The Physics of Santa Claus

Luckily for children everywhere, a group of physicists believe Santa is real, and have worked out how he is capable of giving toys to children around the world. They deal with the issue of his bag, seeing millions of children, if not a billion, children on a single night, and of course making all his […]

they-physics-of-santa-claus_52ba4c0bb950c_w1500.pngLuckily for children everywhere, a group of physicists believe Santa is real, and have worked out how he is capable of giving toys to children around the world. They deal with the issue of his bag, seeing millions of children, if not a billion, children on a single night, and of course making all his toys.

Wormholes, relativity, and an ever moving North Pole are the answers to these questions, and a great opener to these subjects in an introductory physics class. While many of the answers are theories, it is important to remember that ideas such as gravity were also once simple theories.

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Gravity Visualized

These were always my favorite kinds of lessons in school. I think there’s something about getting up and watching something happen that kicks your mind out of bored at a desk mode and in to a more engaged and interested mindset. I never took a physics class, so I don’t have much of an understanding […]

Gravity Visualized

These were always my favorite kinds of lessons in school. I think there’s something about getting up and watching something happen that kicks your mind out of bored at a desk mode and in to a more engaged and interested mindset. I never took a physics class, so I don’t have much of an understanding of this lesson, but I do know that something like this would have gotten me very excited to learn that day.

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Ruben’s Tube

There’s a good chance that this is just a crazy guy setting fires in his garage, but there’s an equally good chance that he’s teaching us something about physics. The Ruben’s Tube was invented in 1905 by a German Physicist named Heinrich Rubens. It’s purpose is pretty clear, to visualize sound waves using many small […]

Ruben's TubeThere’s a good chance that this is just a crazy guy setting fires in his garage, but there’s an equally good chance that he’s teaching us something about physics. The Ruben’s Tube was invented in 1905 by a German Physicist named Heinrich Rubens. It’s purpose is pretty clear, to visualize sound waves using many small flames, though I can’t imagine how he came up with the idea.

Not only that, imagine hearing about this in 1905. Your friend tells you about some sort of mad scientist who is using fire to visualize a invisible shape that accompanies sound wherever it goes. I wouldn’t know whether to be afraid of what else this man is capable of or in awe of his super-human control of the elements. Anyways, enjoy the modern day execution of an old experiment.

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Beyond the Boom

The Fourth of July is a celebration of this country’s independence from Britain. As yesterday’s infographic showed, what occurred on July 4th, 1776 was not even recognized in England, and barely even shared. Also, as yesterday’s infographic showed, some Americans do not even understand what we celebrate on July 4th, aside from chemical reactions in […]

The Fourth of July is a celebration of this country’s independence from Britain. As yesterday’s infographic showed, what occurred on July 4th, 1776 was not even recognized in England, and barely even shared. Also, as yesterday’s infographic showed, some Americans do not even understand what we celebrate on July 4th, aside from chemical reactions in the sky, alcohol, cookouts, and family gatherings. So what is the biggest thing this country does to celebrate this random day at the beginning of the summer? Shoot off fireworks, and this infographic shares this information in a great way.

The fireworks industry is a billion dollar industry, $940 million for the Fourth of July, plus New Years and other celebrations throughout the year. And launching a spectacular show requires more than just a lighter. Aside from the chemistry involved in creating the firecracker, it also requires physics to know at which angle to shoot it to reach the ideal location. How many people on neighborhood streets are doing physics problems as they light the fuse?

In addition, this infographic shares the difference between a variety of shows across the country. It shows how much is fired, how much it costs, and how many people view the various shows. Why do you suppose some shows are more popular than others? What information needs to be gathered in order to give a better idea as to the reasons behind the popularity.

Finally, ask your students to choose a topic, find something that stands for this topic, and use it in an entire infographic to share data, just like this infographic did in its use of firecrackers.

Blog: http://visual.ly/beyond-boom-how-fireworks-work

Capturing light with high-speed photography.

I’m always fascinated by high-speed (super slow-mo) videos, as I’m sure many of you are as well. It’s just so interesting to see the way things work and react in a way that is impossible to tell with the naked eye. Not surprisingly, there are many scientific benefits that go along with our ability to […]

I’m always fascinated by high-speed (super slow-mo) videos, as I’m sure many of you are as well. It’s just so interesting to see the way things work and react in a way that is impossible to tell with the naked eye. Not surprisingly, there are many scientific benefits that go along with our ability to do this.

In this example, we are able to see how a tiny “piece” of light travels through water in a bottle. I’m no expert on physics, so a lot of this goes over my head, but even without knowing what’s going on behind the scenes, you can get a small grasp of what is really happening with high-speed photography.

Capturing light with high-speed photography

Physics of Olympic Bodies

As the Olympic frenzy draws to a close, it is time to analyze the events, the records, and the athletes themselves. This infographic compares Olympians both past and present, and shares how the changes in their physical anatomy has allowed for records to be broken. Unfortunately, the benefits that they have include things like longer […]

As the Olympic frenzy draws to a close, it is time to analyze the events, the records, and the athletes themselves. This infographic compares Olympians both past and present, and shares how the changes in their physical anatomy has allowed for records to be broken. Unfortunately, the benefits that they have include things like longer than average legs, and mostly an overall height advantage, as compared to their predecessors. They are things that we can only hope to develop at age 13, but cannot change once we are adults.

Where speed is desired, being tall and slim are advantageous. Where strength is desired, being tall and large are advantageous. Challenge your students to come up with other areas where these strengths are developed. For instance, sports cars are often long and slim. Meanwhile, machinery used for lifting heavy items are often larger all around.

Use experiments to figure out why certain attributes are advantageous. Use water projectiles to figure out why being lean is advantageous. In a tub of water, it is easier to see a large object being stopped and slowed down by the water. On the other hand, use legos to hold a certain mass. Build a tall slim, and a short fat object and place similar objects on both. Which one can hold it? Why?

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