Posts Tagged ‘Fire’

Top ten science tricks for parties

// April 12th, 2011 // Comments Off on Top ten science tricks for parties // Just for Fun, Science at Home

Having a party over the Easter break? Add some science with these party tricks. Sure to astound and amaze! My favourite is combining vinegar and bicarb, and pouring the resultant carbon dioxide over candles to extinguish them. I’m doing THAT at my next birthday party for sure, then reigniting candles with the smoke. Oh yes. It’s going to happen.

Gummi bear explosion (and other experiments)

// March 16th, 2011 // 1 Comment » // Just for Fun

Enjoy what happens when a gummi bear is dropped into potassium chlorate.

Cool. Why did I never do this in chem class when potassium chlorate was available to me?

How does it work, I hear you ask? (And where can I get this stuff?) Potassium chlorate is KClO3, and contains one potassium, one chlorine and three oxygen. It comes as a solid salt, but can be melted by a Bunsen burner.

At high temperatures it decomposes to potassium chloride (KCl) and oxygen gas (O2). No bigger. Until the sacrificial gummi bear.

A gummi bear is full of sweet, delicious sucrose, a source of carbon and energy. Add it in and BAM! The trifectar – fuel, oxygen and heat – the ingredients for fire. The reaction is hugely exothermic, producing MORE heat which produces MORE oxygen which drives the gummi bear into complete annihilation.

For more gummi bear destruction try drowning them, stabbing them shortly after hatching, or decapitating them with a laser.

Curiously, it’s always the red gummi bear that gets it. That’s discrimination.

Thought controlled computers? Recent research says yes.

// October 29th, 2010 // 6 Comments » // Recent Research

computer thinking

Image by Amarand Agasi

Imagine being able to control a computer with your mind!

No longer would we be tied down to keyboards, mice and touchscreens!

We need NEVER put down our coffee to work!

It’s not fantasy, that just happened.

Twelve subjects sat in front of a computer and looked at two superimposed images on a screen, focusing their mind on one of the pictures. The computer responded by making the image stronger while fading the other image away until only one was visible. They picked the image they wanted to look at, and made it so!

All the subjects had epilepsy, and had fine wires inside their brains to monitor seizures. These wires were attached to neurons and connected to the computer. Now not everyone has wires in their brain… YET. But to be honest I would consider it.

The images were picked during a screening process earlier that morning, which selected pairs that activated very different neurons. Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson were two famous faces used as pictures in the experiment. The Marilyn Monroe image might make some neurons fire faster, while the Michael Jackson image would make others fire. The pairs were used several times during the tests, half the time one picture was the target (ie. Marilyn) and the rest of the time, the other (Jackson.)

To quote the letter, published in Nature “The subject was instructed to enhance the target image from the hybrid image on the screen by ‘continuously thinking of the concept represented by that image.'” The concept? Like Marilyn Monroe and sex? Maybe. All the images were ones that would be familiar to the subjects, though I would like to know if you can choose between two completely new pictures.

Success rate (making the target picture take up the whole screen) was about 70%. Not bad… not great, but not bad.

This new research could shed light on how information is used in the brain, and how interactions between single brain cells let us make decisions. I personally hope this is the one of many steps towards real mind-control in the computer realm. Come on science, I’m sick of typing! Give me my mind mouse!

Here is the research paper. FYI, it was a bitch to read! Very confusing.

ResearchBlogging.orgCerf, M., Thiruvengadam, N., Mormann, F., Kraskov, A., Quiroga, R., Koch, C., & Fried, I. (2010). On-line, voluntary control of human temporal lobe neurons Nature, 467 (7319), 1104-1108 DOI: 10.1038/nature09510

Reigniting Fire

// April 28th, 2010 // 2 Comments » // Just for Fun

This video shows why fires can be so hard to put out, because the darn things reignite themselves. The visuals are just stunning.

Hat tip to GrrlScientist at Living the Scientific Life. I totally want to try this at home






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