Bridging the Zap
When very high voltages are applied to water in two adjacent beakers, they spontaneously form a “water bridge”. It’s a phenomena that, despite being known for more than 100 years, is not completely understood to this day. It is thought that the extreme voltages, in the thousands of volts, are able to pull the positive and negative charges of the water apart in a way that the thread can overcome gravity.
(via Science-Based Life)
Answered by Randall Munroe, creator of the XKCD webcomic.
Before I answer this question, let me give you a little background on where I’m coming from.
I’m by no means an expert, but I have some experience with robotics. My first job out of college was working on robots at NASA, and my undergraduate degree project was on robotic navigation. I spent my teenage years participating in FIRST Robotics, programming software bots to fight in virtual tournaments, and working on homemade underwater ROVs. And I’ve watched plenty of Robot Wars, BattleBots, and Killer Robots Robogames.
If all that experience has taught me anything, it’s that the robot revolution would end quickly, because the robots would all break down or get stuck against walls. Robots never, ever work right.
(click the link for more)
Physics That Resonates With Everyone
Chladni patterns mix sound with science
In the late 18th century, musician and scientist Ernst Chladni demonstrated the two-dimensional vibration of a flat plane caused by certain sound waves. Following in the footsteps of Robert Hooke, Chladni drew a rosined bow across the edge of a sand-covered metal plate. When the bow created certain frequencies of vibration, the beautiful patterns above were formed.
When sound travels through a solid medium like a metal plate, certain frequencies will produce resonance. Resonance is the property of a given material to vibrate easily and vigorously at specific frequencies, and the patterns created in Chladni’s experiments represent the nodes between intersecting two-dimensional waves. Every solid material from wood to glass to metal to buildings to our inner ear membranes have a set of frequencies that will cause these resonant vibrations.
Check out this video for more. Got a violin bow? Try it yourself!
We have metal plate that makes the second image when you use a the bow at NYSci.
“Available immediately, Valve is offering educators and their students free access to Portal 2 and its Puzzle Maker at teachwithportals.com, our new destination for Portal 2 collaboration among teachers, parents, and students.
Educators are now invited to sign up for The Portal 2 Education Beta, offering teacher-created lesson plans, a High School Physics teacher’s collection of puzzles, and Valve Ed, an online forum for educators.
Join us-together we’ll intrigue, engage and inspire students around the world.”
- Valve Education
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I’ve never been lucky enough to see one of these, have you? Make no mistake, though, they’re real. The technical term for the fire rainbow is a circumhorizontal arc.
High in the atmosphere, cirrus clouds form as wispy layers of ice that can stretch on for hundreds of miles. As light from the sun hits it, it refracts as if it was being shone through a prism.
This refraction happens because when light goes from one medium to another, like from air to water or air to ice, it can be bent. Different wavelengths are bent to different extents, separating white light into its component colors.
Want to know more? Check out this Khan Academy lesson on refraction.
A 40-year-old puzzle of superstring theory solved by supercomputer
A group of three researchers from KEK, Shizuoka University and Osaka University has for the first time revealed the way our universe was born with 3 spatial dimensions from 10-dimensional superstring theory in which spacetime has 9 spatial directions and 1 temporal direction. This result was obtained by numerical simulation on a supercomputer.
“According to Big Bang cosmology, the universe originated in an explosion from an invisibly tiny point. This theory is strongly supported by observation of the cosmic microwave background and the relative abundance of elements. However, a situation in which the whole universe is a tiny point exceeds the reach of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, and for that reason it has not been possible to clarify how the universe actually originated.
In superstring theory, which is considered to be the “theory of everything”, all the elementary particles are represented as various oscillation modes of very tiny strings. Among those oscillation modes, there is one that corresponds to a particle that mediates gravity, and thus the general theory of relativity can be naturally extended to the scale of elementary particles. Therefore, it is expected that superstring theory allows the investigation of the birth of the universe. However, actual calculation has been intractable because the interaction between strings is strong, so all investigation thus far has been restricted to discussing various models or scenarios.
Superstring theory predicts a space with 9 dimensions, which poses the big puzzle of how this can be consistent with the 3-dimensional space that we live in.
A group of 3 researchers, Jun Nishimura (associate professor at KEK), Asato Tsuchiya (associate professor at Shizuoka University) and Sang-Woo Kim (project researcher at Osaka University) has succeeded in simulating the birth of the universe, using a supercomputer for calculations based on superstring theory. This showed that the universe had 9 spatial dimensions at the beginning, but only 3 of these underwent expansion at some point in time…”