Thursday, June 28, 2012

BysteSize Science: Super Buoyant: New Materials Could Make a Horse Float

The crystals of silver nitrate on the surface of these copper mesh boats look a lot like the dendritic silver crystals that we can see under the microscope in our single replacement reactions between copper wire and silver nitrate. At least that's what they look like if the image shown in the video is accurate.

I am consistently amazed at the application of simple concepts that we study in class.

Chemistry of Ice Cream

We're edging toward food science entirely here, but there's still some serious concerns regarding the rate of (ice) crystal growth in ice cream production.

Hard Candy Chemistry!

It can be daunting to do glass batching. You need a kiln, DFCs crucibles, and a fair bit of confidence. Sometimes it's easier to purchase the DFCs than it is to build up the confidence.

Working with candy, however, takes a lot less confidence because the worst that can usually happen is a nasty, blackened pot, and there's a lot that can be learned about glass by using candy as an analogue.

Plus, if you do it right, you get a sweet reward at the end.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

MIT: Bottle coating speeds up ketchup pouring

I don't know that leftover ketchup in bottles is one of our society's greatest problems, but I certainly understand that being able to get all the food out of all of its containers would reduce food waste by a a few teaspoons per jar which would add up to a significant savings when added up.

Plus there's the fact that watching ketchup (I'm not going to type catsup, it bugs me) just glide out of the bottle is phenomenally cool.

Ross Nanotechnology Introduction

There's slick and then there's slick.

Ross Nanotech produces NeverWet coating - for which I may just be first in line because it's so cool. They're presented as being super-hydrophobic, meaning that they repel water and any water-based solution - with remarkable efficiency.

A little hydrophobic coating - ScotchGuard and the like - prevents some staining on fabric, but a superhydrophobic coating would make fabrics nearly unstainable - at least from any water-based liquid.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ring rolling machine from Anyang Forging Press Machinery Industry Co., Ltd

Just about any time I see a video of glowing hot metal (or glass) being worked by a machine or a tradesman, I'm in for watching the video through to the end.

Here we see a piece of metal being hot worked by people who - to my fairly untrained eyes - look like they don't have nearly enough safety equipment. Thanks to the Anyang Forging Press Machinery Industry Co., Ltd for posting the video.

Big Bang Theory: So Funky

I'm assuming that this video will be un-embeddable soon. Most of the Big Bang Theory videos are - unless they're hosted by CBS itself.

Putting oobleck on a speaker can be a great, great time. I particularly recommend something with a massive, thumping bass line and little else. Most actual songs have too many other tones - maybe try a pure tone generator hooked up to an amplifier.

Surprisingly to our Princeton students, "Superbass" is awful for this.

Dislocations in motion

I'm still working on figuring out exactly what's going on in this video. I know the image was taken with a transmission electron microscope and that the sample must have been only a few atoms thick - thinner than a wavelength of light. The squiggly, darker lines show where the crystal dislocations are moving through the material because of some stress - warming, perhaps - being applied to the sample.

I'm struggling to find out any more than that, but I'm stunned to actually see the dislocations that we discuss in our metals unit, things that we can feel on a macroscopic level when we work metal - cold work it, anneal it, temper it, quench it, roll it, draw it.

If anybody knows more about this, feel free to explain.

Correlle Runway

Thanks to Alexis at the 2012 Houston ASM camp for bringing this commercial to my attention. It's a great way for Correlle to show the durability of their products. I'm a fan - especially when the plates are double bagged in Ziploc and chucked against a wall.

Good stuff

Alcohol Reduction

This one stuns me.

My experience with the raku process comes entirely from Materials Science - either the summer workshops or the class at Princeton High School. That means I'm used to doing raku reduction with pots about as big as an apple or so - and we drop those into a metal can with newspaper and/or sawdust. That's about it. Sure it's a little frightening because of the fire and heat, but it's a controllable situation.

When I mention raku to art teachers, they ask about the outside pit and the fire and all sorts of stuff that exists on a scale far above what I've ever worked with. Then you get to using misted alcohol as your combustible fuel source. That's another level of awesome/frightening entirely.

Plus these folks aren't wearing long pants, close-toed shoes, heavy gloves, goggles, any of the stuff that we use in science class, so I'm a little freaked out.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Liquid armor

I dig the liquid body armor video that we show in our summer ASM workshop powerpoint, but I like this video way better.

The video quality's better. The science explanation is deeper. I dig the closeup views of the treated fabric.

Either way, they're both the same - or very similar - applications of the oobleck idea - that of a non-newtonian fluid.

Prestressed Concrete Beams

Concrete is awesome under compression. Concrete can take a huge amount of stress without failing. Concrete, however, is pretty awful under tension. Iron is awesome under tension but not so great under compression - eventually failing in pretty spectacular ways. Combine the two, however, and you get some pretty outstanding results.

One of our master teachers, Andy Nydam, tells a great story about a mother - I don't want to suggest that it was his mother because I wouldn't bet his reputation on that detail - who allowed one brother to payback a transgression by the other brother by using a single towel hit. The mother envisioned a single snap with a towel, but the wronged brother laid the towel out overnight in the freezing weather soaked in water. Ice - bad under tension, good under compression...towel - bad under compression, good under tension...composite frozen towel - good under both.

I'm not saying; I'm just saying.

Shift Happens

Shift Happens was first presented online in 2006 and has been remade all the way through version 6.0 now. The facts in the various videos echo a quote that we use in our opening presentation:
"To be a teacher is to be a prophet, because you are not preparing kids for the world you grew up in nor are you preparing kids for the world today. You are preparing kids for a world you cannot imagine." ~ Gordon Brown, MIT Dean of Engineering.
So much of the things that our students will need to know when they are in the job market, when they are changing jobs for the umpteenth time are things that we don't know, that we've never heard of, that we never imagined would exist.

So I guess we might as well teach them a few skills that could apply to just about anything that thy might choose to do.

Silver nitrate and copper

Dendritic crystal growth is a gorgeous thing. In our summer workshops we use a pounded copper piece and a single drop of silver nitrate solution - always trying to minimize the amount of chemicals that we use. We then place the slide under a stereoscope - or a digital microscope, whatever's available doncha know - to show to the entire workshop.

Thanks to Todd Bolenbaugh at Tolles Career & Technical Center for this video - as well as all of the others that he's filmed over the past few years.

Salol crystal growth

In our summer workshops one of the labs that we do on day one involves melting phenyl salicylate on a slide and watching the melt recrystallize under the microscope. Phenyl salicylate is also known as salol - as its named here. This experiment does a great job of showing the crystal growth from a single point of seed crystal as well as the grain boundaries that form along the way.

Deadly Crystal Cave

1000 feet below Naica, Mexico is a lead, zinc, and silver mine in which scientists have found a cavern filled with some of the largest gypsum crystals anyone has ever seen. Uncomfortably, however, the cave is also filled with air up to 136 F and humidity above ninety percent making exploration more than a little hazardous. Luckily, the National Geographic explorers documented the cave before it was supposedly refilled to allow the crystals to remain undamaged and possibly continue growing even larger.

Engineered Material Arresting System

Material science is all about choosing the right material for the right job. And if we can't find the right material, we can always modify it. Here we see a solution to the problem of airport runway overruns.

The requirements - as mentioned in the video - are things like fuel fire resistance, low cost, access to emergency vehicles, ability to withstand jet blast, limited damage to the aircraft, replaceability. and durability through freeze/thaw cycles. The solution given here is a composite of cement designed to slow the aircraft as the Emergency Material Arresting System (EMAS) is destroyed.

Liquid body armor

Playing with oobleck is all well and good, but if we just stop there we don't get to the cool applications of non-newtonian fluids. Lucky for us the military didn't stop there.

A pool filled with non-newtonian fluid

It's one thing for us to wander outside on Monday of our ASM summer workshops and play around with a bucket of cornstarch. It's another thing entirely to see a pair of excitable Spaniards run back and forth across a pool filled with cornstarch.

That's taking material science to a whole different level.

Some of our teachers have taken the opportunity to use this video as a cross-curricular opportunity with the local foreign-language teachers. Others just kick back and enjoy the ride.

Look around you: Calcium

Look Around You was a short-lived BBC Two programme (their spelling) that spoofed the educational films of earlier years.To me the series is reminiscent of things I saw on PBS in the 80's. I'm guessing other folks will recognize the tone from other decades as well. Fifteen episodes in total were created, all of which make various appearances on YouTube from time to time. All of them contain material that touches upon material science topics in fanciful ways.

Be warned that the Look Around You information is far from accurate and should be taken with a massive grain of salt. There are also a few scenes that maybe aren't quite appropriate for younger audiences. They're not vulgar or anything, just a little odd and adultish.

Oh, and be warned that the humor is very British.

KOG Rolling Glass for sheet glass

Kokomo Opalescent Glass in - shockingly - Kokomo, Indiana is one of the country's top art glass manufacturers, and happens to be only three hours from my house. Looks like I have a field trip to make since Caryn Jackson - another of our ASM master teachers - endorses the factory tour so heartily.

Here we get to see the workers/artisans/guys mixing glass from their beehive and rolling the glass into sheets which will then be sold in the factory's shop. Lucky for us the KOG company has posted twenty-two videos from their factory.

Turbo Encabulator

The turbo encabulator has its origin in - at least according to Wikipedia - a 1944 article from British Institution of Electrical Engineers Students’ Quarterly Journal. By the time Bud Haggart - shown in the above video - got around to filming an industry video for the encabulator, the encabulator was a bit of an industry legend, having entertained engineers for more than three decades.

In our summer workshops, we include this video early to illustrate the point that many of our students view science as a bit of a foreign language, hearing our explanations the same way that we hear Bud's explanations of the turbo encabulator.

There are, of course, a number of various versions of this video. More of those are posted after the jump...

Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk here covers the topic of how schools kill creativity. It's one of the more motivational speeches that I've heard about education in a while. It's a bit long, but pretty much all of us try to find a chance to show this at our summer ASM workshops. It's that good.

How I Built a Toaster

Thomas Thwaites apparently is a tinkerer. In this video he goes through the highlights of his attempts to recreate - from scratch - the simplest electric appliance he could come up with: a cheap, plastic-covered toaster. He went to the mines to collect the ore, smelted it down to form the plugs and wires. He attempted to mine plastic - then went with forming a bioplastic instead. Finally, he plugged the toaster in and successfully toasted bread for about five seconds.

In his words he "considered it a partial success."

If you're interested in learning a little more, check out his book about the project.

I'm a little stumped on all the possible labels that could apply to this one. Feel free to suggest more.

A Day Made of Glass 2

We've seen the Day Made of Glass original before, and this is sort of more of the same with numerous possibilities of what glass might be able to do in the future. I remember when we first started showing these videos in camps a couple of years ago. At that point most of these glass possibilities - the interactive windows, the smart phones that connect with the tabletops - seemed hugely futuristic. Now it seems that they're just around the corner.

A Day Made of Glass

This is clearly a commercial for Corning's possible future glass products. I get that, but it's still filled with pretty stunning glass possibilities. Some of our master teachers view this as a dream future - filled with connectivity in every nook and cranny of our lives. Others, however, view the exact same future - one in which we are connected to the world at every moment of our day - as an abhorrent possibility.

Personally I'm somewhere between the two extremes.

Polar bear shatters glass

Here we see a clearly devious polar bear conducting a little destructive testing on the window of his enclosure. Lucky for us two Dutch documentarians were there filming in front of the aquarium (is that the correct term for where polar bears are kept?).

I saw something along this line a few years back when they were installing the new polar bear exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo. Apparently the forklift tapped the glass a bit more firmly than intended, shattering the glass in a gorgeous spider-web pattern.. The zoo left the glass up initially with a note explaining that the shattering was a show of how well the glass was designed. Even though one of the panes shattered, the other panes laminated together had held the strength.

I'm thinking that we're got a composite of laminated glass here. With the shattering, spider-web pattern, I think we might have tempered glass, too. Thoughts?

Source - care2