Thursday, January 28, 2016

Mantis Murder Shrimp (slow motion) - Smarter Every Day 121

That's pugilism at its finest.

The first punch is thrown at 1:38 and then shown again in slow motion ten seconds later - then with sound effects.

We then get an explanation of the potential energy storage mechanism at 2:45. That storage mechanism requires a strong material - an organic composite of helicular (sp?) chitin - at 4:29. The variation of the material within the saddle then, is phenomenally complex, varying throughout the surface, depth, and location within the saddle.

Go mantis shrimp!

Interestingly, this is, I think, the only time Destin's sister has been shown.

Rockwell Retro Encabulator

I miss the lab coats.

To be honest, I don't think that the swap of grey suits in favor of the more traditional lab coats gains us anything. Nor am I sure that the change from having a car engine to the trio of computer panels is better.

But, to each his or her own...

Lead in the Water - the Flint water Crisis

The environmental and human tragedy of the lead-contaminated Flint water system is awful.

The chemistry, however, is fascinating.

I'll readily admit that I had no idea we still used lead pipes anywhere in modern plumbing (ironically named after lead's Latin name). I thought that lead had been entirely excised from the pipes in - at least - the Western world or the developed world or the whole world.

No, it turns out that there are still lead pipes in our water system, we're just adding corrosion inhibitors called orthophosphates to crate lead (I assume IV) phosphate layers that won't dissolve into the water coming into our homes.

Without those orthophosphates, however, the lead heads right into the it did in Flint, Michigan.

The corrosion then also lowered the chlorine level and allowed new bacteria to thrive in the last pipe leading into the homes and businesses of Flint,
On Friday, officials at the McLaren Regional Medical Center in Flint said they found low levels of Legionella bacteria in the hospital’s water supply in 2014. That bacteria may have caused a recent outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, a severe kind of pneumonia, that sickened 87 people — 10 of whom died — in Genesee County since Flint switched water sources, (source)
Corrosion matters, folks.

Read more about the political and human side of the story here.

Big thanks to, as is often the case, Compound Interest for the graphic up there.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Careers in Materials Science and Engineering

There aren't a lot of parts of science that couldn't use some help from a material scientist.

That's pretty much what I got from this 2:24 video.

Material science can get you to space (conducting experiments in space), the ocean (soaking up oil from spills), the surgical suite (developing heart valves, bone plates, and more), wind farms, industry for apprenticeships, and even the universities of Britain (Swansea, Southhampton, Sheffield, and more).

There are a few academic requirements mentioned toward the end, and those are pretty specific to Great Britain, but the equivalent requirements still exist here in the US in different details.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

April Fools Episode - The Retro-Proto-Turbo-Encabulator

It's nice to see that the classics never die.

Here Hank Green - of SciShow, Crash Course, VlogBrothers, and many more YouTube channels - gets into the act of explaining our old friend, the 'newly-released' Retro-Proto-Turbo-Encabulator.

Friday, January 22, 2016

What is Materials Science?

Ah, the Brits and their wacky, variable accents.

Most of the video is understandable even by non-British folks. Admittedly, it is helpful to know that The Shard mentioned at 0:25 is a tall, glass-covered building in London.

This video would fit in nicely when we talk in our summer workshops when we ask the 'students' to define material science. It goes through a nice overview of what material science covers - properties of different material categories (metal, ceramics, polymer, corrosion). We also get the idea that it's a bridge between technology and science as well as how material scientists try to improve and change the properties of the materials under study as well as development of new materials.

Nice vid

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Materials Selection

Back to the Brits and their accents.

I've no clue, by the way, who the Advanced Metallic Systems CDT is, though a brief bit of research tells me that the CDT is for the Centre (their spelling, not mine) for Doctoral Training.

Here we get an overview of some of the concerns that go into material selection - cost, performance, lifespan, corrosion, wear-resistance - as well as a few examples of materials used and why they were chosen (car windshields, ties, car bodies) and general mentions that new materials must be developed to meet new requirements for assemblies.

Making Glass

This experiment comes to us from the Royal Society of Chemistry (link) (hence pardon the spelling and a couple of odd word choices - bung?).

In my material science classes, we make glass beads using borax and nichrome or copper wires. It's a fun and fairly easy experiment. I like, however, the slightly but not hugely more precise nature of this one. I'm also not so sure about the use of lead (II) oxide which is then disposed of by simply dissolving any remnants in nitric acid then diluting it and dumping it down the sink.

I'm not so sure lead (II) oxide (or nitrate by that point, maybe) should go down the drain.

By the way, the link in the article (British Glass, toward the end) is actually here. The link within the article is missing a colon, hence it's broken.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Rain Flows Through Permeable Concrete

The urban, concrete and black top islands are disasterour for our waterways.

As the above video shows ever so briefly (at 0:33), 90% of all water that falls on concrete heads directly into the rivers and streams carrying with it pollutants from the surface of roadways, driveways, garages, and more. Every drop of oil that drips from our cars, every bit of transmission fluid, all of the spilled paint and all goes into - if we're lucky - the storm drains (to be treated) or straight into our natural waterways.

Pervious concrete just might be able to help avoid that, allowing almost all water that falls upon it to head into the natural groundwater where it can be dealt with naturally.

(I've mentioned pervious concrete before, but that was without the cool video to go with it.)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Hydrogel Beads in a Frying Pan

That's just weird.

I don't have much to say here other than that it's a weird effect using some polymers.

There really isn't much material science connection. Maybe it's something to know that if you make a product out of hydrogel beads (probably a polyacrylamide) that it can cause this strange interaction if a metal as hot as a frying pan comes into contact with it.

Most of the comments on IFLScience and the YouTube video suggest that it's caused by the Leidenfrost effect, but that still doesn't make this any less weird and unexpected.

Plus, who throws these things into a frying pan in the first place?

Russians, eh?