Sample prof development log for teachers in a NGSS Science Facebook discussion group.
Many sci-fi stories depend upon a technology called miniaturization. Isaac Asimov’s classic Fantastic Voyage; his more scientifically rigourous sequel, Fantastic Voyage II; DC Comics featuring The Atom, Marvel Comics featuring Antman and The Wasp.
Is miniaturization real? Could it be real? What would be the results if it was real?
Miniaturization in fiction
1940’s movie – Dr. Cyclops. People are reduced to less than a foot in size by the titular mad scientist, and are subjugated to his whims.
1957 movie – The Incredible Shrinking Man inspired a boom in science fiction films that made use of size-alteration.
1961 the Silver Age comic book character, the Atom, Dr. Ray Palmer, created by DC Comics.
1960’s Ant-Man is a Marvel Comics superhero.
1966 movie – Fantastic Voyage
1987 movie Innerspace
1989 movie, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
What would happen if we just compressed someone to a small size?
Neil Degrasse Tyson probably shouldn’t write any more comics 😉
Physics: How would one try to do this?
There are no practical ways to actually do this. However, science fiction stories speculate on how this could be done. Interestingly, sustained thought and speculation on science fiction technologies has allowed scientists to develop real-world technologies.
A. Compression / increasing density
“Why are you so certain miniaturization is impossible?”
“If you reduce a man to the dimensions of a fly, then all the mass of a man would be crowded into the volume of a fly. You’d end up with a density of something like -” he paused to think – “a hundred and fifty thousand times that of platinum. ”
B. Removing atoms
From Fantastic Voyage II:
“But what if the mass were reduced in proportion?” – “Then you end up with one atom in the miniaturized man for every three million in the original. The miniaturized man would not only have the size of a fly but the brainpower of a fly as well. ”
C. Changing Planck’s constant
This is a major science-plot point in Isaac Asmimov’s book, Fantastic Voyage II (1988)
From Fantastic Voyage II
“And if the atoms are reduced, too?”
“If it is miniaturized atoms you are speaking of, then Planck’s constant, which is an absolutely fundamental quantity in our Universe, forbids it. Miniaturized atoms would be too small to fit into the graininess of the Universe. ”
“And if I told you that Planck’s constant was reduced as well, so that a miniaturized man would be encased in a field in which the graininess of the Universe was incredibly finer than it is under normal conditions?”
“Then I wouldn’t believe you. ”
“Without examining the matter? You would refuse to believe it as a result of preconceived convictions, as your colleagues refuse to believe you?”
And at this, Morrison was, for a moment, silent….
…Well over half an hour had passed before Morrison felt convinced that the objects he could see outside the ship were shrinking and were receding perceptibly toward their normal size.
Morrison said, “I am thinking of a paradox.”
“What’s that?” said Kalinin, yawning. She had obviously taken her own advice about the advisability of relaxing.
“The objects outside the ship seemed to grow larger as we shrink. Ought not the wavelengths of light outside the ship also grow larger, becoming longer in wavelength, as we shrink? Should we not see everything outside turn reddish, since there can scarcely be enough ultraviolet outside to expand and replace the shorter-wave visible light?”
Kalinin said, “If you could see the light waves outside, that would indeed be how they would appear to you. But you don’t. You see the light waves only after they’ve entered the ship and impinged upon your retina. And as they enter the ship, they come under the influence of the miniaturization field and automatically shrink in wavelength, so that you see those wavelengths inside the ship exactly as you would see them outside.”
“If they shrink in wavelength, they must gain energy.”
“Yes, if Planck’s constant were the same size inside the miniaturization field as it is outside. But Planck’s constant decreases inside the miniaturization field — that is the essence of miniaturization. The wavelengths, in shrinking, maintain their relationship to the shrunken Planck’s constant and do not gain energy. An analogous case is that of the atoms. They also shrink and yet the interrelationships among atoms and among the subatomic particles that make them up remain the same to us inside the ship as they would seem to us outside the ship.”
“But gravity changes. It becomes weaker in here.”
“The strong interaction and the electroweak interaction come under the umbrella of the quantum theory. They depend on Planck’s constant. As for gravitation?” Kalinin shrugged. “Despite two centuries of effort, gravitation has never been quantized. Frankly, I think the gravitational change with miniaturization is evidence enough that gravitation cannot be quanitzed, that it is fundamentally nonquantum in nature.”
“I can’t believe that,” said Morrison. “Two centuries of failure can merely mean we haven’t managed to get deep enough into the problem yet. Superstring theory nearly gave us out unified field at last.” (It relieved him to discuss the matter. Surely he couldn’t do so if his brain were heating in the least.)
“Nearly doesn’t count,” said Kalinin. “Still, Shapirov aagreed with you, I think. It was his notion that once we tied Planck’s constant to the speed of light, we would not only have the practical effect of miniaturizing and deminiaturizing in an essentially energy-free manner, but that we would have the theoretical effect of being able to work out the connection between quantum theory and relativity and finally have a good unified field theory. And probably a simpler one than we could have imagined possible, he sould say.”
“Maybe,” said Morrison. He didn’t know enough to comment beyond that.
D. Nanotechnology as a practical replacement for miniaturization of large objects
“…The ideas and concepts behind nanoscience and nanotechnology started with a talk entitled “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” by physicist Richard Feynman at an American Physical Society meeting at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) on December 29, 1959, long before the term nanotechnology was used. In his talk, Feynman described a process in which scientists would be able to manipulate and control individual atoms and molecules. Over a decade later, in his explorations of ultraprecision machining, Professor Norio Taniguchi coined the term nanotechnology. It wasn’t until 1981, with the development of the scanning tunneling microscope that could “see” individual atoms, that modern nanotechnology began.”
Next Generation Science Standards: Science & Engineering Practices
● Ask questions that arise from careful observation of phenomena, or unexpected results, to clarify and/or seek additional information.
● Ask questions that arise from examining models or a theory, to clarify and/or seek additional information and relationships.
● Ask questions to determine relationships, including quantitative relationships, between independent and dependent variables.
● Ask questions to clarify and refine a model, an explanation, or an engineering problem.
● Evaluate a question to determine if it is testable and relevant.
● Ask questions that can be investigated within the scope of the school laboratory, research facilities, or field (e.g., outdoor environment) with available resources and, when appropriate, frame a hypothesis based on a model or theory.
● Ask and/or evaluate questions that challenge the premise(s) of an argument, the interpretation of a data set, or the suitability of the design
MA 2016 Science and technology
Appendix I Science and Engineering Practices Progression Matrix
Science and engineering practices include the skills necessary to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. It is necessary to teach these so students develop an understanding and facility with the practices in appropriate contexts. The Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012) identifies eight essential science and engineering practices:
1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering).
2. Developing and using models.
3. Planning and carrying out investigations.
4. Analyzing and interpreting data.
5. Using mathematics and computational thinking.
6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering).
7. Engaging in argument from evidence.
8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.
Scientific inquiry and engineering design are dynamic and complex processes. Each requires engaging in a range of science and engineering practices to analyze and understand the natural and designed world. They are not defined by a linear, step-by-step approach. While students may learn and engage in distinct practices through their education, they should have periodic opportunities at each grade level to experience the holistic and dynamic processes represented below and described in the subsequent two pages… http://www.doe.mass.edu/frameworks/scitech/2016-04.pdf
Excerpted from Facts and Fiction of the Schumann Resonance, by Brian Dunning, Skeptoid Podcast #352
It’s increasingly hard to find a web page dedicated to the sales of alternative medicine products or New Age spirituality that does not cite the Schumann resonances as proof that some product or service is rooted in science. … Today we’re going to see what the Schumann resonances actually are, how they formed and what they do, and see if we can determine whether they are, in fact, related to human health.
In physics, Schumann resonances are the name given to the resonant frequency of the Earth’s atmosphere, between the surface and the densest part of the ionosphere.
They’re named for the German physicist Winfried Otto Schumann (1888-1974) who worked briefly in the United States after WWII, and predicted that the Earth’s atmosphere would resonate certain electromagnetic frequencies.
[What is a resonant frequency? Here is a common example. When you blow on a glass bottle at a certain frequency, you can get the bottle to vibrate at the same frequency]
This bottle has a resonant frequency of about 196 Hz.
That’s the frequency of sound waves that most efficiently bounce back and forth between the sides of the bottle, at the speed of sound, propagating via the air molecules.
Electromagnetic radiation – like light, and radio waves – is similar, except the waves travel at the speed of light, and do not require a medium like air molecules.
The speed of light is a lot faster than the speed of sound, but the electromagnetic waves have a lot further to go between the ground and the ionosphere than do the sound waves between the sides of the bottle.
This atmospheric electromagnetic resonant frequency is 7.83 Hz, which is near the bottom of the ELF frequency range, or Extremely Low Frequency.
The atmosphere has its own radio equivalent of someone blowing across the top of the bottle: lightning.
Lightning is constantly flashing all around the world, many times per second; and each bolt is a radio source. This means our atmosphere is continuously resonating with a radio frequency of 7.83 Hz, along with progressively weaker harmonics at 14.3, 20.8, 27.3 and 33.8 Hz.
These are the Schumann resonances. It’s nothing to do with the Earth itself, or with life, or with any spiritual phenomenon; it’s merely an artifact of the physical dimensions of the space between the surface of the Earth and the ionosphere.
Every planet and moon that has an ionosphere has its own set of Schumann resonances defined by the planet’s size.
Biggest point: this resonated radio from lightning is a vanishingly small component of the electromagnetic spectrum to which we’re all naturally exposed.
The overwhelming source is the sun, blasting the Earth with infrared, visible light, and ultraviolet radiation. All natural sources from outer space, and even radioactive decay of naturally occurring elements on Earth, produce wide-spectrum radio noise. Those resonating in the Schumann cavity are only a tiny, tiny part of the spectrum.
Nevertheless, because the Schumann resonance frequencies are defined by the dimensions of the Earth, many New Age proponents and alternative medicine advocates have come to regard 7.83 Hz as some sort of Mother Earth frequency, asserting the belief that it’s related to life on Earth.
The most pervasive of all the popular fictions surrounding the Schumann resonance is that it is correlated with the health of the human body.
There are a huge number of products and services sold to enhance health or mood, citing the Schumann resonance as the foundational science.
A notable example is the Power Balance bracelets. Tom O’Dowd, formerly the Australian distributor, said that the mylar hologram resonated at 7.83 Hz.
When the bracelet was placed within the body’s natural energy field, the resonance would [supposedly] “reset” your energy field to that frequency.
Well, there were a lot of problems with that claim.
First of all, 7.83 Hz has a wavelength of about 38,000 kilometers. This is about the circumference of the Earth, which is why its atmospheric cavity resonates at that frequency. 38,000 kilometers is WAY bigger than a bracelet! There’s no way that something that tiny could resonate such an enormous wavelength. O’Dowd’s sales pitch was implausible, by a factor of billions, to anyone who understood resonance.
This same fact also applies to the human body. Human beings are so small, relative to a radio wavelength of 38,000 kilometers, that there’s no way our anatomy could detect or interact with such a radio signal in any way.
Proponents of binaural beats cite the Schumann frequency as well. These are audio recordings which combine two slightly offset frequencies to produce a third phantom beat frequency that is perceived from the interference of the two.
Some claim to change your brain’s encephalogram, which they say is a beneficial thing to do. Brain waves range from near zero up to about 100 Hz during normal activity, with a typical reading near the lower end of the scale. This happens to overlap 7.83 — suggesting the aforementioned pseudoscientific connection between humans and the Schumann resonance — but with a critical difference. An audio recording is audio, not radio. It’s the physical oscillation of air molecules, not the propagation of electromagnetic waves. The two have virtually nothing to do with each other.
[Other salespeople claim] that our bodies’ energy fields need to interact with the Schumann resonance, but can’t because of all the interference from modern society [and so they try to sell devices that supposedly connect our body to the Schumann resonance.]
It’s all complete and utter nonsense. Human bodies do not have an energy field: in fact there’s not even any such thing as an energy field. Fields are constructs in which some direction or intensity is measured at every point: gravity, wind, magnetism, some expression of energy. Energy is just a measurement; it doesn’t exist on its own as a cloud or a field or some other entity. The notion that frequencies can interact with the body’s energy field is, as the saying goes, so wrong it’s not even wrong.
Another really common New Age misconception about the Schumann resonance is that it is the resonant frequency of the Earth. But there’s no reason to expect the Earth’s electromagnetic resonant frequency to bear any similarity to the Schumann resonance.
Furthermore, the Earth probably doesn’t even have a resonant electromagnetic frequency. Each of the Earth’s many layers is a very poor conductor of radio; combined all together, the Earth easily absorbs just about every frequency it’s exposed to. If you’ve ever noticed that your car radio cuts out when you drive through a tunnel, you’ve seen an example of this.
Now the Earth does, of course, conduct low-frequency waves of other types. Earthquakes are the prime example of this. The Earth’s various layers propagate seismic waves differently, but all quite well. Seismic waves are shockwaves, a physical oscillation of the medium. Like audio waves, these are unrelated to electromagnetic radio waves.
Each and every major structure within the Earth — such as a mass of rock within a continent, a particular layer of magma, etc. — does have its own resonant frequency for seismic shockwaves, but there is (definitively) no resonant electromagnetic frequency for the Earth as a whole.
So our major point today is that you should be very skeptical of any product that uses the Schumann resonance as part of a sales pitch.
The Earth does not have any particular frequency. Life on Earth is neither dependent upon, nor enhanced by, any specific frequency.
Resonance: When a vibrating system drives another system to oscillate with greater amplitude at specific frequencies.
Musical instruments are set into vibrational motion at their natural frequency when a person hits, strikes, strums, plucks or somehow disturbs the object.
Each natural frequency of the object is associated with one of the many standing wave patterns by which that object could vibrate. The natural frequencies of a musical instrument are sometimes referred to as the harmonics of the instrument.
An instrument can be forced into vibrating at one of its harmonics (with one of its standing wave patterns) if another interconnected object pushes it with one of those frequencies. This is known as resonance – when one object vibrating at the same natural frequency of a second object forces that second object into vibrational motion.
(work in progress)
RedGrittyBrick, a physicist writing on skeptics.stackexchange.com, notes that a bridge can be susceptible to mechanical resonance:
Mechanical structures usually have one or more frequencies at which some part of the structure oscillates. A tuning fork has a well-defined natural frequency of oscillation. More complex structures may have a dominant natural frequency of oscillation. If some mechanical inputs (such as the pressure of feet walking in unison) have a frequency that is close to a natural frequency of the structure, these inputs will tend to initiate and, over a short time, increase the oscillating movements of the structure. Like pushing a child’s swing at the right time.
One example is London’s Millennium Bridge which was closed shortly after opening because low-frequency vibrations in the bridge were causing large groups of pedestrians to simultaneously shift their weight and reinforcing the oscillation. Dampers were fitted.
2016 Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework
HS-PS4-5. Communicate technical information about how some technological devices use the principles of wave behavior and wave interactions with matter to transmit and capture information and energy. Examples of principles of wave behavior include resonance, photoelectric effect, and constructive and destructive interference.
MCAS Science and Technology 8th grade. Spring 2017. Based on learning standards in the four major content strands of the Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework.
• Earth and Space Science
• Life Science (Biology)
• Physical Sciences (Chemistry and Physics)
Feb 2016 MCAS. Scientists often compare fossils of extinct organisms with living organisms to help determine evolutionary relationships. What is the primary information that scientists use when comparing fossils with living organisms?
A. the types of minerals that formed the fossils
B. the size of the rocks that contained the fossils
C. the cause of death for the fossilized organisms
D. the physical characteristics of the fossilized organisms
Feb 2016 MCAS .
The pictures below show the shells of some species of land snails found on a Pacific island. Each species was found on a different hill on the island. Based on the snails’ shell shapes, scientists made hypotheses about the evolutionary relationships among the snails. Which of the following would be the best characteristic to compare in order to test these hypotheses?
A. the size of the snails
B. the diet of the snails
C. the DNA of the snails
D. the average age of the snails
Scientists hypothesized that several species of frogs called tiger frogs evolved from a recent common ancestor. The hypothesis was based on fossil evidence and on physical similarities among living species.
Which of the following provides the best additional support for the scientists’ hypothesis?
A. Tiger frogs have longer life spans than other frog species.
B. Tiger frogs have the same diet and all use enzymes to digest food.
C. Tiger frogs live near each other and are all preyed upon by the same predator species.
D. Tiger frogs have similarities in their mitochondrial DNA that are not shared by other frog species.
Some populations of Atlantic tomcod fish have an allele that makes the fish resistant to toxic pollutants called PCBs. Tomcod populations in several rivers were analyzed for the presence of this allele. Each river had varying levels of PCB pollution. Which of the following results would best support the conclusion that natural selection is influencing the presence of this allele in the tomcod populations?
A. All of the tomcod in each of the rivers have this allele.
B. The percentage of tomcod with this allele remains the same from year to year in each river.
C. The rivers with high PCB levels have larger percentages of tomcod with this allele than the rivers without PCBs.
D. Eggs from tomcod without this allele can hatch in rivers with or without PCBs, and eggs from tomcod with this allele can only hatch in rivers without PCBs.
A researcher observed army ants, which form colonies with one queen ant and many worker ants. The researcher observed worker ants moving from place to place to hunt and collect a variety of food for the colony. The queen ant was observed mating with a male ant from another ant colony. The queen produced many eggs after this mating. Which of the following could help increase the genetic diversity in the colony of army ants?
A. the queen ant mating with the ant from a different colony
B. the worker ants collecting the food for the colony to eat
C. the worker ants moving from place to place
D. the queen ant eating a variety of food
Scientists discovered a 375-million-year old fossil in Canada. The diagram below shows the top and side views of the fossil.
Which observation would best support the hypothesis that this organism was
a transitional form between amphibians and fish?
A. The fossil has a long body, which both modern amphibians and modern fish have.
B. The fossil is larger than most modern amphibians, but smaller than most ancient fish.
C. The fossil has some body structures that are similar to amphibians and some body structures that are similar to fish.
D. The fossil was discovered near a lake, which shows that the organism
needed water to reproduce, as do amphibians and fish.
Some plants in an area produce a toxin that protects them from being eaten by a variety of insect species. The toxin decreases reproductive rates in insects. Because of a genetic mutation, some fruit flies can detect the plant toxin and therefore avoid eating the plant.
a. Describe how the number of fruit flies in the population that can detect the toxin will most likely change over the next 25 years.
b. According to the mechanism of natural selection, explain how the change you described in part (a) will occur.
c. Based on the changes in the fruit fly population, describe what will most likely happen to the plants’ production of the toxin. Explain your answer.
MCAS Cell biology and mitosis
Each summer, up to 40% of the lobsters in a certain area lose one of their claws
due to injury. By late fall, the missing claw usually begins to grow back. Which of the following describes the process by which lobsters grow new claws?
A. Lysosomes fuse together to recycle matter to build a new claw.
B. Mitotic cell division adds new cells to rebuild the lobster’s claw.
C. Facilitated diffusion moves body cells from the remaining claw to the new claw.
D. Cellular respiration creates nutrients to enlarge existing cells in the lobster’s claw.