Sunday, June 27, 2010

Good solution or all wet?

From Britain's Orange:
A bus company in China has launched a new 'drive safely' campaign - by hanging big bowls of water next to their drivers.

The Longxiang Public Bus Company in Changsha, Hunan province, says drivers must drive gently to avoid spilling any water.

Bus drivers are expected to ensure the bowls are still full when they finish their shift, reports the Xiaoxiang Morning Post.

And the company warns drivers that CCTV footage will be studied to make sure they do not top up the bowls with water.

"Passengers often complain that sudden braking and bad driving makes them really uncomfortable on the buses," said a spokesman of the company.

"Hanging bowls of water in the driver's cab will discourage them from making any jolting starts, sudden braking or bad turns."
Is this a clever application of inertia and fluid dynamics? Or is it more show than go? (Notice the bowl is arranged as a pendulum rather than being fixed to the body of the bus. Curious.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Equatorial star trails

Star trail shots are difficult to take but very groovy when they turn out well. I got one at Crater Lake years ago, and the current edition of Conceptual Physical Science Explorations has an awesome one on its cover. (Star trails over Mono Lake? It doesn't get any better than that.)

Or does it?

But I digress. Astrophotographer St├ęphane Guisard recently made this image.


It was taken at high altitude in Ecuador using a wide angle lens. Northern and southern hemisphere night skies race across the 10-hour exposure. Even a bright meteor gets in on the fun.

Hat tip: The Bad Astronomer

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A fan with no blades?

That crafty James Dyson reveals the physics behind his Air Multiplier.

I hope it doesn't offend anyone's Bernoulli sensibilities.



I know: one more thing we didn't invent. Sigh. We're not Knights of the Realm, either.

TAM8 update

The Amaz!ng Meeting 8 (TAM8) is July 8-11 at the South Point Hotel Casino Spa in Las Vegas. My addiction precludes my absence. The organizers provided an update today, and warned of an impending sell-out. This Mighty Wurlitzer appears to be recession-proof, getting more popular even as the economy flounders.

There will likely be over 1000 in attendance. Fewer than 200 attended TAM1 in 2003. There are reasons for my addiction, but I've blathered on about them before.

But I will reiterate this: The conditions under which I won't attend TAM are
1. I am dead and/or
2. There is no TAM.
Otherwise I will be there.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fantasy Football viral videos are... fantasy!

So says Captain Disillusion. And he doesn't just say so, he shows how the video trickery was done.

He's quite good at this. See for yourself:



I look forward to seeing him soon at The Amaz!ng Meeting 8.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

To the Mentosmobile!

Those crazy science pranksters at EepyBird have done it again. This time, it's human propulsion from Coke Zero and Mentos. Take a look.



The video raises valid questions.

1. Is Coke Zero a superior propellant or a more lucrative product placement? Perhaps the answer is "yes." I ask because I do not know.

2. Something here is begging to be calculated, but I fear there are too many unknowns. Help me out, bloggees! Is there some reasonable way around the many unknowns?

3. Why is the vehicle braked from the start?

4. I don't understand all the design details, but were they hoping for a Newton's third law push from that wall? Or the transparent pistons? Was this really the best thrust design?

Fun to watch as always with these guys!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

PhET T-shirts

I designed and posted a couple of T-shirts via Zazzle. I designed them to show my love for PhET. Yes, I am a geek. (Further evidence of my geeky PhET affection was provided previously on The Blog of Phyz.)

PhET is The University of Colorado's Physics Education Technology program. They design, produce, maintain, and promote high-quality interactive science simulations. And they give the simulations away for free!

I bought a black tee to wear during our PhET days (between the last of the new content lessons and the beginning of final exams). The black PhET tee looks better than Zazzle's "model display" of it. (Click the shirt to get to its product page, then click the design tab to see a better rendering.)

I've got a copy of the Matrix design ordered.

Zazzle incorporates a royalties structure so product designers can share in the revenues. I'm donating anything the PhET products generate to PhET. Seems fair.

So go buy yourself a PhET shirt! You know you love PhET, you'll be the only one in your neighborhood with one, and it supports the PhET program.

College Board misses its own deadline

I don't have any reason to be optimistic about AP Physics B Redesign news in 2010.

I have heard about pending changes. Took part in a survey. Attended an AAPT meeting session devoted to the redesign. In Summer 2008. In Spring 2009, I blogged about the pending redesign.

In Fall 2009, the College Board rolled out a public page announcing that the redesign information, itself, would be available "in early 2010."

I felt safe that upon returning to that page in June 2010, I would see the promised info fully revealed. My hope was misplaced.

The page now promises,

"Additional information about the revisions to AP science courses and exams and the range of resources, including sample questions, that will be available to teachers to facilitate the integration of these changes into their courses will be announced in fall 2010."

Fall doesn't end until late December. By then the holiday season is upon us. And by then, the page may be updated to reflect that the details will be posted "by early 2011," which doesn't end until June one year from now.

I guess we'll get the information when the College Board actually releases it. Promise dates and timelines appear to bear no authority.

Ladies and gentlemen, The Paper Slinky

My friend, Carol, alerted me to this recent EepyBird gem, from the "creators" of the Mentos/Diet Coke demonstration. Enjoy.

EepyBird's Sticky Note experiment from Eepybird on Vimeo.