This post concludes the “Ask a Science Student” series. For previous responses, see chemistry, physics, and astronomy.
Ask a Science Student, Part 4: Biology
By Meagan Goldman ’16
Biology deals with energy on both a macro level – the cycling of energy through ecosystems – and a micro level – the energy required for biological processes. Energy in an ecosystem comes initially from the sun. Primary producers, plants and cyanobacteria, convert the sun’s electromagnetic energy into chemical energy, stored in the bonds of compounds like glucose and ATP. Energy is then passed to consumers and eventually, when organisms die, to decomposers.
Continue reading Ask a Biology Student: What is Energy?
This is the third installment in our “Ask A Science Student” series. For the previous responses, see chemistry and physics.
Ask a Science Student, Part 3: Astronomy
By Marcus Hughes ’18
Astronomy deals with a tremendous scale of energy, from the Cosmic Microwave Background – the 2.7 kelvin echo left from the Big Bang – to hyper-luminous quasars – compact centers of galaxies related to black holes that release 4 trillion times as much energy as our Sun. Astronomy even has not yet understood types of energy like dark energy, a repulsive energy causing the universe to expand faster, literally changing the fate of the universe. When most people think of energy in astronomy, they think of stars, but dark energy makes up 70% of the total mass-energy in the universe. At its simplest, energy is just the capacity to do work; i.e. the capacity for a force to displace an object.
Continue reading Ask an Astronomy Student: What is Energy?
Today we continue our “Ask A Science Student” series. For the previous response, click here.
Ask a Science Student, Part 2: Physics
By Matt Radford ’16
Energy has many different forms. Electrical, thermal, and mechanical kinetic energy are all forms associated with moving objects. Potential energy is dependent on an object’s position in a field, such as apples hanging in a tree, or an object’s position relative to its parts, such as a drawn longbow. An apple also has digestible energy, usually measured in calories. Other units of energy commonly found in day-to-day life include the watt-hour, which probably shows up on your electricity bill, and the British Thermal Unit, which is likely mentioned on any air conditioning unit.
Continue reading Ask a Physics Student: What is Energy?
An alum from the class of 2010 emailed us about a month ago and told us he ran a Williams science publication (coincidentally also called the ScientEphic!) when he was a student here. We took a look at some of their old publications and enjoyed their section called “Ask A Science Major.” So The ScientEphic is beginning a series based on that section. We asked students from four departments – chemistry, physics, biology, and astronomy – to explain the concept of energy. We’ll publish their responses over the next four days.
Continue reading Ask a Chemistry Student: What is Energy?