Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How Cattle Destroyed a Planet, Part II

Alternatively titled: F*UCK COWS, PART II

Last time we covered a bit of history and religion regarding the cattle industry, so this time let's go over the current state of affairs. What does the picture look like now?

Well, once the wilderness was tamed we were left with a cattle industry that is pretty much the same (except in scale) as what we have today, with one notable exception. Now Americans are the worldwide beef eating champions rather than the British, even though Europe still has about 30 million more cattle than the U.S. Over 100,000 cows are slaughtered daily in the U.S. That’s about 300 per hour - one every 12 seconds 24-7-365. Every week 91% of U.S. households purchase beef in some form or another, and the average American eats 65lbs of beef in a year. We consume 23% of the beef produced in the world even though we only have less than 5% of the population. Today, thanks to British imperialism and American gluttony, cows are the basis of a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide. The international trade in beef for 2000 was over $30 billion and represented only 23 percent of world beef production. Dairy production is accountable for about another $30 billion. It is a massive worldwide industry that needs huge subsidies and incredible amounts of infrastructure and has social and environmental impacts that reach far into every corner of the globe.

One major logistical problem with maintaining a herd of 1.5 billion animals is of course figuring out how you are going to feed them. In the U.S. over 30,000 ranchers graze cattle on more than 300 million acres of public land - an area about equal to 20% of the land surface area of the lower 48. Anyone who lives in the west and has ever taken a hike in the wilderness has undoub
tedly experienced first-hand the devastation that these animals leave in their wake. Each animal eats its way through 900lbs of vegetation in one month, and they stomp festering mud holes into the ground that collect flies and mosquitoes wherever they go. The Worldwatch Institute estimates that more plant and animal species in the U.S. are eliminated by cattle grazing than by any other factor. The ranchers do have to pay a fee for the privilege of using public lands to feed their pests. The federal grazing fee in 2009 was $1.35 per animal per month. The Reagan administration estimated the market value for pasturing cattle on the same federal lands to be between $6.40 and $9.50 per month. Bit of a discrepancy, no? In 1989 the BLM and Forest Service spent $35 million more on administrating the program than the program took in, not counting the destruction of habitat caused by these stupid animals.

The situation in Central and South America is worse. Most people think that the rain forest is being cleared for the lumber, but in actuality the destruction of this pristine environment is done to clear pastureland for cattle that we can then slather with special sauce and cram into our faces. In the past 50 years more than one quarter of the forests of Central America have been cleared for pastureland. In the same time span around a quarter million square miles of Amazon forest have been cleared for commercial cattle development. It is estimated that for every ¼ lb burger that comes from rain forest cleared cattle it is necessary to destroy ~165lbs of living matter including some 20 – 30 different plant species, perhaps 100 insect species and dozens of bird, mammal and reptile species not counting displaced native populations. Due to this forest clearing and grazing cycle cattle are responsible for much of the soil erosion that occurs worldwide. Grazing is the primary cause for desertification, which is occurring at an unprecedented rate never before seen in human history.

OK, so we have a bunch of cattle that are sinewy and lean from grazing on grasses and other plants that the animal can actually digest, but that’s no good because we want fatty beef. Off to the feedlots we go for an intense regimen of fat building, lack of exercise and corn eating. Kind of sounds like growing up in the Midwest. There are some 42,000 feedlots in the lower 48 alone that take these wiry cattle and beef them up {ahem} to 1100lbs of fat marbled meat. The problem is that cattle are not very good at converting grain protein to animal protein. It turns out that a cow has to consume 9lbs of grain to see 1lb of weight gain. So ~11% goes to make the fatty beef, and the rest shoots out the back end to the tune of about 50lbs of shit per day per cow. You knew we eventually had to talk about crap, didn’t ya? The average feedlot has 10,000 head of cattle which means that the waste generated at a standard feedlot every day is equivalent to a city of over 100,000 people. Anyway, if you remember the protein article humans have a conversion efficiency of ~90% for the same grain. What to do? No problem. Due to technological advances in fertilization, hybridization, pesticides, etc., since WWII agricultural yields have increased by almost 300%. Where does all of that surplus food go? To feed the billion or so undernourished people of the world? Nah. Screw those guys; we NEED more beef, bitches! Yep, it all goes to feed cattle inefficiently.

Here in the United States 106 million acres of farmland are used to grow 220 metric tons of grain for cattle annually. Globally 600 million metric tons of grain is fed to cattle. That means that fully 70% of all U.S. grain goes to feed livestock, or 1/3 of worldwide production. Of course all of these crops need to be irrigated which leads to the inevitable discussion about water. We use over 70% of our fresh water on agriculture. Breaking it down further, around half of the water consumed in the U.S. goes to feed cattle specifically. The water used to produce 10lbs of steak equals one average household’s consumption for an entire year. The water that goes into a 1000lb steer would be enough to float a destroyer, and producing 1lb of beef requires 15 times more water than producing the equivalent amount of plant protein. Adding insult to injury, cattle feedlots account for over half of the toxic organic pollutants found in fresh water. Here’s another one of my pet peeves. We use 70% of our water on agriculture and another 20% on industry, which leaves 10% for residential use. About 50-70% of residential water use goes to landscaping irrigation. In other words we use it to water our lawns. Why do we have lawns? Because Kentucky Bluegrass made excellent pasture for…drum roll please…cattle. Fugginell…

All of this tilling and irrigation of the soil for cattle feed inevitably leads to erosion. The Worldwatch Institute estimates that each pound of feedlot steak results in ~35lbs of eroded soil. Put another way, 85% of eroded soil in the U.S. is directly attributable to cattle and feed crop production. It
is worse in developing countries where forests are cleared and cattle are grazed on marginal soil. Of course the machinery used to do all of this consumes massive amounts of energy and fuel. It is estimated that it takes 1 gal of gas to produce 1lb of beef. So, to sustain the yearly beef consumption of a family of four requires the use of over 260 gal of gasoline. This is equivalent to releasing 2.5 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere or the same as an average car over 6 months. While we are on the subject of emissions, a 400-page United Nations report (entitled Livestock's Long Shadow) from the Food and Agriculture Organization states that cattle farming is "responsible for 18% of greenhouse gases." In some countries cattle are the number one cause of global warming emissions. The production of cattle to feed and clothe humans stresses ecosystems around the world and is one of the top three environmental problems in the world on a global scale.

Who the Hell cares? I love me some cheeseburgers! Can’t live without them. Ahm nam nam nam…Well, if learning about all of the effed up mess that cattle leave in their wake doesn’t deter you from sucking down a couple of porterhouses every week, realize that I haven’t even touched on the health related issues that come from eating so much beef or how the animals themselves are treated in the process. Regarding the latter, I could almost not care less. We are raising these animals for food, and they are part of an industrial assembly line. We might as well just breed them without brains and hybridize them with jellyfish so we can just pour them into a blender at the end of the line. Screw those things. I’ll let PETA get their panties in a wad over how they are treated. As far as health concerns go, I won’t dig too deep into this since the web is literally loaded with resources telling you why slugging down twelve McRibs every week is bad for you. I will touch on a few of the big hitters, though. One of the reasons why our agricultural output has increased so dramatically over the last half century is due to advances in pesticide and herbicide production and formulation. Feed corn is bombarded with these chemicals in order to maximize output per acre, and then the chemical-laden corn is fed to cattle by the ton. Who cares if cattle get cancer? They are going to get shot in the head anyway, right? Well, as it turns out beef is the most dangerous food for herbicide contamination and third in pesticide contamination. One estimate by the CDC is that beef pesticide contamination accounts for ~11% of all cancer risk in the U.S. The high beef diet of Americans tracks directly with an increased rate of heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes, breast cancer, arthritis, fatt-arse and a host of other cancers. I think it’s important to mention that the beef Americans crave (because the British told us to) has a high fat content, and that high-fat diet also leads us to circle the drain healthwise. Additionally, the CDC says food poisoning causes over 2000 deaths and 500,000 hospitalizations costing $150 billion in healthcare per year …that’s right, billion. So, let’s sum this up abruptly. We raise an animal that eats our food, destroys our environment, and causes wars then we kill it and eat it and it gives us cancer and heart disease. Sound about right? Mmmm, deeeelish.

On top of everything else, the very word “cattle” kind of weirds me out. Here’s why: What’s a single elk called? An elk, right? What’s a single rabbit called? A rabbit. Right. Same for gorilla, elephant, turkey, lizard, sloth, and every other animal I can think of. But what’s a single cattle called? Cow? Bull? Critter? It’s unnecessarily confusing and annoying. Hey, it’s my blog, Mack.

On a more serious note, I think, generally, people can understand the negative impacts that the cattle industry has on the environment, and that cattle production is grossly inefficient. It should be obvious to anyone that is willing to take even a few minutes to look into it, but there is an underlying tone of entitlement, elitism and, frankly, racism regarding beef production and consumption that never gets spoken about. We make enough food to feed billions of people, but we feed it to cattle instead. Why? To what end? Can any one of my readers look at a steak and say that the resources put into one T-bone are actually worth displacing those resources for someone who literally is on the brink of starvation? I hope not. We read statistics like, “Over 60% of childhood deaths are directly attributed to under nutrition in developing countries”, and we know make enough food to feed them. Instead we still happily give it to cattle and bitch when the price of ground beef goes up by $.05. Oh, here’s another tidbit of information that many people don’t realize. Remember the famine in Ethiopia? In the early ‘80’s when thousands of people were starving every day, the country still exported livestock feed to Europe in order to meet market demand. Sound familiar? It was essentially the potato famine all over again, but nobody mentions that essentially cattle were to blame for another mass starvation. What does that say about humans in general? If an alien civilization happened across the Earth and watched this whole process could you explain to them why this is the current state of affairs? I’m asking because I can’t figure it out, but then I haven’t eaten beef for around ten years now.

When I tell people that I don’t eat beef and tell them why, I usually get a disconnected shoulder shrug and a statement along the lines of: “But I couldn’t live without steak!” What they really mean is that they won't live without it. I think what it boils down to is it is much easier for those of us in the developed world to tell those in the developing countries to have fewer babies than to face the fact that our effing cattle are eating food that could be theirs…for a price of course.

You tell me why that’s OK.

How Cattle Destroyed a Planet, Part I

Alternatively titled: F*CK COWS, PART I

How did we get to a point in human civilization where cattle dominate so many aspects of the global economy yet we continually look to other places for blame regarding ecological and humanitarian crises? More importantly why doesn’t anybody care? There are around one and a half billion cattle alive today, at least for a little while. In Australia the number of cattle exceeds the number of people by 40%. South America is about even. Fully one quarter of the earth’s landmass is used for their pasture. Over half of the U.S. population lives within three minutes of a McDonald’s, and more people eat at McDonald
s in a month than attend churches and synagogues throughout the country. It is clear that we still treat this animal as sacred even though it wreaks havoc on our health, social structure and environment. Why?

This next article is something that I have been working on for quite some time now. I have broken it in half so that hopefully readers aren't flooded with too much information. It follows a story that is seldom told and even less often actually understood by the audience for the importance and implications of its main plot. It is an epic tale of death and destruction - or conquest and glory, if you want to believe the shite history books - that has been a ubiquitous part of human existence for more than 20,000 years…perhaps even 100,000 years. We like to think that we, as humans, are the chosen species for this world. That we reside at the pinnacle of evolutionary selection or exist as the very image of any number of omnipotent deities depending upon your belief set. That we stand alone at the top of the food chain, head held high, chests inflated and pronounced. That somehow we are the only animals in this short corner of the universe that are of any import at all. Well, DanielPDansters, I am here to pull back the curtain and expose a very different view of that perceived reality, and the journey, if you are willing to follow, starts in a dark, mildewed cave in the southwest of France.
The image above is a panoramic view of one of the chambers of the famous cave found at Lascaux. The ceilings and walls here are covered in 17,000 year-old Paleolithic artwork much like dozens of other caves found the world over. Take a moment to look at the paintings. What do you see? A lot of animals? Sure. What type in particular? Look like cows to anyone? Well, they aren’t cows. They are the giant aurochs that used to roam the plains of Europe, Asia and Northern Africa at the time. Aurochs were huge beasts that stood six feet tall at the shoulder and weighed in excess of a ton – a fearsome creature, especially since we hadn’t invented high-powered rifles or running shoes yet. They originated in Asia and had migrated to Europe by about a quarter of a million years ago. To the hardy band of humans that wandered the pristine wilderness that was Europe in prehistoric times this animal must have been both a source of hope and intense fear. On one hand their tough hides could be used for clothing, their bones for weapons, and their flesh for food. However, on the other hand you had to be either brave or desperate enough to try to approach a 2500lb bull with 8ft horns and an attitude that makes modern bulls look like Tickle Me Elmo and then poke it with a sharp stick. The utility, status, and sense of awe seen in this animal in Paleolithic life can be seen in these paintings at Lascaux as well as other sites strewn about Eurasia. So why am I giving the history lesson about Barney Rubble’s big game choice, you ask? Well, somewhere around 10,000 years ago someone decided that instead of killing one of the young aurochs they would bring it home as a pet and thus set in motion a chain of events that has caused the death of more people and more worldwide environmental destruction than any other decision made by a human in history, and, boy have we made some doozies. Nice work Barney.

In reality the aurochs were first domesticated in Mesopotamia, not Europe, and were used primarily as a sacrificial animal in various religious rites. In fact the first Western religion was bull worship in Egypt. It’s easy to see why. These animals represented both physical power and natural resources. They were essentially the Swiss Army Knife of their time. They were used as food (meat and dairy), clothing, shelter, fertilizer, blood sacrifices, tools, weapons, currency, sporting attractions, religious idols and (eventually) as draft animals. The ox-driven plow is often considered to be the first power driven tool in Western history. Once we had the plow, we had the ability to grow more food than we could eat locally so trade routes opened. We needed to advance technology for aqueducts, harvesting, food storage, and transportation. Humans mingled with other societies where they never had before. Currency became necessary. Not surprisingly, in Latin money was called “pecunia” which came directly from “pecus” which meant cattle. Similarly, the Spanish word for cattle is “ganado” while the word for property is “ganaderia”. The animal is still a symbol of wealth today in some societies.

Cattle cults became all the rage, and other religions had to either compete or be assimilated. Ancient Hindus used to use the cow in sacrifices and eat its flesh, but in order to separate itself from the early bull-worshiping religions, Hinduism decided to make the cow sacred. It still is today. Christianity, too, competed directly with the cattle cults. Many of the sacred rites and tenets within Christianity come directly from those early religions – “borrowed” in order to make the transition from cow worship to Jesus worship an easy one for the god-fearing masses. Pretty good sales tactics, don’t you think? The blood of a bull was substituted with the blood of Christ. December 25th was the day chosen for Christmas in direct competition with the Mithraic holy day, which celebrated the birth of the sun from a cow. Take a close look at a Christmas nativity scene. What do you usually find lying next to the Son of God? A bull…that’s right. Christians even transformed the bull god into the Devil (although interestingly not in the Bible). Imagine the Devil for a moment. What does he look like? He has horns, right? Of course. And Hooves? Yes, hooves. A tail? Sure why not. Probably blackish skin, too. Smells a bit like sulfur. Hmmm…the guy sure sounds like a cow to me.

While the “modern” religions were duking it out with cattle cults, the trade routes made possible by the development of the land and standardization of currency became larger and larger over millennia until they stretched across continents. Wherever people went cattle followed (or vise versa). By the 1300’s (A.D.) the Ottoman Empire engulfed the Mediterranean Sea so they controlled the main trade route in the Western world at the time. All goods traveling from Asia to Europe passed through Ottoman-controlled lands. By now the aristocracy in Europe was obsessed with cattle meat, and they consumed it nearly daily. The problem was that in the 1300’s refrigeration did not exist so they were continually looking for ways to disguise the taste of rotten meat. Burning it to a crisp was certainly one way, but the most popular method was to cook it with spices that came exclusively from the East. The Ottoman Turks got wise and started to crank up the taxes for these goods flooding into Europe through their lands, but Europeans paid it because the Mediterranean was the only route in town, unless they wanted to sail all the way around Africa…or across the world.

Enter those intrepid explorers that are the heroes of our sixth-grade history books. The truth is they were not looking for adventure or treasure or new lands. They were on government-funded expeditions looking for a new spice route to Asia in order to avoid paying the 800% markup the Turks were charging. It probably would have made more sense to invent refrigeration, but, hey, I wasn’t there. Of course they never found the new route to the East. What they did find was a lush wilderness for grazing their cattle, and Columbus himself began seeding the islands of Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, and Puerto Rico with horses and cattle before heading home to Spain to announce his “discovery”. Soon those wild cattle began to destroy the pristine island environment and out-compete the natives that lived there…a sad omen of things to come.

In the 1500’s ships began delivering cattle by the hundreds to North and South America where they were they were allowed to run wild. The cattle were then used as a tool to force the native populations to work for the Empire on ranches which would eventually lead to their subjugation, assimilation and/or death. By the mid 1600’s the herds of wild cattle in the South American grasslands were so numerous that some resources say people in particularly overrun areas began to eat beef at every meal and wore only leather clothing. That had to smell real nice {hork}. As an example of how well these newly introduced cattle did in the American environment, in 1600 about 7000 cattle were introduced into what would later become Texas. One hundred years later there were over 100,000 head, and by the mid 1800’s the estimated cattle population of Texas was nearly 4 million.

Meanwhile, right about when the colonies in North America gave the British the biggest middle finger in history, the British appetite for beef was growing. Over 100,000 cattle were being slaughtered every year in London alone, and, famously, British seamen were fed over a half pound of beef daily. Soon there wasn’t enough room in England for the cattle they “needed” so the government started to force themselves into other countries for pasture. Scotland and Ireland were obvious choices since they were right next door, so the locals were pushed off of the best pasture land by the Brits and were forced to farm smaller plots on marginal land. What did they grow? Potatoes. You can see where I’m headed with this, right? In 1846 blight devastated the potato crop causing mass starvation and death despite thousands of cattle grazing on what was once their land. Somewhere around one million people died and a million more had to leave their ancestral lands, many going to the U.S. The servants of the crown then promptly took over the abandoned land for, of course, more cattle.

The next part of the story takes place back in North America where words of “expansion and subjugation” seemed to form the mantra for U.S. society in the 19th century. By then, the cattle industry was booming, consuming more and more land for grazing which spurred border wars and bloody battles between farmers, ranchers, and natives. Since cattle companies didn’t (still don’t) respect the rights of other property owners (and since cattle are too stupid to train) fences had to be put up to protect crops and public land from the devastating effects of cattle grazing. That is why to this day we are cursed with fences from sea to shining sea. The European desire for a fatty, marbled appearance to their beef led the U.S. ranchers to feed the excess corn grown by farmers in the lush Midwest to the cattle just before the trip to the slaughterhouses. The problem was that the cattle drives to the Midwest took their toll on the cattle, so rail lines needed to be constructed. However, there were two little roadblocks that had to be cleared up for the rail lines to be able to move safely across the “deserted” plains - Indians and buffalo.

The story of not only how but also why the west was won is not one that is ever told truthfully. The way we usually hear it is that Indians were savages and buffalo were wild and both had to be tamed by the cowboys who were civilized and replaced by their cattle, which were domesticated. However, essentially, British aristocracy decided that they needed a constant diet of fatty beef that lead to the settling of an entire continent and the subsequent subjugation and genocide of an entire native population… for cows. Over 4 million buffalo were killed in a handful of years as part of this campaign. After their food source was annihilated the surviving Indians were herded onto reservations. The ranchers then sold the cattle that they were now grazing on land once populated with buffalo and natives to the government, which then gave it to the Indians on the reservations to eat. Not the good stuff, of course. Eventually, even the marginal reservations were used illegally by ranchers as pastureland for cattle. The governments of South America were even less accommodating to native populations when it came to cattle ranching, and similar cleansing campaigns were the norm.

So, that's a bit of history that is seldom told - a tale of how we got here. But where is here? What does the picture look like today? We'll cover that next time.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Mechanical Universe

Throughout my entire life, it seems, I have had an insatiable curiosity about how the universe works. As long ago as I can remember (which admittedly may only reach as far back as last Tuesday on some occasions) I have always wondered how the tangled mess of forces and energy that permeate the universe conspire to hold the atoms in a baseball together or how a hot cloud of dust and hydrogen in space can form stars and planets. As such, I feel as though I am tied to the field of physics no matter what I my current pursuits are. I consider the science of physics to be the foundation of all other sciences. Physics describes the forces that hold atoms and molecules together which makes the study of chemistry and engineering possible, and biology is essentially just an extension of the field of chemistry. Everything is built upon the knowledge gained in the pursuit of physics, and I believe that there is something to be said for the rich traditions and history of the field.

In high school I used to visit Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory for Saturday morning physics lectures (and free donuts) given by the intellectual giants of the field…nerdy, I know. During one science fair I performed the Millikan oil drop experiment using a perfume atomizer and a neon sing transformer, dramatically underwhelming all onlookers. In my junior or senior year I placed first in the entire state in a physics testing competition. I believe it was a JETS competition...uber nerdy, I know. I also managed to sneak a photograph of Albert Einstein into my senior yearbook as a substitute for my senior picture in lieu of the gay pictures that my classmates took in their big hair and horrible cardigans. In college I was a physics major until my junior year when I had a falling out with the dean of the department. I maintained the highest average score on the first few tests with a whopping 24%. I “mentioned” to the dean that his teachers were horse crap, and his response was a shrug of the shoulders and (directly quoting here) “Physics is hard.” How’s that for a grotesque evasion of responsibility? I told him to cram it in his black hole and promptly moved on to another field of study. Anyway, I’m not writing this to amaze you with my mad nerd skills and my bad attitude…well, at least not today. I’m writing this article to introduce you to an old video lecture series that I recently stumbled across that I used to watch religiously.

The Mechanical Universe is a brilliantly done series of over 50 thirty-minute programs covering the fundamental principles of a freshman-level university physics course - from Aristotle to quantum theory. The series follows a California Institute of Technology physics course taught by David Goodstein and was originally aired on PBS in the late 1980’s. I used to watch it with a friend in his basement, and whenever we heard the intro to the show start to play we would drop whatever ill-fated, poorly-thought-out stunt we were about to perform and would scurry to the couch for the next half-hour…OK we’ve passed nerd status and moved into full-blown dork, I get it. The Mechanical Universe wasn’t just a camera set up in a crappy classroom following some monotone professor around. The production team included distinguished scientists, video industry professionals, and gifted educators all working in collaboration backed by funding from the Annenberg/CPB Project. Each episode includes philosophical, historical and often humorous insight into the subject at hand complete with historical reenactments, dynamic location footage, and computer animation segments to help explain the topics covered. While the video footage makes the complex subjects more accessible, the computer graphics give the viewer a unique look at abstract mathematical concepts that can be sometimes difficult to grasp creating an immersive experience that makes an introductory physics course engaging and interesting.

I have placed a list of the episodes and the topics they cover below. The complete episodes are available for viewing (in the US) here:
Give it a chance, take a look, and let me know what you think.

The Mechanical Universe Episode List:
  1. Introduction: This preview introduces revolutionary ideas and heroes from Copernicus to Newton, and links the physics of the heavens and the earth.
  2. The Law of Falling Bodies: Galileo's imaginative experiments proved that all bodies fall with the same constant acceleration.
  3. Derivatives: The function of mathematics in physical science and the derivative as a practical tool.
  4. Inertia: Galileo risks his favored status to answer the questions of the universe with his law of inertia.
  5. Vectors: Physics must explain not only why and how much, but also where and which way.
  6. Newton's Laws: Newton lays down the laws of force, mass, and acceleration.
  7. Integration: Newton and Leibniz arrive at the conclusion that differentiation and integration are inverse processes.
  8. The Apple and the Moon: The first real steps toward space travel are made as Newton discovers that gravity describes the force between any two particles in the universe.
  9. Moving in Circles: A look at the Platonic theory of uniform circular motion.
  10. Fundamental Forces: All physical phenomena of nature are explained by four forces: two nuclear forces, gravity, and electricity.
  11. Gravity, Electricity, Magnetism: Shedding light on the mathematical form of the gravitational, electric, and magnetic forces.
  12. The Millikan Experiment: A dramatic recreation of Millikan's classic oil-drop experiment to determine the charge of a single electron.
  13. Conservation of Energy: According to one of the major laws of physics, energy is neither created nor destroyed.
  14. Potential Energy: Potential energy provides a powerful model for understanding why the world has worked the same way since the beginning of time.
  15. Conservation of Momentum: What keeps the universe ticking away until the end of time?
  16. Harmonic Motion: The music and mathematics of periodic motion.
  17. Resonance: Why a swaying bridge collapses with a high wind, and why a wine glass shatters with a higher octave.
  18. Waves: With an analysis of simple harmonic motion and a stroke of genius, Newton extended mechanics to the propagation of sound.
  19. Angular Momentum: An old momentum with a new twist.
  20. Torques and Gyroscopes: From spinning tops to the precession of the equinoxes.
  21. Kepler's Three Laws: The discovery of elliptical orbits helps describe the motion of heavenly bodies with unprecedented accuracy.
  22. The Kepler Problem: The deduction of Kepler's laws from Newton's universal law of gravitation is one of the crowning achievements of Western thought.
  23. Energy and Eccentricity: The precise orbit of a heavenly body — a planet, asteroid, or comet — is fixed by the laws of conservation of energy and angular momentum.
  24. Navigating in Space: Voyages to other planets use the same laws that guide planets around the solar system.
  25. Kepler to Einstein: From Kepler's laws and the theory of tides, to Einstein's general theory of relativity, into black holes, and beyond.
  26. Harmony of the Spheres: A last lingering look back at mechanics to see new connections between old discoveries.
  27. Beyond the Mechanical Universe: The world of electricity and magnetism, and 20th-century discoveries of relativity and quantum mechanics.
  28. Static Electricity: Eighteenth-century electricians knew how to spark the interest of an audience with the principles of static electricity.
  29. The Electric Field: Faraday's vision of lines of constant force in space laid the foundation for the modern force field theory.
  30. Potential and Capacitance: Franklin proposes a successful theory of the Leyden jar and invents the parallel plate capacitor.
  31. Voltage, Energy, and Force: When is electricity dangerous or benign, spectacular or useful?
  32. The Electric Battery: Volta invents the electric battery using the internal properties of different metals.
  33. Electric Circuits: The work of Wheatstone, Ohm, and Kirchhoff leads to the design and analysis of how current flows.
  34. Magnetism: Gilbert discovered that the earth behaves like a giant magnet. Modern scientists have learned even more.
  35. The Magnetic Field: The law of Biot and Sarvart, the force between electric currents, and Ampère's law.
  36. Vector Fields and Hydrodynamics: Force fields have definite properties of their own suitable for scientific study.
  37. Electromagnetic Induction: The discovery of electromagnetic induction in 1831 creates an important technological breakthrough in the generation of electric power.
  38. Alternating Current: Electromagnetic induction makes it easy to generate alternating current while transformers make it practical to distribute it over long distances.
  39. Maxwell's Equations: Maxwell discovers that displacement current produces electromagnetic waves or light.
  40. Optics: Many properties of light are properties of waves, including reflection, refraction, and diffraction.
  41. The Michelson-Morley Experiment: In 1887, an exquisitely designed measurement of the earth's motion through the ether results in the most brilliant failure in scientific history.
  42. The Lorentz Transformation: If the speed of light is to be the same for all observers, then the length of a meter stick, or the rate of a ticking clock, depends on who measures it.
  43. Velocity and Time: Einstein is motivated to perfect the central ideas of physics, resulting in a new understanding of the meaning of space and time.
  44. Mass, Momentum, Energy: The new meaning of space and time make it necessary to formulate a new mechanics.
  45. Temperature and Gas Laws: Hot discoveries about the behavior of gases make the connection between temperature and heat.
  46. Engine of Nature: The Carnot engine, part one, beginning with simple steam engines.
  47. Entropy: The Carnot engine, part two, with profound implications for the behavior of matter and the flow of time through the universe.
  48. Low Temperatures: With the quest for low temperatures came the discovery that all elements can exist in each of the basic states of matter.
  49. The Atom: A history of the atom, from the ancient Greeks to the early 20th century, and a new challenge for the world of physics.
  50. Particles and Waves: Evidence that light can sometimes act like a particle leads to quantum mechanics, the new physics.
  51. From Atoms to Quarks: Electron waves attracted to the nucleus of an atom help account for the periodic table of the elements and ultimately lead to the search for quarks.
  52. The Quantum Mechanical Universe: A last look at where we've been and a peek into the future.