NASA Johnson Style
I know you’re all pretty tired of Gangnam Style parodies by now, but these folks put people and machines in SPACE, so cut ‘em some slack. Plus it’s pretty damn good, and features a spacesuited NASA gal and a real astronaut doing the horsey dance, which is notable as it will never happen again.
Why can’t I stop?!?
I couldn’t help myself. It called to me.
The real highlight of this (besides the uber-interesting science of course!) is in the second video, at about the one minute mark. I just about hurt myself laughing.
A gas more dense than a solid? Solids floating on thin air? Surely you’re joking! That can’t exist, right?
We can create real-life magic of levitation if we simply apply a few simple pieces of chemistry and physics. Let’s review a few basic principles first. Density, I’m sure you all remember, is how much mass something has per unit volume (which can vary at different temperatures, etc.). Liquid water has a density about 1 kilogram per liter, and air is nearly a thousand times less dense at ~1.3 grams per liter.
So why do things float? Besides weighing the same as a duck? Remember that gravity is always pulling objects toward the center of the Earth, at a force of 9.8 Newtons for every kilogram of mass. Mass is different than weight, of course, because weight is really the result of gravity’s force acting upon the mass. For something to float, no matter if it’s on water or air or what, it must have a force acting against and overcoming the pull of gravity. It’s why planes fly and rockets go up to space and why anyone knows who Archimedes is. Where does that force come from when things float?
Let’s hit the beach and hop on a stand-up paddleboard. Although they look thin, an average SUP board can “displace” up to 200 liters of water. That means that it will support a force equal to that of the 200 kg of water it displaced, or 1,960 Newtons (or 200 kg worth of surfer dudes/dudettes). It works the same way with a gas. Whatever mass of gas is moved out of the way, that amount of “mass force” will float.
Pretend you have a swimming pool full of sulfur hexafluoride, one of the densest gases around (6.17 grams per liter, or about five times denser than air). If I place a foil boat inside that moves a liter of gas out of the way, as long as it weighs less than 6.17 grams it will float! Don’t believe me? Watch this:
Those of you with a keen attention to detail may be saying “Yeah, Joe … but that’s not really a solid.” Ok, I’ll give you that. It’s more like a foil-boat bag of air. There are “real” solids that could float on that, though. Like this space-age aerogel, a silicon dioxide solid that has a density of 3 grams per liter (the least dense solid ever created)!
Before you rush out and try to get your hands on some sulfur hexafluoride, keep in mind that it is one of the most potent greenhouse gases known to man, about 23,000 times worse than carbon dioxide. Filling that aquarium is the same as burning about 600 gallons of gasoline.
Finally … in the name of science, and since you’ve sat through this lesson so patiently, here is what happens to the human voice when a person breathes in sulfur hexafluoride (it’s basically the opposite of helium, being so much denser than air and changing the speed of sound in the vocal chords). Hit it, Kelly Ripa and Neil Patrick Harris:
i kind of want to play more ff13 but man that sazh shit messed me up
is reacting that strongly to the sudden unexpected death of a fictional character a new thing or have people always been this way
did queen elizabeth lie in bed awake sometimes thinking VERILY I CANNOT EVEN, FOR HAMLET HATH SLAIN ME WITH FEELS
was caesar like ET TU ODYSSEUS
Listen to the Higgs Boson
When I visited CERN last year, I was blown away not only by the science, but by the incredible amount of artistic creativity in the people that live and work at the biggest science experiment in the world. We met people in bands, people who painted murals, videographers, and so much more. So this little project by the folks at ATLAS to ‘sonify’ the Higgs finding just has me grinning. They assigned notes to data points and what came out was this lovely little habanera rhythm that corresponds with the Higgs.
It’s such a fun piece of music.
Nice find, Chels!
Still mostly lurking, but I simply could not leave this be! Who knew Higgs was so much fun? (And I totally agree that some of the most imaginative and aesthetically talented people I’ve met are “scientists”. :D)
One of the best things about Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Orlando during Star Wars weekend.
Mix 1/4 cup of salt with a 1/2 teaspoon of food coloring in a small bowl until the salt is uniformly colored. Spread the mixture out in an even layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake in the oven for ten minutes. Allow your homemade glitter to cool before using it or storing it. And that’s it!:)
wait wait wait.
does that mean you can EAT it.
Who has two thumbs and intends to eat a rainbow steak in her future?
“wait wait wait.
does that mean you can EAT it.”
No, it doesn’t. The salt bakes to form a bond between the color and the metal, which is generally NOT A THING TO EAT.
Don’t eat it, please.
*runs into the kitchen*
Outer Space. The View From Cassini and Voyager
Jaw ————> Floor.
If Rocky Balboa was an aspiring astronomer, this is what he would watch every morning to get pumped up instead of running up that damned staircase.
Sander van den Berg has assembled a plethora of real images, converted to black and white video, from the Cassini and Voyager missions to create this simple, awe-inspiring and sometimes haunting tour through near outer space.
I know I’ve been heavy on the space stuff lately, but with videos like these sending my brain flying out the back of my head how can I not post it?!?!? :)
(by Sander van den Berg)
Wow. Just … wow.
I’ve been using the “pure awesome” tag a lot lately, but … there really is that much pure awesome lately! And this … I have no words for this. How perfect and pure and beautiful and lonely it is out there, and what mankind has managed to accomplish in order to bring these images back … just amazing.
Boron-treated carbon nanotubes soak up oil from water repeatedly
Researchers at Rice University and Penn State University have discovered that adding a dash of boron to carbon while creating nanotubes turns them into solid, spongy, reusable blocks that have an astounding ability to absorb oil spilled in water. […]
The blocks are both superhydrophobic (they hate water, so they float really well) and oleophilic (they love oil). The nanosponges, which are more than 99 percent air, also conduct electricity and can easily be manipulated with magnets. […] He then put a match to the material, burned off the oil and returned the sponge to the water to absorb more. The robust sponge can be used repeatedly and stands up to abuse; he said a sample remained elastic after about 10,000 compressions in the lab. The sponge can also store the oil for later retrieval, he said.
“These samples can be made pretty large and can be easily scaled up,” said Hashim, holding a half-inch square block of billions of nanotubes. “They’re super-low density, so the available volume is large. That’s why the uptake of oil can be so high.” He said the sponges described in the paper can absorb more than a hundred times their weight in oil. […]
“Oil-spill remediation and environmental cleanup are just the beginning of how useful these new nanotube materials could be,” added. “For example, we could use these materials to make more efficient and lighter batteries. We could use them as scaffolds for bone-tissue regeneration. We even could impregnate the nanotube sponge with polymers to fabricate robust and light composites for the automobile and plane industries.” […]
WOW. This is, like, the holy grail of holy grails, perfect on all fronts … the only thing it doesn’t do is butter your toast for you.
BJB had set up a demo of their assembly robot at Light + Building. Fascinating stuff - the right platform was for a fluorescent lamp and the left platform was for an LED lamp. While the LED assembly was faster in execution, I was told that the setup/”training” for that one was longer. These robots actually engage visual systems as aids when necessary to handle tasks with tricky registration. It’s not hard to imagine why people tend to anthropomorphize even factory robots like these! It’s amazing the complexity that needs to go into building something that can do what the majority of human beings can with just 10 mins’ worth of training; but man, once the machine gets started … !