Applied Physics



Mar 17 2015 | 2 comment(s)

Build a laser oscilloscope using Lego, littleBits, Erector set, and the Kano Computer. In honor of The International Year of Light I’ll demonstrate how use the Kano computer to drive a littleBits motor with an optical coupler, or optocoupler. An optocoupler, according to Wikipedia, "is a component that transfers electrical signals between two isolated circuits by using light." The Kano Computer is one isolated circuit and the littleBits Light Sensor/Motor is the second isolated circuit.

In a previous blog post, I demonstrated how to build a magnetic optical mount for a laser using Erector set parts. Here's another method of attaching a chip clip to the Erector set stand.

Parts Needed

Erector set right angle bracket 3-hole (mine is a bit more than 90°)
Erector set nut
Computer case thumbscrew
Chip Clip

I used a knife to cut a slit in the rubber grip of the chip clip just wide enough for the Erector set angle bracket to fit tightly once inserted in the grip.

Red lead is familiar to us due to rustproof paint but artists have treasured the brilliant color for its durability since ancient times.

Yet it has limits and now scientists are learning more about why.  A combination of X-ray diffraction mapping and tomography experiments at the DESY synchrotron light source PETRA III has shown an additional step in the light-induced degradation of lead red. Key was identification of the very rare lead carbonate mineral plumbonacrite in a painting by Van Gogh.

Northern gannets avoid buckling their necks by choosing the right diving speed. Credit: Jean-Jacques Boujot

By Ben Stein, Inside Science

(Inside Science Currents Blog) -- Animals perform many feats that are remarkable once you think about them. Here’s one that I never previously contemplated: seabirds dive into the water to capture fish at seemingly breakneck speeds — yet their necks are completely unharmed.

I often see K’nex sets at second-hand stores like Goodwill or Salvation Army so I decided to see if K’nex can be co-opted for science and used them to build a test tube rack.

The upright K’nex rods support the structure, can be raised and lowered if needed for taller test tubes, and they serve as test tube drying pegs. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter:

A “mechanically programmable” metamaterial held by Bastiaan Florijn, Leiden University. Photo credit: Ben P. Stein

By Ben Stein, Inside Science

(Inside Science Currents Blog) -- It’s rare when a scientific term is both cool sounding and precise, but the word “metamaterial” might just fit the bill. Although they are made from small, ordinary building blocks such as rods, circles or sticks, metamaterials have striking properties that often do not occur in the natural world.        

by Marsha Lewis, Inside Science

(Inside Science TV) – Scientists often examine matter that is invisible to the naked eye. This hidden atomic world is a mystery for most people, but now a scientist created a way for people to imagine what they might see as their own bodies interact with the atoms that surround them.

A strong electric field applied to a section of the Keystone pipeline can smooth oil flow and yield significant pump energy savings, found a new study.

The physics basis is to electrically align particles within the crude oil, which reduces viscosity (thickness) and turbulence. Traditionally, pipeline oil is heated over several miles in order to reduce the oil's viscosity, but this requires a large amount of energy and counter-productively increases turbulence within the flow.
You often see demonstrations of titration using an expensive glass burette, but you can build titration lab ware using a disposable serological pipette, a solder sucker bulb, and a ring stand or support stand. For this build I’m using the tripod stand from the Thames and Kosmos Chem C3000 chemistry set.

Titration is the process of determining the unknown concentration of a solution by adding a known amount of a solution with a known concentration.