this is about Quarks, so lets get on topic. A quark is a “point particle” and has a very tiny size. Quarks always form in groups of either three or two (theoretically more).

Anything made of Quarks is called a Hadron. Hadrons made of two Quarks, typically a quark and an anti-quark, are called Mesons, while Hadrons made of three Quarks are called Baryons. A proton and a neutron are both baryons.

WOW! You mean that just as an atom is actually a system of little particles, a proton and neutron are also actually tiny systems of particles??? YES!

Atom

= electon, neutron, Proton

= electron+{(up-quark)(down-quark)(down-quark)}+{(up-quark)(up-quark)(down-quark)}

WOW! So a single atom could be made of so many particles?! YES!

Quarks come in six types and six corresponding anti-types. They have arbatrary names which are NOT indicative of any qualities. For example, the “Top” quark is not actually on top of anything. It’s just a name. They could have called it the “steve” or “bob” quark. Lol

The Quarks:

Top Charmed Up

Bottom Strange Down

each has an anti-quark: anti-up, anti-down, etc.

Top and Bottom are third generation, the biggest.

Charged and Strange are second generation, the middle.

Up and Down are first generation, the smallest.

Interestingly, generations 3 and 2 tend to decay, rapidly, into generation 1. All “stable” matter in the universe is made of generation 1 particles. The electron and it’s family, the leptons, have a similar system going on in which the electron is of generation 1.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Standard_Model_of_Elementary_Particles.svg

A great chart!

 Answer – What is the difference between Fusion and Fission?

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From KT

“I am taking some classes and I am having a problem understanding the difference between nuclear fusion and nuclear fision.  Can you please help clear this up for me?  Thank you.”

 Hello “KT”,

I assume by “taking some classes” and by the question you posed that your taking an introductory science class and would like a basic understanding of the difference between nuclear Fusion and Fission. Here we go…

Atoms are groups of particles which can behave themselves as a group. They have a core composed of Neutrons and Protons and are surrounded by electrons. The cores are generally positively charged as a result of the positive charge of protons, and the neutral charge of neutrons. The electrons are negatively charged and attracted to the nucleus. As long as these balances occur that the atoms are quite stable.

NOTE: I used two fake atoms!!! I didn’t want to create a massive chart with real atoms.

 Instability!!!

Instability may occur as a result of scientists poking about or natural reasons. In a natural event an atom can loose one or more of it’s particles due to the Weak Nuclear Effect which allows for pesky little particles to run away from the nucleus and leave it in an unstable configuration! In nature, systems, such as an atom, wish to remain in a state of rest or as close as possible. They will do what ever they can do be in this rest. When they are unstable it is generally due to an imbalance of forces. Below I will go into this in detail, but here is the 25 cent answer: Once unstable the atoms tear themselves apart into small, but more stable, atoms and release the surplus energy. This is Nuclear Fission. When smaller atoms are combined to create a larger atom, they release their surplus energy and this is called Nuclear Fusion.

 Nuclear Fission – More Detail!

Ok, so you want more detail… let’s create a pretend atom. I do this because I don’t have time today to build a 3D model with over 100 neutrons and protons!!! the models you see now only have a few neutrons (green balls) and protons (red balls). We will call our element Imaginatium 9. It has 4 protons and 5 neutrons, so 4+5=9. That is why it is called Imainatium 9. Notice that there is one electron more than there are protons!!! This means this atom is an isotope of some more stable version of Imaginatium, perhaps Imagination 8? Anyhow, Imainatium 9 is very negatively charged having this spare electron to share. This extra electron is causing havoc with the positively charged nucleus. Given time this unstable atom would probably loose that electron, but our scientists have other plans.

Imaginatium 9 - Pretend Atom

Imaginatium 9 - Pretend Atom

Here we see a slow speed neutron coming from some pesky scientists. It will possibly be captured by the nucleus of our pretend atom and absorbed! The force holding the nucleus together is the strong nuclear force. This holds protons and neutrons together. The distance require for a proton and an electron to keep in harmony is very tiny and easily thrown off.

Imaginatium 9 - Pretend Atom

Imaginatium 9 - Pretend Atom

With the new neutron we now have the VERY unstable isotope Imaginatium 10! The extra neutron is neutrally charged, electrically that is, but it interferes with the protons. Just as protons and electrons need to maintain an equilibrium of sorts between their electrical charges, neutrons and protons need to maintain an equilibrium between themselves using the strong nuclear force. This additional neutron has thrown this balance off and the atom is having real problems!

Imaginatium 10 - Pretend Atom

Imaginatium 10 - Pretend Atom

As you can see the Imaginatium 10 cannot hope to hold together and is slowly coming apart. In reality this occurs nearly instantly. Many think of an atom as being split, but it actually ungulates apart. This atom is undergoing nuclear fission!!! It is becoming two or more pieces!!!

Fission!

Fission!

After the split the nucleus forms into two more stable atoms of Notmuchleftium 4. Sorry about the funny names. Note that each Notmuchleftium 4 has the same number of protons and electrons and the same number of neutrons and protons. These two atoms are VERY stable. The extra energy is released as radiation. The two extra neutrons will fly away with some of that energy in the form of kinetic energy. These little bit are sometimes called fission fragments. They may be captured by other atoms and start a chain reaction or just fly away. The spare electron will fly away as well as Beta radiation. Often a photon of energy is launched in some direction. These are called gamma rays or x-rays depending on their energy. This spare energy can be used to heat water in nuclear power plants (the water turns steam turbines which produce power) or other purposes.

Fission Fragments and Products

Fission Fragments and Products

But what about fusion???!!!

Nuclear Fusion Chart Image

Nuclear Fusion Chart Image

Well we have seen that fission occurs when an atom is made unstable and comes apart. The difference between the first atom and the product atoms is energy available for power plants, etc. Nuclear fusion is the opposite… really… You take two seemingly simple atoms, such as Hydrogen, and squish them together to create a new atom, which is larger. The difference is released as energy. Below is a chart showing this. PLEASE NOTE: This chart shows protons and neutrons as bundles of smaller particles called Quarks. This is because they really are made from these quarks. Don’t be thrown off!!!

Types of Radiation

Types of Radiation

Here is a chart of some of the forms of radiation produced by atoms.

Where does the energy go?

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I am always amazed by the ideas I hear. I recently heard a person talking about “pure” energy and what to do with it…”Well”, I asked, “what is ‘pure energy’ made of?” Never do I get response from these sorts of questions.

Energy and mass are the same basic thing aside from configuration. When you can produce a difference between a “rest state” for any given degree of freedom in a system, you can than call that “energy”. That energy is potential and will remain locked until it can be converted to work or until it fits an acceptable configuration. Particles, such as an electron or an anti-proton, are made of energy locked into a specific configuration (i.e. spin, wave number, etc) and their surplus energy can be used to cause work given an available degree of freedom of the system. Any energy which can be placed into a new system, i.e. a new configuration (particle) will leave the current system and “decay” into a new system entirely. The surplus energy it carries should be equal to the sum of the surplus energy divided by the difference is mass.

Energy is probably best summed up by String Theory as being a property of Membrains and their goofy attempts to form cohesive structures in the 3rd spacial diminution.

BLa! Lunch is over so off to my white board!!!

Operating System Independent Interrupts!!! – Now with bacon!

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This document is intended for those who program in high level languages. Do not try this at home unless you know what your doing. Do so at your own risk.

Prerequisite for this text:

Basic knowledge of C

Intermediate knowledge of Assembly

Basic knowledge of Operating Systems

What is a system call?

A system call is a procedure that is native to the operating system. Most system calls allow a program to perform a complex task with the operating system that would other wise be hard for the programmer to write themselves without intimate knowledge of the OS and hardware. It is basically a short-cut to advanced computing.

Why create an OS independent system call?

The operating system can be rather slow, sometimes, with the handling of your code and may allow other events to occur that you wish not to take up your systems time. A good example of this would be a program that reboots the computer after the OS has crashed due to a hardware device sending a NMI (non-maskable interrupt). This would occur if memory failed to operate correctly, a D.M.A. controller (primary or slave) failed, or other such catastrophic failure.

The problem lies in the fact that the CPU will halt the system directly after receiving such an interrupt and you have no idea the NMI will occur until the interrupt is handled. To skip this problem you use an OS independent system call. Before explaining how this situation is solved, I must define how an OS independent system call works in better detail.

How does an OS independent system call work?

All system interrupts are defined in a table called the system interrupt vector table. This table exists at the base of system memory, IE the very first byte of ram until the table runs out of vectors. The computer has normally 256 interrupt and can generally process from 16 to 32 at any one time via the programmable interrupt controller. When an interrupt is called by the system or a program, the CPU stops what it is doing and saves it’s work in the stack, a place in memory reserved for quick storage by the CPU. Next the CPU finds the interrupt vector for the specific interrupt called. This is done by multiplying the interrupt number by 4 as all interrupts get 4 bytes of ram in the vector table. This means that interrupt 147’s vector is memory address H24C to H24F. If you were to look at this address you’d probably find the assembly command JMP fallowed by a memory address. This is used to point to the real location of this interrupt in memory as 4 bytes will never hold the entire interrupt. After completion of the interrupt, the CPU goes back to the memory address it was previously executing and resumes it’s work.

To create an OS independent system call we need only create our own interrupt. This is done by finding a free interrupt and inserting code that points to a place in memory where your system call would be found. To find a free interrupt you need only open debug (an ms dos application), or AS (a GNU assembler), and look through the interrupt vector table for free, unused, sections of memory. Once you have found one just take the current memory address your in and do the simple math: interrupt = (current_address -(current_address % 4)/4).

Add a JMP command to that address fallowed by some NOP commands. Now place the system call executable in the start up files for your computer as a TSR program. When it installs it should add that jump command each time to the vector table before terminating.

Calling an OS independent system call

The code to call an OS independent system call from a high level language is simple enough. Our example uses the language C and the GNU C compiler. We will use in-line assembly to call the interrupt 147, our OS independent system call interrupt number.

#include <stdio.h>

int main(void) {

//Lets call interrupt 147!

asm(“int 93”); // 147 is 93 in hex

return 0;

}

To recap what I was talking about in the second part of this text, “Why create an OS independent system call?”, the way to beat the NMI is simply to change the JMP statement in the vector table for interrupt 2 to point somewhere else, such as your code. This allows you to reboot the system and have a computer that recovers from a crash by it’s self!

It’s as easy as that. I hope you have a lot of fun making your own system calls.

VTOL Jet Motor

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VTOL Jet Motor

VTOL Jet Motor

 

A few years ago I made a simple jet motor out of coke cans and some other simple items. It worked… barely. lol

Here is an old plan I made for a Virtical Take Off and Landing jet motor, such as the pegasus used in the herrier jet. Basically, this juet motor would be classified as a medium bypass turbo fan with pre-combusion and post combusion thrust vectoring… a nice design, naturally. =) The jet would burn light oil, like kerosene.