By James Trefil Physics Professor
James Trefil takes the reader on an exciting travel around the borders of present clinical knowledge-from astronomy to genetics, from details expertise to cosmology, the good contested questions that preoccupy researchers at the present time and may turn into headlines the next day. In dependent, witty three-page summations, Dr. Trefil "makes feel of technological know-how for the remainder of us" (Washington Post).
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Additional info for 101 Things You Don't Know About Science and No One Else Does Either
Each box is several hundred miles wide, and there are about eleven boxes stacked from the bottom to the top of the atmosphere. Inside each box, the familiar laws of physics and chem < previous page page_44 next page > < previous page page_45 next page > Page 45 istry describe what is happening. Taking into account the fact that air, heat, and water vapor can move from one box to another, we can predict how the atmosphere will evolve. When the books have been balanced, the atmosphere displayed by the computer is a simulation of the atmosphere of the earth a short time in the future.
But other answers are surprising. Recently, for example, some scientists have claimed that many features of the solar systemthe quintessential example of Newtonian predictabilitymay be chaotic. Complex com < previous page page_51 next page > < previous page page_52 next page > Page 52 puter models that track the paths of the planets and all of the gravitational forces between them seem to show that over hundreds of millions of years planetary orbits may, in fact, be chaotic. These conclusions have come from studies that first predict the orbits of the planets far into the future from one beginning position, then theoretically advance the planets a few inches along in their orbits at the beginning and recalculate.
Previous page page_43 next page > < previous page page_44 next page > Page 44 How Much of the World Can We Simulate with Computers? Traditionally, there have been two basic branches of science: theory, which attempts to construct mathematical models of the universe, and experiment / observation, whose task is to test theories and to determine the kind of universe we actually live in. Over the past decade, however, some thinkers have suggested that with the advent of the digital computer a third kind of science has been bornthe science or art of computer simulation.