This is something I’ve wanted to do for many years, which we discussed when I was at the Royal Institution but never quite got around to: careful macrophotography of chemical phenomena and reactions.
The Institute of Advanced Technology at the University of Science and Technology of China and Tsinghua University Press have teamed up with photographer and science visualisation specialist Yan Liang to film a series of reactions, and from the looks of this trailer they’ve made a really good job of it. There’s a ‘Beautiful Chemistry’ project website and blog, and I suspect I’ll be posting again when the main project goes live next month.
We’ve all winced at those scenes in CSI:Nowheresville when somebody in a lab coat ‘enhances’ an image until you can see the reflection of the room in the pupil of somebody’s eye, or whatever.
This video is like that. Clearly implausible, most likely witchcraft.
Alternatively, a group of researchers at MIT really have found a way of extracting temporal information from CMOS sensor skew, sufficient to reconstruct audio up to around the 400Hz range from pictures alone.
Damned impressive, even if ‘sorcery’ is a more plausible algorithm.
I’ve been playing with Minecraft, inevitably prompted by various and sundry nieces and nephews. My explorations do not, however, revolve around surviving first-night Creeper attacks: I’m more interested in the programming interface.
For reasons which I suspect have more to do with wrangling Provinces than anything else, the Tour de France traditionally starts in another country entirely. This year: Yorkshire (which is a country, yes. Obviously).
To kick off the celebrations marking the event, this weekend saw a mad spectacle of an arts performance, Ghost Peloton. 36 illuminated riders choreographed to a backdrop of music and a film featuring more cyclists and dancers. It was glorious. You missed it, sorry.
If you’ve studied biology in school, there’s a good chance you’ve tried to count the bubbles of gas emerging from a piece of pondweed called Elodea placed in a beaker of water. This has been a standard practical used in biology teaching for decades and is still widely used. This video shows how it can be be done better using a different plant, Cabomba, and how using different approaches allows students to learn about different aspects of photosynthesis.
I threw this together last night to try out an arrangement for a practical demo Elin is planning to build for a new show at the Centre for Life. I thought it might find wider use than just us sitting on the sofa saying “Coo!”. To be fair, it already has found wider use: Rosy from Cambridge Science Centre is staying with us, and was also saying “Coo!”.
One of the things that’s rather hard to wrap your head around when looking at waves in water is that the individual bits of water don’t translate with the wave propagation. Which rather obviously has to be the case once you realise you’ve been staring at the waves coming towards you for quite some time and yet the sea (tides permitting) hasn’t swept you away. Nevertheless, it’s one of those situations where a diagram helps, and an animated diagram helps a lot.
So here’s that animated diagram. For anyone who cares about such things, I built this in Apple Motion: it’s one (rotating) object, replicated with a rotation shift, which makes it very easy to play with different arrangements. It’s particularly interesting when the movement discs overlap. Maybe I’ll build another animation of that…
Anyway, you’re welcome to use the clip, though you’ll want to download and use this high-definition version (3Mb .mov, right-click and ’Save target as…’, and all that). It should loop smoothly enough.
As the regular reader will know, I’m a skeptic when it comes to video demonstrations. There are times, however, when the scale of video and the resources of broadcast make something possible which otherwise wouldn’t be.
A Rebel X-wing pilot driving a giant BigTrak is the most 1979 thing I’ve ever seen.
On the face of it this isn’t a very ScienceDemo sort of thing to do, but (a.) no, it really is, and (b.) over the next few days I’ll be posting a few things which caught my eye at this weekend’s Maker Faire UK. It was a wonderful weekend full of charming, talented and whimsical people… and that was before the Hitchen Hackspace guys let me drive their giant BigTrak. I’m the one in the purple hoodie in the film, grinning from ear to ear.
Stand-up mathematician Matt Parker and a team of volunteers build a functioning calculator out of dominoes, because… er… well, because they worked out how they could.
This has been festering in my pile of ‘unfinished hobby projects’ for longer than I’d care to admit, but just before I gadded off on holiday last month Matt prodded me with a very pointy stick. I’m delighted the film is finally seeing the light of day.
The film follows the domino computer build weekend at Manchester Science Festival with all its up and downs, and while we did try to explain how it works… well, turns out that’s quite tricky with hundreds of people milling around and thousands of dominos ready to fall over at a moment’s notice. So you might also want to check out this Numberphile film in which Matt explains the circuit with a little more care:
The team have also put together some worksheets, and can provide schools’ workshops (and dominoes!): think-maths.co.uk.
Elin also has a great bunch of stills of the weekend over on Flickr. Here’s one now. Note the breaks in the circuit during building, so an accidental fall doesn’t destroy the whole thing. There was a heap of work and expertise involved in building this thing, it really was a remarkable effort.