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Title Post date
Why can't you just turn a nuclear reactor off? Keywords: nuclear reactor, shutdown

When a nuclear reactor gets into trouble, what's wrong with hitting the off switch?

When a uranium nucleus fissions into two, the resulting nuclei are not stable; they continue to decay and generate heat long after the fission chain reaction has stopped.

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6 years 21 weeks ago
Using spreadsheets Keywords: absolute and relative cell references, chi-squared, Excel, formulas, graphing, model, OpenOffice Calc, simulating data, Solver, spreadsheets, trend line, uncertainties

Want a quick way to do calculations, simulate data and draw graphs? Here are some quck tips on using spreadsheets to do this!

In this activity, we will use an accepted physical model, that of an object falling in a vacuum, to create simulated data that could result from an experiment. We will then graph this data and fit a trend line to it.

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7 years 15 weeks ago
Trend Analysis in the Context of Global Warming Keywords: anthropogenic climate change, climate, climate change, trend analysis

There are many sources ranging from politicians to mass media that claim that the Earth is actually cooling, not warming as scientists say it is. Unusually cold periods and local changes in weather are generally the cause for these statements. Why are these claims inaccurate?

There are many claims made refuting the existence of global warming. Most of these claims come from looking at very short term data in a very localized region. Global warming, as the name implies, is an increase in the global temperature and conclusions about it cannot be reached using measurements localized in time and space. Doing so is called "cherry picking".

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2 years 2 weeks ago
Thermal Radiation Keywords: black body radiation, infrared, thermal radiation

All bodies emit radiation. So why don't we all shine in the dark?

Thermal radiation is a crucial part of our macro and micro environments. Although invisible to the eye it can be measured and imaged.

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7 years 9 weeks ago
Renewable Energies Keywords: biofuel, electricity generation, energy, hydro-electricity, Renewable, solar energy, wind energy

Energy is always required, whether it be for the production of goods, the supplying of services, or for transportation. Can we reduce our emissions by turning to clean sources of energy? If so, why haven't we already?

A large portion of humanity's energy demands are met using fossil fuels. Switching from fossil fuel generation to cleaner sources could greatly reduce the carbon emission put out every year. There are many ways to obtain energy cleanly, each with their own advantages and challenges.

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2 years 2 weeks ago
Oscillations and Waves Keywords: Circular Motion, interference, Oscillations, Rotational Motion, Standing Waves, Superposition, waves

What do waves, oscillations, and rotations have in common?

Surprisingly, rotations, oscillations, and waves can be described with similar math. In this article, we make the math come alive by using Excel or Calc programs to simulate oscillations and wave effects. You can learn how to do this yourself by following our videos.

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4 years 31 weeks ago
Nuclear Fission Project Keywords: chemical, nuclear, reaction rates

Yes, you can do this at home.

Students can model a self-sustaining reaction using ping pong balls and mouse traps while varying the density/concentration of the reactants to see how that affects the rate of reaction.

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5 years 20 weeks ago
Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) 7 years 10 weeks ago
Light Theremin (Simple) Keywords: Hands-Free, Light Theremin, Lights Sensing Instrument

Is it possible to create a musical instrument that can be played without direct contact?

This project takes the student through the steps to build a simple Light Theremin, an instrument which changes its pitch depending on how much light is shone upon it.

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3 years 51 weeks ago
Light Theremin (Advanced) Keywords: Generate Sine Wave, Light Sensing Instrument, Light Theremin

Is it possible to create a musical instrument that can be played without direct contact?

A more complicated version of the simple Light Theremin. This version uses another light sensor for volume control, and sounds much closer to the original Capacitive Theremin.

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3 years 51 weeks ago
Laminar (Un)mixing Keywords: activity, fluids, laminar flow, mixing, reynolds number

"Unmixing" a mixture is impossible, right? So what's going on here?

Find out how to construct your own "(un)mixing" demonstration and learn about how it works here.

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4 years 35 weeks ago
Investigating the Greenhouse Effect and Passive Solar Heating Keywords: greenhouse effect, Lend an Experiment (LEx), thermal absorption

We all know a car sitting outside in the sun all day can get dangerously hot inside, but why? What does this have to do with the greenhouse effect?

This activity is part of the LEx (Lend an Experiment) Climate Kit. Students explore the way materials and surfaces interact with solar radiation. We introduce the idea of the greenhouse effect, and build a small model to illustrate how it works.

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1 year 44 weeks ago
Hydro-Electric Dam Demo Keywords: dams, hydro-electricity, power

Energy from Water?

An estimate of the power output from a model hydro-electric dam.

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7 years 10 weeks ago
Flying 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.

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7 years 5 weeks ago
Energy cost of flying Keywords: energy, energy loss, flight, potential energy

Gliders and planes glide similarly. How similar?

The power required to keep a toy plane flying can be inferred from the way it glides. This technique also works for full-sized aircraft.

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5 years 43 weeks ago
Climate Models: Simulating the Earth Keywords: climate, climate change, simulating data

Climate models can give us a great deal of information about what sort of rules the climate follows and how the climate might look like in the future. A climate model is the result of a simulation run on a virtual Earth. This simulation mimics the real Earth and its climate as well as any influences the planet might have on the climate. They are used to predict the future of the climate using computers.

The prediction of future climate is done using climate models, virtual Earths with their climates simulated many years into the future. These virtual Earths live inside computers and evolve according to complex equations solved for points in time. The results that these climate models give provide us with important information to make decisions relating to climate change before we encounter the potentially catastrophic consequences.

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2 years 2 weeks ago
Carbon Storage Keywords: carbon dioxide, carbon emissions

Are ways to perform human control of the carbon in the atmosphere? How do we do it? Is it safe?

Humanity is not without means to control the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. There are ways it can be sucked out of the air and placed deep underground. However, this is by no means a permanent solution and is not without its risks.

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2 years 2 weeks ago
C21 Video Contest Top Videos 4 years 24 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.

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7 years 1 week ago
Bicycle Power Keywords: bicycle, chi-squared, power, spreadsheets

How can you measure the mechanical power required to pedal a bicycle by observing how it slows down when you stop pedalling?

The forces acting on a bicycle can be estimated by observing the rate at which it slows down when you stop pedalling. This technique can, in principle, be used for any transportation vehicle.

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5 years 31 weeks ago
Balance of Rates: A Thought Experiment Keywords: carbon emissions, rates, unbalanced rates

We often look at the number of tonnes of carbon dioxide we emit into the atmosphere for a given activity. But what if it's not a question of how much- but rather, how fast?

We are pumping tens of billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. In contrast, the naturally occurring exchanges of carbon dioxide happen in the hundreds of billions of tonnes. Does this render our human activity insignificant? In this activity, we explore how even small differences in a balance can cause a large influence over time.

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1 year 35 weeks ago
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