Posts about webcasts

Cambrian Explosion Song

via Smithsonian’s Surprising Science:

What does a music teacher do when he ends up teaching science? He teaches about evolution and the geologic timeline with music, of course, and that’s what Canadian elementary school teacher John Palmer did. He originally played “Cambrian Explosion” as a rock/hip hop creation in class but has since recorded an acoustic version. (The trio is called Brighter Lights, Thicker Glasses and consists of Palmer on the guitar/vocals, Michael Dunn on the dobro and Brian Samuels [from UBC civil engineering department] on the cello.)

The video was filmed in the Beaty Biodiversity Museum (Canada) atrium with the blue whale exhibit in the background.

Related: Test it Out, Experiment by They Might Be GiantsHere Comes Science by They Might Be GiantsLobopodians from China a Few Million Years AgoGoogle Art Project: View Art from the Hermitage, the Met, etc.

How To Make Your Own Pesticide with Ingredients from Your Kitchen

Video by the Singapore National Park Board, on creating your own pesticide with just water, dish-washing liquid, chili, garlic and cooking oil.

Related: Pigs Instead of PesticidesAutomatic Cat FeederRethinking the Food Production SystemBuild Your Own Tabletop Interactive Multi-touch ComputerScience Toys You Can Make With Your KidsPesticide Laced Fertiliser Ruins GardensLiving in Singapore

Amazing Webcast of the Aurora Borealis

The Aurora from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

Norwegian landscape photographer Terje Sorgjerd spent a week capturing one of the biggest aurora borealis shows in recent years. He shot the video in and around Kirkenes and Pas National Park bordering Russia at temperatures around -25 Celsius.

Aurora are caused by the collision of charged particles and the Earth’s magnetic field. Aurora Borealis is Latin for northern lights. An aurora is usually observed at night and typically occurs in the ionosphere. The lights are commonly visible between 60 and 72 degrees north and south latitudes, which place them in a ring just within the Arctic and Antarctic polar circles.

Auroras result from emissions of photons in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, above 80 km (50 miles), from ionized nitrogen atoms regaining an electron, and oxygen and nitrogen atoms returning from an excited state to ground state. They are ionized or excited by the collision of solar wind particles being funneled down and accelerated along the Earth’s magnetic field lines; excitation energy is lost by the emission of a photon of light, or by collision with another atom or molecule. Oxygen emissions give off a green or reddish hue, depending on the amount of energy. Nitrogen emissions give off a blue (if the atom regains and electron after it has been ionized) or red hue (if returning to the ground state from an excited state).

Auroras are associated with the solar wind, a flow of ions continuously flowing outward from the Sun. The Earth’s magnetic field traps these particles, many of which travel toward the poles where they are accelerated toward Earth. Collisions between these ions and atmospheric atoms and molecules cause energy releases in the form of auroras appearing in large circles around the poles. Auroras are more frequent and brighter during the intense phase of the solar cycle when coronal mass ejections increase the intensity of the solar wind.

Related: Magnetic MovieSolar EruptionMagnetic Portals Connect Sun and EarthThe Mystery of Empty SpaceLooking for Signs of Dark Matter Over Antarctica

Friday Fun: Audio Engagement Ring

Fun, an engagement ring that plays a 20 second audio clip “Shelina, I’ll love you forever. Marry Me!…Shelina, I’ll love you forever. Marry Me!” made by artist and inventor Luke Jerram.

100 lbf/in² of pressure was required to cut the silver ring, using a vibrating diamond stylus. The ring is also a homage to Thomas Edison who made the first sound recording machine – the phonograph in 1877.

Using the ring, I proposed to Shelina in a hot air balloon over Bristol in 2005. We’ve since got married and had 2 children Maya and Nico.

Much better than marketing driven expensive diamonds, in my opinion.

Related: Camera FashionGet Your Own Science ArtLow-Cost Multi-touch Whiteboard Using Wii RemoteCellphone Microscope

Getting Closer to a Universal Translator

I wrote the following to my friend yesterday

> for those that haven’t picked up English, pretty soon Google translate
> will do a decent enough job of imitating a universal translator
> through my cell phone to get by 🙂

And today my brother tweeted this video:

Ok, not quite a universal translator yet, but we are moving in the right direction.

Related: Aztec MathHolographic Television on the WayDroid IncredibleLego Mindstorms Robots Solving Sudoku and Rubiks Cube

Friday Fun: A Cat Adopts a Squirrel

A mother cat adopts a squirrel into her litter.

Related: Housecat Adopts Bobcat KittensBunny and Kittens: Friday Cat FunFriday Fun: Tortoise and a Cat

Housecat Adopts Bobcat Kittens

3 bobcat kittens we rescued by Big Cat rescue.

Introductions like these can be very scary because the mother cat can be overly protective of her own kittens and fatally strike out at the new comers. President, Jamie Veronica, has had a considerable amount of experience in this area though and had taken every precaution to make sure it went as well as it possibly could. Bobbi turned out to be a dream come true for three little orphaned bobcats though. She immediately pulled them in close to nurse and began to bathe them. The little bobcat babies were so startled that they hissed at her!

She ignored their resistance and just kept on loving on them. Once they figured out that this strange smelling “bobcat” mom had the real deal to offer at her breasts, they were in love too.

Related: Friday Cat Fun #12: Cat and PuppiesTreadmill CatsMother Cat with Bunny and Kittens

Sylvia’s Super Awesome Mini Maker Show: Rockets

Watch this fun webcast on how to make a rocket.

Related: Home Engineering: Bird Feeder That Automatically Takes Photos When Birds FeedLego Autopilot Project UpdateYoung Engineers Build Bridges with SpaghettiHome Engineering: Building a Hovercraft

Friday Fun: Robocup 2010, Robot Football

Robocup 2010 took place in Singapore and 2 German team faced each other in the finals. Robocup is an international research and education initiative. RoboCupRescue is a related effort to develop rescue robots for hostile environments.

Related: RoboCup 2008: Robot Football (Soccer)Robot Playing Table TennisToyota Develops Thought-controlled Wheelchair

Letting Children Learn – Hole in the Wall Computers

The hole in the wall experiments are exactly the kind of thing I love to lean about. I wrote about them in 2006, what kids can learn.

Research finding from the Hole in the Wall foundation:

Over the 4 year research phase (2000-2004), HiWEL has extensively studied the impact of Learning Stations on children. Hole-in-the-Wall Learning Stations were installed in diverse settings, the impact of interventions was monitored and data was continually gathered, analyzed and interpreted. Rigorous assessments were conducted to measure academic achievement, behaviour, personality profile, computer literacy and correlations with socio-economic indicators.

The sociometric survey found:

  • Self-organizing groups of children who organize themselves into Leaders (experts), Connectors and Novice groups.
  • Leaders and Connectors identified seem to display an ability to connect with and teach other users.
  • Key leaders on receiving targeted intervention, play a key role in bringing about a “multiplier effect in learning” within the community.
  • Often girls are seen to take on the role of Connector, who initiates younger children and siblings (usually novices with little or no exposure to computers) and connects them to the leaders in the group

I believe traditional education is helpful. I believe people are “wired” to learn. They want to learn. We need to create environments that let them learn. We need to avoid crushing the desire to learn (stop de-motivating people).

If you want to get right to talking about the hole in the wall experiments, skip to the 8 minute mark.

Related: Providing Computer to Remote Students in NepalTeaching Through TinkeringKids Need Adventurous PlayScience Toys You Can Make With Your Kids

Nikola Tesla – A Scientist and Engineer

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was born an ethnic Serb in the village of Smiljan, in the Austrian Empire (today’s Croatia), he was a subject of the Austrian Empire by birth and later became an American citizen. Nikoka Tesla studied electrical engineering at Technical University at Graz, Austria, and the University of Prague.

Tesla’s patents and theoretical work formed the basis of modern alternating current (AC) electric power systems, including the polyphase system of electrical distribution and the AC motor, which helped usher in the Second Industrial Revolution.

In 1882 he moved to Paris, to work as an engineer for the Continental Edison Company, designing improvements to electric equipment brought overseas from Edison’s ideas.
According to his autobiography, in the same year he conceived the induction motor and began developing various devices that use rotating magnetic fields for which he received patents in 1888.

He emigrated to the United States in 1884 and sold the patent rights to his system of alternating-current dynamos, transformers, and motors to George Westinghouse the following year.

In 1887, Tesla began investigating what would later be called X-rays using his own single terminal vacuum tubes.

Tesla introduced his motors and electrical systems in a classic paper, “A New System of Alternating Current Motors and Transformers” which he delivered before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1888. One of the most impressed was the industrialist and inventor George Westinghouse.

The Tesla coil, which he invented in 1891, is widely used today in radio and television sets and other electronic equipment. Among his discoveries are the fluorescent light , laser beam, wireless communications, wireless transmission of electrical energy, remote control, robotics, Tesla’s turbines and vertical take off aircraft. Tesla is the father of the radio and the modern electrical transmissions systems. He registered over 700 patents worldwide. His vision included exploration of solar energy and the power of the sea. He foresaw interplanetary communications and satellites.

“Within a few years a simple and inexpensive device, readily carried about, will enable one to receive on land or sea the principal news, to hear a speech, a lecture, a song or play of a musical instrument, conveyed from any other region of the globe.” – Nikola Tesla, “The Transmission of Electrical Energy without wires as a means for furthering Peace” in Electrical World and Engineer (7 January 1905)

“Money does not represent such a value as men have placed upon it. All my money has been invested into experiments with which I have made new discoveries enabling mankind to have a little easier life.” – Nikola Tesla

Related: PBS – Tesla, Master of LightningWerner HeisenbergToyota Develops Thought-controlled WheelchairNeil Degrasse Tyson: Scientifically Literate See a Different World

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