Miscellaneous Science Questions

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Rob7045713
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Re: Common Questions

Postby Rob7045713 » Mon Jun 16, 2008 11:44 pm UTC

It IS possible for something to travel faster than the speed of light.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faster-than-light
However, there is no KNOWN way to communicate at a FTL speed. Key word is known. And for anyone who says "but its a proven fact that its impossible," well, 500 years ago it was a proven fact that the world was flat. ;) The truth of the matter is that we do not know enough to say one way or the other, though there is no current evidence that supports that it is possible. Perhaps it is possible within the event horizon of a black hole, perhaps within the center itself.
Oh, and regarding the expansion of space after the big bang, who says that the big bang ever occurred? ;)

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Re: Common Questions

Postby Owehn » Tue Jun 17, 2008 6:17 pm UTC

The reason faster-than-light communication is believed to be impossible is that, if such a consistent method of communication existed, special relativity tells us that we would be able to use this method to communicate back in time as well, and this opens up all kinds of paradoxes.
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Re: Common Questions

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:02 pm UTC

It's worth noting that almost *no one* 500 years ago actually believed the earth was flat. Ptolemaic cosmology, which is basically what the Catholic church used up until heliocentrism, has Earth as a globe in the center of several spheres, not as a flat disk on a pedestal under a domed sky.
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Re: Common Questions

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Thu Jun 19, 2008 2:59 pm UTC

Rob7045713 wrote:It IS possible for something to travel faster than the speed of light.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faster-than-light
However, there is no KNOWN way to communicate at a FTL speed. Key word is known. And for anyone who says "but its a proven fact that its impossible," well, 500 years ago it was a proven fact that the world was flat. ;) The truth of the matter is that we do not know enough to say one way or the other, though there is no current evidence that supports that it is possible. Perhaps it is possible within the event horizon of a black hole, perhaps within the center itself.


Uh, no. As far as we know, and according to all theoretical frameworks modern science works on, nothing travels faster than the speed of light. At no point in time was the flatness of the Earth "proven", and that assertion was certainly never as well supported as our ban on FTL travel is. As has been stated, throwing out FTL travel means throwing out relativity. To modern science, FTL travel makes about as much sense as Superman.

Oh, and regarding the expansion of space after the big bang, who says that the big bang ever occurred? ;

Oh, just a few people, who might or might not have some reason to.
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Re: Common Questions

Postby quintopia » Mon Jun 23, 2008 1:06 am UTC

What would happen if you coated a road with a layer of Scotchgard formula? Would water always run off/bead up instantly?

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Re: Common Questions

Postby Akhel » Fri Jun 27, 2008 1:24 am UTC

Minerva wrote:Light - and everything else for that matter - is not "both a particle and a wave". It is neither - but it displays some of the characteristics of both.

If everything is this "something else", is anything "just" a particle or a wave?
Last edited by Akhel on Sat Jun 28, 2008 1:48 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Common Questions

Postby 0SpinBoson » Fri Jun 27, 2008 8:43 am UTC

Is anyone else besides me really bothered by people continually bringing up the "Oh, that's what we say now, but XX years ago everyone knew the earth was flat" argument? This isn't meant to offend the poster above, but I hear it alot (esp. related to FTL stuff) and it drives me up a wall.

Regarding the FTL stuff, I believe some of the quantum entanglement experiments ("Spooky action at a distance") show effects that you can technically interpret as something happening at a greater speed than c. It's a bit of a moot point, though, since it cannot propagate information.

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Re: Common Questions

Postby adrianm » Tue Jul 01, 2008 4:04 pm UTC

0SpinBoson wrote:Is anyone else besides me really bothered by people continually bringing up the "Oh, that's what we say now, but XX years ago everyone knew the earth was flat" argument? This isn't meant to offend the poster above, but I hear it alot (esp. related to FTL stuff) and it drives me up a wall.


Newton laws of motion were thought to be accurate until relativity shows up. They're still good enough for most use. Maybe something will show up later on that makes relativity not work in a certain circumstance. I'm not saying it's probable, but it is plausible.

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Re: Common Questions

Postby Turambar » Sun Jul 13, 2008 2:46 am UTC

Akhel wrote:
Minerva wrote:Light - and everything else for that matter - is not "both a particle and a wave". It is neither - but it displays some of the characteristics of both.

If everything is this "something else", is anything "just" a particle or a wave?

Essentially, everything is a probability wave function, which seems to collapse to a definite location when observed/measured.
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Re: Common Questions

Postby Plasmic-Turtle » Mon Jul 21, 2008 10:15 am UTC

Helpies?
I'm presuming this is the place for this question... basically, I'm a dumb (stupid, not mute) geology student lacking greatly in many areas of scientific knowledge - and doing my readings for class, I came across this:
"Spherical nuclides cannot rotate because of a dictum of quantum mechanics that a rotation about an axis of symmetry is undetectable, and hence cannot exist, and in a sphere every axis is a symmetry axis."
This confuses me greatly. Since when has something being undetectable meant it cannot exist? Just the fact that anything we can't scientifically prove doesn't exist? Shouldn't it's existence be either proved or not proved in order to become scientific fact? Am I totally on the wrong about what the sentence is suggesting? I was hoping to just be reading about some magma, geez...

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Re: Common Questions

Postby Tchebu » Mon Jul 21, 2008 11:34 am UTC

Since when has something being undetectable meant it cannot exist?


Since always... if we're talking about undetectability in principle, not because of technological limitations. It's not only that we, humans, will never tell the difference if it rotated, but neither will any particle in the entire Universe, because the two states are exactly identical. And since they'll never "see" a difference, they will always "respond" in the same way and there will never be a single interaction in the history of the Universe that would be different depending on whether the nuclide rotated or not. And if that's the case, then in what sense can the rotation be said to have happened at all?
Our universe is most certainly unique... it's the only one that string theory doesn't describe.

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Re: Common Questions

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jul 23, 2008 6:45 pm UTC

Tchebu wrote:And if that's the case, then in what sense can the rotation be said to have happened at all?

In exactly the same sense that it can be said that my pet invisible pink immaterial unicorn just took a shit on your dining room table, obviously. :-)
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Re: Common Questions

Postby adrianm » Wed Jul 23, 2008 7:40 pm UTC

Or maybe it just takes the question: "If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it does it make a sound?" a bit further?

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Re: Common Questions

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jul 23, 2008 9:04 pm UTC

No, it's more like, "If a tree falls in the forest but no one's around, does it fall?"
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Re: Common Questions

Postby mbrigdan » Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:42 pm UTC

Here's a good one that you mildly touched on in the "matter can't go faster than c" part (IMHO):
An electron traveling at a good fraction of the speed of light, as can be achieved in places like CERN,
has energy about equivalent to a semi-truck going 80 MPH. You can see why it would be hard to get a spaceship going that fast.
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Re: Common Questions

Postby btarlinian » Fri Jul 25, 2008 5:07 pm UTC

mbrigdan wrote:Here's a good one that you mildly touched on in the "matter can't go faster than c" part (IMHO):
An electron traveling at a good fraction of the speed of light, as can be achieved in places like CERN,
has energy about equivalent to a semi-truck going 80 MPH. You can see why it would be hard to get a spaceship going that fast.


No it doesn't. The highest energy electrons ever accelerated by humans were at the LEP, I believe. (Some of the plasma wakefield experiment at SLAC may have gotten faster electrons out of the linac, but I'm not sure). They had an energy of ~100 GeV. The rest energy of a semi-truck would be about 2.98*1031 GeV. Even the protons in the LHC will only have an energy of 7 TeV or 7000 GeV, no where close to macroscopic scales.

You may have been thinking of the entire proton beam at the LHC (containing many, many protons), which according to Wikipedia has an energy of about 324 MJ which is a good deal more than the energy of a speeding semi-truck.

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Re: Common Questions

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Jul 27, 2008 9:18 pm UTC

Yeah, 7 TeV is about the kinetic energy of a one milligram mass traveling at 1.5 m/s.
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Re: Common Questions

Postby Tyr_oathkeeper » Tue Jul 29, 2008 8:22 pm UTC

I have a question.
Excuse my phrasing, I am a bit tired.

There is a glass of water. I lift it up. I place it down quickly. I little bit of water shoots out of the glass. Why?

It seems like waves from the edge of the glass all meet at the center. What starts the wave? How can that water reach the cealing? How is it related to the radius of the glass? The depth of the water? The speed which I lower the glass. I need to know more!

Oh, and is there anything I should really see in Prague? I'm visiting :D

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Re: Common Questions

Postby hitokiriilh » Wed Jul 30, 2008 5:59 pm UTC

Rob7045713 wrote:It IS possible for something to travel faster than the speed of light.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faster-than-light
However, there is no KNOWN way to communicate at a FTL speed. Key word is known. And for anyone who says "but its a proven fact that its impossible," well, 500 years ago it was a proven fact that the world was flat. ;) The truth of the matter is that we do not know enough to say one way or the other, though there is no current evidence that supports that it is possible. Perhaps it is possible within the event horizon of a black hole, perhaps within the center itself.
Oh, and regarding the expansion of space after the big bang, who says that the big bang ever occurred? ;)


I'm going to pistol whip the next person who claims FTL anything is possible.

As the wiki article said, you basically either have to give up causality or special relativity to permit for local FTL travel/communication. Want to know the restriction? It's the fact that the Minkowski metric signature is {-,+,+,+} instead of {+,+,+,+}. It's a geometric restriction that's no more possible to violate than it is to have two lines simultaneously be parallel and perpendicular - has nothing to do with 'lack of energy' or anything.

Edit: Also, Kruskal coordinates eliminate the funny business that happens with the metric at the event horizon of a black hole. It's easy to see in these coordiantes that the lightcone 'opens' up towards the ceneter of the black hole. So the same restriction apply within the event horizon of a black hole: once you choose a particular sector of the 3-sector space-time diagram to propagate in, you can't cross into the other sectors.

Edit 2: Okay, yes, it's possible for things to 'travel faster than the speed of light' if they already start in the 'elsewhere' sector of space-time diagrams (*cough*tachyons with require imaginary mass*cough*) but for things that initially propagate towards the 'future' sector, or even the 'past' sector it's impossible for them to cross into the 'elsewhere' sector.
Last edited by hitokiriilh on Wed Jul 30, 2008 6:13 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Common Questions

Postby hitokiriilh » Wed Jul 30, 2008 6:04 pm UTC

Tyr_oathkeeper wrote:I have a question.
Excuse my phrasing, I am a bit tired.

There is a glass of water. I lift it up. I place it down quickly. I little bit of water shoots out of the glass. Why?

It seems like waves from the edge of the glass all meet at the center. What starts the wave? How can that water reach the cealing? How is it related to the radius of the glass? The depth of the water? The speed which I lower the glass. I need to know more!

Oh, and is there anything I should really see in Prague? I'm visiting :D


The water isn't held down by the glass and can only 'accelerate' as fast as gravity will let it. The glass itself, on the other hand, is anchor by friction to your hand and your hand is accelerating faster than gravity. So the relative acceleration of the water to the glass will be a-g where a is the acceleration by your hand.

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Re: Common Questions

Postby Tyr_oathkeeper » Wed Jul 30, 2008 7:55 pm UTC

hitokiriilh wrote:
The water isn't held down by the glass and can only 'accelerate' as fast as gravity will let it. The glass itself, on the other hand, is anchor by friction to your hand and your hand is accelerating faster than gravity. So the relative acceleration of the water to the glass will be a-g where a is the acceleration by your hand.


But how does that get the ceiling wet? :D

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Re: Common Questions

Postby hitokiriilh » Wed Jul 30, 2008 8:03 pm UTC

Tyr_oathkeeper wrote:
hitokiriilh wrote:
The water isn't held down by the glass and can only 'accelerate' as fast as gravity will let it. The glass itself, on the other hand, is anchor by friction to your hand and your hand is accelerating faster than gravity. So the relative acceleration of the water to the glass will be a-g where a is the acceleration by your hand.


But how does that get the ceiling wet? :D


Can't say I've worked out the mathematics and I'm definitely not bored enough to, but if I had to guess I'd say the initial adhesion of the water to the glass is responsible - strain the bond, the strain propagates up and flicks water away from the bulk of the liquid. That or you're putting an initial upward force on the glass before slamming it down. =P

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Re: Common Questions

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Jul 31, 2008 5:06 am UTC

It's to do with a shock of some sort going through the water after it hits the surface you're slamming it down on. In other words, the upward force on the water comes from a rebound off the sudden stop to its downward motion.
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Re: Common Questions

Postby Tyr_oathkeeper » Fri Aug 01, 2008 8:39 pm UTC

I was testing this and it works if I just drop a bottle of water (closed). But it also seems to be very picky as to how much water is in the bottle.

It sorta looks like inverse ripples on the surface of a pond. It's got to be waves fropm the edge "stacking" when they meet at the center.

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Re: Common Questions

Postby browha » Tue Aug 05, 2008 3:56 pm UTC

just thought i'd add a couple things

FTL is, theoretically, possible, but so far as accelerating a sub-c particle to super-c, no. And it's not a case of "our knowledge might be insufficient", like the quote with Newton's laws. Newton's laws work for the region they cover, but they break down at higher levels. Einstein's relativity covers a much wider range - and categorically state it is impossibly to exceed c when you started off at less than c - and has been tested to some stupidly high experimental precision. It's not a case of "another theory might come along and prove it wrong" - it works, fact, for the regions we've tested it for.

with regards to electrons and LEP, that's the energy of a single particle - but the beam contains billions (I'm not sure on the exact number) of particles - the LHC when running will contain the energy of a commercial jet (it's kinetic energy, not including the rest mass energy etc etc etc) in a beam something like 1 mm diameter. Because of the sheer number of particles.

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Re: Common Questions

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Aug 06, 2008 1:49 pm UTC

browha wrote:with regards to electrons and LEP, that's the energy of a single particle

Yes. And the post we were responding to was talking only about a single electron.
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Re: Common Questions

Postby Blokey » Fri Aug 08, 2008 10:23 am UTC

Another glass related question.

So, I wanted a nice cool drink with my lunch. I stick a pint glass on the counter (as carefully as ever, I didn't bang it down), put three ice cubes in, and pour in some coke. I go to take a drink, and the body detaches completely from the base, soaking my feet in coke.

Is three ice cubes really enough to do that? I mean, I now know it must be, but how?

Ta.
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Re: Common Questions

Postby oxoiron » Fri Aug 08, 2008 2:58 pm UTC

The glass must have already had a flaw.
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Re: Common Questions

Postby Blokey » Fri Aug 08, 2008 3:16 pm UTC

Well, there was no visible flaw, I'm too anal to let any of my stuff get damaged.
But regardless, what was the mechanism? I did a year and a bit of engineering, and I should know this stuff, but I just can't visualise how it happened. A little help?
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Re: Common Questions

Postby M.qrius » Fri Aug 08, 2008 6:47 pm UTC

Blokey wrote:Another glass related question.

So, I wanted a nice cool drink with my lunch. I stick a pint glass on the counter (as carefully as ever, I didn't bang it down), put three ice cubes in, and pour in some coke. I go to take a drink, and the body detaches completely from the base, soaking my feet in coke.

Is three ice cubes really enough to do that? I mean, I now know it must be, but how?

Ta.
A possible explanation is this: The ice cubes cooled the bottom of the glass to a low temperature. Then as you poured the coke in the sides of the glass warmed up faster than the bottom, since the base is a lot thicker. This created internal stress and broke your glass.
The bigger the temperature difference the larger the chance of this happening. Was the coke room temperature and the ice cubes straight out of the freezer?

I definitely agree this is not common though, and there may have already been internal stresses in the glass (You can't see those). It's usually pretty cool though, since the cut is so clean. I once took a short glass made for lighting tealights in, poured in some drink with a thin layer of rum on top(>100 proof), an lit the rum. After about a minute the glass broke at the fluid level. Mind you, this was a glass which was over twice as thick as drinking glasses :P

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Re: Common Questions

Postby Blokey » Fri Aug 08, 2008 7:00 pm UTC

Thanks for the explanation!

Ice cubes were straight out of the freezer. The coke though was straight from the fridge, and colder-than-average, but that was probably compensated for by the fact that the base is a full 2cm thick.

The whole thing took about 15 seconds. Like you said, it is super-cool* and the cut is impressively clean. In fact, the base'd make a handy paperweight. And yep, upon close inspection, there's two irregular contours at the cut, so it was indeed flawed. Cheers!

*punintentional**

**hmm, where was that thread for words that are their own opposite?
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Re: Common Questions

Postby M.qrius » Fri Aug 08, 2008 10:52 pm UTC

A handy/sharp paperweight/people-who-want-to-steal-your-paper-deterrent indeed. What do you mean exactly by irregular contours?

Teehee, punintentional. *Notes mentally*

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Re: Common Questions

Postby Blokey » Fri Aug 08, 2008 11:29 pm UTC

The split from base to body is entirely smooth. Not as in parallel to the very bottom of the glass, it goes up and down a bit, but it's an entirely clean cut of base from body. I even ran my fingers over it as aggressively as possible to check (yeah, that was dumb, thank bob I wasn't proven wrong). But there's two irregular contours, running between the inner/outer rims, whereas the rest of the cut is flawless.

Kinda tempted to take this over to the uni labs next semester and use polarised light to check the internal stress for shiggles.

Edit: I mean 'shiggles' to be 'shits n' giggles', not some property of stress, heh. Makes it sound like shiggles are tiny little pixies who live inside crystal lattices and cause havoc.
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Re: Common Questions

Postby adrianm » Fri Aug 15, 2008 10:13 pm UTC

I don't think this is a common question, but still...
I would like to bury a bottle of champagne for about 4 years. If you're wondering why, well...for the hell of it. :)
Any suggestions on how to do this without it freezing and breaking? The climate where I live is temperate, during winter the temperature gets I think to about -5 degrees Celsius.
I was thinking of wrapping it in a blanket and then a bag to keep the water out. How deep do you think I should bury it?

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Re: Common Questions

Postby M.qrius » Fri Aug 15, 2008 11:34 pm UTC

I think wrapping it in a blanket and then a bag around it isn't going to help, when you have a few days of frost in a row. What might work is burying it deep, so the frost doesn't reach it. How deep? Not sure...
Your best bet would be dropping it to the bottom of a lake. It won't freeze there... I can imagine some practical problems though.

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Re: Common Questions

Postby thoughtfully » Fri Aug 15, 2008 11:53 pm UTC

Get a bottle with one of those evil plastic corks. A regular cork will decay, especially at the bottom of a lake.

EDIT: Hrmm, generally, the bottoms of lakes are pretty anoxic. I dunno if anaerobic critters will eat cork or not.
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Re: Common Questions

Postby Tyr_oathkeeper » Sun Aug 17, 2008 8:58 pm UTC

Speaking of lakes with no oxygen at the bottom, I visited Pink's Lake today. (sometimes called Pink Lake because the french didn't like the '. Apparently wiki lacks an apostrophes as well. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_Lake) Deeper the 13m it has on oxygen in it. Pink's Lake is meromictic and changes from blue to green over the summer. What causes such a lake to form?

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Re: Common Questions

Postby The-Rabid-Monkey » Sun Aug 24, 2008 6:48 am UTC

I'm pretty sure that this question doesn't require its own thread, so this looked like the place.

Am I correct in saying that Al2(SO4)3 + 3Cu => 2Al + 3CuSO4
Or would the extracted Al just react with the CuSO4 to reform Al2(SO4)3?

I've been trying to find some way to obtain Al powder, without grinding down a load of cans, no painters shops around here seem to sell it and New Zealand's version of eBay (Trademe), doesn't appear to have any in my area of the country and moving it around is almost expensive as the actual purchase price.
So I have moved to science, if all else fails, extract some from a compound.
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Re: Common Questions

Postby eternauta3k » Sun Aug 24, 2008 7:13 pm UTC

I think I may have found an argument for intelligent design: thermite was "intelligently designed" so it's hard to make, to avoid idiots melting their faces off

Not saying you are one, good luck with that. Al is closer to Lithium than Cu in here (I never remember how to use the reduction potentials) so Cu will not be oxidized by it.
VectorZero wrote:It takes a real man to impact his own radius

That's right, slash your emo-wrists and spill all your emo-globin

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Turambar
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Re: Common Questions

Postby Turambar » Sun Aug 24, 2008 11:13 pm UTC

Tyr_oathkeeper wrote:Speaking of lakes with no oxygen at the bottom, I visited Pink's Lake today. (sometimes called Pink Lake because the french didn't like the '. Apparently wiki lacks an apostrophes as well. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_Lake) Deeper the 13m it has on oxygen in it. Pink's Lake is meromictic and changes from blue to green over the summer. What causes such a lake to form?


Lots of lakes have algae growths during the summer that cause them to turn green. If it's a very deep lake, that could be the explanation for its lack of circulation. The Wiki article on meromictic lakes has a fuller explanation.
"Physics is like sex. Sure, it may give some practical results, but that's not why we do it."
--Richard Feynman


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