physics

Showing 197 posts tagged physics

How can the physics and engineering of wind and water change a country? From the world of European travel guides, here’s a quick primer: The Netherlands: Working Windmills.

300 years ago, half of what we know as The Netherlands was under water. Slowly, the former seabed was reclaimed and the Dutch went to work drying the ground with the country’s leading natural resource - the wind. Over 1000 windmills, some still functioning, survive in the Netherlands today, reminding locals and tourists alike of the clever engine that powered the creation of this land. 

Related reading: Archimedes’ screw. Related watching: how wind turbines workwingtip vortices, Windswept, The Old Mill, and more amazing videos about The Netherlands.

This sommerrodelbahn alpine coaster in Mieders, Austria, has been on our Must Do list since we saw this viral video a few years ago. The video above is from the same 2.8km (1.7 mile) summer mountain coaster and follows a brave 6 year old lad down 640 meters (2100 feet) into the valley, over fields and bridges, through the woods and countless switchbacks, all at a pretty quick pace!

More rides: Coney Island Love Letter and The Centrifuge Brain Project.

From The New York Times, Olympics 2014: The Science of Snowmaking

Machines make snow the same way nature does, by freezing water droplets. But they do it a few feet above the ground, rather than in the much colder conditions high in the atmosphere. Snowmaking machines employ a few thermodynamic tricks to help, but at times there is a limit to what physics can do…

…a droplet may not freeze entirely during the few seconds it takes to fall to the ground — what snowmakers call hang time.

“We’re basically making eggs,” Mr. Moulton said — icy shells around still-liquid centers.

Related snow videos: when nature handles it, How Is Snow Made?

An animal that can push with 40x their bodyweight, the hairy-tailed mole for example, is definitely something to better understand, and scientists at the University of Massachusetts and Brown University are trying to do just that. So how exactly do moles move so much dirt around as they tunnel underground?

From The New York Times’ ScienceTake: Uncovering the Secrets of Mole Motion.

Related locomotion videos: the design and movement of slithering snakes, a 600lb octopus and a goshawk can fit through tiny spaces, and Sir David Attenborough introduces the naked mole rat.

via @bittelmethis.

There are quite a few neodymium magnets falling through copper pipes on the internet, but we can still understand why this demonstration video is making the rounds: it’s just so cool looking! We’ve covered the phenomenon of magnetic damping before:

When a magnetic field moves through a conductor a current called an Eddy current is induced in the conductor due to the magnetic field’s movement. The flow of electrons in the conductor creates an opposing magnetic field to the magnet which results in damping of the magnet and causes heating inside of the conductor similar to heat buildup inside of power cords. The loss of energy used to heat up the conductor is equal to the loss of kinetic energy by the magnet.

And a note of caution if you decide to try this, these magnets are not for unsupervised children. In fact, everyone should be careful: 

Neodymium magnets larger than a half inch are very strong and should be handled with extreme care since they can be dangerous. It is best to stick with neodymium magnets of quarter inch diameter or less.

Want to know more? Look up Lenz’s Law and watch Veritasium’s Derek Muller demonstrate how this phenomenon is related to English scientist Michael Faraday and the first electric generator, created with a magnet and a coil of wire in 1831:

Physics! Another must-watch magnet-doing-magic-like-things-video comes from the Ri Channel: Levitating Superconductor on a Möbius strip