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David Latchman

Freelance Science Writer

Location icon United States

David S. Latchman holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago with specialization in Environmental & Medical Physics. David also has experience as a Teaching Assistant at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the Department of Physics, Applied Physics and Astronomy and a Research Assistant at University of the West Indies, Trinidad & Tobago Department of Physics.

David is a freelance science writer whose work has appeared in Next Door Magazine and the Decoded Science website. His blog, The Quantum Tunnel , focuses on the science featured in popular movies and TV shows.

Is Star Trek's Famous Transporter Really a Death Machine?

Star Trek's transporter is about every fan's dream method of travel. Step onto the platform and you are instantaneously disintegrated while the information from every single atom in your body measured. The energy from being disintegrated is beamed into space and the information gained is used to reassemble you.
Can You Travel 'The Tube' Futurama Style?

Set in the year 3000, the series features one of the most interesting forms of personal travel: pneumatic tubes. Pneumatic tubes were used primarily in the late 19th to the early 20th century to transport small packages over short distances, typically within a building or city.
Seven Things You Did Not Know About Real-World Kryptonite

Kryptonite is one of Superman's known weaknesses. The substance first appears in an unpublished 1940 story, The K-Metal from Krypton, by Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel. This story featured a prototype of kryptonite, a mineral from the planet Krypton that drained Superman of his strength while giving humans superhuman powers.

Science vs Hollywood
Surfing the Tidal Waves on Miller's Planet

In the movie Interstellar, Joseph Cooper ( Matthew McConaughey) lands the Ranger 1 on Miller's planet, a water world orbiting the supermassive black hole, Gargantua. Initial scans show the planet rich with the organic molecules, water, and sunlight necessary for life. Instead, what the team encounters is a shallow water world with 1.2-kilometer high waves.
So THAT is how they do it!

The 2014 reboot not only gives the King of the Monsters a new origin but a new nemisis-the M.U.T.O. (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism). Like Godzilla, this creature is old and both creatures existed in a time of a younger Earth where they fed off our planet's naturally higher radiation levels.
The Science of The Ghostbuster's Proton Pack

The Ghostbusters trailer contains an Easter egg hidden in the whiteboard filled with physics equations. This Easter egg goes by quickly but if you pause at just the right moment, you will see one "equation" on top is a URL that spells
Evil Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson destroy the world on "Limitless"

In the Limitless episode, "Close Encounters," two astrophysicts' specially engineered bacteria that feeds on electricity takes down the New York power grid. If these two scientists, Sturgeon Reid (Jim Reid) and Ian Marshall (Robert Sella) look a lot like Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson, it is because the show's writers made it that way.
The Physics of the Death Stars and Starkiller Base in Star Wars

The films feature not one but three battle stations capable of destroying planets. In "A New Hope," the DS-1 Orbital Battle Station employs a superlaser powered by a hypermatter reactor to destroy Alderaan. Following the "Battle of Yavin," the Empire comes back with the Death Star II, an even more formidable weapons platform though it still employs the use of the hypermatter reactor powered superlaser.
The New Ghostbusters Are Women And Why It Matters

The latest trailer to the new Ghostbusters came out last week and fan response has been resoundingly negative. Within hours of release, the trailer had garnered twice as many dislikes to likes on YouTube. While vitriol from fans is expected, the 1984 movie is a classic, so the almost 1-to-2 like to dislike ratio is surprising.
Does the Flash have hot feet?

In the TV show, The Flash, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) utilizes the "speed force" to attain superhuman speeds. Unfortunately, Barry does not have a full grasp of his powers when he first gets them and is susceptible to some of the laws of physics.
The Science of Godzilla's Roar. Does he Purr like a cat?

There are few sound effects as iconic as Godzilla's mighty roar. Sound engineers generally layer and blend sounds from other animals and objects around them to produce an awesome aural effect. There have been several articles, both in academia and various web sites that have focused on what science says about Godzilla's size and even his urine production.
Will Inhumans play a role in "Captain America: Civil War?"

The second half of Season 3's of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is off to a great start and follows the events of the first half where Terrigen Mist has been released into the environment and found its way into the food chain. Anyone with the Inhuman gene who ingests some Nature Max Fish Oil capsules will undergo Terrageneisis.
'The Nightmare': One Of The Scariest Documentaries Ever

I can't move. I can't breathe. A sense of dread and panic washes over me as I realize, There's someone here. It's pitch black in the middle of the night, and I'm getting yanked out of bed; something or someone is pulling my legs.
'Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them': How Newt Scamander Kept His Wand

The latest trailer to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them bring fans back to the world of Harry Potter, and reveals a somewhat startling secret regarding everyone's beloved Hufflepuff and magizoology expert. A voiceover by Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) reveals that Newton Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) was expelled from Hogwarts for endangering a muggle!
An Interview with the Real Scientist who Redesigned the Ghostbuster's Proton Pack

In my last article, I looked at the " The Science of the Ghostbuster's Proton Pack." The Proton Pack is a miniature particle accelerator and the design incorporates some real-world physics. Many of the movie's designs and props seen in the Ghostbuster's reboot was the work of experimental particle physicists, James Maxwell.

Science vs Hollywood
The Bruntouchables and The Space Elevator

In the Limitless episode, "Headquarters!" , Brian Finch ( Jake McDorman) tracks down the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives to get his own office. This quest is important to Brian as he sees his role in the FBI as not to only fight crime but the "Enemies of Joy," and he needs his personal "Headquarters!"

Science vs Hollywood
Explosive decompression and space battles in "The Expanse"

After a terrible battle, the MCRN Donnager suffers a hull breach from rail gun fire. As air leaks out the cabin, how much time does the crew of the Donnager have to seal the hole before their air runs out, and can science answer the question?
Is there a right side in "Captain America: Civil War?"

A recent post by fellow MoviePilot contributor, Trevor Norkey, looks at the upcoming movie Captain American: Civil War. While I personally lean a little to Captain America's side, analyzing the events of Marvel's Civil War is complex and contains no easy answers.
Understanding The Visual Narrative of comics

It may come as a surprise to many of us but there are people who read and research comic books for a living. While they may not have a PhD in comic books, studying comic books is a diverse field, and incorporates disciplines from sociology, media, and the visual arts.
How Different is Captain America: Civil War to the Comics?

With the release of the last trailer for Captain America: Civil War, we have a few clues to how the event transpires and how different it will be to the comics. The main theme of the comic is a debate of national security and civil liberties and the balance we undertake to protect both.
Could Batman Win Using Superman's Heat Vision Against Him?

One of the superpowers of the last surviving son of Krypton is heat vision. It is explained that his alien physiology can absorb solar radiation and release it as heat vision, just like a laser. Does the Caped Crusader stand a chance against the super-powered Kryptonian?

TV and Movie Reviews

Review It Nerd
Click Farming and is the Tech Industry really IKEA? | Review It Nerd

It's two-months later and things are not going well for the Pied Piper team. While their new file-compression application has been well-received, not many people are using it. This spells doom for the young startup. Low metrics are bad for two reasons.

Review It Nerd
Beta Testing | Review It Nerd

The latest episode of Silicon Valley, To Build a Better Beta, marks a fundamental shift in the show's direction and story telling. In every episode, until now, we have seen the Pied Piper team stumble at almost every turn, some due to their own doing, and some due to forces beyond their control.

Review It Nerd
Spaces vs Tabs: Nerd Review of Silicon Valley | Review It Nerd

The Silicon Valley episode takes look at one of the geekiest coder nerd fights in history - spaces vs. tabs - with comic relief. To the uninitiated, especially those who have never taken a programming course, this is a very real debate and, as "Jared" ( Zach Woods) says, "Once the code goes through the compiler, there is effectively no difference."

Science and Science Fiction

Science Blog Articles

Smart Grids and the Quality of Supply

In the coming decade, it is estimated that the world's use of electrical energy will increase by 34% and by 50% by 2030. Peak oil production is projected for somewhere between 2020 and 2025. This increase is a cause of concern, particularly in the case of voltage quality.

The Quantum Tunnel
Time Loops and the Paradoxes of Continuum's Time Travel Physics

We learn at the end of Season One and the start of Season Two that the future Alec ( William B. Davis) is responsible for sending everyone back in time. It also turns out that there is a specific reason for sending Kiera back - to either prevent the future from happening or to prevent him from going down a certain path.

The Quantum Tunnel
The Big Bang Theory of Trojan Asteroids

Season 06, Episode 03: "The Higgs Boson Observation" In "The Higgs Boson Observation", we learn that the subject of graduate student and Sheldon's ( Jim Parsons) new assistant, Alex Jensen ( Margo Harshman), is on Trojan asteroids at the Earth-Sun L 5 Lagrange point. This also happens to be Raj's ( Kunal Nayyar) area of expertise.

The Quantum Tunnel
The Wibbly Wobbly of Continuum

In 2077, the future of this world is both a distopian and Orwellian. World governments have somehow failed and, by implication, we assume so too has democracy. This has given way to a corporate controlled government that monitors and records every moment of a person's life.

The Quantum Tunnel
Otto Loewi, the "Father of Neuroscience"

June 3, 1873 marks Otto Loewi's birthday. This German born pharmacologist is known for his discovery of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter found in both the peripheral and central nervous systems of many organisms including humans. For his discovery, he was awarded the 1936 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Sir Henry Dale.

The Quantum Tunnel
The Discovery of the Higgs Boson: Week 1 Review - The Quantum Tunnel

The Higgs boson has captured the world's attention from the moment it was announced the Large Hardron Collider was being built to find it. The elementary particle's discovery was announced by CERN on 4 July 2012 and is nothing short of monumental as it appears to confirm the existence of the Higgs field.

Did Fick's Law save Harrison Odjegba Okene?

Okene's Survival as a Science Problem Air is made of mostly nitrogen (78.084%) and oxygen (20.946%) with trace amounts of carbon dioxide (0.0314%). As a person exhales, this percentage changes; oxygen falls between 16-17% and while carbon dioxide rises somewhere between 4-5%. As a result, a person trapped in an enclosed room faces a major problem.

Controlling Plants with Light: LEDs to Change Plant Growth

For much of human history, people have managed plant growth in the same way - take the plant outside, put it in the ground and wait for it to grow. But what if, rather than doing this, we could give a plant managed instructions? In essence we would talk to the plants.

The 2010 Physics Ig Nobel: Physics of Preventing Winter Slips

For some of us, wintertime means braving cold temperatures and donning heavy winter clothes and boots. We seldom think of the hazards, but winter can be dangerous, leading to slips and falls on ice which may result in bad wrist fractures and even more serious hip and head injuries.

The Ig Nobel Prize: Showing Serious Science can be Funny

There are few prizes that generate as much interest as the Nobel Prize - but around the same time every October that the real Nobel Prizes come out, science pokes fun at itself in the form of the Ig Nobel Prize.

Decoded Science
The 2013 Physics Ig Nobel: How to Run on Water

Does physics allow us to run on water? Despite what we may have seen on various YouTube videos, running on water is impossible for people. This myth was tested in the 2011 episode of MythBusters, where U.S. sprinter Wallace Spearmon attempts - and fails miserably - to run across a pond.

Brighter and More Efficient Solid-State Lighting using Laser Diodes

Solid-state lighting in the form of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) converts electrical energy into visible light with greater efficiency and less heat loss when compared to incandescent or fluorescent lights. Above a certain current, however, LEDs become less efficient and convert less of their electrical energy into light.

Cricket Physics: Spin Bowling Simulations and Dynamics on MATLAB

Can physics calculate the spin of a cricket ball? The game of cricket is complex, and the team captain must consider his bowlers as well as the order in which to send them. In a captain's arsenal, there are pace bowlers (fast) and spin bowlers both of whose primary goal is to dismiss the batsman or get him out.

Magazine Articles

Technology Blog Articles

Security and the Smart Grid

At present, utilities are unable to monitor in real time load or usage beyond the substation level. The smart-grid is a digital two-way network that can address this problem. They achieve this by giving operators a real time picture of energy consumption in much the same way a computer network administrator or Internet Service Provider (ISP) monitors network load, usage, and congestion [1].

Dynamic Pricing and the Stability of the Smart Grid

Time-based or dynamic pricing is a form of pricing where consumers are charged different rates for a service depending on the time of day, month, or even season. In some cases, customers can be given price information in real time.

Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) systems and the Smart Grid

In March 2011, the European Commission outlined plans to increase mobility and integrate transportation networks across the European Union. This white paper declared the EU's intent of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80% of 1990 levels. To achieve this goal, it is estimated that the transportation sector will have to cut present emissions by 60%.

Billing and the Smart grid

The smart grid overlays and transmits bi-directional digital data between suppliers and consumers along the main grid through the use of smart devices. This can help consumers save energy and money by providing them with the accurate real time information n eeded to make informed decisions.

Demand Response and the Smart Grid

Utilities must constantly balance energy production with consumer demand. This balancing act is crucial to grid stability as well as its affect upon the costs of operation. During periods of low demand, utilities find it cheaper and more efficient to operate base load generation stations. As demand increases, standby generators come into play.

The Quantum Tunnel
The Big Bang Theory of Dolbear's Law

Season 03, Episode 02: "The Jiminy Conjecture" In the "The Jiminy Conjecture" episode, Raj ( Kunal Nayyar), Howard ( Simon Helberg) and Sheldon ( Jim Parsons) are having dinner when they hear the sound of a cricket chirping. Sheldon claims to know the species from the cricket's chirping speed and the room's ambient temperature.

The Quantum Tunnel
The Big Bang Theory of the Rolling Ball Problem

Big Bang Theory Season 2, Episode 5: "The Euclid Alternative" In the opening scene of the "The Euclid Alternative", we see Sheldon ( Jim Parsons) demanding that Leonard ( Johnny Galecki)needs to drive him around to run various errands. Leonard, after spending a night in the lab using the new Free Electron Laser to perform X-ray diffraction experiments.

The Quantum Tunnel
The Big Bang Theory of Trans-Neptunian objects

The first trans-Neptunian object discovered was Pluto in 1930 and is the second most massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System. These objects are so small and distant that it wasn't until 1992 that the second trans-Neptunian object orbiting the Sun, (15760) 1992 QB 1, was discovered.

Microgrids in the Real World

The world's energy demands are projected to increase over the next decade along with an increased need in power generation. This increased power consumption will not only drive energy prices upwards but also place huge demands on the grid.

Smart Grids and Network Reliability

Network reliability is defined as the continuous availability of electricity for the consumer. A key characteristic of reliability is the number, as well as duration, of outages a customer experiences. There are many reasons why reliability may be affected and they include, but are not limited to: Faults in other parts of the network (e.g.

The Quantum Tunnel
The Big Bang Theory of the Doppler Effect

Season 01, Episode 06: "The Middle-Earth Paradigm" Yes. It's the apparent change in the frequency of a wave caused by relative motion between the source of the wave and the observer. -Sheldon Cooper In the "Middle-Earth Paradigm" episode, Sheldon Cooper dresses as the "Doppler Effect" for Penny's Halloween party.

The Quantum Tunnel
The Big Bang Theory of the Inclined Plane

Effort to lift block on Inclined Plane Now we got an inclined plane. Force required to lift is reduced by the sine of the angle of the stairs... call it 30 degrees, so about half.

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