hot nickel ball & tinfoil gif clip experiment image

Everyone’s favorite Red Hot Nickel Ball has tackled challenges from Nokia phones to jawbreakers. Now, for Christmas, the glowing sphere of destruction is giving a warm, holiday hug to a bowl of flame-retardant tinsel. Flame-retardant maybe, but certainly not Red Hot Nickel Ball-proof.

I cannot tell you what that smoke smells like or is made of but it looks pretty nice if you don’t think about how toxic it probably is. Have a very merry Christmas up-wind!

Source: carsandwater


Henry Sapiecha

Steven Sasson in 1973, the year he started working at Eastman Kodakm image

Steven Sasson in 1973, the year he started working at Eastman Kodak.

Imagine a world where photography is a slow process that is impossible to master without years of study or apprenticeship. A world without iPhones or Instagram, where one company reigned supreme. Such a world existed in 1973, when Steven Sasson, a young engineer, went to work for Eastman Kodak.

Two years later he invented digital photography and made the first digital camera.

Mr. Sasson, all of 24 years old, invented the process that allows us to make photos with our phones, send images around the world in seconds and share them with millions of people. The same process completely disrupted the industry that was dominated by his Rochester employer and set off a decade of complaints by professional photographers fretting over the ruination of their profession.

It started out innocently enough.

Soon after arriving at Kodak, Mr. Sasson was given a seemingly unimportant task — to see whether there was any practical use for a charged coupled device (C.C.D.), which had been invented a few years earlier.

“Hardly anybody knew I was working on this, because it wasn’t that big of a project,” Mr. Sasson said “It wasn’t secret. It was just a project to keep me from getting into trouble doing something else, I guess.”

The very first digital camera created by Steven Sasson in 1973. This camera was the basis for the US patent issued on December 26, 1978.image
The very first digital camera created by Steven Sasson in 1973. This camera was the basis for the US patent issued on December 26, 1978.

He quickly ordered a couple of them and set out to evaluate the devices, which consisted of a sensor that took an incoming two dimensional light pattern and converted it into an electrical signal. Mr. Sasson wanted to capture an image with it, but the C.C.D. couldn’t hold it because the electrical pulses quickly dissipated.

To store the image, he decided to use what was at that time a relatively new process — digitalization — turning the electronic pulses into numbers. But that solution led to another challenge — storing it on RAM memory, then getting it onto digital magnetic tape.

The final result was a Rube Goldberg device with a lens scavenged from a used Super-8 movie camera; a portable digital cassette recorder; 16 nickel cadmium batteries; an analog/digital converter; and several dozen circuits — all wired together on half a dozen circuit boards.

It looks strange today, but remember, this was before personal computers – the first build it yourself Apple computer kit went on sale that next year for $666.66.

The camera alone was a historic accomplishment, but he needed to invent a playback system that would take the digital information on the cassette tape and turn it into “something that you could see” on a television set: a digital image.

“This was more than just a camera,” said Mr. Sasson who was born and raised in Brooklyn. “It was a photographic system to demonstrate the idea of an all-electronic camera that didn’t use film and didn’t use paper, and no consumables at all in the capturing and display of still photographic images.”

The camera and the playback system were the beginning of the digital photography era. But the digital revolution did not come easily at Kodak.

“They were convinced that no one would ever want to look at their pictures on a television set.”

Mr. Sasson made a series of demonstrations to groups of executives from the marketing, technical and business departments and then to their bosses and to their bosses. He brought the portable camera into conference rooms and demonstrated the system by taking a photo of people in the room.

“It only took 50 milliseconds to capture the image, but it took 23 seconds to record it to the tape,” Mr. Sasson said. “I’d pop the cassette tape out, hand it to my assistant and he put it in our playback unit. About 30 seconds later, up popped the 100 pixel by 100 pixel black and white image.”

Though the quality was poor, Mr. Sasson told them that the resolution would improve rapidly as technology advanced and that it could compete in the consumer market against 110 film and 135 film cameras. Trying to compare it with already existing consumer electronics, he suggested they “think of it as an HP calculator with a lens.” He even talked about sending images on a telephone line.

Their response was tepid, at best.

“They were convinced that no one would ever want to look at their pictures on a television set,” he said. “Print had been with us for over 100 years, no one was complaining about prints, they were very inexpensive, and so why would anyone want to look at their picture on a television set?”

The main objections came from the marketing and business sides. Kodak had a virtual monopoly on the United States photography market, and made money on every step of the photographic process. If you wanted to photograph your child’s birthday party you would likely be using a Kodak Instamatic, Kodak film and Kodak flash cubes. You would have it processed either at the corner drugstore or mail the film to Kodak and get back prints made with Kodak chemistry on Kodak paper.

It was an excellent business model.

When Kodak executives asked when digital photography could compete, Mr. Sassoon used Moore’s Law, which predicts how fast digital technology advances. He would need two million pixels to compete against 110 negative color film, so he estimated 15 to 20 years. Kodak offered its first consumer cameras 18 years later.

“When you’re talking to a bunch of corporate guys about 18 to 20 years in the future, when none of those guys will still be in the company, they don’t get too excited about it,” he said. “But they allowed me to continue to work on digital cameras, image compression and memory cards.”

The first digital camera was patented in 1978. It was called the electronic still camera. But Mr. Sasson was not allowed to publicly talk about it or show his prototype to anyone outside Kodak.

In 1989, Mr. Sasson and a colleague, Robert Hills, created the first modern digital single-lens reflex (S.L.R.) camera that looks and functions like today’s professional models. It had a 1.2 megapixel sensor, and used image compression and memory cards.

The 1989 version of the digital camera, known as the Ecam (electronic camera) image

The 1989 version of the digital camera, known as the Ecam (electronic camera). This is the basis of the United States patent issued on May 14, 1991.

But Kodak’s marketing department was not interested in it. Mr. Sasson was told they could sell the camera, but wouldn’t — because it would eat away at the company’s film sales.

“When we built that camera, the argument was over,” Mr. Sasson said. “It was just a matter of time, and yet Kodak didn’t really embrace any of it. That camera never saw the light of day.”

Still, until it expired in the United States in 2007, the digital camera patent helped earn billions for Kodak, since it — not Mr. Sasson — owned it, making most digital camera manufacturers pay Kodak for the use of the technology. Though Kodak did eventually market both professional and consumer cameras, it did not fully embrace digital photography until it was too late.

“Every digital camera that was sold took away from a film camera and we knew how much money we made on film,” Mr. Sasson said. “That was the argument. Of course, the problem is pretty soon you won’t be able to sell film — and that was my position.”

Today, the first digital camera Mr. Sasson made in 1975 is on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. President Obama awarded Mr. Sasson the National Medal of Technology and Innovation at a 2009 White House ceremony.

Three years later, Eastman Kodak filed for bankruptcy.



Henry Sapiecha

Chinese scientists have developed a new foam-like ‘super material’ image

Chinese scientists have developed a new foam-like ‘super material’ that is – to use a simile – as light as a balloon yet as strong as metal.

The foam-like material was created when tiny tubes of graphene were formed into a cellular structure which boasted of the same stability as a diamond.

Graphene has attracted great interest among researchers in recent years. And this was what led the researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Shanghai Institute of Ceramics to develop the new material.

About 207 times stronger than steel by weight and able to conduct heat and electricity with very high efficiency, the new foam-like material is been designed to support something 40,000 times its own weight without bending, reports science journal, Advanced Materials.

The researchers contend that one piece of the graphene foam can easily withstand the impact of a blow that has a force of more than 14,500 pounds per square inch – almost as much pressure experienced at the world’s deepest depth in the Pacific ocean known as Challenger Deep of the Mariana Trench.

It is for this reason that the Shanghai research team said their newly created material could withstand more external shocks than other previously reported graphene materials.

It could also be squashed to just 5 per cent of its original size and still return to its original shape, and remained intact after the process was repeated 1,000 times.

Primarily destined for military applications, the properties of the novel material implies that it could be used as a cushion under the surface of bulletproof vests or on the outside of tanks to absorb the shocks from incoming projectiles, the Shanghai study said.


Henry Sapiecha


Boeing has unveiled a new synthetic metal called the microlattice, a material that’s being hailed as the lightest metal ever made.

Microlattice is a nickel-phosphorus alloy coated onto an open polymer structure. The polymer when removed, leaves a structure consisting of 100 nanometer thick walls of nickel-phosphorus, thus being 99.99% air.

While the structure of microlattice is strong, it is so light that it can be balanced on top of a dandelion. It is about 100 times lighter than Styrofoam and could well be the key component in the future of aeronautical design.

Microlattice’s design is influenced by the human bone structure. It has a 3D open-cellular polymer structure consisting of interconnected hollow tubes, each tube with a wall about 1000 times lighter than human hair.

This arrangement makes the metal extremely light and very hard to crush. Additionally, microlattice’s ultra-low density gives it a unique mechanical behavior, in that it can recover completely from compressions exceeding 50% strain and absorb high amounts of energy.

Sophia Yang, Research Scientist of Architected Materials at HRL Labs who worked with Boeing on the project stated: “One of the main applications that we’ve been looking into is structural components in aerospace.”

Although direct applications for microlattice have not been settled yet, Boeing is looking to use it in structural reinforcement for airplanes – which could reduce the weight of the aircraft significantly and improve fuel efficiency.

Video and image courtesy of Boeing


Henry Sapiecha

Many scientists perform their research in totally uncharted territories. Some of them flirt with danger on a daily basis. The persistence of a small percentage creates their own demise with overexposure to toxic substances, or by working alone with hazardous equipment. Watch this video showing 10 famous scientists that were killed by their own experiments.
Source: Alltime10s/Youtube


Henry Sapiecha


What is the difference between atomic physics and nuclear physics?
Asked by: Kelley D. Burroughs


Atomic physics is mainly concerned with the electrons orbiting the nucleus of an atom. In this regime the Coulomb interaction dominates and phenomena can be explained by quantum electrodynamics (QED).Nuclear Physics on the other hand, concerns itself with the particles of the nucleus called nucleons (protons & neutrons). In the nucleus there is Coulomb repulsion between the protons but there is also the strong force which keeps the nucleus together. This interaction is not completely understood but there are many models to address it. In the nucleus the leading theory is quantum chromodynamics (QCD) which attempts to explain phenomena in terms of quarks which are the particles that are proposed to make up the nucleons.
Answered by: Pete Karpius, Physics Grad Student, UNH, Durham (5)

Henry Sapiecha


What causes different colors in flames?
Asked by: Jimmy Willard


Colors in general result from either emission of light of specific wavelengths, or absorption of light of specific wavelengths from a mix of photons. At the root of both emission and absorption is the excitement of electrons.Electrons on atoms have different amounts of energy proportional to the distance of their orbital from the nucleus. Electrons (which are negative) close to the positive nucleus have lower potential energy; those in “higher” energy levels farther away have more energy. In order for an e- to “jump” from a lower level to a higher one it must absorb energy, often in the form of light. Conversely when an e- “falls” from a higher level to a lower one, it gives off energy, again in the form of a photon of light.

The amount of energy either absorbed logically depends on the distance the electron “jumps” or “falls”. But the e- always absorbs or releases exactly one photon of light, not lots of photons for a big change in energy but a few photons for a small change in energy. How can this be? This is where the color comes in: photons with a high frequency have lots of energy, photons with low frequency have little energy, and we perceive photons with high frequency as bluer and those with lower frequencies as redder ( with all the colors of the rainbow in between as in ROY G BIV ).

OK. So in the flame, electrons get excited and pushed to higher energy levels by the heat energy. When they fall back down, they give off photons of light of different colors, based upon how far they fall. Different temperatures cause electrons to jump to different levels, but different types of atoms also have energy levels that are different distances apart. Thus putting copper into a flame causes a green glow because electrons on the copper atoms are falling and jumping exactly the right distance to emit or absorb photons of the frequency we see as green (you can try this with a penny)

The same idea explains not only color in flames, but all the colors we see.
Answered by: Rob Landolfi, None, Science Teacher, Washington, DC


Henry Sapiecha


I have heard that humans have a wavelength. Is this true?
Asked by: Brendan Playford



In 1932, a French scientist named Louis de Broglie suggested that the wave-particle duality applied to not only light, but also to matter. That is to say, he proposed that all matter possessed wave-like characteristics. To understand how he arrived to this conclusion, we must explain how light can possess both wave and particle properties.

Until the eighteenth century, light was thought of purely as a wave, like sound. There were several problems associated with this theory, however, one of the foremost being the lack of medium in space. Waves require a medium through which to travel, and without such substance, the wave cannot exist – – this is why sound cannot travel through a vacuum. In space, however, there did not appear to be any medium that would allow light to travel, yet light obviously traveled through space to reach the Earth. In order to explain this, scientists visualized a material that existed everywhere and through which light could propagate. This material came to be called the ‘luminiferous ether’. The wave theory was further promoted when, in 1803, a scientist named Thomas Young demonstrated the interference of light in the famous ‘double slit experiment’. This experiment could only be explained by the wave-nature of light.

So, how does the particle theory enter the picture? The wave nature of light does not explain everything, particularly the fact that light diffraction was not as readily observed as was other wave diffraction, such as sound or water waves. Things were further complicated with the photoelectric effect, a phenomenon where light striking metals produced an emission of ‘photoelectrons’, that is, an electric current. The empirical data of the photoelectric effect could only be explained by the corpuscular (particle) theory of light.

In the meanwhile, Clerk Maxwell synthesized everything that was then known about electricity and magnetism in what are known as Maxwell’s equations. These equations described visible light as a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, and said that the luminiferous ether was not necessary for electromagnetic waves to propagate through space. He proposed an experiment through which the absence of ether could be demonstrated, but believed that the precise measurements required for the experiment were not possible. Albert Michelson and Edward Morley proved him wrong in July of 1887. The famous Michelson-Morley experiment sent light in two orthogonal (perpendicular) directions and used an ‘interferometer’ (invented by Michelson) to detect the shift in the wavelengths of the light beams. This shift was supposed to be caused by the speed of the Earth moving through the luminiferous ether, but no such shift occurred. Thus the speed of light was shown to be the same, regardless of the relative motion of the frames. So, is light a wave or a particle? It is perhaps best to say that light is a complicated phenomenon that is neither a wave nor a particle. The wave and particle theories are simplified models of light, and in certain situations, one or the other of these ‘models’ offers a more convenient explanation.

Now, enter Prince Louis de Broglie. Max Planck and Einstein had related energy to the frequency of waves, and by Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2, mass was related to energy. Thus de Broglie supposed that matter might also be related to the frequency of waves. The elementary particle of light, the photon, had been shown to exhibit wave-properties; de Broglie wanted to extend this fact to all matter.

The momentum of a photon, p, was given by the ratio between Plank’s constant and the photon’s wavelength. De Broglie applied this relationship to all matter. Since Plank’s constant is on the order of 10-34, the de Broglie wavelength is virtually undetectable for large amounts of matter.

There is much evidence of matter possessing such a de Broglie wavelength. The double slit experiment demonstrates interference effects in photons, electrons, and neutrons, the last of which being very significant, considering that the neutron is perhaps the densest mass on Earth.

What about humans? Well, theoretically, since all matter possess wave-like properties, so do humans, and cats, and whatever you please. We could hypothetically demonstrate this fact by performing the double slit experiment with these ‘particles’. So here we go, firing cats haphazardly at two slits, trying to get cats to interfere with each other. Will it work? Well. . . kinda. There are a lot of little technicalities, so you’ll have to be careful not to aim at the slits (i.e., you must fire randomly to create a incoherent cat-beam), and you’ll have to space out the firings. You fire one cat, you wait for a while, then you fire the other cat. Eventually, you’ll form the familiar interference pattern on the other side of the slits. Unfortunately, that waiting period between firings is about the age of the universe when you’re using cats.

Finally! What IS the wavelength of a human being? Assuming he/she weighs 70 kg, and is being fired at 25 m/s, it’s about 3.79 x 10-37 meters.
Answered by: Aman Ahuja, Physics student, WPI, Mass.

Henry Sapiecha

A 3D illustration of a metasurface skin cloak made from an ultrathin layer of nanoantennas image

A 3D illustration of a metasurface skin cloak made from an ultrathin layer of nanoantennas (gold blocks) covering an arbitrarily shaped object. Light reflects off the surface like a mirror. | Photo: Xiang Zhang group, Berkeley Lab/UC Berkeley

It is the closest scientists have come yet to recreating Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak.

An ultra-thin flexible material has been developed that can wrap around an object and make it vanish.

Although the “invisibility skin” has only been tested at microscopic scales, scientists believe it should be possible to create larger versions in the future.

Harry Potter wears his invisible cloak in a screengrab from the popular movie series.image

Harry Potter wears his invisible cloak in a screengrab from the popular movie series.

The 80 nanometre thick film is made from gold “nanoantenna” blocks that interfere with the normal scattering of light waves.

In the test, the “cloak” was wrapped around a tiny lumpy and dented “bump” measuring 36 micrometres square – about the size of a few living cells. Once activated by switching the polarisation of the nanoantennae, it made the object invisible.

Lead researcher Dr Xiang Zhang, from the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said: “This is the first time a 3D object of arbitrary shape has been cloaked from visible light.

A demonstration of optical camouflage technology at Tokyo University image

A demonstration of optical camouflage technology at Tokyo University, conducted by Faculty of Engineering profesor Susumu Tachi, in Tokyo in this Febuary 5, 2003 file photo.

“Our ultra-thin cloak now looks like a coat. It is easy to design and implement, and is potentially scalable for hiding macroscopic objects.”

In the Harry Potter stories, the boy wizard hides from his enemies using a cloak that renders the wearer invisible. It works by magic rather than the light-channelling “metamaterials” used by scientists.

Metamaterials have features smaller in size than the wavelength of light, allowing them to re-route incoming light waves.

Previous invisibility experiments have produced bulky, rigid designs that cannot be adapted to different environments.

The technology, described in the journal Science, holds promise for applications such as high resolution microscopes, super-fast optical computers, and 3D displays.

However it is still a long way from providing the perfect camouflage for soldiers and military vehicles, or allowing spies to creep around unseen.

Any movement by the object being hidden currently breaks the invisibility “spell”. Also, the “cloak” only works over a limited range of light wavelengths. (8)

Henry Sapiecha


einstein image

Einstein was a man of many talents, but did you know that he also enjoyed a good riddle? He even created a nearly unsolvable riddle of his own one day. Do you think you can solve it? Let’s find out.

There are five houses in five different colors in a row. In each house lives a person with a different nationality. The five owners drink a certain type of beverage, smoke a certain brand of cigar, and keep a certain pet. No owners have the same pet, smoke the same brand of cigar, or drink the same beverage.

So the question is this: who owns the fish?


1. The Brit lives in the red house.
2. The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
3. The Dane drinks tea.
4. The green house is on the immediate left of the white house.
5. The green house’s owner drinks coffee.
6. The owner who smokes Pall Mall rears birds.
7. The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill.
8. The owner living in the center house drinks milk.
9. The Norwegian lives in the first house.
10. The owner who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats.
11. The owner who keeps the horse lives next to the one who smokes Dunhill.
12. The owner who smokes Bluemasters drinks beer.
13. The German smokes Prince.
14. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
15. The owner who smokes Blends lives next to the one who drinks water.

Stumped? Here’s how you can figure it out:

(via If I Science)

Pretty intense, right? How many of you brainiacs out there go it right? How long did it take you? Fastest time gets a cookie!


Henry Sapiecha