Everyday

Category archives for Everyday

Idle Physics Query: Whistling Bombs

Not that long ago, SteelyKid was doing something violent with toys (she’s very tough, as you can see from the featured image above), and in the process made the canonical falling-bomb whistle noise. And it occurred to me to wonder, why that sound? I mean, I’ve seen footage of falling bombs and the canonical sound…

What Is Color?

This year’s “Flame Challenge” asks scientists to explain color in terms an 11-year-old can understand. The rules limit answers to either 300 words of text or a 6-minute video. 300 words is ridiculously short, so video is clearly the way to go. Of course, I’m not much of a video expert, but then, one of…

Last week, we looked at the resistance of a voltage sensor by using the discharge of a capacitor, getting a value that was a bit high, but not wildly out of line with the specs. This time out, we’re going to look at the resistance of a current meter, because some students asked about it…

Least Physics-y Physical Activity?

I’m running errands today, so here’s a quick post picking up a question from last week’s Olympic physics hangout: What sport involves the least physics? One of the kids in the classes we were video chatting with asked that, and I really like the question, though it was a struggle to answer. It’s one of…

For the latest in our ongoing series of post where I overthink simple questions, I’d like to present the longest single continuous experiment in Uncertain Principles history, which took six and a half hours yesterday. All to answer the question in the post title. This may seem like a waste, given that I could download…

Computers and Shades

In comments to the post on computer display colors, Will Slaton notes that Mac displays emit polarized light. And, indeed, this is an inherent part of the backlit LCD technology– the individual pixels are bits of liquid crystal between two polarizers, and an applied voltage causes the liquid crystal molecules to flip between a state…

Long Overdue Snow Physics Post

Ages and ages ago, I posted the picture that’s the “featured image” above, and asked people to submit physics comments about it. Then I got distracted by a series of shiny things, and never did anything with the handful of responses I got. Because I’m a Terrible Person. Anyway, it’s long overdue, but here are…

On Computer Color

This year’s “Flame Challenge” is to explain color in terms an 11-year-old can follow. I have opinions on this subject, a background in AMO physics, and access to scientific equipment, so I’m putting something together. In the course of this, though, it occurred to me to wonder how my different portable computing devices process color.…

On the Steering of Sleds

In the previous post about luge, I mentioned that there was one thing that came up when Rhett and I were talking about this, namely why there are differences in times between racers. The toy physics model I set up last time suggests that the difference between riders is only a matter of aerodynamics– two…

The Physics of Crazy Sleds

In the Uncertain Dots hangout the other day, Rhett and I went off on a tangent about the physics of the Olympics, specifically the luge. If you’re not familiar with this, it’s basically psycho sledding: people riding tiny little sleds down a curved track at 80mph. The “featured image” above shows Erin Hamlin of the…