Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Science of Science!

Author: Terry Connors

What is Science! ?

First of all, Science! is not the same as science. Science! is the study and knowledge of all things scientific, quasiscientific, or pseudoscientific. Anything that is obscure, incoherent, or improbable is made clear by the purveyor of Science! (also known as the Scientist! ). The Scientist! has access to knowledge that even scientists do not have access to. They are truly the masters of all that is True and Scientific!

There are 3 characteristics of the practitioner of Science!

They always work alone . Scientists usually have teams of other scientists and technicians working with them. The Scientist! , on the other hand, works alone, in their own, small, often home-built, laboratory. The laboratory will be filled with various whirring, clicking, blinking, or bubbling pieces of lab equipment which appear to have no purpose since the Scientist! never touches them.

They work fast . In real science, scientists develop theories, test their theories, and then modify or abandon the theories as the evidence evolves. The process often takes years, if not a lifetime. In Science! the Scientist! gets his or her answer in a matter of days (or hours, or weeks, or minutes, depending on what timeframe is most dramatic). Usually, the Scientist! gets a bright idea, runs to the lab to test the theory, and then comes back with an unexpected, but clearly genius, answer to the mystery/problem/question in record time.

They are always right. Everyone else is always wrong . In real science, peer review is a critical part of the scientific process. In Science! peer review is not only unessecary, but is detrimental. Mainstream scientists never accept what the Scientist! has to say until events prove them to be soundly (and often, fatally) wrong.

Television, movies, and literature are full of practitioners of Science! One of the best example is the Professor in the TV Series ""Gilligan's Isle."" Does anyone know what he was a professor of? That's right! He was a Professor of Science! The professor understood everything from primative cultures, to weather phenomena, to electromechanics, to astronomy. A master of Science! , he could do almost anything (except patch a hole in a boat).

Science! has evolved over time. In the 50's and 60's, the Scientist! was a non-specialist (and usually male). Science! gave him mastery over every possible field of study (much like the professor in ""Gilligan's Isle""). In modern times, the Scientist! is more likely to be a specialist, to acknowledge that, in the real world, most scientists are specialists. What they get wrong, however, undermines the one thing they tried to get right. For example, in the TV show Stargate SG-1 . The character of Sam Carter is a Scientist! specializing in physics, while Daniel Jackson is a Scientist! specializing in archaeology. They both (especially Sam) have the attributes of the Scientist! , however. 1) They work alone, 2) they solve the mysteries of the universe in a few hours or days, and 3) most of the other scientists (when they show up with a theory) are wrong.

Another example of a modern Scientist! is the protagonist, Robert Langdon, in The DaVinci Code . Although Langdon deviates slightly from the typical Scientist! (the typical Scientist! is alone in his beliefs, but Langdon actually has the support of many of his peers), in other ways he is the same. He manages to solve the great mystery in the course of an evening, and there is never, at any time, a question that he may actually be WRONG in his beliefs.

And so, this is Science! . It is a product of movies, television, and literature, and it is real, in the sense that perception is reality. People think that all real science is done by lone geniuses who try to buck the system that keeps them down. If you ask most people, they will probably say that we would have flying cars and robots by now if it weren't for the scientific community hobbling the handful of geniuses in their midst. It is this mindset that has led to the proliferation of pseudoscience, and theories such as Intelligent Design. The best defense against the growing misconception of what science is and what scientists do, is education. We need to teach our children, and our adults, that Hollywood is Hollywood, and that a Hollywood Scientist! has as much basis in reality as a Hollywood action hero.

About the author: Terry Connors is a Gen-X family guy with 2 step-kids and a loving wife. He frequently blogs about current events, especially if there is a scientific angle to the news items. You can read more of his writings at: Another Stupid News Blog -

All work is copyright, Terry Connors 2005

Monday, December 29, 2008

Chemical Element Silver

Author: Ryan Fyfe

Silver, a chemical element, exists in the periodic table with the symbol ""Ag"" and atomic number 47. Silver is a soft white lustrous transition metal. Due to the fact that it has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of any metal, silver is widel used throughout the world, used in used in coins, jewelry, tableware, and photography. Silver occurs in minerals and in free form.

I'm sure if you looked you would have in your household several objects that are made of polished silver. For example: Silver dollars , or Silver cutlery, or photography equipment.

Being just a bit harder than gold, silver is very ductile and malleable. Because of silver's physical properties as a brilliant white metallic luster it can take a high degree of polish. Copper has replaced silver in several instances due to it's hire cost, this is especially true for electrical purposes.

Silver has a number of other notable characteristics: - Silver has the whitest color of any metal - Silver has the highest thermal conductivity of any metal - Silver has the lowest contact resistance of any metal - Silver has the highest optical reflectivity of any metal

Silver is stable in both pure air and water, but does tarnish when it is exposed to ozone, hydrogen sulfide, or air with sulfur in it. The most common use of silver is as a precious metal and its halide salts. This is especially true of silver nitrate. Silver is also widely used in photography, which has today, become the biggest single industry in which silver is used.

About the author: Feel free to reprint this article as long as you keep the article, this caption and author biography in tact with all hyperlinks.

Ryan Fyfe is the owner and operator of Silver One -, which is the best site on the internet for all silver related information.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Asbestos - A Slim and Strong Enemy

Author: Michael Russell

For centuries, asbestos was used. Thousands of workers were exposed to the risks of this mineral that has several beneficial properties, but on the other hand can lead people to death.

First, the relation between asbestos and death of some workers wasn't made clear. The Greek geographer Strabo and the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder noticed something wrong regarding asbestos workers. Both found a sickness in the lungs of slaves that worked with asbestos.

Despite the evidence, the diseases related to the asbestos use were ignored for a long time. Only in the year 1931, the first laws were created in England in order to create preventative measures.

The use of asbestos

The Greek people named this mineral asbestos uniting two words in Greek: a, for non and sbestos, for extinguishable. So, asbestos means inextinguishable, which can be easily understood after reading about the effects of this mineral on the lungs of workers.

Asbestos was largely used due to its various properties. This mineral is resistant to fire, to some chemical effects and it also is waterproof. Due to this characteristic of being resistant to fire, it was used by unreliable merchants that used to sell crosses - that were supposed to be pieces of the cross where Jesus Christ was hung - made of asbestos. Since asbestos may have an appearance of old wood it could be easily sold and the fire resistance was the perfect excuse to sell it.

During the 1800s, the use of asbestos increased due to the Industrial Revolution. It started to be used worldwide, without any regard to working conditions. More than 3000 branches of industrial production used asbestos in the manufacturing of its products, which just contributed to the development of a disease commonly diagnosed in people that were exposed to asbestos.

The health conditions regarding asbestos exposure

For centuries, asbestos was used. And for decades, its effects were simply ignored. Doctors related some deaths to the exposure to asbestos, but it took years until the first measures were taken.

During the Industrial Revolution and the following years, working conditions were highly despised. By that time, it didn't matter what conditions people worked under, but how fast and efficiently they could do their job. This situation only contributed to the increase in the number of people who had respiratory problems.

The problem and the risk to the health regarding asbestos lies in a simple action: inhaling the particles spread by this mineral. If the particles are not inhaled, it does not represent a risk. But the truth is that, working with asbestos, it is almost impossible not to inhale particles.

These particles inhaled get stuck in the lungs' tissues, causing a type of cancer that is known as mesothelioma or asbestosis. Mesothelioma is the cancer of the pleural and peritoneal linings. When it is diagnosed, it is in general too late to do something: it's often fatal. Besides, mesothelioma has a long period that it remains in a latent state: it can remain unnoticed for 15 up to 60 years.

Asbestosis is a condition that compromises the elasticity of the lung tissue, which makes it difficult for the organs to exchange gases, resulting in a low level of oxygenation of the blood. It restricts breathing and can be unnoticed for up to 30 years.

Even with the preventative measures assured by laws, the number of deaths related to the exposure to asbestos has increased. In 1968, there were 153 deaths caused by mesothelioma but in 2003, statistics shows 1874 deaths. And it is not a world number: it was registered in Great Britain.

About the author: MMichael Russell Your Independent guide to Asbestos

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Quantum Doctor Is Here!

Author: Thomas Herold

These days the word quantum seems to be everywhere, at least that seems to be the case in my universe. Especially as I have just finished reading the 'Quantum Doctor' by Amit Goswami.

To understand what a Quantum doctor might be let me explain first some traditional healing approaches.

The major approach to healing in our western world is called allopathic medicine. It is based on the premise that disease is due to external bacteria and viruses or a mechanical malfunction of an internal organ of the physical body. A treatment is done by addressing the symptoms of the disease until they disappear. All of the treatments are applied external in form of pills, drugs, radiation and other techniques.

Than we have eastern medicine which includes acupuncture, ayurveda, chinese herbs and many other more spiritual healing methods. These healing techniques have a different approach as they address the mind, the soul and other energy regions of the body.

Another very interesting approach is homeopathy. The basic idea behind this technique is that 'like cures like' and 'less is more'. In a high potency of homeopathic remedy you won't find a single atom of the original formula anymore, the potency is greatly diluted. From a strict point of western science there is 'nothing' in the substance anymore. However, homeopathy works in many cases, so there must be something that acts as a healing agent which is non physical.

The strangest of all healing techniques is the placebo effect. A patient is given a new medication that the doctor subscribes as a cure for the patient's disease. In many cases the patient is cured by just believing in the healing power of the new medication.

However, from the experience we also know that there is no formula whatsoever that applies to every disease the same way. In some cases an operation helps, sometimes not. Sometimes acupuncture helps, sometimes not. Also if you talk to a doctor each one seems to have their own concept about healing.

Some people go as far to think that all diseases are created ultimately from the mind and from the consciousness behind it. Thus consciousness of course is also responsible for the healing. Just tell this to someone who is in pain and cannot think about anything else besides the pain.

Is there a Difference between Disease and Illness? Disease could be described as a malfunction of the organism that can be diagnosed by machines & tests. Illness is more subjective, more the inner feeling of the malfunctioning. That means disease belongs to the physical body as it is external. Illness is internal and therefore tells us something about the malfunction of the correlated subtle body.

What happens on a Quantum Level When We Get Sick? Amit Goswami says consciousness is not mind; it is the ground of all being, the ground of both matter and mind. Matter and mind are both possibilities of consciousness. When consciousness converts these possibilities in a collapse event of actual experience, some of the possibilities are collapsed as physical and some as mental.

The events collapse of the waves of possibility are the result of conscious choice, downward causation. For this no mathematics exists, no algorithms. The choice of downward causation is free, unpredictable.

This leads us more to the understanding that we need to look at different levels of our being to find the origin of the 'disturbance' that later manifests into a disease or illness.

So where does the Quantum doctor come in? A quantum doctor would investigate the patient to understand on which level the 'disturbance' manifests. Amit Goswami devides consciousness into five levels:

- Physical - Vital - Mental - Supra-mental Intellect - Bliss (Limitless)

We need to look at all these levels to get a better picture. If for example someone had a car accident and broke a leg, that person needs to be treated on a physical level first. You simply need to take care of the bone and bring it back to the original position where it can heal and grow back together.

However, this may not be the end of the story. Investigating this person may reveal some hidden surprises. It could be that this person is not satisfied with a relationship, and anger & frustration has lead to aggressive driving. This would correspond to the vital level.

It maybe the case that this person has negative thoughts about themselves. For example 'life is boring, I am boring, I am worthless'. Could that lead to an accident? You bet, and here we are talking about the mental level.

We also experience that a disease may originate from one level and than spread to other levels. It works in both directions, from the physical up-wards over the vital to the mental level and down-wards from the limitless bliss level over the mental and vital to the physical level.

One more important thing that Amit Goswami points out. The concept of unconscious is important for the subject of health and healing in connection with psychosomatic disease. We suppress the memories of certain traumatic experiences so deep that consciousness seldom collapse them, delegating them to what is called unconscious processing. The memories of these experiences are processed by producing somatic effects of disease, but we are not aware of them, because we never collapse these memories in our conscious thoughts.

Quantum healing even works with prayer as it is nonlocal and takes place outside space & time. But to explain this you better get a hold of Amit Goswami's book 'Quantum Doctor'.

About the author: Thomas Herold is the founder and CEO of Quantum Biocommunication Technology. A website dedicated to the exploration of consciousness as a source of biocommunication. For more information visit: Quantum Biocommunication Technology

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Spacetrip - Christmas Present of the Year

Author: Pontus Edenberg

December 15, 2030 - There's no doubt what the most popular Christmas present will be this year. Influenced by the launch of the first manned mission to Mars next month, you will most likely get a present with stars, a gift card for a spacetrip.

The interest in the suborbital trips (100 km above the surface of the Earth) have grown steadily since the launch 20 years ago, but the market has basically exploded this year since the official announcement of the Mars mission. More low cost spacelines have entered the market and you can now find suborbital flights for as low as US$ 3,495.

Space tourism is one of the markets that have developed the most during the last decade, with the opening of the

Starbright Hotel on the moon , as well as the low orbital hotels that started accepting guests. However, accommodation in space is still expensive for the average household, so the suborbital flights with thirty minutes weightlessness during the three-hour flight, with four hours preparation, will for some time be the most popular trip.

The spacelines might however in the future face fierce competition from space elevators, like the one that are projected for construction start within a couple of years. Once it is fully functional it will start to ship cargo to space, but it will as soon as possible accept passengers to get back the giant investment. Even though the elevator become successful, it will take several years before there will be more elevators in the world, to get in the competition for the space traffic with the spacelines.

About the author: Pontus Edenberg is the editor of News of Future, a publication about the future of space tourism and news about society, health, environment etc. People of the world are invited to comment on the news and take part in shaping their future.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Dolphins and Animal Assisted Therapy

Author: Joy Cagil

Some scientists who work with dolphins believe that these sea-dwellers show a sense to the disability and physical trauma associated with function and pain in humans, therefore making the cranio-sacral therapy possible. Dolphins, with their internal sonar or echo-location can feel where the person hurts the most and are able to gently nudge and play without hurting the person.

Once, two dolphins saved a writer while he was swimming far off the coast of California. The man was a good swimmer and swimming had become his daily routine. One day, far away from the shore, he felt very tired, too tired to lift his arms or kick. Suddenly, two dolphins came to his rescue. They swam with their bodies touching him and they propelled him forward by fastening their nose under his arms to keep him afloat, until they came close to the shore where there were other people. By this time, the writer had regained enough strength to swim a few more yards to safety. He says the dolphins didn't leave immediately. They kept leaping off shore to make sure he made it to land safely.

Many incidents of dolphins saving people at sea have been reported. Some time ago, it was in the news that a pod of dolphins defended a group of swimmers by circling protectively around them to fend off the attack of the great white shark. The swimmers were on a lifeguard training swim about hundred yards off the shore. At first, the men didn't understand that there was a shark. One of them swam away but was pushed back into the circle by the dolphins. At that time he saw a nine-foot shark two yards away from him. The men spent about forty minutes before in that circle before the dolphins let them swim back to the shore. Since sharks are dolphins' greatest enemies, it is possible that they protected the men as if the swimmers were their own offspring.

There are many different species of dolphins. A familiar one is Flipper's kind, the bottlenose dolphin. One of the world's most endangered species is a dolphin called by many names such as Beiji; Pai C'hi; Chinese River Dolphin; Yangtze Dolphin; Whitefin Dolphin; Whiteflag Dolphin. It inhabits the Yangtze River in China. It is said that these animals are very close to being extinct since there are only 5 of them left, whereas in 1984 there were 400.

Warm-blooded like men, dolphins are mammals, not fish, and they give birth to one baby at a time, nursing their young up to four years. They live in social groups called pods and interact with each other very closely. These pods' make-up can change, since dolphins interact with dolphins from other pods from time to time. A lone dolphin that has lost his friends at sea can easily be adopted by another pod.

Dolphins have powerful tails that not only help to steer them in water, but also signal annoyance or danger. Just like humans, dolphins like to gesture when they interact with each other. To communicate, they use body language or they whistle and they stroke one another with their fins as if bonding socially. When they swim together as friends, they move synchronously leaping in and out of the water. When they are angry or aggressive, they open their mouths or clap their jaws violently.

Dolphins can dive to great depths and also can leap high over the water. Being mammals, they need to breathe, but unlike humans their breathing is voluntary. They breathe through the opening on the top of their heads. It is possible that dolphins can drown. When that happens other dolphins come to the drowning dolphin's aid, supporting his body in such a way that his blowhole stays above the water.

To sleep, dolphins have to shut down only half of their brain, which probably means that they are always alert to danger. Dolphins also take short naps as they float just below the surface. Yet, unlike humans, their most active feeding time is the night, although they spend a good amount of the day looking for food.

One of the best dolphin research centers is located in the Marathon Key, Florida. Here and at other dolphin centers around the world, the project of aiding handicapped children with Dolphins is carefully investigated, with the therapy based on the dolphin's natural desire to come into contact with humans. Through interaction with dolphins, children with Autism, Down's Syndrome, anorexia, depression, cancer, and learning disabilities have exhibited positive results by calming down and showing a better sense of importance and self-confidence.

There are, however opposing views and theories. In 2003, a report by WDCS (Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society) and HSUS (the Humane Society of the United States) claims that the risk to dolphins overweighs the positive effects of their interaction with humans in dolphin-petting zoos. Dolphins become obese with the excess feeding by the public and extended exposure to humans subject the animals to stress and injury. Also some children, even if very few, have been reported to regress in their development from being pushed by their families and the fright of the animals or the water.

Given the positive use of dolphin and human contact, more research is needed, and attention to the dolphin petting areas and more closely observed rules of hygiene and sanitation are in order, so that both species can continue to benefit from each other.

About the author: Joy Cagil is an author on a site for Writers (http://www.Writing.Com/) Her training is in foreign languages and linguistics. In her background are varied subjects such as psychology, mental health, and visual arts. Her portfolio can be found at

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Finite Element Method: A Four-Article Series - Part 1

Author: Steve Roensch

The following four-article series was published in a newsletter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) . It serves as an introduction to the recent analysis discipline known as the finite element method . The author is an engineering consultant and expert witness specializing in finite element analysis.


by Steve Roensch, President, Roensch & Associates

First in a four-part series

Finite element analysis (FEA) is a fairly recent discipline crossing the boundaries of mathematics, physics, engineering and computer science. The method has wide application and enjoys extensive utilization in the structural, thermal and fluid analysis areas. The finite element method is comprised of three major phases: (1) pre-processing , in which the analyst develops a finite element mesh to divide the subject geometry into subdomains for mathematical analysis, and applies material properties and boundary conditions, (2) solution , during which the program derives the governing matrix equations from the model and solves for the primary quantities, and (3) post-processing , in which the analyst checks the validity of the solution, examines the values of primary quantities (such as displacements and stresses), and derives and examines additional quantities (such as specialized stresses and error indicators).

The advantages of FEA are numerous and important. A new design concept may be modeled to determine its real world behavior under various load environments, and may therefore be refined prior to the creation of drawings, when few dollars have been committed and changes are inexpensive. Once a detailed CAD model has been developed, FEA can analyze the design in detail, saving time and money by reducing the number of prototypes required. An existing product which is experiencing a field problem, or is simply being improved, can be analyzed to speed an engineering change and reduce its cost. In addition, FEA can be performed on increasingly affordable computer workstations and personal computers, and professional assistance is available.

It is also important to recognize the limitations of FEA. Commercial software packages and the required hardware, which have seen substantial price reductions, still require a significant investment. The method can reduce product testing, but cannot totally replace it. Probably most important, an inexperienced user can deliver incorrect answers, upon which expensive decisions will be based. FEA is a demanding tool, in that the analyst must be proficient not only in elasticity or fluids, but also in mathematics, computer science, and especially the finite element method itself.

Which FEA package to use is a subject that cannot possibly be covered in this short discussion, and the choice involves personal preferences as well as package functionality. Where to run the package depends on the type of analyses being performed. A typical finite element solution requires a fast, modern disk subsystem for acceptable performance. Memory requirements are of course dependent on the code, but in the interest of performance, the more the better, with 512 Mbytes to 8 Gbytes per user a representative range. Processing power is the final link in the performance chain, with clock speed, cache, pipelining and multi-processing all contributing to the bottom line. These analyses can run for hours on the fastest systems, so computing power is of the essence.

One aspect often overlooked when entering the finite element area is education. Without adequate training on the finite element method and the specific FEA package, a new user will not be productive in a reasonable amount of time, and may in fact fail miserably. Expect to dedicate one to two weeks up front, and another one to two weeks over the first year, to either classroom or self-help education. It is also important that the user have a basic understanding of the computer's operating system.

Next month's article will go into detail on the pre-processing phase of the finite element method.

© 1996-2005 Roensch & Associates. All rights reserved.

About the author: Steve Roensch is an expert witness and mechanical engineer with more than 20 years of professional experience. He has analyzed hundreds of product designs and has served as an expert witness across many industries, including giving depositions and court testimony. Learn more about mechanical engineer expert witness services at

Thursday, December 18, 2008

E=mc2 is Wrong. Einstein's Special Relativity Fundamentally Flawed.

Author: Michael Strauss

In 1905, Albert Einstein published 'On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies' now known as Special Relativity; this theory revolutionized geometry, math, physics, science and the classical perspective of the universe as understood since Newton's time. However, were there intrinsic errors in this theory?

USA (Wire) December 5, 2005 --

A new book proposes that Albert Einstein's Special Relativity is incompatible with the very equations upon which science's greatest theory is built. Requiem for Relativity the Collapse of Special Relativity, a book by computer engineer Michael Strauss, describes the implicit contradictions present within Relativity ( www.relativitycollapse.c om or www.relativitycollapse.n et ). Using quotations from the 1905 document and Einstein's contemporaries as well as interpretations of the Relativity equations, the book provides a comprehensive description of the history leading up to, during and after the revolutionary year of Special Relativity.

According to the author, as this is the 100 year anniversary of the original release of Special Relativity, a review of the original assumptions, documents and ideas which led to the acceptance of this theory is timely and warranted. Every year millions of students are taught this theory without a critical analysis of Relativity. Relativity Theory consists of its two variants Special Relativity and General Relativity and is considered the cornerstone of modern physics.

Albert Einstein borrowed from the ideas of Fitzgerald, Lorentz and Voigt to create a new concept of the universe. His first work in this regard later came to be known as Special Relativity and contained many controversial ideas which today are considered axiomatic. Amongst these are Length Contraction, Time Dilation, the Twin Paradox and the equivalence of mass and energy summarized in the equation E=mc2.

This equation became the shining capstone of the new theory along with its first & second postulates, namely, that the laws of nature are the same from all perspectives and that the speed of light 'c' is constant in a vacuum regardless of perspective. Further, the theory also predicted an increase in mass with velocity. Numerous examples have been given of the 'proof' of the validity of Special Relativity.

Most notably, experiments using particle accelerators have sped particles to incredible velocities which apparently provide confirmation of Einstein's theory. However, doubts remain in the scientific community who have never totally given up the comfort of a Newtonian world view. This is readily apparent in that they refer to the Newton's 'Law' of Gravitation whilst Special Relativity (SR) and General Relativity (GR) are given the polite attribution 'The Theory of' or simply SR 'theory' and GR 'theory.' Einstein would continue working on the ideas of Special Relativity until producing the aforementioned even more controversial treatise.

In his later more comprehensive work called the Theory of General Relativity (1916), Einstein proposed a major re-thinking of cosmology. He conceived of a space time continuum that is curved by mass; in other words, planets, stars, galaxies and other stellar objects cause a curvature of space time. The movement of these objects are determined by the aforementioned curvature.

As a result of these ideas, our understanding of geometry, math, physics, science and the universe would never be the same. However, Michael Strauss believes he has found an error in the fundamental equations. If so, this would require a major rethinking of the known cosmological models and assumptions of modern physics.

You can find the book online at; search for Requiem for Relativity, or search for The Collapse of Special Relativity or click here: com/shops/relativitycollapse or for additional information or to contact the author visit: www.relativitycollapse.c om or www.relativitycollapse.n et

About the author: Michael Strauss is an engineer interested in this subject matter who will show you in clear and concise terms what is wrong with Special Relativity. You may contact him at the sites indicated in the article.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Benefits of Stereo Microscopes

Author: Peter Emerson

Many people have trouble keeping one eye closed while peering through a microscope lens with the other eye. A stereo microscope eliminates the need to close one eye because it has two eyepieces. Stereo Microscopes have all of the features of conventional microscopes with some added advantages. First of all, stereo microscopes have two eyepieces. They allow for greater depth perception, allowing viewers to see objects in three dimensions. Many stereo microscopes have a zoom lens feature, and it is not uncommon to find a stereo microscope with two illuminators.

A stereo microscope has two eyepieces. This is a major advantage over conventional microscopes. The two eyepieces allow viewers to keep both eyes open, making it easier to focus on the object they are looking at. Many stereo microscopes have comfortable rubber eye guards that make the microscopes even more user friendly.

A major advantage of stereo microscopes is that they allow viewers to see objects in three dimensions. Most microscopes only show objects in two dimensions. People can look at insects, plants, coins, or anything else in all three dimensions, providing the most realistic viewing experience imaginable.

Many stereo microscopes have a zoom lens feature. This provides nearly limitless options for resolution and gives users more control over focus. The zoom lens allows users to slowly enlarge the object they are viewing more easily than conventional microscopes, which have two knobs to adjust.

Another feature found on many stereo microscopes is a dual illuminator system. A stereo microscope has the conventional illuminator below the stage as well as another one right above the objective lens. This provides more than enough light to view specimens in all of their three dimensional glory.

Stereo microscopes are versatile and easy to use. They are perfect for students or anyone else who wants to explore the miniature world around them.

About the author: Microscopes Info provides detailed information about electron, compound, stereo, digital, video, and scanning tunneling microscopes, as well as an explanation of the different parts of a microscope, and more. Microscopes Info is affiliated with Business Plans by Growthink .

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Proving Evolution With The Dictionary

Author: Dr. Randy Wysong

Specious reasoning and clever crafting of definitions can make about anything appear to come true. As John Mackay (1852) observed, ""When men wish to construct or support a theory, how they torture facts into their service!"" Mackay, J. (1852). Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

Some words are innocently created to straight forwardly describe a particular thing but can insidiously take on a life all their own. Our language is filled with words that have departed from their original definitions and are now widely misconstrued and abused. Examples include truth, religion, supernatural, morality, liberal, capitalism, freedom, love...basically all the hot button words and subjects people consider to be their little sacred domains of private belief and interpretation.

Evolution is another example of such a word. In the dictionary, evolution's first definition is: the process by which something develops into a different form. The word and this meaning predated Darwin's concept of biological evolution. Here's how that fact has proven useful in helping to make his case.

Most certainly, things do evolve in the dictionary's pre-Darwinian sense of the word. We evolve as individuals, society evolves, technology evolves, education evolves, the automobile evolves and agriculture evolves. To the uncritical eye, evolution, taken as being synonymous with change, seems to fit well with what all of us experience every day: Homes get built beginning with simple blocks and 2 X 4s, our bank account balance grows slowly, our bodies begin small and get bigger, babies begin with one cell that multiplies into a whole body and anthills grow one grain of dirt at a time. Since everything changes, everything can be said to evolve. How convenient for Darwin's ""evolution.""

He could not have chosen a better word. The case was closed before he ever got into court. Since everything evolves it is not too much of a leap to accept that life evolved. The word itself is tendentious, creating in and of itself reason to believe the theory.

If he had chosen the word transmutation instead of evolution, things might be entirely different. Although transmutation would be a better description of the theory, the unfamiliarity of the word would force people to determine meaning and evaluate that against their own experience. In the larger sense, Darwin's evolution requires that species transform into one another (transmutate) all the way up from a single-celled organism. Since nobody has ever seen one type of organism transmutate into another, he would have had a much harder sell. On the other hand, saying that ""change"" is the same thing as biological evolution makes anyone who does not accept Darwin's evolution, someone who rejects change. In other words, stupid.

Please note that evolution normally implies progressive change. But nothing evolves in that sense without intelligent manipulation. Corn kernels get bigger, evolve, because of intelligent horticulture, home architecture evolves because of intelligent engineering, and mathematics evolves because of mathematicians. That little fact -- that intelligence is needed for things to progressively evolve -- just happened to be left out when Darwin's evolution was attached to dictionary evolution.

A word was stolen from our vocabulary, a word everyone can agree to. Cleverly then, a new footnote about a whole new mechanism was attached to it without really alerting anyone. By that I mean biological evolution is not mere change. In overview (cell to human sense) it is gross change, more like a skipping or gigantic hopping. It is about transmutations in the absence of any intelligent force to make them happen.

It would be like me coming up with a new theory of commerce. I scan the dictionary and decide to call my theory, ""possession"". Everyone possesses things and possession is nine tenths of the law. My ""possession"" theory is a process by which one goes into a store, loads up bags and carts with whatever they want and takes it all home. The stuff is possessed. What a cool theory. Now when the police show up at your door and take you to court, you just take your dictionary. You say to the judge, ""Looky here judge, the dictionary says possession is to have things and that's all I did."" Do you think the prosecutor might make the argument that you have left out an important part of the definition, namely that to possess something legally requires a mechanism called paying for it?

Possession means having something, according to the dictionary, but that does not legitimize any form of possession. Evolution means change, according to the dictionary, but that does not legitimize any theory of change.

About the author: Dr. Wysong: A former veterinary clinician and surgeon, college instructor, inventor of numerous medical, surgical, nutritional, athletic and fitness products and devices, research director for the company by his name and founder of the philanthropic Wysong Institute. .Also check out

Monday, December 15, 2008

Fragrant Oils in Magical and Spiritual Work

Author: Keri Desherite

The power of scent, and the virtues of the oils of various plants, have been recognized by religious and magical practitioners since ancient times. Whether through the inducement of subtle and powerful sensory memory, or the direct stimulation of the body and nervous system through chemical reaction, scented oils can help to shift consciousness and enhance psycho-spiritual well-being.

The ancient Egyptians used a compound called kyphi (the name means ""welcome to the gods""), which was said to induce hypnotic states. Priests in the City of the Sun, Heliopolis, burned resins in the morning, myrrh at noon and kyphi at sunset to the sun god Ra. Kyphi had more than religious uses, however. It could lull one to sleep, alleviate anxieties, increase dreaming, eliminate sorrow, treat asthma and act as a general antidote for toxins. (""Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art"" by Kathi Keville and Mindy Green). In the Book of Exodus, requirements for the Tabernacle include fragrant annointing oils and an altar devoted to burning incense (Exodus 30).

Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki discusses the psycho-spiritual impact of fragrance in her book ""Highways of the Mind: The Art and History of Pathworking"" as she describes how our brain and neural systems function while doing spiritual work. ""The olofactory sense is the only one that connects immediately with the mid-brain, with no kind of transformer between the particles coming in and the actual organ of scent. Much has been written about the memory stimulation brought about by different smells. It is because of this direct contact with the hidden 'Halls of the Gods' that incense has always been of the greatest importance in magical work"" (p. 41). Whether incense, scented candles, or scented oil, stimulation of the olofactory senses can have a powerful impact on any work involving the mind. The virtues extend to magical, psychic, and healing work, as well as psychological adjustments and intellectual pursuits.

What types of uses can fragrant oils been put to?

Anointing is a powerful ritual practice which conveys blessings on the recipient. Even in modern times, priests and sovereigns are anointed with sacred oil as part of their investiture. Magical practitioners frequently anoint themselves with sacred oil as part of self-blessing or purification prior to doing ritual work. Sandalwood, myrrh and frankincense are among the oils used for such rituals.

The connection between love and roses doesn't end with flowers in a vase. Rose oil is used to heal and open the heart on the spiritual level, and is a primary component in many rituals for attracting love. Rose oil is used to anoint candles for love spells, or worn as a perfume to attract a lover or to induce a more romantic state of mind in the user.

How else can you use oils and incense to enhance your own spiritual well-being? The possibilities are almost endless. First, decide what effect you want to achieve. Do you want to feel more peaceful? Become more prosperous? Balance your chakras? Commune with angels or spirit guides? Successful ritual work begins with a clear, specific intention. Once you have your goal clearly in mind, consult several of the many books and websites which list correspondences and find out which oils are associated with your interest. In many cases there will be more than one listed. For example, mint, patchouli and pine are all associated with increased prosperity. Select the scent with the strongest positive associations for you, or experiment with blends.

Oils work best when coupled with visualization or ritual work. The scent stimulates the mind and spirit, and the mental focus and physical gestures reinforce the inherent virtues of the oils. After the ritual or visualization has been performed, anointing yourself with the fragrance, putting some on a diffuser, or using some in your bath can renew the energy raised and released in the ritual. Just as the smell of fresh-baked cookies can instantly transport you back to the emotions of childhood, a ritually-charged scent can trigger the effect over and over again.

About the author: Keri Desherite, LMP is a practicing holistic healer. She has worked in the bodywork and health field for over 20 years. She is a consultant for Taliessen, Ltd. and has designed most of their aromatherapy and massage oil products.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A new science for a new climate

Author: Jacob Fiennes

At first glance it's hard to imagine how the proliferation of human activity upon the environment has been a major factor in climate change given that climate change alone is nothing new. Over two million years the earth's history has seen enormous changes. Indeed, in the last ten thousand years the warming and cooling of the earth has been on a larger scale that what we see today.

The climate is however very changeable these days. Getting the politics right has been half the fight. Unfortunately, the right policy has been held at bay partially by having the right knowledge of what's happening to the climate. The climate changes we see today are the result of only a century and a half of study, peanuts in comparison the huge shifts over the earths history.

The recent UN Climate Change Conference sought to put in place a policy to take over the Kyoto protocol. At its core were some recently publicised results:

1. The warming trend on the earth's surface has been taking place since the early part of the twentieth century. The last ten years have been the warmest of that millennium.

2. There have been rapid signs of melting the Arctic circle. The sea ice there has fallen by around eight percent over thirty years.

3. The old inconsistency in the data between the temperature rise in the atmosphere and on the planets surface seems to have levelled out. They appear to rise in parallel.

4. The Scripps Institute of Oceanography in California noted that the ocean has been warming at different depths for over 65 years. These results match the predictions that warming has been induced more by greenhouse gases that as a result of small changes in the suns heat output.

5. There has been an observed and recorded link between the sea surface temperature and the frequency and intensity of tropical storms, typhoons and hurricanes.

6. The existing computer models of the change in ocean currents, in particular in the North Atlantic, are correct.

There are however still some unknowns. For example the solar hypothesis is now known to be a lesser contributor, the miniscule changes in the suns heat output over its eleven year sunspot cycle is adding to the mix. Also, the aerosol emissions from sulphurous fuel promote the formation of clouds, and as a consequence the sunlight reflected from the earths surface increases, effectively opposing the greenhouse gas effect.

Some even argue for the benefits of global warming, which include for example the opening up of new shipping lanes in the artic as the ice recedes, new oil drilling opportunities and longer harvest periods in Canada and Russia.

It seems climate change is inevitable and the small economic ideas such as banning coal subsidies bear little fruit as a means of curbing the problem. More than ever, political will must be demonstrated at first to show to industry and populations that it is even an issue. More importantly perhaps, the will of the politicians must be met with achievable methods from the technological and scientific community.

Professor Socolow is leading the way with what he calls ""stabilisation wedges"". On a graph of climate change, the space between the trend line and the stability line is known as the ""stabilisation triangle'. By dividing these triangles into wedges and assigning realistic goals to each wedge the massive problem is given a usable and effective solution.

The goals to assign to the wedges range from greater overall efficiencies, the decarbonisation of electricity, fuel displacement by low carbon electricity, methane management, and natural carbon sinks.

By further subdividing each wedge into sub wedges, such as decarbonised electricity being subdivided into nuclear power, renewable energy, natural gas as an alternative to coal, and the storage of carbon dioxide - these problems are confounded into what everyone has been looking for. A short list of solutions that together will balance the problem.

It seems the technology for all this exists. It is merely in need of refinement. For example the management of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels could be dealt with through further carbon sequestration. A couple of power plants already employ this particular technique to good effect. The carbon dioxide is extracted at the source and is injected into porous rocks deep underground to prevent it escaping into the atmosphere.

Steam reformation is another technique. It is, in essence, a pre-emptive technique that reacts the fuel used with water to yield hydrogen. The hydrogen output is burnt to create electricity.

Of all the possibilities of reworking and inventing technologies, perhaps the best idea is the oldest idea. Replanting programmes. The idea of photosynthesis to combine carbon dioxide with water and sunlight is a relatively cheap and exponential idea and would be hugely effective.

About the author: Jacob Fiennes is an enthusiastic traveller and photographer with a passion for discovery. He is a founder and regular contributor to the hugely popular worldwide hotel reservations site . Visit the site for your next hotel room reservation, flight ticket, tailored holiday package and much more. >>

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Evolution and Intelligent Design

Author: Jeff Schweitzer, Ph.D.

What about evolution creates such a fuss in our society? We do not see people getting exercised about Quantum Mechanics, String Theory or the Theory of Relativity. But mention evolution and you invoke an immediate and visceral reaction. Local school boards are elected, rejected and then re-elected solely on this issue. No other scientific discovery is so deeply embedded into the fabric of American politics.

The debate about intelligent design in public schools is a uniquely American phenomenon, a quirk of our history and culture. Beyond the theocracies of the Middle East, religion permeates American politics in a way not found anywhere else in the world. No other developed country, east or west, is host to a serious political movement dedicated to the destruction of secularism.

We have to go all the way back to Italy in 1614 to find another example of a powerful political machine dedicated to the suppression of a broad scientific truth with deep implications for human understanding. That is the year in which Galileo's observations of the earth orbiting the sun were first denounced as a threat to the established authority of the Catholic Church, which claimed Galileo's doctrine to be false and contrary to the divine and Holy Scripture. We have regressed four centuries. Intelligent design is nothing but a transparent fig leaf for creationism, a child of that dark era in the 1600s. Comparing creationism or intelligent design to evolution is no different than insisting that we teach today that the sun actually orbits the earth as an alternative theory to modern astronomy. Only in the United States are such discredited views taken seriously by a large portion of the citizenry. We can and should do better. Intelligent design has no place in a science classroom.

Nevertheless, the debate will inevitably continue: evolution strikes at the core of expanding religiosity deeper than other scientific truths such as the age of the earth because the conclusions are more personal. Imagine yourself back in that amazing year of 1859 when Charles Darwin published his masterpiece. The day before Darwin's book was published, you woke up thinking yourself the image of God; the next morning you realize you have the face of a monkey. Not everybody immediately embraced this rude demotion. Resistance to the idea was inevitable, if not futile.

Sometimes the word ""theory"" associated with evolution is misunderstood to mean that the concept is not well established. Oddly, that burden is not shared by the Theory of Relativity. Einstein apparently hired a better publicist than Darwin, if not a better barber. Evolution is a fact, an undeniable, proven fact, as certain as the existence of atoms. Only some of the details of the mechanisms of evolution remain to be elucidated. Cancer is a fact, though not all the mechanisms leading to malignancy are understood. Theory does not imply uncertainty; instead, a grand idea, such as General Relativity or Evolution, can be well-established but remain under the rubric of a theory because the ideas encompass and explain a broad range of phenomena.

Complicating public acceptance of evolution as a scientific truth is the fact that society is still largely scientifically illiterate. Although understanding the basics of science is critical to everyday life in a technology-driven society, the subject is given only cursory treatment in most public schools. As a result, people are often poorly equipped to understand the complexities of an issue before forming an opinion about the costs and benefits of adopting or restricting a particular technology. The issue of therapeutic cloning offers a prime example. Religious bias and scientific illiteracy combine powerfully to restrict a technology with extraordinary potential for good, with little associated risk. The upside of therapeutic cloning could be cures for diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, and a host of other devastating diseases. There is no downside.

As religiosity has ascended in American life, policy debates have become faith-based rather than being anchored in logic. Support for a policy position becomes unmoved by contradictory facts because proponents simply ""believe"" the position to be correct even in the face of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. That explains why 80% of Republicans still support the current president. Just as there is no way to determine relative validity between religions, or to diminish faith with facts, as soon as logic is removed from policy debates, competing positions are no longer evaluated based on relative merit, but are supported as inherently right, immune to any reasonable counter arguments. This slide away from secular debate leads increasingly to polarization, greater animosity and a loss of civility because the only way to support a position is simply to assert supremacy as loudly as possible. We are reduced to childlike tantrums of ""I'm right, you're wrong, I win."" Without logic, there is no common basis for discussion, and no way to mediate disputes. The death of secularism is the death of civility, and nothing demonstrates this more clearly than the debate about teaching science in schools free from religion.

About the author: Jeff Schweitzer spent much of his youth underwater pursuing his lifelong fascination with marine life. He obtained his doctorate from UCSD and has published in an eclectic range of fields, including neurobiology, marine science, international development, environmental protection and aviation. Visit

Friday, December 12, 2008

How to Make a Test-Tube Baby

Author: Daniel Todd

IVF is the scientific approach to getting pregnant. Originally termed ""test-tube"" babies by the Press, embryos are fertilized in the lab, removed from a human body. One attempt at pregnancy through IVF is termed a cycle, and can be divided into 5 general phases.

1. Preparation

You're body is manipulated with drugs. Doctors prescribe a medication such as Lupron to shut down your ovaries for two weeks.

2. Stimulation

Following the Lupron series you will receive a set of up to 14 shots of another medication, such as pergonal, to hyperstimulate egg production. At the conclusion of these shots you will be given a final medication to boost maturity of your eggs.

3. Harvesting

Once the eggs have reached maturity you are heavily sedated and between 5-15 eggs are suctioned from your ovaries via ultrasound guided vaginal retrieval.

4. Fertilization

Egg and sperm meet each other for the first time in the lab. Approximately 100,000 motile sperm are introduced to each egg. Fertilization is documented and the growing embryos are carefully observed in vitro for up to 6 days. The growing trend is to observe growth longer, past the 6-8 cell stage, and blastocyst or advanced stage embryo transfer is not uncommon. There are several benefits to a blastocyst transfer, you might wish to ask your Reproductive team about them.

5. Embryo Transfer

Mom comes back in the picture as 3 or 4 growing embryos are transferred back into your uterus in a procedure that resembles a PAP smear. With any luck a new baby begins growing. On average it takes 3 IVF cycles to establish a pregnancy.

This is a very brief draft of a typical IVF cycle, and it can be an expensive, invasive procedure. But for couples who are having trouble conceiving, IVF is a well-established, proven method to overcoming infertility. There are a million people out there who walking proof it works.

About the author: Dan Todd, esq. is a full-time father. When they had trouble conceiving thier youngest daughter, Victoria, Dan and Donna began investigating fertility and reproductive issues. Today they run thier website from thier home in Tennessee.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Benefits of Human Growth Hormone - HGH Enhancing Supplements

Author: Danna Schneider

Human Growth Hormone has often been referred to as the ""fountain of youth hormone"". So, have we stumbled upon the proverbial ""fountain of youth"" with these new HGH enhancement supplements that claim to reduce fat, relieve ""aging symptoms"" such as wrinkles, increase energy and sex drive, promote sounder and deeper sleep cycles, and rejuvenate the body? Well, there are several faithful users of products in this arena (and I'm one of them) that will swear that since they have started taking HGH enhancing products, they've experienced a wide range of pleasing and desirable benefits, and it's not placebo.

If your goal is to proactively slow your body's aging process and optimize your personal longevity and quality of life, a quality HGH supplement may be just the thing for you. So, let's take a look at what these HGH products propose to do for you, and how they propose to offer such life-changing benefits to anyone who has the inclination to buy such products, and faithfully take the supplement as prescribed.

As we age, the amount of HGH secreted by our body's pituitary gland decreases, resulting in the symptoms of aging you see in your skin (wrinkles, loss of tone and firmness), energy level, libido, hair color (loss of hair color, or graying of hair), weight gain, and muscle to fat ratio. We could go on forever on the symptoms of aging, but we'll leave it at that for the sake of brevity, and because I'm sure you don't have all day!

HGH supplements do not contain actual Human Growth Hormone - for this you would actually need to go to a doctor who does this type of thing, pay about $10,000 a year, and get injections of real Human Growth Hormone.

Rather, most HGH supplement products employ the use of homeopathic medicine and stimulate the pituitary gland into producing more Human Growth Hormone, increasing it's levels in the blood (usually a big difference will be noticed within a month to two month's time, which allows for the HGH-promoting agents to gain higher levels in the blood and become effective).

These HGH stimulating agents are what we call non prescription amino acid secretagogue supplementation. These compounds stimulate the pituitary gland and encourage it to secrete more HGH into the blood stream, hence the anti-aging benefits that are a direct result of increased HGH in the body. Studies have shown that amino acids such as arginine, glutamine and lysine can significantly increase the production of HGH. The tricky part is, many of these amino acid compounds can be destroyed by the digestive acids in the stomach, rendering any HGH enhancing abilities useless. If you are going to consider an HGH supplement in pill form, be sure there is a technology used to coat or protect the amino acids from being destroyed by your stomach acids. Most quality supplements in pill form will indicate that they employ this type of protective technology, just be sure to look for that information.

Another popular method of delivery is powder and spray form. Whatever your preference, just make sure you purchase the supplement from a reputable homeopathic and/or herbal company that has a wide range of successful products, plenty of customer testimonials, and a money back or quality guarantee. I can personally testify that I have been using an HGH supplement for about two months, and I'm no scientist, but I can definitely tell you, I feel great and I haven't gotten sick once since I've been on it, even with several stomach flu viruses and cold bugs going around the office.

I've also notice that my sleep quality has improved and I wake up feeling more refreshed, my skin seems to be smoother and more toned, my fatty areas and cellulite seem to be improving/diminishing more and more every day, my appetite has decreased, I have more energy and can think more clearly at work without the typical fogginess I used to get halfway through my day, and my eyes are brighter and more full of life. Overall, my quality of life has definitely improved since about a month after I started the supplement.

Coincidence? Maybe - but I doubt it. I'm what you might call an herbal-product-of-the-moment junkie. I've experimented with many of the fads of the moment in the herbal and alternative medicine field, and I've never experienced such noticeable and obvious results as I have with HGH as I have with any of these other products. Try it - it may be just what you're looking for to slow the aging process, improve your quality of life overall, and get the youthful edge back.

About the author: Danna Schneider is the founder of HGH Enhancer . Visit HG H Enhancing Supplement for more information on this effective antiaging HGH stimulating product.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Finite Element Method: A Four-Article Series - Part 4

Author: Steve Roensch

The following four-article series was published in a newsletter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) . It serves as an introduction to the recent analysis discipline known as the finite element method . The author is an engineering consultant and expert witness specializing in finite element analysis.


by Steve Roensch, President, Roensch & Associates

Last in a four-part series

After a finite element model has been prepared and checked, boundary conditions have been applied, and the model has been solved, it is time to investigate the results of the analysis. This activity is known as the post-processing phase of the finite element method.

Post-processing begins with a thorough check for problems that may have occurred during solution. Most solvers provide a log file, which should be searched for warnings or errors, and which will also provide a quantitative measure of how well-behaved the numerical procedures were during solution. Next, reaction loads at restrained nodes should be summed and examined as a ""sanity check"". Reaction loads that do not closely balance the applied load resultant for a linear static analysis should cast doubt on the validity of other results. Error norms such as strain energy density and stress deviation among adjacent elements might be looked at next, but for h-code analyses these quantities are best used to target subsequent adaptive remeshing.

Once the solution is verified to be free of numerical problems, the quantities of interest may be examined. Many display options are available, the choice of which depends on the mathematical form of the quantity as well as its physical meaning. For example, the displacement of a solid linear brick element's node is a 3-component spatial vector, and the model's overall displacement is often displayed by superposing the deformed shape over the undeformed shape. Dynamic viewing and animation capabilities aid greatly in obtaining an understanding of the deformation pattern. Stresses, being tensor quantities, currently lack a good single visualization technique, and thus derived stress quantities are extracted and displayed. Principal stress vectors may be displayed as color-coded arrows, indicating both direction and magnitude. The magnitude of principal stresses or of a scalar failure stress such as the Von Mises stress may be displayed on the model as colored bands. When this type of display is treated as a 3D object subjected to light sources, the resulting image is known as a shaded image stress plot . Displacement magnitude may also be displayed by colored bands, but this can lead to misinterpretation as a stress plot.

An area of post-processing that is rapidly gaining popularity is that of adaptive remeshing. Error norms such as strain energy density are used to remesh the model, placing a denser mesh in regions needing improvement and a coarser mesh in areas of overkill. Adaptivity requires an associative link between the model and the underlying CAD geometry, and works best if boundary conditions may be applied directly to the geometry, as well. Adaptive remeshing is a recent demonstration of the iterative nature of h-code analysis.

Optimization is another area enjoying recent advancement. Based on the values of various results, the model is modified automatically in an attempt to satisfy certain performance criteria and is solved again. The process iterates until some convergence criterion is met. In its scalar form, optimization modifies beam cross-sectional properties, thin shell thicknesses and/or material properties in an attempt to meet maximum stress constraints, maximum deflection constraints, and/or vibrational frequency constraints. Shape optimization is more complex, with the actual 3D model boundaries being modified. This is best accomplished by using the driving dimensions as optimization parameters, but mesh quality at each iteration can be a concern.

Another direction clearly visible in the finite element field is the integration of FEA packages with so-called ""mechanism"" packages, which analyze motion and forces of large-displacement multi-body systems. A long-term goal would be real-time computation and display of displacements and stresses in a multi-body system undergoing large displacement motion, with frictional effects and fluid flow taken into account when necessary. It is difficult to estimate the increase in computing power necessary to accomplish this feat, but 2 or 3 orders of magnitude is probably close. Algorithms to integrate these fields of analysis may be expected to follow the computing power increases.

In summary, the finite element method is a relatively recent discipline that has quickly become a mature method, especially for structural and thermal analysis. The costs of applying this technology to everyday design tasks have been dropping, while the capabilities delivered by the method expand constantly. With education in the technique and in the commercial software packages becoming more and more available, the question has moved from ""Why apply FEA?"" to ""Why not?"". The method is fully capable of delivering higher quality products in a shorter design cycle with a reduced chance of field failure, provided it is applied by a capable analyst. It is also a valid indication of thorough design practices, should an unexpected litigation crop up. The time is now for industry to make greater use of this and other analysis techniques.

© 1996-2005 Roensch & Associates. All rights reserved.

About the author: Steve Roensch is an expert witness and mechanical engineer with more than 20 years of professional experience. He has analyzed hundreds of product designs and has served as an expert witness across many industries, including giving depositions and court testimony. Learn more about mechanical engineer expert witness services at

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Stingray - life of stingray fish in the wild

Author: Art Inion

Stingrays are neither threatened nor endangered species. They derive their name from their slender, whip-like tails equipped with venomous spines. Stingrays are neither threatened nor endangered species. They've been hunted for centuries for their meat and also today stingrays are marketed for food in various countries around the world, principally in Europe and Asia.

General characteristics of stingrays

Stingrays can be found in the major oceans; Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. Most stingrays are marine, living in salt water but they can be found in freshwater and where salt and fresh water mix (brackish water). The shape as can be seen in the pictures, the side of the head has a continuous shape with the outer side margin of the pectoral fin, the fins that look like wings.

They breath by drawing water through a small hole behind the eye and expel the water through gill slits on the underside of the disc. The dorsal fin or backward fin, does not exist or sometimes are hard to distinguish. The disc is about 1.2 times as broad as the length.

The stingray does not have a tail fin (cuadal fin). Instead it has a tail and it looks like a whip with a long venomous spine on the tail. The spine is replaced every four months. Most species have at least 1 long venomous spine on the tail, and some stingrays that are seen to have two.

Injuries to humans from stingrays occur when an unsuspecting person steps on a ray, causing the creature to reflexively strike out with its tail. The stinger apparatus then injects a toxin, causing immediate shooting pain. Although there is no known antidote for their toxin, it's rarely fatal for humans.

The largest of these is the specie is Trygonidae with a total length of about 4 meters and is approximately 4.8 meters in total width.

Behavior of stingrays

They live in the bottom parts of shallow tropical waters. Looking carefully, you are likely to find them lying on a seabed, buried or partially covered with sand. They can move very rapidly when threatened or in pursuit of a passing fish. They also eat mollusks and crustaceans, crushing then with their flat, strong teeth.

Most of stingrays are not especially afraid of humans. When approached, they swim gently to another place naturally avoiding too close contact. In many places around the world they became tourist attraction, where people can swim together or even feed them.

Stingray leather

There are very few

stingray species that provide suitable leather hides. These are called ""scaly species"". The skin of these stingrays consists of thousands of tiny rock-hard pearls or scales. This

stingray leather is exceptionally strong and by many is called the most durable leather in the world. It's definitely fire, water, tear and ""cut"" resistant.

The reason of these features lies in the structure of the leather. In regular leather, the fibres of the leather run parallel to each other, whereas in stingray leather the fibres run in all directions. In addition, all the tiny pearls with their roots are grown into the bottom layer of the leather, to the effect that you can neither tear the leather apart, nor cut it easily with the knife.

There are many products that can be made from

stingray leather ; handbag s , purses and wallets for example. There are also coin purses and key wallets , too. One can choose from a variety of colors and sizes, all genuine exotic stingray leather.

About the author: Article written for Exotic Leather Store of crocodile, snakeskin, and stingray leather:

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Finite Element Method: A Four-Article Series - Part 3

Author: Steve Roensch

The following four-article series was published in a newsletter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) . It serves as an introduction to the recent analysis discipline known as the finite element method . The author is an engineering consultant and expert witness specializing in finite element analysis.


by Steve Roensch, President, Roensch & Associates

Third in a four-part series

While the pre-processing and post-processing phases of the finite element method are interactive and time-consuming for the analyst, the solution is often a batch process, and is demanding of computer resource. The governing equations are assembled into matrix form and are solved numerically. The assembly process depends not only on the type of analysis (e.g. static or dynamic), but also on the model's element types and properties, material properties and boundary conditions.

In the case of a linear static structural analysis, the assembled equation is of the form Kd = r , where K is the system stiffness matrix, d is the nodal degree of freedom (dof) displacement vector, and r is the applied nodal load vector. To appreciate this equation, one must begin with the underlying elasticity theory. The strain-displacement relation may be introduced into the stress-strain relation to express stress in terms of displacement. Under the assumption of compatibility, the differential equations of equilibrium in concert with the boundary conditions then determine a unique displacement field solution, which in turn determines the strain and stress fields. The chances of directly solving these equations are slim to none for anything but the most trivial geometries, hence the need for approximate numerical techniques presents itself.

A finite element mesh is actually a displacement-nodal displacement relation, which, through the element interpolation scheme, determines the displacement anywhere in an element given the values of its nodal dof. Introducing this relation into the strain-displacement relation, we may express strain in terms of the nodal displacement, element interpolation scheme and differential operator matrix. Recalling that the expression for the potential energy of an elastic body includes an integral for strain energy stored (dependent upon the strain field) and integrals for work done by external forces (dependent upon the displacement field), we can therefore express system potential energy in terms of nodal displacement.

Applying the principle of minimum potential energy, we may set the partial derivative of potential energy with respect to the nodal dof vector to zero, resulting in: a summation of element stiffness integrals, multiplied by the nodal displacement vector, equals a summation of load integrals. Each stiffness integral results in an element stiffness matrix, which sum to produce the system stiffness matrix, and the summation of load integrals yields the applied load vector, resulting in Kd = r . In practice, integration rules are applied to elements, loads appear in the r vector, and nodal dof boundary conditions may appear in the d vector or may be partitioned out of the equation.

Solution methods for finite element matrix equations are plentiful. In the case of the linear static Kd = r , inverting K is computationally expensive and numerically unstable. A better technique is Cholesky factorization, a form of Gauss elimination, and a minor variation on the ""LDU"" factorization theme. The K matrix may be efficiently factored into LDU , where L is lower triangular, D is diagonal, and U is upper triangular, resulting in LDUd = r . Since L and D are easily inverted, and U is upper triangular, d may be determined by back-substitution. Another popular approach is the wavefront method, which assembles and reduces the equations at the same time. Some of the best modern solution methods employ sparse matrix techniques. Because node-to-node stiffnesses are non-zero only for nearby node pairs, the stiffness matrix has a large number of zero entries. This can be exploited to reduce solution time and storage by a factor of 10 or more. Improved solution methods are continually being developed. The key point is that the analyst must understand the solution technique being applied.

Dynamic analysis for too many analysts means normal modes. Knowledge of the natural frequencies and mode shapes of a design may be enough in the case of a single-frequency vibration of an existing product or prototype, with FEA being used to investigate the effects of mass, stiffness and damping modifications. When investigating a future product, or an existing design with multiple modes excited, forced response modeling should be used to apply the expected transient or frequency environment to estimate the displacement and even dynamic stress at each time step.

This discussion has assumed h-code elements, for which the order of the interpolation polynomials is fixed. Another technique, p-code, increases the order iteratively until convergence, with error estimates available after one analysis. Finally, the boundary element method places elements only along the geometrical boundary. These techniques have limitations, but expect to see more of them in the near future.

Next month's article will discuss the post-processing phase of the finite element method.

© 1996-2005 Roensch & Associates. All rights reserved.

About the author: Steve Roensch is an expert witness and mechanical engineer with more than 20 years of professional experience. He has analyzed hundreds of product designs and has served as an expert witness across many industries, including giving depositions and court testimony. Learn more about mechanical engineer expert witness services at

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Metaevolution - Evolution of Evolution

Author: Paras Chopra

I've thought on this concept for the last few months, I thought it was my original concept. But it already exists. Well, 'Metaevolution' is, unsurprisingly, evolution of evolution. But the existing concept of metaevolution is quite different from mine. Existing concept defines meta evolution as evolution of evolution since the big-bang ( i.e. the birth of universe), but I define metaevolution as the evolution of evolution (EoE) since the birth of life (on earth?).

This means that all throughout life's history evolution has not remained same, it itself changes with time to time. See, this is a two way process: evolution changes the organism so that it tries to become perfect for existing environment. But an organism is not separate from environment; it is very well a part of environment. It changes and modifies the environment constantly. Thus, evolution in altered environment doesn't work in the same way. Thus, evolution has been changed. If there is more than one organism in a particular environment, each affects the environment in his own way. So there is more complex change in environment. Each changes the environment in his own way and thus affecting the process of evolution which applies to all organisms in that environment.

The only species which has had major affect on metaevolution has been undoubtedly, Humans!! I say this because humans, thanks to their evolved brains, developed great tools and techniques to alter environments. These all stories of mass extinctions of rare species are demonstrations of nothing but meta-evolution. The humans have changed the course of evolution; therefore, the incapable species don't fit into the environment anymore. Thus they die. I don't see anything wrong with it, but the point is that an organism (us) may change the environment to such an extent which even removes his own food source. Thus the organism is doomed to die.

Meta-evolution is even more interesting concept than evolution. And this is because it involves a complex interplay between organism, environment and evolution itself. Metaevolution may also be influenced by external events such as change in climatic conditions (change of earth from a violent to an earthly place), meteor collision (it wiped out dinosaurs), etc. I wonder what would have been life today if dinosaurs didn't go extinct. Would humans still have arisen???

See, we can very well say that life is helping in the evolution of environment on earth rather than the other way. But it is all the same thing in light of metaevolution. It doesn't matter if we say if organism changes environment or environment changes organism, the fact is that there is a constant change between the two. And due to the change the evolution itself evolves.

But, does evolution also follows the same rules such as survival of the fittest. Maybe, we can know the answer if we can see the affect same organisms on two radically different environments such as two different planets (if life exists beyond earth). Or, we may very well compare the different aspects of metaevolution on a computer simulation. In my view, the essence of evolution in extreme places such as hot-springs or glaciers is very much different than we see at other places on earth. How is the evolution different there? It has been suggested by the researchers that the conditions of Hydrothermal Systems represent early conditions of earth. So by studying, the evolution there we might notice how the evolution has been shaped on the earth. But I truly metaevolution needs more thought and study. But if it is true, we see that evolution has evolved into an entirely different species at places where life exists on the edge.

Can there be metametaevolution?? Yes, of course we can do anything on computer simulations. Or if alternate universes exist!!!

About the author: Paras Chopra was born in Patiala, Punjab, India on 3rd June 1987. His interests lie in subjects ranging from Synthetic Biology to Philosophy to Artificial Intelligence. His goal in life is to achieve immortality. Visit him at:

He also runs NaramCheez. Visit NaramCheez at:

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Why Seven Days in a Week?

Author: Peter Meyer

Wherever the Common Era Calendar (a.k.a. the Gregorian Calendar) is used -- and it is now used by the governments of all countries -- a week of seven days is also used in conjunction with it. But there is no 7-day cycle in Nature from which this could have been derived, so why a week of seven days?

People use a 7-day week because they have been born into a world where this is customary. In other words, the 7-day week has been received from earlier generations. It has a long history. When the Roman emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion early in the 4th Century CE the 7-day week was officially associated with the Julian Calendar, and the association remained after the Julian Calendar was replaced by the Gregorian Calendar in the 16th Century CE.

The Christians received the 7-day week from the Jews. Their explanation for its use is that this was commanded by their god, named by them YHWH (using the Hebrew letters Yod-He-Vav-He). The Jewish Pentateuch (incorporated into the Old Testament of the Christian Bible) contains several injunctions attributed to YHWH which mention ""a seventh day"", upon which no ""work"" is to be done.

So clearly a 7-day week was in use at the time of Moses in the middle of the 2nd millennium BCE, but the 7-day week is much older than that, since it was also used by the Sumerians and Babylonians. Kerry Farmer remarks that ""Some historians believe that around 2350 BC Sargon I, King of Akkad, having conquered Ur and the other cities of Sumeria, instituted a seven-day week, the first to be recorded.""

In many European languages the names of the days of the week are derived from the names of planets/gods. According to Dr Kelley Ross the names for the planets/gods in Sumerian, Babylonian, Greek, Latin and English, with the English name of the corresponding day of the week in parentheses, are as follows:

Utu, Shamash, Helios, Sol, Sun (Sunday) Nanna, Sin, Selene, Luna, Moon (Monday) Gugalanna, Nergal, Ares, Mars, Mars (Tuesday) Enki, Nabu, Hermes, Mercurius, Mercury (Wednesday) Enlil, Marduk, Zeus, Iuppiter, Jupiter (Thursday) Inanna, Ishtar, Aphrodite, Venus, Venus (Friday) Ninurta, Ninurta, Kronos, Saturnus, Saturn (Saturday)

It is plausible to suppose that the association of planets and days of the week arose in prehistoric times as follows:

At some point in the evolution of humans, perhaps as far back as 100,000 years ago, they acquired sufficient intelligence to observe their environment and start to think about it. Obviously the night sky would have been of interest to early humans. The more intelligent among them would have observed that all of the luminous objects in the night sky maintained their positions relative to each other except for a few. Those that did not appeared to wander across the night sky (relative to the fixed stars), and thus eventually came to be called ""wanderers"". (The English word ""planet"" is derived from the Greek ""planetes"", which means exactly ""wanderers"".)

We may assume that tens of thousands of years ago humans did not think of the physical world as we do today, and in particular did not have an idea of the Earth as a large spherical object within a vast 3-dimensional space in which other large spherical objects moved. For them the nature of the luminous objects which they observed to wander along a band of the night sky, and the cause of their movement, was unknown. But since (by observation of the natural world) it was only living things which moved of themselves, it would be reasonable for early humans to assume that the wanderers, the planets, were living beings of some kind -- beings of a very unusual nature, what we might now call ""gods"".

So for early humans the planets were gods. And obviously the Sun and the Moon belonged to their company. So how many gods were there? As many as could be observed (perhaps more). In addition to the Sun and the Moon there were five others (what we now call Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn). If days somehow became associated with these gods then we have the basis for a period of seven days. Perhaps a particular god was venerated each successive day without a break, which would give rise to repeated periods of seven days.

It is plausible to suppose that the earliest calendars were simple tallies of days from one new moon to the next (where ""new moon"" means the reappearance of the moon after two or three days of invisibility). Bones with 29 and 30 scratches have been found which are at least 40,000 years old, suggesting (since a lunation is approximately 29.5 days) that the scratches were a record of days (or nights) in a lunation. This was probably the first attempt by humans to divide the sequence of days into periods. They would quickly have noted that four successive 7-day periods were almost, but not quite the number of days from one new moon to the next. This might have given rise to a calendar (such as is known to have been used by the Sumerians and Babylonians) in which the days of a lunation (a ""month"") were divided into four 7-day periods beginning with a new moon, followed by one or two days (not part of any 7-day period) until the next new moon.

The origin of the 7-day week is sometimes attributed to dividing the 29 or 30 days of a lunation by four, to get a number close to seven. But a concept of division, which we find easily understandable, is not a concept that we can attribute to the earliest thinking humans. Counting and addition may have been the most advanced mathematical concepts for many thousands of years before the idea of division (as a numerical operation) was discovered.

On the basis of this explanation of the development of the idea of the week it is obvious why there are seven days in a week: This is the number of visible planets plus the Sun and the Moon.

An immediate corollary is that there is nothing sacred (except in the minds of some people) about the fact that a week has seven days.

If, instead of an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, there had been a planet, then there would have been six visible planets, not five, so the number of celestial entities would have been eight, not seven. In that case humans would have developed a week of eight days, not seven.

The Moon is thought by many astronomers to have been formed as a result of a collision of the Earth with a planet-sized object shortly after its formation over four billion years ago. If (assuming that is what happened) that collision had never occurred, and that no large body was subsequently captured by the Earth, then the Earth would have no moon, in which case the number of celestial entities would have been six, not seven. In that case humans would have invented a week of six days, not seven.

The planet Uranus was first observed by telescope in 1690 (by Flamsteed) but was recognized as a planet (by Herschel) only in 1781. Neptune was first observed in 1846. Had the solar system formed in such a way that these planets came close enough to Earth to be observable with the naked eye then the number of celestial entities would have been nine, and we would have a 9-day week. Actually the Maya had a 9-day week, with the days assigned to nine gods, called the Lords of the Night. One might speculate that the Maya knew (or were informed) that there were two more ""gods"" which were invisible (Pluto perhaps not being regarded as a fully accredited planet/god), though there is no other evidence supporting this idea.

The fact that humans have long used a week of seven days is thus the result of accident, namely, the fact that the solar system is the way it is, with five of the nine planets being sufficiently close to Earth to be visible with the naked eye.

The ""sacredness"" of the number seven is due to the association of the seven celestial beings (the visible planets plus the Sun and the Moon) with gods in the minds of early humans. This ""sacredness"" is thus illusory. And thus so too is the ""sacredness"" of the 7-day week. Accordingly there is no reason to preserve it, except from an exagerated respect for tradition. Those who adhere to some religion within which a 7-day week is given prominence will, of course, wish to retain a 7-day week in any new calendar. But for those whose minds are not constrained by religious (or astrological) tradition there is no reason to preserve a 7-day week. A week of 6 or 8 days may be considered on its merits, or even a week with a variable number of days. Such a week -- of 6, 7, 8 or 9 days, in accord with the variable length of quarter-lunations as they actually occur -- is part of a calendar invented in 2005 called ""the Hermetic Lunar Week Calendar"".

About the author: Peter Meyer is the author of the Hermetic Systems website (, containing articles on calendars and information about his calendar software . This article previously appeared on his website.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Hitchhiker's Guide to Elliptical Galaxies

Author: James Monahan

Elliptical galaxies are ellipsoidal agglomerations of stars, which usually do not contain much interstellar matter, and look smoothly like small wads when viewed through a telescope.

Some disk galaxies without much structure can hardly be distinguished from elliptical galaxies and thus are sometimes misclassified.

Elliptical galaxies are unlike spiral galaxies and hence unlike our own Milky Way Galaxy.


The most popularly used classification of galaxies is due to Hubble (1925) and according to this categorization, there are two major groups: the spiral and elliptical galaxies, but there are also lenticulars and irregulars.

Before hitchhiking to and through elliptical galaxies, one must first familiarize themselves with all the other types of galaxies.

Spiral coils in space

Spirals like our own galaxy, fall into several classes depending on their shape and the relative size of their bulge or how they curve.

Spiral galaxies are characterized by the presence of gas in the disk which means star formation remains active at the present time, hence the younger population of stars. Spirals are usually found in the low density galactic field where their delicate shape can avoid disruption by tidal forces from neighboring galaxies.

The egg in space

Ellipticals on the other hand are placed in sub categories depending on their degree of ellipticity. They have a uniform luminosity and are similar to the bulge in a spiral galaxy, but with no disk. The stars are old and there is no gas present. Ellipticals are usually found in the high density field, at the center of clusters.

Irregular Lentils

The last two other types of galaxies are called Lenticular and Irregular. Lenticulars also possess both a bulge and a disk, but they have no spiral arms. There is little or no gas and so all the stars are old. They also appear to be an intermediate. Irregulars on the other hand are small galaxies, with no bulge and an ill-defined shape. Spots in the universe

Galaxies are like islands in the Universe, made of stars as well as dust and gas clouds. They come in different sizes and shapes.

Galaxies are not only distinct in shape, they also vary in size: some may be as ""light"" as a stellar globular cluster in our Milky Way (i.e. they contain about the equivalent of a few million Suns) while others may be more massive than a million Suns.

Presently, more than half of the stars in the Universe are located in massive spheroidal galaxies.

One of the main open questions of modern astrophysics and cosmology is how and when galaxies formed and evolved starting from the primordial gas that filled the early Universe.

In the most popular current theory, galaxies in the local Universe are the result of a relatively slow process where small and less massive galaxies merge to gradually build up bigger and more massive galaxies.

In this scenario, dubbed ""hierarchical merging"", the young Universe was populated by small galaxies with little mass, whereas the present Universe contains large, old and massive galaxies, the very last to form in the final stage of a slow assembling process.

If this scenario were true, then one should not be able to find massive elliptical galaxies in the young universe. Or, in other words, due to the finite speed of light, there should be no such massive galaxies very far from us. And indeed, until now no old elliptical galaxy was known beyond a radio-galaxy that was discovered almost ten years ago.

And so the mystery of the elliptical galaxy continues. Continue hitchhiking through galaxies to understand things better and whatever happens, remember not to panic.

About the author: James Monahan is the owner and Senior Editor of and writes expert articles about ellipticals .

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Finite Element Method: A Four-Article Series - Part 2

Author: Steve Roensch

The following four-article series was published in a newsletter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) . It serves as an introduction to the recent analysis discipline known as the finite element method . The author is an engineering consultant and expert witness specializing in finite element analysis.


by Steve Roensch, President, Roensch & Associates

Second in a four-part series

As discussed last month, finite element analysis is comprised of pre-processing, solution and post-processing phases. The goals of pre-processing are to develop an appropriate finite element mesh, assign suitable material properties, and apply boundary conditions in the form of restraints and loads.

The finite element mesh subdivides the geometry into elements , upon which are found nodes . The nodes, which are really just point locations in space, are generally located at the element corners and perhaps near each midside. For a two-dimensional (2D) analysis, or a three-dimensional (3D) thin shell analysis, the elements are essentially 2D, but may be ""warped"" slightly to conform to a 3D surface. An example is the thin shell linear quadrilateral; thin shell implies essentially classical shell theory, linear defines the interpolation of mathematical quantities across the element, and quadrilateral describes the geometry. For a 3D solid analysis, the elements have physical thickness in all three dimensions. Common examples include solid linear brick and solid parabolic tetrahedral elements. In addition, there are many special elements, such as axisymmetric elements for situations in which the geometry, material and boundary conditions are all symmetric about an axis.

The model's degrees of freedom (dof) are assigned at the nodes. Solid elements generally have three translational dof per node. Rotations are accomplished through translations of groups of nodes relative to other nodes. Thin shell elements, on the other hand, have six dof per node: three translations and three rotations. The addition of rotational dof allows for evaluation of quantities through the shell, such as bending stresses due to rotation of one node relative to another. Thus, for structures in which classical thin shell theory is a valid approximation, carrying extra dof at each node bypasses the necessity of modeling the physical thickness. The assignment of nodal dof also depends on the class of analysis. For a thermal analysis, for example, only one temperature dof exists at each node.

Developing the mesh is usually the most time-consuming task in FEA. In the past, node locations were keyed in manually to approximate the geometry. The more modern approach is to develop the mesh directly on the CAD geometry, which will be (1) wireframe , with points and curves representing edges, (2) surfaced , with surfaces defining boundaries, or (3) solid , defining where the material is. Solid geometry is preferred, but often a surfacing package can create a complex blend that a solids package will not handle. As far as geometric detail, an underlying rule of FEA is to ""model what is there"", and yet simplifying assumptions simply must be applied to avoid huge models. Analyst experience is of the essence.

The geometry is meshed with a mapping algorithm or an automatic free-meshing algorithm. The first maps a rectangular grid onto a geometric region, which must therefore have the correct number of sides. Mapped meshes can use the accurate and cheap solid linear brick 3D element, but can be very time-consuming, if not impossible, to apply to complex geometries. Free-meshing automatically subdivides meshing regions into elements, with the advantages of fast meshing, easy mesh-size transitioning (for a denser mesh in regions of large gradient), and adaptive capabilities. Disadvantages include generation of huge models, generation of distorted elements, and, in 3D, the use of the rather expensive solid parabolic tetrahedral element. It is always important to check elemental distortion prior to solution. A badly distorted element will cause a matrix singularity, killing the solution. A less distorted element may solve, but can deliver very poor answers. Acceptable levels of distortion are dependent upon the solver being used.

Material properties required vary with the type of solution. A linear statics analysis, for example, will require an elastic modulus, Poisson's ratio and perhaps a density for each material. Thermal properties are required for a thermal analysis. Examples of restraints are declaring a nodal translation or temperature. Loads include forces, pressures and heat flux. It is preferable to apply boundary conditions to the CAD geometry, with the FEA package transferring them to the underlying model, to allow for simpler application of adaptive and optimization algorithms. It is worth noting that the largest error in the entire process is often in the boundary conditions. Running multiple cases as a sensitivity analysis may be required.

Next month's article will discuss the solution phase of the finite element method.

© 1996-2005 Roensch & Associates. All rights reserved.

About the author: Steve Roensch is an expert witness and mechanical engineer with more than 20 years of professional experience. He has analyzed hundreds of product designs and has served as an expert witness across many industries, including giving depositions and court testimony. Learn more about mechanical engineer expert witness services at