Physics

RoboEars

© ACS

© ACS

The story

I come across a lot of science news stories (as you can imagine) and  have noticed that journalists are attracted to certain topics – ones that they think have a certain ‘sexy’ appeal to their readers I imagine. Bionic body parts seems to be one of them – conjuring imagery of a future where we are all enhanced by ultra-efficient prosthetic body parts like RoboCop.

One of these stories that hit the press recently was the news that researchers in Princeton have created a ‘bionic’ ear. More

Nobel news

The winners of the 2012 Nobel prizes were announced last week.

I thought I would post some videos that explain the work of the winning scientists which you can use to inspire the next generation of scientists.

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Electrifying stunt

Magician David Blaine has just completed this latest stunt – to stand on a platform for 72 hours whilst being ‘electrified’ by 1 million volts of electricity.

This video would be good in any lesson on electricity as it demonstrates the use of a Faraday cage in an unusual context. You could show the start of the video where he is getting dressed up in the chain-mail outfit and explain to the class what will happen to him. They can tell you how dangerous they think this stunt actually is and why.

Of course, he was in no real danger of being electrocuted as the metal in the suit conducted the charge and kept it away from his body. The only real risk that his body was under was the fatigue of having to stand up straight with no food or drink for 3 days.

Would you trust your life to physics?

So, I guess I this should be a post about the Higgs Boson as the announcement yesterday was quite a big deal. However, it’s not for three reasons:

1. There is a lot of stuff on it already out there.

2. Despite spending time yesterday reading several articles and watching videos involving ping pong balls and sugar, I still don’t know enough about it to make a meaningful contribution.

3. I found this video which is amazing: real-life hot wheels!

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Meteor hits London!

http://youtu.be/67JiLl1NM7U

OK – so this did not really happen. It”s a PR stunt to mark the start of science month on the TV channel, Eden. However, the video does talk about what could happen if a real meteor of this size hit London, and it would be a lot more devastating than one crushed taxi. More

LED: Light Emitting (whilst) Dancing

This video shows an amazing new type of light show at a recent Coldplay concert. Each audience member is given a wristband containing LEDs. These are controlled centrally so they light up in time to the music – a trully interactive experience.
Each wristband has a receiver, which allows data to be sent via radiowaves from a transmitter attached to a computer.
Showing the video would make an engaging start to a lesson on the uses of radiowaves.

Super stunt science

This video from last week shows stuntman Gary Connery falling 2400 feet without a parachute and surviving to tell the tale. This would be a great story in a lesson on forces with any age student.

The students could:

  • Name the forces acting on him as he fell.
  • Calculate his average speed by using time from the video clip and using the speed equation (2400 feet = 731.52 m). As he fell for around 19 seconds this makes it an incredible 38.5 m/s (86 mph)!
  • Draw force diagrams for when he just left the aeroplane (unbalanced forces), when he was at terminal velocity (balanced forces) and when he had just hit the boxes (unbalanced).
  • Explain why his suit helped him survive the fall. More able students can link forces, particles and energy in this explanation.
  • Calculate his potential energy when he was in the plane (mgh). Gary is approximately 84 kg.
  • Sketch a velocity/time graph for the fall.

If you have any other ideas – please leave a comment and share!

 

Electrical art

The story

Bare paint is an ink which conducts electricity. The paint has been around for a while and has been used to create interactive posters and even to light-up models in a music video. The video below shows how it can be used to create a simple circuit.

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Lighting the Olympic flame

Image: Jon Candy @Flickr

The story

The flame that will burn during the London Olympic Games was lit at Olympia, the birthplace of the Ancient Olympics, last Thursday. The torch is lit using the same method as it was at the ancient Olympic Games, a parabolic mirror.

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Supermoon!

The Moon appears to be bigger and brighter tonight as it’s elliptical orbit brings it closer to the Earth than at any other time of the year.

If you are teaching about the Moon at the moment this is a great story to teach about the Moon’s orbit and phases as well as the effect of its gravity on the Earth (as tides are expected to be higher this weekend as an effect).

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