Latest Entries »

Muggle Magic

I have to admit – When someone brings up Harry Potter I tend to fangirl like crazy. I remember being secretly crushed to not receive my summons to  Hogwarts on my 11th birthday. Time has just begun to healed the disappointment , but I would still love to be able to fly, levitate objects, clean my room with the sweep of a wand or go invisible. Would any of this be possible in the muggle world? Science is kind of like magic in a way – you put together all the different bits and pieces, you experiment, sometimes things go terribly wrong, there’s enormous potential and, like magic, it’s power can be abused. So I’m wondering – just how close are we to becoming wizards? I have been perusing the web, and here’s what I’ve found.

“Physicists in Texas have developed a method to make objects “invisible” within a limited range of light waves. It’s not Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak just yet, but scientists say it has a lot of potential.”

http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/27/tech/invisibility-cloak


“Levitation has been elevated from being pure science fiction to science fact, according to a study reported today by physicists.”

http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/27/tech/invisibility-cloak

“Think teleportation is a fictional concept reserved for plot twists in sci-fi novels or philosophical thought experiments? Think again. Not only is teleportation possible, but scientists in China have recently teleported a photon a record-setting distance of 97 kilometers, according to MIT’s Technology Review.”

http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/research-innovations/stories/beam-me-up-scotty-scientists-successfully-teleport-photons-n

just for fun:

“That’s right – the game from Harry Potter. Adapted by Middlebury College students in 2005, Quidditch is now played at over 300 universities and high schools in the United States and 12 other countries.”

http://www.internationalquidditch.org/

 And, for your viewing pleasure ( Aren’t they cute?!)
See you guys at Science World School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!
Advertisements

A Bee-g Issue ( ha.ha. )

On a recent plane ride I was faced with a choice that would define my life for the next 90-120 minutes – What movie to watch? The inflight entertainment system boasted a plenty of options, from the Muppets to Piranha. Not being one for the puppets or gruesome death by rabid-killer prehistoric-monster- fish, I ended up with the Bee Movie. I remembered the movie from a while ago, and decided to give it a shot. If the Bee Movie has yet to grace your pupillary sphincter ( a word that I learned today, courtesy of “ An Abundance of Katherines” by John Green, referring to the muscle in the iris that works to constrict the pupil) here’s a quick synopsis. If your pupillary sphincter has in fact witnessed the Bee Movie, please free skip down and to spare it the following quick synopsis.


Basically, there’s a bee named Barry who lives in a hive, and who has just graduated from university. He is disappointed in the only career option available to him : making honey. One day, being the adventurous bee that he is, he decides to join the pollen jocks ( seriously ) to fly into the outside world. He then realizes that humans are taking the bees honey in order to eat it themselves! Horrified by the conditions of a bee farm , ( an in classic movie style) he takes humanity to court – and wins. All the honey is returned to the bees. Having more honey than they could ever, their purpose in life is now unnecessary. Now spending their days sleeping, sun tanning and rolling over, o-bee-sity levels are high. Anyways, with no more bees going out, the following year, nothing flowers, and the previously lush central park is instead a distasteful brownish.


So. WHAT was the point of me posting about my inflight entertainment? The truth is, that here on not-cartoon-earth there is a phenomena taking place in which bee populations are mysteriously dying out, and it is infact a serious problem. According to   Kevin Hackett, the national program leader for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s bee and pollination program, “ This is the biggest general threat to our food supply.” Scientists have been working on the mystery for years, and the phenomenon has been referred to as “ colony collapse disorder – or CCD.

Recently however, studies have suggested that a major culprit, along with habitat loss, disease, and other factors, is a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids. These pesticides clat over 145 million acres of crops in the US alone. Research recently published in the journal “ Science “ shows that these pesticides are absorbed into plants vascular systems, negitavley affecting the nectar and pollen that bees  encounter. They are nerve poisons which confuse and disorient insects, and appear to impair the homing ability of bees. This would account for how many bees leave hives and just never return.

Another source that may be to blame in the decline in bees are GMO ( Genetically Modified Crops ) , by weakening their immune systems and making them more susceptible to disease.

While we may be responsible for their disappearance, we are also making efforts to preserve this important  pollinator. In California, farm bred bees are shipped in and fed high concentrate fructose syrup, while their queens are artificially inseminated. This has lead to a decline in the biodiversity in bees. Additionally, the bees are dusted with chemicals meant to ward off disease and deadly pests.


In any case, we should be worried. The disappearance of bees has been “ likened to canaries in a coal mine”. Their decline being a warning to us all. Food supply’s and ecosystem and ultimately humanity may be hit with the consequences. Major changes need to be made – and in fact, they are already in motion in some countries For example, France and Germany have banned the pesticide suspected to be responsible for the deaths of hives.


Environmentalist/Author Bill McKibben said :

“Past a certain point, we can’t make nature conform to our industrial model. The collapse of beehives is a warning – and the cleverness of a few beekeepers in figuring out how to work with bees not as masters but as partners offers a clear-eyed kind of hope for many of our ecological dilemmas.”

I hope that you pupillary sphincter owners learned something in reading this. Feel free to post any comments cool-weird words! ( including, but not limited to body parts – I find it strange to think that I don’t even know the names of so much that makes up… well, me and you 🙂 )

What Makes Someone Want to Smoke

Dear Readers,

In tobacco the chemical that makes it addictive is nicotine. Nicotine is unusual because it is both a stimulant and a depressant. This means that as the smoker smokes there cigarette they feel relaxed and calm as the depressant takes effect, then as the stimulant takes effect they feel a rush of energy and it clears your mind. It would give you the pumped up feeling that you can succeed. It also cannibalizes fat causing the person to look skinnier and appear to have better muscle tone. The problem is that it is poison that is doing this. The nicotine is causing damage to your body that it then has to repair using energy or specifically fat. If this goes on too long the effects are easily found.

Best regards,

Alpha

The Strong But Weak Brain

e824b899a9014c089a4337f50a7b02087bf4f462

 

We use our brain everyday to solve problems or even with everything. However, there are times that our brain don’t function that well.

 

EXAMPLE: Put your right leg on your left leg. Turn your tiptoe clockwise while moving your right hand index finger counter-clockwise. You will find your tiptoe suddenly changes its direction.

 

This is what we called inconsistent which is caused by the errors while managing the information. People can’t dance because their feet and hands don’t cooperate well, but some dancers dance better for they can manipulate their separate actions of hands and feet together. This leads us to the point of multitask.

 

Have you ever tried to do the homework while chatting with others and playing video games at the same time? Most importantly, have you ever succeeded before? However, according to the research, the biggest defect of human brain is the lack ability to do more than two things together.

In the brain, juggling multiple tasks (‘Multitasking’) is performed by mental executive processes that manage the individual tasks and determine how, when, and with what priorities they get performed. Multitasking can be difficult when a person must perform two tasks simultaneously,” said by Dr. David E. Meyer, Professor of Psychology in the University of Michigan.

This explains why the choices are normally not the best ones while facing a long chain of decisions. Also, if the brain was in a “multitask version” for a long time, it is likely to have a damaging on nerve system or a decreasing ability to focus.

 

There is a system inside out brain called mirror neuron system. This system explains why a bunch of people yawn after one people yawned. The mirror neuron is the basis of imitating other people’s actions. When it is stimulated, we go into other people’s minds and produces the same emotion as what we saw. That’s why people yawn or laugh after seeing others yawned or laughed.

 

As our brains constantly make mistakes, they learn to delegate their work as we do in leadership courses  Left brain is in charge of language, academic knowledge. Right brain falls more on problems solving, art and creativity.

 

Although our brains can’t do everything, we still depend heavily on our brains in our daily life.

So it’s time to know more about your best partner, the strong but weak brain!

Nitrocellulose

Dear Readers,

Nitrocellulose or gun cotton is a smokeless explosive developed in 1846. The fact that it had 6 times the gas release of gunpowder made it attractive for many purposes. The main ones would be use in guns as well as use in blasting. Later on it was used for filming purposes. Nitrocellulose was the very first flexible film used in projection, however many safety procations would be developed over the years due to the dangers of using explosives in film use.

Nitrocellulose is the combination of nitric acid and a cellulose fiber such as paper or wool as well as a catalyst to allow the creation of Nitronium ions through electrophilic substitution. In this case the electrophilic substitution is where the hydrogen core is replaced by a NO2 ion. The basic creation process is quite simple. Simply by wetting a cellulose fiber with 2 parts nitric acid 1 part sulfuric acid then waiting for the forming gun cotton to dry. There are however complications with this one of which has been solved in the time that gun cotton has existed. As the gun cotton dries the acid concentrates this concentration can cause spontaneous combustion, to solve this the substance must be washed with water in order to keep the gun cotton from combustion. The main issue with nitrocellulose is it’s instability this due the the nature of gun cotton as far as modern chemistry knows cannot be changed without severely reducing the power that gun cotton currently can release.

Best regards,

Alpha

January 29th, 2013

On January 29th, we mainly prepared for presentations and demos on Feb 12th. But in the beginning of the session, we listened to some chemistry phD students’ lives and experiences, which were very interesting. And we spent most of our time on pracicing presentations and demos; each group went outside and practiced demos separately. At the end of the session, we had people from Stem Cell Talks to introduce what that was and how to sign up for that.

Neural Interfacing

Dear Readers,

When I have mentioned Neural Interfacing in conversation some people have asked me what this is. Neural Interfacing is the science that deals with the transfer of data between a brain and a device. The first uses of this technology is the control of robots and some examples of video game use.  In the future it will be possible on a commercial scale to use this technology to help those with disabilities. This is an example of the use in modern day however this is not commercially available.

This is an example of the forefront of the field.

Best regards,

Alpha

Fabulous Paper Planes

What makes the paper plane fly?

Air — the stuff that’s all around you.

What are the basic forces on a paper plane?

Gravity, Lift, Drag and Thrust

Drag & Gravity
Planes that push a lot of air, like your hand did when it was facing the side, are said to have a lot of “drag,” or resistance, to moving through the air. If you want your plane to fly as far as possible, you want a plane with as little drag as possible. A second force that planes need to overcome is “gravity.” You need to keep your plane’s weight to a minimum to help fight against gravity’s pull to the ground.

Thrust & Lift
“Thrust” and “lift” are two other forces that help your plane make a long flight. Thrust is the forward movement of the plane. The initial thrust comes from the muscles of the “pilot” as the paper airplane is launched. After this, paper airplanes are really gliders, converting altitude to forward motion.
Lift comes when the air below the airplane wing is pushing up harder than the air above it is pushing down. It is this difference in pressure that enables the plane to fly. Pressure can be reduced on a wing’s surface by making the air move over it more quickly. The wings of a plane are curved so that the air moves more quickly over the top of the wing, resulting in an upward push, or lift, on the wing.

Image

 

Ways to create a good paper plane:

– As light as possible: decrease the gravity on the plane

– Symmetrical: prevent the plane from turning or hover

– Heavier on the head: While the plane flies upwards, the heavy head has less air resistance than the heavy tail. This is why people are used to blow air towards the head of the plane. (To make the head heavier)

Other factors on a paper plane:

– Flying angle (the angle of the airplane and the floor when throwing): can not be too big or too small. Too big can produce higher air resistance and unstable airflow. Too small can result in a lack of lifting force.

– The material of paper: regular printing paper is the best. Newspapers are too light and cards are too heavy. Using a fine paper is better than a wrinkle one since there is less friction force with the air

 

The farthest paper plane in the world:

Former American Football quarterback Joe Ayoob threw a paper plane of 226 feet 10 inches far. He was enlisted to make the throw by the paper plane’s designer John Collins, a TV producer and origami enthusiast who had been working on the record attempt for over four years.

Time to make your own fabulous paper planes!! =)

Website being used in this post: http://teacher.scholastic.com/paperairplane/airplane.htm

January 8, 2013

Happy New Year’s everyone! During the week of January 8th we started our Chemistry Unit at FSL. Dr. Mark MacLauchlan gave us a presentation on organic compounds that can emit light as well as the Molecular Beaker Epitaxy. This is when molecules build certain helical structures and cause colour in nature. This was all really fascinating and only the first half of the session. The second part we learnt how to accurately source credible information and how to figure out if it really is credible. We were also introduced to our Titanium Dioxide projects that you will hear more of later. This session was a great start to the Chemistry Unit and I’m excited to learn more.

QWERTY

Look at your keyboard

Look at your screen

Notice anything?

Yeah! The title matches the first six letters on your keyboard!

And why? QWERTY is the name for the keyboard layout we are using. So.. you may ask, are the letters in any particular orders? The answer is no. Well, initially, Christopher Sholes, who designed the previous generations of this keyboard layout, put the letters in alphabetical orders with two rows back in 1870’s. As you might know, people didn’t have  computers back then; they had printing points under keyboards, which made jam issues very serious when the operator pressed the neighboring keys at the same time or too fast. Thus, he improved his keyboard by placing commonly used letter-pairs separately (not neighboring), even though people said he was trying to slow down typists by moving common letters aside, which isn’t necessarily true like “Q”. This keyboard has been improved by several people and become what we are using right now. It’s actually very interesting QWERTY is still the most popular keyboard layout when its been proven not the most efficient keyboard. It’s more like a convention nowadays for people to keep using the not efficient keyboard just like how people recognize the flow direction of a current. But have you ever wondered why the buttons on a keyboard are placed diagonally from each other? Actually, that is the part of the convention, too. Keyboards worked mechanically in the beginning, so placing buttons diagonally makes space for the levers of each button.