Coronavirus in a nutshell

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What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus is basically a new disease which affects humans. Before, it affected mammals, but now it has crossed over to us humans. The pathogen for this disease affects the respiratory system of the human body. The part of the body which is in charge of taking in oxygen, and giving out carbon dioxide. The process which provides cells with the energy they need to function.

How did Coronavirus start?

It's believed that the virus started out from an illegal seafood market in Wuhan, China. The market sold wild animals like birds, bats, and snakes. So it's thought that the first group of people to catch Coronavirus are workers at that market.

How is Coronavirus spread?

The thing is that we don't know much about how the Coronavirus is actually spread.  But we do know that they spread from one person to another via respiratory droplets, the liquid from your respiratory system which come out when you sneeze or cough. It is similar to how influenza spreads. The respiratory droplets of an infected person have the Coronavirus pathogen. Once they enter the lungs of a person, the person is now infected.

What happens if a person gets the Coronavirus?

Once an uninfected person gets the Coronavirus, he/she can start to show the effects in 2-14 days. The illness ranges from people who show little or no effect, to people who become extremely ill and end up dying.

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

So that's Coronavirus in a nutshell!

You can read a more detailed version here.



Solving the dark energy riddle

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I love everything about Physics, so I tend to keep up with the latest research happening inside this field of study. Due to which, I recently came across this article which talked about a new theory by Dr Claudia De Rham from Imperial College London. This theory attempts to explain why the universe is expanding via altering Einstein's theory of general relativity and making dark energy redundant (which was thought to be the reason). I think it's radical, and something worth writing about.

Right, so let me walk you guys through this. The Big Bang Theory states that the universe is continually expanding, and the rate at which it's expanding (expansion in a given time interval) is also increasing. But it's always baffled scientists why that's the case because according to the fundamental laws of Physics, the inward force of gravity should slow down the expansion, not make it faster. Gravity should hold together the universe, not let it race apart.

This is why dark energy was hypothesised back in 1998, and it's believed that this is the mysterious agent which allows the cosmos to expand rapidly, despite the inward tug of gravity. Moreover, it's thought that dark energy is 68% of the universe. But even though a lot of scientists believe it's true, there is no evidence which suggests so.

Now enter the theory of massive gravity written about inside the article mentioned above. It eliminates the need for dark energy, via making modifications to Einstein's theory of general relativity. 

General relativity assumes that hypothetical particles called gravitons, which are in charge of transmitting the force of gravity from one place to another are massless. But instead, massive gravity suggests that those gravitons have mass. The implication being that gravity would have a much lower influence on large scales, because the gravitons aren't able to travel at the speed of light. And as the size of the universe increases, the force of gravity weakens more and the rate of expansion of the universe increases.

This clearly explains why the universe is expanding, without any reference to dark energy. If proved, this would make dark energy redundant, just like Aether.

Right, so that's it!

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Why are some things darker when wet?

Have you ever wondered why some things become dark when you spill water on them? What’s exactly happening? 

Well, let’s find out!

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Before I explain this phenomenon to you, let’s go through some prerequisite knowledge.

  1. How we see things
  2. Types of reflection

How we see things

We see an object when light reflects off it and then enters our eye. The eye then produces a nerve impulse and sends it off to the brain to be interpreted. Light acts as a medium of information transfer here.


This is why you can’t see things in dark; no light means that there is no way that you can channel the information about the surroundings into the person’s eye.

Types of reflection

Now let’s understand the natural phenomenon of reflection; it’s when a wave hits a surface and gets thrown back. Not absorbed (transfer it’s energy to the surface), or transmitted (go through the surface).

There are two types of reflection (two ways the wave can be thrown back).

  1. Specular
  2. Diffuse

Specular Reflection

This is when all the incident light (light which hits the surface) is reflected into a single outgoing direction.


In this type of reflection, the angle at which light hits the surface is the same angle at which the light leaves the surface (reflected). This type of reflection tends to happen on smooth surfaces like a mirror or glass.

Diffuse Reflection

This is when the incident light (light which hits the surface) is scattered into all angles when reflected. This is due to the irregular nature of the surface it’s reflected off.


The reflected light rays leave at a variety of angles. This is because the angle of incidence (the angle at which the light hits the surface) is different for each part of the surface.

So what’s happening?

Right, let’s say you accidentally spill water on your shirt. And now it’s dark. What’s precisely happening under the hood?

Once you spill water on the shirt, that part of the shirt is now covered with a thin film of water. So, any light which has to reflect off that part of the shirt has to go through water. 

Before water is spilt, 100% of the light travelling towards that part of the shirt will hit the surface. But now only a fraction of the light moving towards it will hit its surface. This is because the light now has a layer of water to go through. And due to the reflectance of water, not all light at the air-liquid-interface (border between air and water) goes through the water. Some of it is reflected.

The probability of light getting transmitted into the water is (1 — Rl).

Rl — reflectance at the air-liquid interface

Reflectance is a measure of the proportion of incident light, which is reflected. Every surface tends to have a reflectance: how much it reflects light. So now, we’ve already lost a proportion of the total light, which was supposed to reflect on the shirt and go into the person’s eye.

Now, the incident light ray is inside the water. And it then hits the surface of the shirt. Some of the light is absorbed there, and the rest is reflected diffusely. How diffuse reflection occurs is explained above.

Due to the diffuse reflection, the light ray is scattered in many directions. All the light rays are now heading to the liquid-air interface, which is the border between the liquid and the air. Also, some of the light is sent out in a way, that it can be internally reflected at the liquid-air interface. 

Let's understand the phenomenon of total internal reflection.

Total internal reflection is a natural phenomenon, where the incident light is reflected at media interface.

It only takes place if:

  • The current medium is denser than the medium it is going into.
  • The angle of incidence is greater than the so-called critical angle.

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Since water is denser than air, and the reflection is diffuse. A lot of light is internally reflected, thereof, increasing the probability of absorption at surface.

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All of the phenomenons stated above come together. Due to which, the intensity of light which the observer receives is way less, relative to if the shirt was dry. This is why the shirt looks darker when wet.

So this is it!

Everything in this essay comes from this source

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