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.
- I hope that most school children get to see that sprinkling iron filings around a bar magnet produces a pattern which shows the shape of the magnetic field around the magnet. It’s a very simple, yet useful, way of making something invisible, visible. What many school children won’t get to see is that you can do something very similar with electric fields, using semolina instead of iron filings. The picture above is from a demonstration I showed my year 13 (A-level) students last week – the instructions for how to set it up can be found at the Practical Physics site.
A tip: it’s lovely for the students to see this for themselves, but the apparatus is tiny so use a camera to project it onto your whiteboard as well. I forgot to take my webcam into school so I used my phone to take a photo and put that up on the whiteboard so we could look at the demonstration closely and discuss it. I encouraged my students to take photos too, as I did when we investigated magnetic fields – I’m not convinced getting students to draw what they see is terribly useful in this case. What do you think?
- That screenplay we mentioned a couple of posts back? We’re filming it.
We’d hoped to post regular updates, but we’ll have to run them as retrospectives over the next few weeks. The script is fairly straightforward, so we’ve been making our lives harder by trying to film classic demonstrations in fabulous locations. Which means we’ve been up early, filming in morning and evening light, and trying to find weird places to shoot. Several of those locations have been above 10,000 feet, which does wonderful things for bicarb and vinegar but is less pleasant for brains and lungs.
The above is perhaps my favourite shot so far, though we’ve several contenders. I hope you like lens flares.
update: There are a bunch of posts in this series:
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