Topic: how things work

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Engines of Destruction: The Science of Hurricanes

Harvey, Irma, Jose, Katrina, Maria, Sandy. Hurricanes have been major news stories in 2005 and 2012, and continue to be in 2017, starting in August when Harvey crossed the Caribbean and made landfall in Texas. What ca...

Why, Traffic, Why?

Traffic during rush hour or when an accident has happened on the road ahead are both expected, but there are a lot of avoidable reasons for traffic in cities all over the globe: Slowing down to see something on the si...

How many ways are there to prove the Pythagorean theorem?

What do Euclid, 12-year-old Einstein, and American President James Garfield have in common? They all came up with elegant proofs for the famous Pythagorean theorem, one of the most fundamental rules of geometry and th...

Why America still uses Fahrenheit

Since I've moved to the US in 2010, there's one thing that I still don't fully understand: the imperial system. Virtually every country on earth uses Celsius but America has yet to follow. Although it might not seem l...

What does the word ‘theory’ mean in science?

There’s an important difference between a scientific theory and the fanciful theories of an imaginative raconteur, and this quirk of semantics can lead to an all-too-common misconception. In general conversation, a ‘t...

You’re A Firework (Scientifically Speaking)

"You have more in common with a firework than you might think. The same process that powers those explosions is going on inside a grill when you cook a hot dog, and inside your body when you eat that hot dog." Sku...

What is Symmetry in Physics?

Symmetry is vital to understanding and predicting how our universe works. The relationship between symmetry and the mechanics of the universe is fundamental to physics. From Noether’s theorem to the new and exciting w...

The Universal Tea Machine, a huge mechanical ‘adding computer’

"The better your binary addition skills the better your cup of tea!" The Universal Tea Machine by Smout Allen is a huge mechanical 'adding computer' that mixes tea and mixes tea, a British tradition that became popula...

1953: Preserving and operating a wimmenumermolen polder mill

In a 250 year old polder mill in Noord Holland, Eric Zwijnenberg pumps excess water out of the area to avoid flooding. The drainage mill was first rented by his parents as a summer vacation house in 1953... After ...

Mars in a Minute: How Long is a Year on Mars?

One year for any planet is measured by how long it takes to orbit once around the sun. Since Mars is farther away from the sun than Earth, it takes almost twice as long: Earth orbits in 365 days. Mars orbits in 687 Ea...

Oxygen’s surprisingly complex journey through your body

Oxygen forms about 21% of the air around us. In your body, oxygen forms a vital role in the production of energy in most cells. But if gases can only efficiently diffuse across tiny distances, how does oxygen reach th...

How the food you eat affects your gut – TED Ed

The bacteria in our guts can break down food the body can’t digest, produce important nutrients, regulate the immune system, and protect against harmful germs. And while we can’t control all the factors that go into m...

The Brick Double-Domino Effect Explained

In 2016, bricklayers in Teralba, NSW Australia filmed their domino-style technique for capping a concrete brick wall. The video went viral thanks to the surprising second part of the chain reaction: After the bricks f...

What’s inside a tape measure?

It's useful for measuring, fun to extend out as far as possible, and when its rocker is unlocked, the long metal measuring blade snaps quickly back inside of its shell. But how? What's inside a tape measure? In th...

Why the Giant Sequoia Needs Fire to Grow

Giant sequoias, the planet's largest trees and among the oldest living things on Earth—many of the largest are over 3,000 years old—depend on fire to help them reproduce. Learn how a destructive force is necessary for...

I is for IC – Circuit Playground

'IC' stands for integrated circuit, and in I is for IC from Circuit Playground, Adabot learns that there's a lot going on inside of them and without them, our electronics would still be huge. From Explain That Stuff: ...

How to practice effectively…for just about anything

Mastering any physical skill takes practice. Practice is the repetition of an action with the goal of improvement, and it helps us perform with more ease, speed, and confidence. But what does practice actually do to m...

An up close look at fingerprints and sweat glands

Zoom in to see this fingertip's epidermal ridges, those tiny lines, whorls, loops, arches, and valleys that are unique to each person on the planet. This macro and time lapse footage, filmed by Time Lapse Vision, an i...

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