how things work

Showing 102 posts tagged how things work

What Does Sound Look Like? NPR’s SkunkBear shows us the differences in fluid densities — in the form of compression waves in a gas, the air that surrounds us — thanks to the light passing through those fluids. Schlieren flow visualization and a high speed video camera make it possible. 

When light travels through areas of different air density, it bends. You’ve probably noticed the way distant pavement seems to shimmer on a hot day, or the way stars appear to twinkle. You’re seeing light that has been distorted as it passes through varying air densities, which are in turn created by varying temperatures and pressures.

Schlieren Flow Visualization can be used to visually capture these changes in density: the rising heat from a candle, the turbulence around an airplane wing, the plume of a sneeze … even sound. 

More seriously amazing physics videos the archives: underwater bubble rings, a fluidized bed of sand, and huge wingtip vortices.

Festo HQ, the engineering team that brought us Aqua Penguins, Aqua Jellyfishdragonfly-inspired BionicOpters, and a robot that flies like a bird can now add Bionic Kangaroo to their list of animal-inspired achievements in technology. From spectrum.ieee.org

BionicKangaroo is able to realistically emulate the jumping behavior of real kangaroos, which means that it can efficiently recover energy from one jump to help it make another jump. Without this capability, kangaroos (real ones) would get very very tired very very quickly, but by using their tendons like elastic springs, the animals can bound at high speeds efficiently for substantial periods of time.

BionicKangaroo emulates this with an actual elastic spring, which partially “charges” the legs on landing.

Bonus fun: wear the corresponding armband and you can control the kangaroo using gestures. Mmmmmmm, biomechanics.

via Gizmodo.

This street vendor makes popcorn with an explosive, pressure-cooking, popcorn cannon contraption, a centuries-old method. The video was filmed in Zhengzhou, China, but we’ve watched videos of this in South Korea, too. And of course, Mythbusters has looked into it, video below. Boom!

Related watching: Click to Enlarge: Popcorn, more explosions, and more videos of street vendors, including how this intricately-drawn melted caramel/sugar dragon is made.

via Boing Boing.

How are police horses chosen to become the highly trained and trusted steeds that they are? Via BBC Earth, watch the police horse testing and training process as conducted by the San Francisco mounted police unit, where only 10% of the horses that begin the program are found to be right for the job.

Videos in the archives: horseback riding in Yosemite, Mongolian horsemen herding wild horses, and the amazing War Horse puppet with the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Shape, a film about design and how it can change our experiences in the spaces that we live. “If for one day you had the power to make your world work better, what would you change?” Presented by Pivot Dublin and Dublin City Council, directed & designed by Johnny Kelly, and written by Scott Burnett. Explore more at MakeShapeChange.com, think design.

Related watching: design.

via Vimeo.