Saturday, April 24, 2010

Volcanic Eruption In Iceland & Cooling Effect

Shivantha Withanage

Last 14th of April, 2010, EyjafjallajÖkul volcano located in Iceland erupted after a devastating earthquake and it was noted as the second largest eruption of 21st century. There was another earthquake close to that area on 20th of March. The second earthquake which occurred on 14th of April was 10-20 times bigger than the previous one. Before this recent eruption this volcano erupted several times during the period between 1821-1823.

Iceland sits on a volcanic hotspot in the Mid-Atlantic ridge. So, frequent eruptions occur in the area. In this recent eruption, about 6 km high ash clouds threw up in to the atmosphere and those ash particles have spread in a vast area.

Historical Incident

There was a similar incident occurred on 15th of June, 1991 in a area called Luzon in Philippines. The Pinatubo a stratvolcano erupted after a chain of earthquakes, throwing 20 million tons of SO2 and ash particles in to 20 km up in the atmosphere. This SO2 and ash clouds had caused many changes in the global climate for a long period. Because of those ash clouds, average temperature in northern hemisphere decreased in to 10 centigrades. Also northern hemisphere had reduced temperature from 0.5-0.6 centigrades and entire planet was cooled from 0.4-0.5 centigrades. This was the first time scientists experienced such a thing in near history and they called it global cooling or cooling effect. As you may think, Yes, it is the opposite of global warming. There is no wonder, if you are amused.

Scientific Explanation

There is just a simple scientific explanation for this. The SO2 gas eject from the volcano react with water/H2O(g) in the atmosphere and form Sulfuric gas/H2SO4(g). Then Sulphuric gas turn in to Sulfate aerosols. These particles can last for 3-4 years in the upper part of the atmosphere (Stratosphere) and have the ability to absorb terrestrial radiation. And also sulfate aerosol and ash particles reflect extraterrestrial radiation back to the space. This scientific phenomena is known as the “Radiative Forcing”. Because of that, temperature in lower part of the atmosphere (Troposphere) will reduce.

In green house effect, greenhouse gases reflect terrestrial radiation back to the earth’s surface and absorb extraterrestrial radiation. So, we can say without any doubt that, this is the opposite effect of green house effect, the cooling effect.

The same thing can happen again now, because of the large amount of ash and SO2 ejected to the atmosphere from the eruption occurred in Iceland. So this incident could bring back the issue again. But, there is much less chance to get a solution from this scientific phenomena for global warming.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Art of Science

Shivantha Withanage

Science is an art. But most of the people do not recognize the feature. There is a complicated connection between science and art. May be the complexity is the factor that keeps the reality unrevealed.

There are many questions that do not have any answers. Sometimes the answers are not well defined or out of the track. It is a natural thing, because we find solutions for any matter through our brain. Though human brain has the maximum capacity among all animals, it is not capable of achieving everything. But definitely we know that ultimate organ build from billions of neurons is capable of something. Beside those capabilities we will not be here. However, the questions that do not have answers, one of those questions is “When did science appear in the universe?” and another one is “When did art appear in the universe?”. In this scene every mastermind is speechless. But we can say both of them appeared together. Someone may find that this is a tricky answer, but we should assume that some questions do not deserve answers.

The key for the link between science and art is inside our body. The human brain is divided in to two hemispheres, as the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere. The right part of the brain controls the left side of the body while the left part of the body controls the right side of the body. Scientific researches have proved that right part of the brain is responsible for artistic activities conducted by the person and the left part is responsible for scientific activities done by the person. But there are no strict rules inside the brain. If left hemisphere is unable to supply information for science based activities, right hemisphere will develop areas itself to achieve the goal. The process is same when there is a failure in the right hemisphere. According to above mentioned facts right and left parts of the brain do not act separately, they act as a one united system. As we cannot divide the brain systematically we also cannot divide its influences. So how can we tell science and art are separate fields. Both of them are components of a single field, it is the field of life.

Through the human evolution both science and art developed together. Many people lived in the past who are now days famous as major figures in science were actually also involved in art. They made their inventions and theories using their creativity and they mastered their creativity through their artistic activities. Creativity is the base for science. Without creativity or curiosity science would not exist. If you take a look at the history of science field you will see lots of examples. Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci popular as Leonardo da Vinci who lived in Italy between 1452-1519 was an inventor, painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, engineer, anatomist, geologist, botanist, mathematician and a writer. He painted the world famous paintings such as Mona Lisa and The Last Supper that became unsolved mysteries in the art history and many other marvelous paintings. He also dissected human body and drew many anatomical sketches and he also made primary sketches for the inventions such as helicopter, hang glider and hydraulic pump. So he is a brilliant example for the relationship between art and science.

Many people believe that if you need to become fluent in science you should give up in art or if you want to become an artist you should give up in science. How can a scientist without creativity, plan an experiment or make a model? How can a musician without basic scientific knowledge about sound compose a melody? Forcing people to do only scientific studies or only artistic work is useless, because art and science are both normal human natures. It is acceptable that some people become atypical in some fields, because they dedicate themselves to those areas. But that does not mean they are unable to improve in other fields.

The link between science and art is unavoidable. Without art, science could not exist, without science, art could not exist and without both science and art, world could not exist.