“What is one of the most fundamental radioactive elements?”
In celebration of International Women’s Day, we here at Isaac’s Science Blog thought that it would be appropriate to talk about one of Marie Curie’s most famous discoveries, the element Radium. Radium is a soft, shiny and silvery radioactive metal that belongs in the second group and seventh period of the periodic table. Although it is now deemed to be too radioactive for common use, it used to be used as a paint for clock and watch dials. The discovery of Radium led Marie Curie to receive a Nobel Prize. However, due to not patenting the element, she received few monetary benefits (despite kickstarting an entire industry). In fact, her intense work with the radioactive element had ravaged her health. Never the less, we must honor her work, and spend this International Women’s Day thinking about the countless sacrifices that women have made to advance our knowledge of science.
The Physics of a Hanukkah Dreidel
“How does a Hanukkah dreidel spin?”
Hanukkah dreidels are great fun for people of all ages. These little tops are able to spin round and round with a very peculiar pattern. However, why exactly do they spin? Well, let’s use our scientific mindset to find out. All spinning objects with mass have a property called angular momentum. The more moment of inertia it has and the greater spin then the greater angular momentum it will have. Angular momentum tries to be conserved so a dreidel will try to keep on spinning when acting upon!
Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays to everybody!!!
The Effect of Refrigeration on Food
“What effect does refrigeration have upon food products?”
Right here in my family’s home in Los Angeles, California, temperatures have broke 33 degrees Celsius (92 in Fahrenheit) this Thanksgiving. Because of this, I have been inspired to write about some of my favorite topics, refrigeration and food.
Before the ascent of electrical HVAC systems, Perishables such as dairy and meat products had to be consumed rapidly. However, with modern day refrigeration technology, we have been able to surmount this barrier and artificially extend the life of our potential meals. It works in a very simple manner. When food is left out in the open, bacteria form and cause it decompose. But if temperatures are low enough, then this bacterial activity will stop, and the food will be able to continue to be fresh unabated. This potential to preserve food without altering its physical or chemical has made it clear why we must be thankful for the effect of refrigeration on food!
Total Solar Eclipse
“What happens when the moon totally blocks the sun?”
Every so often a very rare phenomenon happens. Under the right conditions, the path of the moon will pass completely in front of the sun and block all of the light, leaving only a glorious image of the Sun’s corona. After many millennia of research, Astronomers and Astrophysicists have termed this occurrence a total solar eclipse. While magnificent, total solar eclipses can also be quite dangerous, since looking directly into it without any protection can lead to permanent eye damage. An interesting consequences of total solar eclipses is that since the sun is absent from the sky, solar energy generation experiences a large drop, which can have devastating power consequences for regions that rely heavily on solar such as California
The physics of a football tackle
“How do the laws of physics affect football tackles?”
Because of the excitement for the super bowl stateside, a fan recently asked for an article about the science of football.
If you are from the United States, then you have probably seen or heard about a game called “football” where people divided onto two teams will fight each other for control of a prolate spheroid shaped ball using tackles. However, have you ever wondered about how one can make an optimal tackle? Well, it turns out that all you need is a rudimentary knowledge of physics to find out.
Every object in the universe has a property called a center of mass, or the location of the mean position of matter in a body. When a force is applied on an object which does not go through the center of mass, a torque will be induced, causing a rotation on said body. So now let’s put this theoretical framework into practice. The average human male has their center of mass located slightly above the navel. When one football player tackles another in this area, the player will simply be moved in the direction of the tackle. But if the player were to give a tackle below this zone, a torque would be induced that would completely throw off the player! Luckily, professional coaches have taken note of this, and use this scientific knowledge to advise linemen to stay close to ground while running, making it far more prohibitive for a disabling torque to be thrust upon them!
Science always shows up in the most marvelous ways in our everyday life, and it goes to show that a small bit of knowledge of it can go a long way.
The scientifically optimal way to cook a Turkey
“What is the most efficient way to cook a Turkey?”
Thanksgiving is a most special holiday in the hearts of Americans. It represents a time when friends and family coming together to participate in social activities and dine on delicious food. And the most important food of all of Thanksgiving is the Turkey, with it’s rich, savoring flavor. However, cooking a Turkey is not always an easy task. Specifically, the plump and rounded shape of a Turkey is most inefficient for heat conduction, forcing it to have a high cooking time (especially if one wants to cook the Turkey to an internal temperature 74 degrees celsius to prevent salmonella). So how can we apply our scientific knowledge to solve this problem? Well, let’s think about it. We know that the temperature of objects raise based upon the amount of heat added, and that if an object has more surface area, then it has more heat it will receive. So how about we do just this? First, let’s take the Turkey out. Then, flip it over, and cut off the back bones. Subsequently, flip it over again, and apply pressure to break the breastbone. Once this has been completed, you can put the Turkey. Chefs have termed this process the spatch cocking method, and it can save the chef anywhere from 45 to 80 minutes of cooking time!.
Finally, in the Thanksgiving spirit, I would like to give a big thanks to Sarah Kaplan of the Washington Post for teaching the world about this most innovative method.
The mathematics of gerrymandering
“What is political gerrymandering and how does it work?”
In honor of election here in the United States, I thought that it would be reasonable to do my part and use my scientific skills to explain the mathematics behind a political process known as gerrymandering.
First of all, for those of you unfamiliar with the American political system, the political map of the United States during elections is divided into “districts” of where around 500,000 people will live. People in this area vote for which political party they want, and at the end of the day whoever obtains the largest amount of votes will win the entire district! So in an ideal world, each district will be drawn so that it would fairly represent the population. In this way, political representation would be completely fair. However, individuals who are in power have the power to redraw these districts during times of census, allowing them to manipulate things in to a way that would represent their own interests. For example, let’s imagine a state with 2 million people, half of them voting for one party and half of them voting for another. If all of the districts were drawn to fairly represent this population, then the vote would be split evenly among 4 districts. However, if the districts were redrawn so that three of them would contain even a majority for one party and only one district would contain a majority for another, then the first party will win by a landslide! This issue is more than just a theory, it is a very real thing, and please take action as a citizen and do your part to make sure that the political system can be fair for everyone. And as always, a little bit of knowledge of mat can go a long way.