Saturday, September 29, 2012
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Much happiness this month when my new issue of Wired showed up with an article titled "Glass Works: How Corning Created the Ultrathin, Ultrastrong Material of the Future". Then I read the full article and got a wonderful description of tempering (tension/compression) and substitution tempering (dipping in a molten potassium salt) to adjust the properties of the glass. Plus it's all about the Gorilla Glass's that's used in the iPhones (and other touch-screen technologies), so it's stuff the kids actually will know about.
Check out the full article at the link above.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
"The Three Stooges Effect...when the Three Stooges tried to get through a doorway at the same time, and they couldn't?"
"The cornstarch doesn't want to get out of its own way, so when you push on it really hard, it can't move out of the way fast enough. When you hit it really slowly, you can push through it like a liquid."
The 'fill a pool with cornstarch and water' demonstration never gets old.
The Making Stuff series is an outstanding exploration of materials engineering and science with four episodes: Smaller, Stronger, Smarter, and Cleaner. In the series David Pogue plays the inquisitive and often comedic and corny host who looks at a number of materials being made at the cutting edge of materials science.
Here he takes a look at Kevlar, providing an excellent graphic showing the polymer's structure, and then suggesting a possible new use for a thick, Kevlar cable.
The demonstration of dissolving Styrofoam into acetone is one that we do in the summer ASM workshops, typically selling the demonstration by counting how many Styrofoam peanuts you can crush into a film canister, having hidden a small amount of acetone in the canister before the beginning of the demonstration.
At the end of the demonstration, however, we always end up with an amount of goopy, dissolved Styrofoam mess. The presenter in this video uses the term pseudo-plastic for what is left at the end when the goopy mess hardens. I'm a little curious as to why the pseudo comes into play, but that may have to do with my lack of understanding of exactly what plastic means.
Anybody want to clarify for me?
"The Greeks are hoping that tourists will flock to see a building that is second only in significant to the Parthenon in Athens." Yeah, but I'm thinking that the Parthenon has a better PR department.
The title certainly suggests more about cement than the video actually delivers - with the only mention of the cement coming in at 0:27 and lasting about ten seconds.
The lost wax casting process is an impressive thing to watch and one that can be replicated - admittedly in a far simpler version - in the classroom. No, you probably would't be making anything quite as complicated as shown in this video, but having students make and carve a simple piece of jewelry - a ring, for example - is very much achievable.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
I really don't know how to characterize this video. Yes, there's a clear material there - 'magnetic particles embedded in a polymer', but it's not quite like anything I've seen before.
Admittedly, though, I could probably watch the 'snakes...made from magnetic gel' on a loop for hours.
The concept is pretty simple: carve a block of aluminum into a shape. The execution, however, is nearly mesmerizing as the machine sends aluminum shavings flying with computerized precision.
There are quite a few steps skipped, however, and I would love to see the entire process in a single time-lapse video. I would also like to know how close to 100% recycling the manufacturers are with the cast-off aluminum shavings. I would hope pretty close.
The production of some of our materials is absolutely masterful to watch. Here the production of a compact disc is followed from start to finish, largely taking place in a clean room. I'll readily admit that I had no clue whatsoever what went into the making of the cd's that I've been playing for years.
Now, if only we could get a video explaining all the steps that go into the making of an mp3 file. That I'd totally watch.
It's amazing how much the properties of metals can change when they're alloyed together. Here the wordless videographer shows how different galinstan (gallium - indium - tin (stannous)) is from the metals from which the alloy is formed.
Saturday, September 8, 2012
In this video an assumedly Polish craftsman (the video's posted title is in Polish, so I'm guessing the video is from Poland, too) turns a blob of glowing, molten glass into a horse figurine in a minute and a half with no reheating whatsoever.
The craftsmanship here is just stunning and must have been repeatedly practiced, his every movement a step toward the finished product. Of particular interest is the color change as the glass cools. From brilliant white with just a hint of pink, the glass fades in the extremities first with the horse's nose and feet turning to black accents on the still bright pink body long before the full body turns a dark black at the end of the video.
Also fascinating is the changing pliability of the glass as it cools. Initially the workman has to roll the blob back and forth because it flows so easily, but as he works the glass and it cools, he is able to spend longer and longer without gravity taking hold, eventually opening the horse's legs with his tongs at the end.