Aug. 20, 2009

Experiments With My Brother: Magic Finger

by Betty Diop

Magic Finger is a simple experiment I conducted with my little brother, David. It was really cool and he and I both enjoyed it. All you need is black pepper, soap, and a large-sized pop bottle cut in half. You can use either the bottom half or the top part. We used the top half since we didn’t need a lot of water.Fill the bottle half with water and sprinkle some black pepper into it. My brother placed his finger in the mixture. Of course nothing happened. Then ...

Hands-on Activities, Tabletop Science, brother, family, science experiments
Aug. 20, 2009

Experiments With My Brother: Paper Magic and Sky Colors

by Betty Diop

My little brother, David, age eight, is interested in science and anything innovative. So we decided to do some Pop Bottle Science experiments. The first experiment we did was called Paper Magic. David was really excited as soon as he saw the pop bottle because it looked cool and he was curious about what we would do with it. I explained to him that we would need to fill a bucket with water. He was eager to do everything on his own and didn't really want my help at ...

Hands-on Activities, Tabletop Science, brother, family, science experiment
Apr. 15, 2009

Talking Science for Kids

by Science Friday Education

By Science MomMy five-year old son, Alexander, has already developed a strong interest in math and science. At his request, we recently enrolled him in an after-school astronomy class, where he draws stars and shoots the galaxy breeze with the other pupils. He has settled on Saturn as his favorite and most interesting planet; he loves the rings.As part of a plan to nurture Alex’ interest in science, I decided that each week, he and I should try some form of scientific experiment. With that in mind, Talking Science ...

Hands-on Activities, Tabletop Science, bouncing rice, Mick O'Hare, saturn, Tabletop Science
Apr. 14, 2009

Alex and the Principle of Inertia

by Guest Blogger

As it turns out, Spring break is great for science experiments. There's plenty of time and plenty of scope, especially if the weather is lousy and you have a curious five-year-old.So, Alex decided that he wanted to do three experiments while he was on break. We found them – as we have found most of the things we have done – in Pop Bottle Science, which features 79 easy experiments that are not too time-consuming or messy. And in addition to a book full of experiments, the Pop bottle breaks ...

Hands-on Activities, Tabletop Science, Alex, bubbles, Dancing Raisins, Inertia, Tabletop Science
Apr. 07, 2009

The Double-Slit Experiment (quantitative) Parts 1 & 2

by Science Friday Education

By Hugh LippincottI want to try and explain some of the math behind the double-slit experiment. The goal here is not to explain the weird nature of light mathematically, which is beyond the scope of a blog. I do want to show how the double-slit experiment proves light behaves as a wave quantitatively and give an example of how math can be used to explain the results of an experiment.After a brief discussion with my mom, I realize that I will have to start by explaining what the sine function ...

Hands-on Activities, Science, Tabletop Science, double-slit experiment, Hugh Lippincott, math, nature of light, sine wave
Apr. 07, 2009

The Bohr Atom

by Science Friday Education

By Hugh LippincottI will use the Bohr model (together with the nature of light discussed in the last few posts) to predict the existence of "spectral lines," which will finally bring me back to dark matter by explaining exactly how we measure the speed of those rotating galaxies (see the Dark Matter Intro link if this is not familiar). Historically speaking, I'm presenting this material backwards, as the observation of spectral lines came first and the explanation came later, but I will proceed anyway.Niels Bohr is in many ways the ...

Hands-on Activities, Science, Tabletop Science, institute of theoretical physics, Niels Bohr, quantum physics
Mar. 23, 2009

Alex and the Warm Toast

by Guest Blogger

My five-year old son Alexander and I have tried to get into the habit of doing one science experiment each weekend. But last weekend, faced with plenty of time on our hands and a couple of Spring days that were sunny but really cold, we decided to stay inside and do four experiments. Like science itself, they took a bunch of different forms.The first experiment came from the book One Minute Mysteries: 65 Short Mysteries You Solve With Science. I read a riddle to Alex that essentially asked if you ...

Hands-on Activities, Tabletop Science, Alex, Tabletop Science, Warm Toast
Mar. 10, 2009

Another (Brief) Philosophical Tangent

by Guest Blogger

By Hugh LippincottIn a comment on the quantitative Doppler effect post, my mother had the following to say:"Mom again. I have a feeling that however clearly you explain it, some people who have never taken advanced math in any form will never really understand it. I like much better the idea of the dark matter, the neutrinos racing through my finger-tips, etc. Perhaps you should select your subject-matter differently - when you say you are a physicist, what questions do people at cocktail parties ask you? I'm sure not about ...

Hands-on Activities, Tabletop Science, Doppler Effect
Mar. 10, 2009

The Doppler Effect (Quantitative)

by Guest Blogger

By Hugh LippincottThe first version of the qualitative post contained a paragraph at the end in which I did some real math (I have since removed that paragraph, as it appears in a different form in this post). My mother loved the bit about the tennis and thought she had really grasped the general idea; alas, when confronted with a paragraph containing algebraic variables, she felt somewhat bewildered and lost because I hadn't given it enough of an introduction. I was reminded that she hasn't really done any advanced math ...

Hands-on Activities, Tabletop Science, Doppler Effect
Mar. 10, 2009

The Doppler Effect (Qualitative)

by Guest Blogger

By Hugh LippincottIn my first post, I talked about how the Doppler effect is a shift in the observed frequency of a wave caused by the relative motion of a source and an observer. In this, my first detailed post, I will try to explain how that actually works. As my mom plays tennis, and this blog is ostensibly aimed at her, I'm going to use a rather tortured tennis analogy.Suppose my mother is using a ball machine to practice her ground strokes. The ball machine spits out a tennis ...

Hands-on Activities, Tabletop Science, The Doppler Effect
Mar. 10, 2009

How To Find Dark Matter

by Guest Blogger

By Hugh LippincottIn the last post, I said that dark matter could be a new type of particle that only interacts weakly, which is why we've never seen it before. The goal of my research is to build a very sensitive radiation detector and directly detect a WIMP (by observing the energy released on that rare occasion when a WIMP does interact with something in the detector). This is hard. Given our current limits on dark matter, we expect to see maybe a handful of events per year in our ...

Hands-on Activities, Tabletop Science, dark matter
Mar. 10, 2009

Dark Matter: An Explanation for Mom

by Guest Blogger

By Hugh LippincottIn the first post of this blog, I briefly discussed how galaxy rotation curves provide evidence for the existence of dark matter - I didn't really said anything about what dark matter actually is. We've only said that it exists, that it has mass (i.e. it interacts with gravity), and that it doesn't interact with light like every day matter. The truth is, even though dark matter is 85% of the total matter in the universe, we don't know what it is because we've never seen it directly. ...

Hands-on Activities, Tabletop Science, dark matter
Mar. 10, 2009

Dark Matter

by Guest Blogger

By Hugh LippincottAs mentioned in the summary, this blog will be my attempt at explaining what I study to my mom and any other person out there who might be interested. What do I do? I am trying to directly detect dark matter.Today, the scientific community generally accepts that 95% of the universe is made up of stuff that we’ve never seen before and do not understand; the chart at the right shows the composition of our universe as measured by the NASA/WMAP satellite (the subject of a future series ...

Hands-on Activities, Tabletop Science, cosmic microwave, dark energy, dark matter, Hugh Lippincott, nasa

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