Friday, March 28, 2014

Three Egg-cellent Science Experiments for Spring!

Easter is just around the corner, but before you start dyeing eggs, experiment with them first! Here are three egg-cellent science experiments from just in time for spring.

Eggs always break so easily. Or so you thought. To make an egg unbreakable, all you need is cling wrap! Wrap the egg in cling wrap, place it in your palm and close your hand around it so your fingers are completely wrapped around the egg. Squeeze as hard as you can. The egg should remain in one piece and your hands should stay clean. If you're feeling bold, do the same thing without the cling wrap.

Age-old bouncy balls don't have anything on bouncy eggs. To make an egg bounce, place the egg in vinegar for a couple of days to remove the shell. Be careful when you remove the shell and wash the egg - if you puncture the membrane, it will break. To bounce it, drop it carefully from a low height and the egg should bounce back up from the surface. Try bouncing it on different surfaces. Better yet, try to figure our at what height the egg breaks.

Honey, I shrunk the egg! For this experiment you'll need two eggs, water, two glasses, vinegar, sugar and a pin. Get started by removing the shell of the egg after soaking it in vinegar for at least 24 hours as you did when creating a bouncy egg. After you've exposed the membrane, make up a concentrated sugar solution by dissolving sugar into water. Place one egg in water and the other in the sugar solution. Let them sit for 24 hours. You'll notice that the egg in the sugar solution looks much smaller than the one in the water. Prick the egg that was in the water glass with a fine needle and watch a jet of water shoot out! Put the shrunken egg in water and watch as it grows and reabsorbs water (this may take a few hours). 

For seven more eggy experiments, check out the Science Sparks website.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Happy Pi Day! But it's also Einstein's Birthday...

Today is March 14, or 3/14; infamously known as Pi Day. Number aficionados across the country are chowing down on pie and discussing the importance of numbers as we speak. But did you also know it's Albert Einstein's birthday as well?! The theoretical physicist was born on March 14, 1879, in what was then the Kingdom of Wurttemberg in the German Empire.

As Andrea Peterson of The Washington Post states in her refresher course, pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. Most of us learned the abbreviated 3.14 number in grade school, but pi can actually be calculated our infinitely without a discernible repeating pattern. The number is both irrational and transcendental. 

Einstein started working at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. in 1933 and remained associated with the institution until his death in 1955. Princeton now celebrates Einstein as part of an elaborate "Pi Day weekend" featuring walking tours, pie judging, pie throwing, a pizza competition, and an Einstein lookalike contest, among many other activities.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

National Inventors Hall of Fame to Induct Father of 3D Printing!

You'd probably be surprised to find out that 3D printing has been around for decades. Yes, decades! Though a lot of buzz has surrounded 3D printing as of late, the first somewhat functional 3D printer prototype was built back in 1984. This year, the printer's inventor, Charles Hull, is being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

In the U.S. Patent Office's eyes, this puts Hull up there with inventors like Thomas Edison, Jobs/Woz, the Wright Brothers, Einstein, and Eli Whitney.

As Greg Kumparak of reported earlier this week, Hull had a realization in 1984: if you pointed a highly focused UV light at a special, goopy material (referred to as a "
photopolymer"), the material would instantly turn solid wherever the light would touch. If you did this repeatedly, layer by layer, you could essentially "print" an object into existence. Cue the gospel choir: Hull dubbed the process "stereolithography," and 3D printing was born.

It's not surprising that 3D printing has come a long way since 1984. New techniques combined with easier-to-use software and cheaper hardware have made objects printed much stronger. And as advancements continue to happen, Hull finds himself in the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Other inductees include Frances H. Arnold; Richard DiMarchi; Mildred Dresselhaus; Ashok Gadgil; Howard Aiken, Benjamin Durfee, Frank Hamilton, and Clair Lake; George Antheil and Hedy Lamarr; William Bowerman; Otis Boykin; David Crosthwait; and Willis Whitfield.

All of the inductees will be honored during a special Induction Ceremony scheduled to take place on May 21 at the U.S. Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). At that same time, The National Inventors Hall of Fame will unveil the new National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum located on the USPTO campus.