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Pitot Tubes

Keywords: air speed, Bernoulli's equation, fluid speed, fluids, Pitot tubes

How can wasps endanger a commercial airline flight?

This article explains how a Pitot tube is used to measure speed of a fluid and is applied to measure the air speed of aircraft. Bernoulli's equation forms the basic principle of fluid speed measurements using Pitot tubes.

2 years 43 weeks ago

How big was the aerodynamic force on Felix Baumgartner at 1342 km/h? (Or on Alan Eustace at 1321 km/h?)

Keywords: aerodynamics, drag, felix baumgartner, free fall

Did you watch Felix Baumgartner jump out of a balloon gondola at an altitude of 39 km? Here's a question for your physics students, or even your physics teacher! How big was the drag force on Felix Baumgartner at his maximum speed of 1342 km/h? Pretty enormous, right? Wrong.

Knowing next to nothing about how aerodynamic drag varies as one hits the sound barrier, there is very simple way to assess the aerodynamic drag on a falling object at its maximum speed. Even at 1432 km/h. In fact the maximum aerodynamic drag occurs afterwards when the falling object is slowing down in the denser lower atmosphere. To asses how big the force was on Felix Baumgartner, we create a simple mathematical model of his fall.

4 years 22 weeks ago

How much do grade 10 students know about our energy consumption?


Do students understand how similar we are to the machines we make?

The human body and the internal combustion engine are quite similar in that they are both heat engines requiring chemical energy to run.
By placing a question related to this notion on a national science contest, we attempted to discover what Grade 10 students think.

5 years 2 weeks ago

Commuting by car or cycle - which is better?

Keywords: bicycle, Carbon footprint, consumption, cycling, energy, Food, spreadsheets

It's not actually that clear...

We set out to find how much of a change it would make environmentally if one cycled instead of drove to work and then further expanded our findings to include the variables of diet composition and material goods ownership.

5 years 5 weeks ago

Food, Energy and the Environment

Keywords: energy balance, Food, greenhouse gases

How do we feed nine billion people without destroying our environment?

The primary function of food is to provide our bodies with energy. Most of this energy comes ultimately from oil, with a little sunlight added, and its production is an energy-inefficient process.

5 years 6 weeks ago

What do I (we) do about my (our) carbon footprint?

Keywords: Carbon footprint, reduction

A very frequent question asked by students after learning about climate change is "But what can I (we) do about it?". Here are some ideas, all of which have benefits in addition to reducing greenhouse gases, and so are worth considering even if you reject the idea of anthropogenic global warming completely.

Here is a set of suggestions for science students who wish to take action to reduce their own and their family's or community's carbon footprint. Most of the ideas are about education and attitude. We also list three achievable ways of reducing your annual emissions by least a tonne of carbon dioxide.

5 years 22 weeks ago

Energy and Power

Keywords: definition, energy, types, useage

What is energy? Why is it such a useful concept? How does it relate to power?

Energy is the capacity to do work (both are measured in Joules). Power is the rate at which energy is transformed from one state to another, often from a stored state into work (a Joule of energy transformed per second is a Watt of power). Subsistence living requires about 200 W per person. Western living requires about 10 kW per person. Humankind currently uses about 12.5 TW of power, most from fossil fuels. Ten billion people living a western lifestyle (the not-impossible goal of many futurists) would require 100 TW of power.

5 years 35 weeks ago

Bottle Rockets

Keywords: air, bottle, force, fuel, pressure, rocket, thrust, water

Bottle Rockets - a future mode of transport?

This article explores the physics behind bottle rockets and how they work. It also discusses whether or not bottle rockets would be a viable means of transport.

6 years 36 weeks ago

Energy Cost of Transport

Keywords: energy, transport

How much energy does it take to move a person or a tonne of freight from A to B?

We compare how much energy it takes to move something from A to B using a variety of means: road, rail, water, air, and if that something is a human, walking and bicycling.

6 years 40 weeks ago


Keywords: aircraft, birds, energy, flight, transport cost

It takes energy to fly. How much?

We examine how much energy it takes to fly from A to B, whether by bird, model glider, small plane or 747.

6 years 40 weeks ago
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