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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Prosthetic Eyes: Great example of interdisciplinary science and engineering

Check out Sheila Nirenberg's TED talk about how they are going about the development of artificial eyes! Think about the science and engineering involved in this...physics combined with neurology, biochemistry, electronics, computer science, the biology of the brain, medical science, and bioengineering. This is a terrific example of using a combination of pure and applied science to benefit humankind.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Option for Programming Project - Video Game Development Contest

As you are thinking of what you might want to try for a programming project, keep this one in mind. There is a new Department of Education initiative for a national STEM Video Game Contest. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. There are four levels to the contest, for middle school, high school, college and educators. Check it out if interested, as there is a March 12, 2012 deadline. Could be fun to try, especially for those who have a little more programming experience.

This initiative, started by the Obama administration and Congress, follows from strong interest in the use of gaming in education. I have a recent blog post on this topic, if you want to check it out.

Podcast of Interview About the Higgs at CERN

If you want to listen to an interview from National Public Radio's (NPR) Science Friday, check this out. They talk about the Higgs boson search at CERN with one of the co-spokesman for the CMS experiment, one of the two big collider experiments at CERN looking for the Higgs (and many other things).

Also, here is a neat way to think about what the Higgs field does. It comes from

" The Higgs Mechanism
Imagine a cocktail party of political party workers who are uniformly distributed across the floor, all talking to their nearest neighbours. The ex-Prime- Minister enters and crosses the room. All of the workers in her neighbourhood are strongly attracted to her and cluster round her. As she moves she attracts the people she comes close to, while the ones she has left return to their even spacing. Because of the knot of people always clustered around her she acquires a greater mass than normal, that is, she has more momentum for the same speed of movement across the room. Once moving she is harder to stop, and once stopped she is harder to get moving again because the clustering process has to be restarted. In three dimensions, and with the complications of relativity, this is the Higgs mechanism. In order to give particles mass, a background field is invented which becomes locally distorted whenever a particle moves through it. The distortion - the clustering of the field around the particle - generates the particle's mass. The idea comes directly from the Physics of Solids. Instead of a field spread throughout all space a solid contains a lattice of positively charged crystal atoms. When an electron moves through the lattice the atoms are attracted to it, causing the electron's effective mass to be as much as 40 times bigger than the mass of a free electron. The postulated Higgs field in the vacuum is a sort of hypothetical lattice which fills our Universe. We need it because otherwise we cannot explain why the Z and W particles which carry the Weak Interactions are so heavy while the photon which carries Electromagnetic forces is massless. "
- David Miller

The Verdict: Science Says Humans Responsible for Increase in CO2, Plain and Simple

With 2012 fast approaching, we are seeing the interconnections of science with politics more and more as presidential and congressional candidates get ready for primary season. Of course, one issue where science and politics overlaps in a major way is climate change. Climate change is largely driven by the concentrations of greenhouse gases, the most notable being carbon dioxide, CO2. There are many who believe that even if CO2 levels have been rising over the past 150 years (which corresponds to when the industrial revolution began), any evidence of global warming and climatic shifts are simply natural cycles, with little or no influence from humans burning fossil fuels.

If there is one thing in the science of climate change that is not in doubt, it is that human beings are largely, if not entirely, responsible for the dramatic increase in carbon dioxide (a leading greenhouse gas) since the second half of the 19th century. Now, THE question that is correct to ask is how do we know this? How do we know that humans burning carbon-based materials like coal, oil, and natural gas has led to increased carbon dioxide levels, and that the increased levels are not due to natural causes?

A series of tests provide the answers to this question. There are multiple, independent tests that all lead to the same conclusion. And what's more, these tests rely on basic, fundamental science principles that are not disputed...yes, there are basic, science facts that the conspiracy believers simply have to ignore if they continue their rhetoric.

A brief summary is provided below, but a better, more detailed explanation is found here.

One way of thinking about human contributions to the rise of CO2 levels in the atmosphere, which have increased from about 280 parts per million (ppm) to 380 ppm in just the past 150 years is human activity, i.e. the industrial revolution. One can calculate the amount of carbon burned over that time span, and one finds that humans have put enough carbon in the atmosphere that could place CO2 at some 500 ppm. So why do we measure only 380 ppm? This is because the earth is a complex system, and there are natural carbon sinks such as forests and the oceans, which absorb CO2 out of the atmosphere. These sinks have been able to absorb some of the excess CO2 humans have put into the atmosphere, but in the end we are putting greenhouse gases into the air at a rate faster than natural sinks can absorb it. We are not in chemical equilibrium, and as we now have more humans on the earth than ever, and burning even more carbon materials at faster rates than any other time in human history, it is a natural prediction that this increase in greenhouse gases will rise and put us in a larger non-equilibrium state with carbon sinks.

There is another way to test whether or not humans and the burning of carbon materials are responsible for the increase in CO2 during the last 150 years. It is the measurement of the relative abundance of carbon-13 to carbon-12. The most abundant carbon is carbon-12...this is the form of carbon we are made of, as well as plants. Carbon-13 is an isotope of carbon, with one extra neutron in the nucleus.

There is a natural concentration of the different isotopes of carbon in the atmosphere that is accurately measured. Scientists use the ratio of C-13/C-12 to quantify this concentration of carbon types. Carbon-14, which is radioactive and used in dating many different types of objects, is much more rare than carbon-12 or -13. So Nature has a basic value for the C-13/C-12 ratio in the atmosphere, that has been effectively constant for hundreds of thousands of years with minor variations due to events such as major volcanic activity. By the way, how do scientists measure this over long time periods? Water, ice, and plants absorb carbon from the atmosphere. Ice core samples from the poles can be dug out and measured and dated. CO2 levels have increased to levels never seen in at least the last 400,000 years, for instance. And this rise has occurred in the last 150 years.

But here is one last aspect of the isotope ratio. The ratio has one value for the atmosphere. But when you burn stuff, there is a significantly different ratio in the CO2 produced from that combustion process! So the study to do, and has been done multiple ways and by independent groups, is to measure the present ratio of Carbon-13/Carbon-12 and compare it to past values. The expectation is that as carbon-based materials are burned, there will be a rise in CO2 (this is simple chemistry that one cannot get around...sorry, no true clean coal exists...if you burn it, CO2 will be produced). but at the same time, the C-13/C-12 ratio should decrease. This is because plants favor absorbing the lighter C-12 from the atmosphere more than C-13. And coal, gas and oil are made from plants that die. Plants, and therefore coal, gas and oil, have a lower C-13/C-12 ratio than the atmosphere.

What is the result of such studies? C-13/C-12 is flat for thousands of years in the atmosphere...natural atmospheric concentrations. But in the last 150 years, CO2 has increased, and C-13/C-12 has decreased, just as predicted. So multiple tests confirm that the burning of carbon-based materials by humans (because there have not been any constantly burning forest fires during this same period, or any other natural process) in the past 150 years has occurred, and this corresponds, over the same time period, to the unprecedented increase in CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

Yes, humans are responsible for at least a significant portion of the increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere. CO2 is a greenhouse gas. CO2 traps heat, and can cause warming of the atmosphere. These are basic facts of chemistry and physics. It is not a hoax. The more difficult problem to solve is the longer-term consequences on the global climate. This is done via computer simulations. The global climate system is an unbelievably complex system, and as climate models improve of time we may have a better grasp of what will eventually happen.

If CO2 levels continue to increase at increasing rates, which will be the case if developing nations like China and India continue to rapidly increase automobile use and coal-burning plant production, and the US does not do anything to decrease its CO2 deployment into the atmosphere, obviously we will continue to see further changes in the natural climatic cycle.

How do we get the general population in tune with the science? When will policymakers accept science facts instead of ignoring them for political gain? And when does it become too late, where even if we cut off all carbon combustion, there will be no turning back the clock on climate change and potential disastrous consequences of high greenhouse levels? That part is debatable; but human responsibility for increased CO2 levels is no longer debatable.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Success at Siemens National Finals!

Congratulations to Julia and Patrick, who competed at the Siemens Science and Technology Competition National Finals in Washington, DC. They were one of six teams left, and were in the running for a $100,000 scholarship. Their work focused on post-starburst galaxies.

They finished 3rd in the nation!!!!! They will split a $40,000 scholarship, and we could not be more proud!

To see their paper, click here.

See their presentation at the National Finals here! I do think they saved their best for last, as this talk went great!

For younger students, keep in mind you can begin research in numerous fields, it is just a matter of sitting down and chatting. It is a wonderful experience to actually go through the process of science, which is SO different from what you read in a textbook or see in a one-period class lab. You will learn a ton, and almost certainly have a great time while working on a project. If you end up with a paper and submit to a contest, that is simply icing on the bigger cake (but should not be the primary reason for getting involved in the work). See me if you'd like to learn more. Look here for a link to past student research papers.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

One of the More Interesting Quantum Experiments!

Thanks to Jeff for forwarding this article.

We all now know that quantum mechanics is bizarre. One of the more incredible predictions and requirements of this theory is that the once thought concept of empty space, or the vacuum of space, is in fact teaming with activity. The concept of virtual particles lies at the heart of quantum field theories, with unobservable particles zooming in and out of existence, allowed by the uncertainty principle (you know things are weird when uncertainty is a rule of Nature!). Uncertainty allows for brief violations of the conservation of energy and momentum.

A team of scientists have published a paper stating they have measured the dynamical Casimir effect. This states that high-speed motion in a vacuum should be able to transfer some of its energy to virtual photons, and force those unobservables into observables! Here is the abstract from the paper, which has yet to be formally peer-reviewed and published in Nature.

"One of the most surprising predictions of modern quantum theory is that the vacuum of space is not empty. In fact, quantum theory predicts that it teems with virtual particles flitting in and out of existence. While initially a curiosity, it was quickly realized that these vacuum fluctuations had measurable consequences, for instance producing the Lamb shift of atomic spectra and modifying the magnetic moment for the electron. This type of renormalization due to vacuum fluctuations is now central to our understanding of nature. However, these effects provide indirect evidence for the existence of vacuum fluctuations. From early on, it was discussed if it might instead be possible to more directly observe the virtual particles that compose the quantum vacuum. 40 years ago, Moore suggested that a mirror undergoing relativistic motion could convert virtual photons into directly observable real photons. This effect was later named the dynamical Casimir effect (DCE). Using a superconducting circuit, we have observed the DCE for the first time. The circuit consists of a coplanar transmission line with an electrical length that can be changed at a few percent of the speed of light. The length is changed by modulating the inductance of a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) at high frequencies (~11 GHz). In addition to observing the creation of real photons, we observe two-mode squeezing of the emitted radiation, which is a signature of the quantum character of the generation process. "

Find the whole article here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gaming in Education

OK, something you may have been waiting for. Here is a TED talk about how gaming makes kids smarter, and argues that gaming should be a major part of school. While I agree that there are certain skills that are captured in playing computer and video games, such as being able to process large amounts of information, analyze it and make quick decisions based on that information, and in many games this could be a collaborative activity, let's remind ourselves that this is a different skill set than, say, being able to have patience and focus on a complex problem that requires long periods of time to collect information, keep records and notes, stay organized with ideas as they come up in this thought process, perhaps, in the case of science, develop a physical experiment to test ideas, or build a device or object or model to further investigate aspects of this complex problem, find other information about it from numerous sources, and develop logical conclusions from all this work. Gaming does not really jive with such a skill set.

My point is this: this video, while making a good point, is not a silver bullet. I will always argue that there is no single solution to the optimal education of any individual. There are so many good ways to learn, and it is a useful exercise to experience multiple ways of learning a topic or subject. In real life, one is faced with countless possible problems at a moment's notice, and depending on the type of problem and the environment you are exposed to that problem, some solutions will fall back to what you learn in a 'classical' or traditional manner, while others will make use of a skill set developed best through video gaming systems. Others will require the use of physical tools such as hammers and nails and saws, which one will never learn through gaming. Do NOT fall into the trap that you need to do all of one thing over none of some other things...learn about both methods and have a broad set of intellectual approaches to take on any problem! Remember, if you can talk about an idea or concept in multiple ways with multiple examples, chances are you have mastered the information.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Young and Want to Change the World? It CAN be Done!!

For an inspirational TED talk by Natalie Warne, who helped begin and run a national movement to recognize and do something about children being forced to become soldiers in Africa, watch this. You CAN make a difference if you work hard and are passionate about something, and are willing to go out and do something about it. This will likely include being challenged, being frustrated, and perhaps even ridiculed, but if you persist you will be amazed by what can happen!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Binary Stars and Air Friction Videos

Hey, juniors - here are two links for learning how to do binary orbits and air friction (the hockey puck example, and a sky diver example). For the air friction, this could be review of our derivations in class. For binary orbits, check out the video and see what you can do with the AP problem over the weekend. Feel free to do this with a friend or study group, and help each other through it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cyber Attacks and a Need for Computer and Network Security

As some of you know, one of my personal biggest worries is the protection of computer networks. The threat of cyber-attacks is very real, it happens very frequently (just doesn't make it to the popular press very often, so most people are not aware of this danger), and it could be the single biggest threat to our national security at the present time. It is a BIG deal. Here is a recent TED talk about this issue. Specifically, it looks at the Stuxnet virus, considered to be a cyber weapon.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bad Science Examples

Here's a TED talk that helps one think about 'bad science.' This refers to the numerous examples that permeate the mainstream media when they report on scientific studies, and simply get things wrong, both in terms of the information as well as what makes up a good scientific study. This topic in general is one we need to take seriously and be on the lookout, because the general public may want to believe anything they see or hear from a news outlet, and not question the validity or reliability of studies that are cited.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Guns Firing Under Water - a Lesson in Energy Efficiency

Check out high-speed cameras catching two guns firing under water - a conventional revolver, and a semi-automatic pistol. Watch the waste of energy in the revolver, shown by a burst of gases coming out in the rear of the gun. The semiautomatic has much less energy loss in the gases that escape prior to the barrel. Also check out the complicated turbulent patterns in the water.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Nobel in Physics Given for Discovery of Accelerated Expansion of Universe

Three physicists shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery of the acceleration of the expansion of the universe, and therefore the notion of what we now call 'dark energy' in the universe. See more here. Check here for links to papers about their work.

Here is a MinutePhysics video that gets into this topic (thanks to Patrick for the link)!

See the Hubble Deep Field in 3-D - Amazing!

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is one of the great experiments in human history. It has changed the way we literally see space, and has given us countless images that were once unimaginable. Check out what is called the Deep Field image, where the telescope focuses on one tiny spot of space for an extended period of time, and allows individual photons from very distant objects to be recorded. The result is thousands of new galaxies we had never seen before! This video looks at how astronomers do this, and how they got a 3-D image of the Deep Field.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Seeing How the Science Process Works - A Possible Colossal Discovery?!

As we will see in class when we look at some relativity, Albert Einstein developed the theory with 2 assumptions, which we tend to call Einstein's postulates. The first is that the principle of relativity holds true (this dates back to Galileo and Newton), and that the speed of light is a constant and the speed limit in the universe.

A new result at a CERN neutrino experiment has a neutrino moving faster than light! Now, prior to announcing the result, the scientists on the experiment spent months going through their data, their analysis methods, the hardware and software that were used to make measurements, checking uncertainties, redoing calculations, and so on. They were well aware that announcing this was going to make the physics world go ballistic, so they double and triple checked everything they could think of. And now, with the news out there and the world paying attention, they want the scientific world to scrutinize their work and try to either confirm or dismiss the result.

This is a wonderful example of how science is supposed to work! There is a century of tests that confirm relativity's predictions and implications. Now comes a single result that concludes a foundational assumption of the theory is flawed. The science world, which grew up with relativity as one of the two fundamental theories on which the entire discipline rests, are, of course, naturally skeptical of any attempt to displace Einstein. I am admittedly part of that camp, as my own work at Fermilab required relativistic predictions and outcomes...and it all held up under our measurements. But, at the same time, we need to be able to accept new information and knowledge and results from good experiments. Nothing in science is absolutely sacred! In fact, one could argue that we already know that relativity and quantum mechanics are not the absolute final theories of Nature - even relativity breaks down inside black holes, for example. We know we need some new physics at some point in time.

So let the confirmation games begin, as I would imagine a good number of physicists are already thinking about how to reproduce the experiment. Only two labs in the world will be able to do similar experiments, those being Fermilab and a Japanese neutrino experiment. Will the results be confirmed or dismissed? Most scientists are 'biased' and believe something must be wrong with the experiment making this claim. But never say never in science. Instead, we will need to do our job and try to find the truths of the universe, whatever those may be.

Addendum (10/8/2011):
There is tension within the OPERA Collaboration, which is the group that did this work at CERN. Nearly half do not want to formally publish this result yet in a professional journal since they think more tests and re-tests need to be done in order to have additional confidence in the results. Check out this article for more details.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Check Out Some Opportunities

Here are some possible activities you may have some interest in. Check them out and let me know if you are interested in pursuing it.

For Writers:
If you are interested in a specific science issue or topic, and enjoy writing essays, check out the DuPont Science Essay Contest. Students can research and write a 700 - 1000 word essay about that science topic, and possibly win national recognition. We have had students win this in the past, so it is possible!

Some of you who enjoy writing and do not want to submit to a national contest could instead try for publication with The Triple Helix. This will be open for anyone who wants to try and write a multidisciplinary article about science issues and how the science affects society. See Doc V for further information about The Triple Helix.

Team Contests:
Exploravision, sponsored by Toshiba, is an interesting contest that allows small teams of students take a technology and project what it will look like in 20 years! If you enjoy thinking about futurism, or science fiction and how so many of those once 'impossible' ideas in sci-fi stories have actually turned out to be true, this could be a neat activity to take on. Let Doc V know if you are interested!

The COMAP High School Mathematical Modeling contest, better known as the 36-hour problem, will have numerous teams of 4 students take on challenging, open-ended problems, and develop math-based solutions to those problems. Since all of you are beginning to gain some programming skills and knowledge, this could be a neat way to apply it in creative and original ways. See Doc V.

As always, just let Doc V know if you ever want to sit down and chat about how to start an independent science research project. Perhaps we can find something very cool and interesting to you where you can do some original work! Check out a variety of papers from former students if you want to see what research can look like in the end. Go here, and then click on Student Research Papers.

In due time, if you want to participate in bridge building or the photo contest (where ETHS students had some success this past year!), let me know and we'll get you going on it! A more comprehensive list is outlined here.

Never hesitate to talk with me if there are things outside of class you want to try. I am always amazed at what high school students are capable of, and it is typically a matter of simply having a chance to try something of will amaze yourselves, as well, and have a lot of fun and learn a ton in the process!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Searching for Gravity Waves Using 'Squeezed Light'

There is a neat article (click here) that describes a new technique that is to be used to search for gravitational radiation, the strange effect predicted by Einstein some 90 years ago in his general theory of relativity. The essence of this technique of 'squeezed light' is that a special crystal splits a photon into two, meaning they are then entangled. It is the entanglement that can amplify the effect and sensitivity of the detector, and distinguish an unbelievably weak effect from gravitational waves from the effects of the vacuum (such as virtual photons being produced out of the vacuum of space - something called quantum fluctuations).

This is obviously weird. The concepts come out of the mathematics of quantum mechanics, certainly no easy task to solve. While that may not be so comprehensible to you right now, just know that these strange predictions have been confirmed in countless experiments over the past century. As technology continues to advance, fields such as quantum computing and quantum optics continue to progress, and in this case may help in the construction of the most sensitive measuring device ever built to try and test Einstein's predictions about gravitational radiation. It will be fun to see this develop and, perhaps, produce one more staggering confirmation about Einstein's theories from nearly a century ago. Stay tuned...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Self-Assembly of Machines?

Here is a talk about self-assembly, similar to what Mr. Sinkovits works on (in concept, but at large scales. Check it out.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How to Video for Derivatives

Here is a quick link to a 'how to' video on defining derivatives. I hope it helps!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Looking for Triple Helix Writers and Editors

We are in a unique position, since ETHS is the first public school chapter of The Triple Helix. The Triple Helix is run by undergraduates from around the world, at a variety of universities, and they are looking to expand their E-publishing efforts by including high school student writers. If you enjoy writing, and enjoy thinking about science and its role in society and people's lives, this could be a good time.

The idea is for interested students to find a science-related topic, research it, and write a 1000-1500 word article about the topic. The twist is we will not focus just on the science, but rather find connections between the science topic and life in general. Perhaps you investigate the relationship between stem-cell research and religion, or the politics behind stem cell funding. Or you investigate the importance of finding new cyber-security algorithms for computer networks, in order to protect private information and data. There are countless numbers of topics to write about. If you want to apply to be an editor, we have a sample article to edit; editors can write, too, if they wish. See Doc V if interested in any aspect of this new effort! I think it could be fun, and give you a chance to learn about interesting, relevant topics and issues. Check out some more information here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Welcome Back!!!

We enter the 2011-2012 school year fresh from a good summer, and my hope is the fun continues for you as we get into some very cool physics! We will be learning the fundamentals so you may have a much better grasp of how this world of ours works, and see where modern ideas like quantum mechanics and relativity came from and why there is a need for those theories. Let's start it off!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fascinating Look at the Mathematics Behind Cities versus Corporations

This is a TED talk I personally am fascinated by, which looks at the math behind cities and corporations. The idea is to see if, through data, there is a theory or math model one can use to predict what will happen to a city and/or corporation. Geoffrey West, a physicist who works on network theory and complex systems, and his colleagues have done this, to see what the behaviors are of human-built entities such as cities and corporations, and how they compare to living systems. There are clear trends, which is a characteristic of a network, and he shows these trends clearly and convincingly. Check it out!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Here Comes the Higgs?!?!

A recently published article, summarizing new data presented at a high energy physics conference in Europe, show an excess of particles in the mass spectrum that may end up being the Higgs boson, as some like Nobel winner Leon Lederman have called the 'God particle.' This is a particle that has been predicted for some 45 years, from a theory known as the Standard Model. This is the theory that covers the known forces and particles in Nature, minus gravity. It has been wildly successful when compared with experimental data, and one of the key pieces is the Higgs boson and Higgs field. This particle and field are responsible for nothing less than the matter we are all made from. It is the theoretical mechanism that allows energy to transform into matter, which is summed up by Einstein's E = mc^2.

Physicists on the experiments producing these data do caution the world NOT to jump to any conclusions. In science, rumors are left just as that, rumors. There are strict statistical results that are needed before one can claim discovery. There are double and triple checks of analysis algorithms, calibrations of the detectors, fine-tuning theoretical programs called Monte Carlos to re-check the backgrounds for these types of particle decays, and many other checks before anyone would even think of calling a few excess events a discovery, especially something as vital as the Higgs. We will see over the next few months what the final conclusions are, but this provides a sense of excitement for the world of physics.

For a simple explanation of what the 'Higgs field' is, check out this video, produced at Fermilab.

Algorithms in Our World - Good News for Computer Scientists

In the Age of the Internet and fast electronics and computers, computer programming is the life-blood of it all. None of the modern electronic landscape exists without computer software, giving the commands to the electronics so the electronics know what to do in the first place.

This is true for many, if not most, aspects of modern life. Software, meaning the computer programs computer scientists and engineers write in a variety of languages (Java and C++ are probably the most familiar to high school students), is now used for keeping people alive, controlling the power grid, taking humans in and out of space, telecommunications of all kinds, everything financial, entertainment of all kinds, finding information, and so on. Here is something that is also a factor in modern life - algorithms that run behind the scenes and drive the stock market. So if you are into computers, good for you! If you are simply interested in something in science or engineering or math, then at least learn to program so you know at least the principles behind the algorithms that control more and more of your life.

Now a short commentary...this also means that it is equally important to put huge resources into the notion of computer and cyber security. With life being controlled by computer algorithms, that opens the door to hacking and cyber-terrorism. If you want to see mass panic, what happens if a computer virus enters the power grid computer network, and shuts down the power on a national scale? Or steals all of your, and everyone's, personal financial information, and therefore turns the national economy upside-down? This is something we do not hear much about, but we need an large number of bright programmers working on this aspect of life in the computer age.

Evidence Shows Musicians Have Better Memory, Smarts as They Age

Many of you are musicians, and that is looking like a good thing. There is evidence that there is a long-term payoff, as it keeps the brain sharp as you age. A quick summary article can be found here. I need to break out the trumpet again!

Mathematical Minds

From one of my favorite blogs, which has a focus on looking at brain functioning to understand all sorts of issues in education, learning, and life, there is a wonderful post about mathematical minds.

Gifted math minds really do 'light up' differently than average math minds when looking at math-related problems. And because of the way the brain is organized and behaves for different mental tasks, gifted math students can be difficult to identify from commonly used assessments and classroom behaviors. For instance, many truly advanced math students are not strong verbally, which can make them difficult to pick out of a crowd, and many like to 'do their own thing' when it comes to math and not at all be interested in the rote math memorization so often done in school. And likely the single most common trait is the love of solving problems of any type. This shows up not just in the 'numbers people,' but also tinkerers. Can you relate to any of these traits?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How to do Air Friction on a Sky Diver

Here is a case where air friction acts on a falling object, such as a sky diver. This is one of the trickier math problems we will do in physics, as it involves calculus (anything with air friction will, since it is a non-constant force: f = -kv). We specifically want to solve for the velocity as a function of time for the sky diver. Check this out to get a feel for how Newton's 2nd law sets up the equation, and then we do almost all algebra with a step of calculus to solve for velocity. Note that terminal velocity is the speed you reach when air friction matches the strength of gravity, and the person falls with a constant speed at that point. Also note that we do a very simplified model of air friction. Other factors we do not worry about here include the shape of the object, air density that varies with altitude, wind, air temperature that varies, the material of the object, the gaseous composition, and so on (for us, all this information is contained in the constant, k).

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Reason Why Astronomers Think There Should be some Dark Matter

Dark Matter is one of those terms we hear a lot about in the news. It is the mysterious, hypothetical 'matter' that helps hold galaxies together. Originally, it was proposed to exist to help explain how galaxies rotate, when the observable amount of 'normal' matter is not sufficient to cause the observed rotation. This video explains a similar idea with another method, which looks at the bullet cluster.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Blog From the Math Side...

I am happy to report that John Benson and P.J. Karafiol,two of the great math educators in the country, have a blog up and running at Check it out for numerous bits of advice, anecdotes, and interesting problems to work on. I highly recommend it for all teachers and those who enjoy mathematics!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Trying to Make Some Sense About Quantum Mechanics

Gaining any level of understanding of quantum mechanics is one of the great intellectual challenges in science. In a quantum world of indeterminism and probability, uncertainty and fuzziness, phenomena completely unseen in our everyday lives are the norm for atoms and particles.

At the center of the strangeness is particle-wave duality, the notion that particles can at times act like ‘solid’ balls, but in different circumstances can behave like a wave. Likewise, something we normally think of as a wave, such as light, can certainly act like a wave under certain conditions, but in quantum mechanics light can also behave like particles we refer to as photons. In fact, a favorite question I pose to students is, ‘When light is traveling from a light bulb to your eye, is it a particle or wave?’ Ultimately, someone will offer the answer, ‘It is both!’ That is an acceptable answer; but what does this mean? How can an ‘object’ be two things simultaneously, which is what the answer ‘both’ implies.

No one is comfortable with this answer, and yet it fits in with the foundational principles of quantum mechanics. The reason is, in the mathematics of quantum mechanics, objects are described with a wave function. This is a mathematical function that encompasses possible states the object can take. So a photon that is moving through space can be thought of as a combination of two states, something like Photon = [particle state] + [wave state]. More specifically, this function can be used to determine the probability of finding the photon in a particle or wave state.

But I think most of us still come back to the same questions: How do we interpret this mathematical nonsense? What does this mean for the object? This is where an analogy comes in handy, that will perhaps put this probabilistic concept into a more understandable context.

If I am talking about this in a class, I ask students to look around at each other and identify the personality snapshot of each of their classmates. This means to identify who is happy, sad, confused, angry, sarcastic, sleepy, bored, or anything else. So while there are numerous possible ‘personality states’ any person can have, while observing a person we can select one personality state at that time because we are interacting with them. However, what do we do when the bell rings and everyone goes on their way? If I ask someone to identify which personality state a specific person is in when they are no longer available for observation or interaction, what is the answer? The best we can do is to effectively guess…but to do this mathematically, we would acknowledge that at any given moment when a person is not being observed in any way, we cannot be certain about the personality state and can only try to identify the probability of that person being in each state. Perhaps there is a 20% chance she is happy, and 25% chance of being sad, and so on for each possible personality state.

This is the way we think about particles and waves when those entities are not being observed. When we do observe the entity, the act of observing selects out the personality from the mix of possible personalities. Another way of saying it is the experiment we do selects out a single observable state that we then identify. For a person, maybe it is the ‘happy’ state that becomes crystallized out of the ‘personality state’ function that includes all the possible personality states. For an electron, if we put it through a diffraction grating the wave personality is selected, whereas if we shoot it at an atom and it is deflected, the particle personality was selected instead.

Thinking this way is not necessarily normal, obvious or instinctive, but it is something we can try to understand the way the quantum world works. Of course, in real quantum mechanical problems, the mathematics becomes very hard very fast, but trying to find more concrete ways of thinking about the consequences of probabilistic concepts can only help the student to whom this is all new.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Deep Thoughts by Dr. Tae - Can Skateboarding Save Education?

I wanted to share this TEDx talk by Dr. Tae Kim, after he sent me the link to it. Dr. Tae is likely the type of educator and scientist most people would label as one who 'thinks outside the box.' I still remember the fun we had when he came over to ETHS one day, while he was at Northwestern, to talk about school, education, physics, and whatever else that would come up in the conversation. We shared many of the same thoughts and ideas about where schools and education should go, but just said it in different ways, it turns out.

In this video, Tae uses skateboarding, which he, seriously, is addicted to and is a master, and more precisely how one learns when trying to do a new trick, to get into how schools set up its environment for learning. The process of learning skateboarding on the street or in the park looks very different from the process of learning in school. The environment for learning skateboarding is very different from the environment of learning in school. The reason(s) for learning are different, as well, in these realms. I won't say much more here, but rather let you watch Dr. Tae in action and form your own opinions about his points on education and school and skateboarding.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Remembering Richard Feynman - In the Words of Leonard Susskind

Leonard Susskind, a Stanford physicist, remembers his good friend and genius physicist, the late Richard Feynman. Feynman is best known for quantum electrodynamics (QED). Enjoy!

Friday, May 27, 2011


All the best to the class of 2011! I will miss every one of you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

College Majors and Income

This may be of interest to a few students.

In terms of income, what majors rank highest over a lifetime?
Pick engineering for your major and your lifetime income advantage over solely a high school diploma is about $1.1 million. Go into education and you can expect a boost of about $241,000 with your bachelor's degree. Researchers found as much as a 300 percent difference in earnings potential between one major and another.

This all comes from a study by the Georgetown Center of Education and Workforce, as they looked at 171 majors.

The most popular major group is business, with 25 percent of all students; the least popular are industrial arts and consumer services and agriculture and natural resources, with 1.6 percent each, researchers found.

Here's the breakdown of median earnings by major groups:
1. Engineering, $75,000
2. Computer and mathematics, $70,000
3. Business, $60,000
4. Health, $60,000
5. Physical sciences. $59,000
6. Social sciences, $55,000
7. Agriculture and Natural Resources, $50,000
8. Communication and Journalism, $50,000
9. Industrial Arts and Consumer Services, $50,000
10. Law and Public Policy, $50,000
11.Biology and Life Sciences, $50,000
12. Humanities and Liberal Arts, $47,000
13. Arts, $44,000
14. Education, $42,000
15. Psychology and Social Work, $42,000

The top 10 majors with the highest median annual earnings:
1. Petroleum Engineering, $120,000
2. Pharmacy/pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration, $105,000
3. Mathematics and Computer Sciences, $98,000
4. Aerospace Engineering, $87,000
5. Chemical Engineering, $86,000
6. Electrical Engineering, $85,000
7. Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, $82,000
8. Mechanical Engineering, $80,000
9. Metallurgical Engineering, $80,000
10. Mining and Mineral Engineering, $80,000

The 10 majors with the lowest median annual earnings:
1. Counseling/Psychology, $29,000
2. Early Childhood Education, $36,000
3. Theology and Religious Vocations, $38,000
4. Human Services and Community Organizations, $38,000
5. Social Work, $39,000
6. Drama and Theater Arts, $40,000
7. Studio Arts, $40,000
8, Communication Disorders Sciences and Services, $40,000
9. Visual and Performing Arts, $40,000
10. Health and Medical Preparatory Programs, $40,000

Going to graduate school pays off, but it also varies by major. The greatest income benefits come from those who pursue degrees related to healthcare and biology. The lowest payoff in graduate schools is from degrees in atmospheric sciences and meteorology and studio arts.

Looking for a major that nearly guarantees you a job?

The study found there is virtually no unemployment for majors in geological and geophysical engineering, military technologies, pharmacology, and school student counseling.

Majors with the highest unemployment rates: social psychology, nuclear engineering and educational administration and supervision.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Quantum Teleportation

Thanks to Nathan for finding this link:

Scientists at the University of Tokyo have done the equivalent of quantum teleportation with quantum bits (qubits) of information. Check out the article, which has some internal links as well. This could be a major discovery in the development of quantum computing, so it will be interesting to see where it leads in the next few years. These are all related to the completely wacky world of quantum mechanics, some of which we have discussed in class.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Amazing Pendula - Try to Figure this one out

Here is a wonderful challenge - what are the ratios of the lengths (and the corresponding periods) of this set of pendulua? Remember that period is proportional to sqrt(L). I don't know the answer myself, but will try to figure it out as well. Regardless, this is a very cool video, and we need one of these for class!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Required Video for Prof. Halperin's visit

Prof. Bill Halperin will be in H320 on Tuesday, May 17. He is an expert in low temperature physic and was recently on this Daily Show segment because of the helium shortage the world is facing. This is actually a big deal, so there is a serious side to issue. Enjoy...

Note you can also read Prof. Halperin's testimony at a hearing on helium for the Committee on Science and Technology, which is a House committee in Congress.

Black Hole Research at NU and ETHS

An astrophysics group at Northwestern is heavily involved in black hole research, as well as outreach to the high school. Mr. DuBrow and Mr. Schelbert have been involved in the Reach for the Stars Project, and here is a clip about the program, originally from the Big Ten Network.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What is Superstring Theory all About?

Here is Brian Greene, author of 'Elegant Universe,' does a good job of explaining what the basic ideas of superstring theory are, and some good graphics to try and get your head around. Keep in mind there is no experimental evidence for any of this yet, and we'll see where it goes as the accelerator in Europe, the LHC (Large Hadron Collider), ramps up to its full energy.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Watching Science in Action

In this day and age of instant news, and a non-stop 24/7 news cycle, with so many news sources trying to rush 'scoops' to print without verification, multiple sources and all the former 'rules of journalism' being followed, we can watch science in action. A great example is a story that was leaked today, about an internal memo of an experimental collaboration at CERN that claims discovery of the Higgs boson. This, by the way, is the most sought-after particle there is in present-day particle physics.

Now, that makes for a cool headline, as it certainly grabbed my attention when I checked in at Yahoo news. The trouble is, the memo was leaked by someone. The collaboration did not make it public. So is this a true memo? Is it a fake or edited version of an actual memo, or completely made up? But it got a headline.

In science, one must be absolutely thorough and careful before publishing any type of result. Once public, any result you have will be fair-game for the full force of scrutiny and criticism the scientific world can muster. A collaboration in particular has real sets of rules that are followed by all members, especially when it comes to 'discovery' claims of any have the reputation of every single scientist associated with the collaboration at risk. Something does not go public until the collaboration says so collectively. This is why popular journalists can cause issues for groups working on high-profile analyses, because they will take any information they get and run with it. The scientific process is more heavily geared towards accuracy than the modern journalist. Now the general public will see this headline and think some great discovery has been made, which may in fact be the complete opposite of reality.

The morale of the story is to be careful with what you read and what you are supposed to learn, and make sure to have legitimate sources with any type of research you may do in school or elsewhere. Stick with opinions and papers from experts in that particular field, and be aware of possible relevancy and accuracy issues in popular press arrticles.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Science of Tornados

Scientific American has a set of videos and articles about tornadoes, which are in the news after killer storms hit the south. Of course, there is a good deal of physics in these storms, with conservation of angular momentum playing a role as the 'twister' forms.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Possible New Particle Discovered at Doc V's old Stomping Ground

This link was found by Judah:

Well, Nature never sits still, and a possible new particle was found at the Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF), my old experiment. A bump in the data suggests a new particle, one that, if real, no one yet has a clear understanding of what it is. It is almost certainly not the Higgs boson that has been searched for for decades. Some suggest it could be a new type of force-carrying particle, for some new interaction that occurs in nuclei. It is also a '3-sigma' event, where there is a fraction of a percent uncertainty that it could be a statistical fluctuation in the data. At 3 standard deviations from the mean, there is a 99.9% chance of being an actual discovery, and a 0.1% chance of being a random blip in the data...but that is still large enough to be skeptical when doing research at the professional level.

What is next? More data is needed to continue to reduce the size of the uncertainties (i.e. to reduce the error bars) to see if the bump either is enhanced, or if it smooths out, which would mean a likely random fluctuation. A second part of this is, ideally, to have a second, independent group check and see if they find the same bump at the same mass. Either D0 at Fermilab or the CERN experiments would be able to do this. We will hear more about this over the next months, but it is exciting nonetheless to see the scientific process in action!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Squishy Circuits using materials like Playdoh

Check out this short TED talk about squishy circuits, ideal for younger kids to introduce electricity concepts. This is what I would love to see happen on a regular basis in elementary schools and middle schools, so we do not lose the interest of so many students in science and math by doing worksheets and memorizing science facts. Let kids create and explore and have some fun doing so!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fractals, fractals, Everywhere!

Thanks to Elliot for this one:

Fractals can be used to describe the world. With Benoit Mandelbrot's breakthrough geometric study, secrets of the world have been revealed. I found this website especially cool because of all the examples of magnificent fractals in the world. Fractal geometry has been vital to new forms of art and computer graphics and areas of science and technology, and will continue to change the world.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Interesting Idea - The Sounds of the Cosmos

Astrophysicist Janna Levin of Barnard College presents simulated sounds of gravitational waves from black holes in various systems. The idea is that, because gravitational waves, which are predicted by Einstein's general theory of relativity, would stretch and compress our ears at certain frequencies. This would be equivalent to what air pressure waves do to the ear drum membrane in our ears, which is sound. Relativity predicts the frequency of gravitational waves from any astrophysical system, and Levin then simulates what the equivalent sound would be. Keep in mind there is no direct observation of gravity waves yet, but there is a growing collection of indirect evidence that these are real and travel at the predicted speed of light. There are several sophisticated experiments running that look for gravity radiation, and most scientists do not doubt they will be found some day, as they are a natural, necessary consequence of the warping of space-time in relativistic models.

Check it out and enjoy some of the computer simulations of black hole systems.

First Pic of Mercury from Messenger Probe

Check out the first picture of the planet Mercury, taken from an orbiting probe called Messenger. If I did not know any better I would have guessed this is our own moon! Congrats to NASA for the successful mission.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nuclear revival?

This one is thanks to Ben:

I found this article a while back and realized that it now has some greater weight due to the recent damages done with the nuclear breakdown in Japan after the earthquake:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

ScreenToaster Back Up (for the moment)

I know the numerous how-to videos I have made over the past couple years have been down for the past couple weeks. These screencast videos are made with software from, and stored in a different, non-standard format on their servers. So when those servers are down, we lose access to the screencasts. The site is back up, but for how long is anyone's guess. I am trying to find options for saving the videos in a more reliable location and format, rather than remaking several dozen videos. But if you want to watch anything, the list is at:

Thank you for your patience!

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Good Radiation Dose Chart - Puts exposure into perspective

Thanks to Mr. Lewandowski for this (through Mr. DuBrow):

There is obviously much concern about the nuclear reactor leaks in Japan. But while it is natural to be scared of radioactive contamination, it also helps to keep the science in mind as far as the amount of radiation being leaked and how much exposure one receives over time. To help find this perspective, check out the site below. You can see how the reactor leaks compare to average exposure just by being alive on earth, and other circumstances that will be familiar.

12 Areas of Science that will Change the World in the Next 50 Years

Thanks to Brian E. for this one:

Here is a website I stumbled upon that I thought was pretty interesting. Basically, it outlines 12 areas of science that scientist think are most likely to have an increasing impact on the earth and its people roughly by the year 2050. The child in me liked this website because it was interactive but it also is impressive because it outlines areas of science that will most likely become more and more relevant in the coming years. Check it out:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Final Shuttle Mission for NASA

Thanks to Alejandra for this one:

This articles is about how NASA is supposedly sending off people on the final missions to space. This is really sketchy because NASA has many more reasons to not stop sending shuttles off to space. It could be dangerous that the US won't be learning more about what is going on in space and the future that space holds. It is also blocking the chance for future development and it will be harder to understand the world outside. It is expensive to run these missions, but it is worth it every now and then. In my opinion, it is almost a necessity. Frequent visits are not necessary, but occasional ones are.

Friday, February 18, 2011

World's first Anti-Laser

Check out the article at This describes the world's first anti-laser, that dissipates laser energy as heat.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Infants and language

Thanks to both Jeff and Gabi D. for this one:

Jeff: This is a TED talk about the linguistic capabilities of infants, how they adapt to the languages that they hear, and how that relates to why it is so hard for high school students and adults to learn a new language.

Gabi: This video discusses the process by which babies learn new languages. It specifically deals with babies in the period when their ability to learn language is highest and when their brains are most malleable. I found one part to be particularly intriguing, in that the result of the test, in terms of data, can imply many different things. The test where English-speaking babies were exposed to Mandarin for twelve sessions and then compared to babies who were exposed to Mandarin for ten months was fascinating. First of all, why would the human brain be so inefficient that nine months of extra Mandarin practice would not differentiate the skill level of a speaker? If we assume that the human brain isn't so inefficient, could that indicate that being able to tell sounds apart is just such a basic task that it takes almost no time to master, and thus studies should check more advanced linguistic functions when further examining this topic? Also, is the baby exposed to both languages actually learning two languages, or just becoming confused? It seems that the video indicated that the baby is storing two sets of language data, which means he is learning two languages. This seems possible because the brain of a baby is so flexible. Also, although babies have almost no use for learning two languages simultaneously, we know that grown humans can, and that ability must exist during infancy because our language skills decline sharply afterward. Overall, scientific evidence makes it clear that the baby's brain is a language-learning juggernaut.

The Singularity of technology and robotics

Thanks to Michael for this:

Here's the link:,8599,2048138,00.html

This article is very interesting because it talks about the Singularity, which is the point in the future when robots and artificial intelligence will surpass the combined intelligence of all humans on earth. The article makes an interesting point that because the speed of the processor that costs $1000 is increasing exponentially, until 2045 which is when the processing speed of all silicon will exceed human intelligence. At this point, speculators say, that humans may merge with their robot counterparts and potentially become immortal and ridiculously intelligent. or, the robots will go Terminator on the human race and try to wipe us out because they see us as a threat to the continuation of the earth's ecosystem.
Either way, the Singularity is becoming less of a theory and more of an inevitable reality.

Check out this experiment to do at home

Thanks to Zach S. for this:

Today we have a fun home experiment in which we will defy gravity while balancing forks. A fun home experiment that I encourage you try with your family and leave them in awe.

Everything you will need for this experiment can be found around the house:
-Glass Cup
-2 Forks
-Tooth Pick

1. Interlock your 2 forks
2. Stick the toothpick through the center tightly
3. Balance the forks and toothpick on the edge of the glass
4. Take a moment to be amazed at the forks balancing on a tiny toothpick
5. Take your lighter and lite the end of the toothpick until it burns all the way to the glass

So have fun and make sure you subscribe for more cool experiments! =)

How far will Robots go? The Future and Robotics

Thanks to Fiona for this:

I chose a video for my blog post that shows Ray Kurzweil officially introducing the new university for singularity. For people who don't know what singularity is (probably most of class) my understanding of it is that technology has been growing exponentially and Kurzweil thinks that in 2045, robots will surpass the "brainpower equivalent to that of all human brains combined," and this is called the point of singularity. After technology gets to this point, Kurzweil thinks they will take over their own development and basically, the sky is the limit. I think this is a very interesting topic because the whole "robots taking over the world" idea has generally been left to science fiction, but this is evidence that it might actually end up happening.

Possible HIV Vaccine

Thanks to Lucy for this:

This is a really interesting video about how we are starting to create vaccines that will eventually allow us to treat diseases like HIV. This is really important to the health of the world and is an important advancement that needs to be made.

Building a Toaster from Scratch

Thanks to Aaron:

Nuclear Program in U.S.

Thanks to Eleanor for this:

This is a short video that talks about a secret unit of photographers
and cinematographers that documented the government's nuclear bomb
tests in the United States. The videos are just now coming out, and
it's pretty interesting to see the magnitude and progression of
nuclear research in the US.

Why do we like what we do?

Thanks to George M. for this:

I have always wondered what makes us, as humans, like a certain food, or laugh at a joke. Why are things funny? Not sure if I buy all the points brought up in this video, but I thing it brings a larger question to mind and stabs at the answer. Also, I couldn't help but be reminded of Mr. Benson.

Energy System and Conservation

Thanks to Jeremy for this one:

Here's a cool article for the blog:

The article is about an office building in the Rocky Mountain Foothills that has a revolutionary air circulation system. It uses a computer that, when it senses that there is more sunlight outside, uses more energy than normal to cool down the building. However, at times where there are clouds or darkness, it wildly cuts back on its energy usage, saving massive amounts on money.

Robotic/Biomechanicsl Hand for Humans

Thanks to Lauren for this one:

This is a very interesting robotics video about a man who uses his mind to control a biomechanical hand connected to his nervous system. He lost his left hand and forearm in a car accident and is now working to use a biomechanical hand. It is the first time a patient has been able to make such complex movements in a biomechanical hand using only his mind. Researchers are now working to be able to succeed in this with entire limbs.

Linguistics of Babies

Thanks to Randy for this:

Genius babies! ITs amazing and cool!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Types of People Who Want to go to Mars

Thanks to Elias for this one:

As it is now known that a trip to Mars would most likely be one-way, it is interesting what types of people would volunteer. It's also a bridge between psychology and more physical sciences, as both would have to come together to make a successful trip to Mars.

New Sony PS Phone

Thanks to Eric R. for this one:

It is about the new sony play station phone. Revolutionary stuff.

Science in the U.S.

Thanks to Joe B for this:

Here are two articles about science in the United States. The first is an article from Nature about how Congress is planning on cutting government spending on science. The second is from The New York Times, and it is about how most high school biology teachers in the United States do not comply with National Research Council recommendations on the teaching of evolution, and how it is a symptom of declining science education in the United States. These two articles are important because they demonstrate a dangerous trend away from science in the U.S. We are a country that has long led the world in science, and we now take that for granted, but that won’t stay the same if we can’t make science a priority.

More on Watson, the Jeopardy computer

Thanks to Sam S:

This is an article about the kind of collaborative effort that went into
constructing the Watson computer, and talks a little bit about how the computer works. It shows the contributions from several major universities and that it was a much larger project than just IBM. The specific things that each university added shows what went into making the computer so powerful.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Inexpensive Refrigeration

Thanks to Julia C-F for this one:

This video is about an inexpensive new type of refrigeration that would be available to people who don't have electricity or stored fuels such as propane. It is important for people in developing countries to have some accessible form of refrigeration for the storage of vaccines and other medical supplies. The "sustainable fridge" utilizes thermodynamics and costs between $25 and $40. The refrigerator is about the size of a large thermos and weighs 8 pounds. It works by placing it on a fire for 30 mins and then letting it cool in the shade for 1 hour. The fridge then cools for 24 hours. I think it is interesting that we can apply something we learned in chemistry to help solve world problems. I also did not know that 1.6 billion people in the world don't have access to refrigeration or that it is so important to people's health. I hope to be able to use science to help the world someday too.