Thursday, March 31, 2016

'A Snowball’s Chance in Hell' - Unimpossible Missions - GE

Admittedly, dunking a snowball in molten metal does seem a little stupid, but if's striking when that snowball doesn't appear to have melted even a little bit after its dip.

Sadly there's no info as to what the ultra-alloy is (other than that it's 'nickel-based'). On the IFLScience article about the video, we learn that the metal can is "just over 3 millimeters (0.11 inches) thick, then lined with 5 centimeters (2 inches) of fibrous alumina-silicate insulation."

There's some more information on GE's website where they highlight this and other parts of their Unimpossible Missions program.

Naica - Return to the Giant Crystal Cave

The famous crystal cave of Naica was first discovered in 2000, and scientists have been trying to study the massive gypsum crystals found there ever since.

National Geographic originally produced a program Deadly Crystal Cave and has now produced a follow-up program titled Return to the Giant Crystal Cave (seen above).

In this version, a mostly new team of scientists continues exploring the cave, finding ways to spend longer times in the cave while exploring to greater depths and testing some of the theories that the first team of scientists developed. There is also a team of spelunkers checking out a possible new cave found off of a newly-drilled air shaft into the mine.

We again get told that the main crystal cave will be allowed to refill and the crystals to begin growing again but without any specifics as to when that might happen.

(Admittedly, the above video is played at a slightly sped-up pace.)

The Harvard Library That Protects The World's Rarest Colors

Even if we go to the 152-crayon case from Crayola, there are certain colors that we just aren't going to ever get to, and I'm not just talking about blurple.

The chemical composition of colors - maybe pigments would be the better word - turns out to be important in identifying the veracity of recovered artwork. Certain pigments come into and out of fashion over the years, and pigments from paintings of already known provenance can be compared to the paintings of those of unknown provenance.

And there's a museum at Harvard University that keeps samples of more than 2500 historically-important pigments.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Investigators: Boy, 9, injured after glass shower door shatters

That's pretty much what tempered glass is supposed to do right there.

Yes, there may be a quality control issue in that the tempering might be better or worse depending on the production mechanics and controls, but that view of shattering into multiple small pieces is what's supposed to happen with tempered glass.

Ideally, those pieces would be smaller than some of those we see in the video, but that's way better than what untempered glass would cause - a very few large, heavy, sharp glass pieces falling down on the showerers.

The glass has to go somewhere, folks.

Let's be careful out there.


World's First Laser Rust Remover

Well that's pretty stunning.

In doing some research about the laser, here's what I've found out...

The company explains that the device aims short, 1000-W laser pulses at the rusted piece, producing micro-plasma bursts, along with thermal pressure and shockwaves to sublimate the rust and separate it from the metal without damaging the piece. Material removal is halted when the laser is applied to a clean surface because it only sublimates rust. (Sublimation is the transition from a solid to a gas.)

Costs for low-power units start at $50,000. Power supplies can be worn as a backpack for mobile devices, and roll-out generators are available for stationary models. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Japanese Scientists Create Glass That's Pretty Much Unbreakable

Image actually not from the story cited but rather from here
Previous attempts to add alumina to glass have failed, because the raw mixture crystalised as soon as it touched any kind of container. By removing the container and mixing the glass in the air instead, this problem was overcome.

I've posted before about this, but the initial article was a bit more academic and written for a journal.

This one is written for a more populist audience, so it's certainly going to be more useful for my students.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

ICE SWORD! (Made With Pykrete)

That's a heck of a sword there,

And it's way stronger than it would have been if it were made of just ice.

See, ice is strong in compression but weak in tension. Paper - toilet paper, for example - is the opposite: weak in compression but strong in tension.

Combine them together, and you get a whole that is far greater than the sum of its parts. See, that's a composite for you.