How Green is Green Energy?

Non renewable energy sources such as fossil fuels are eventually going to run out. Then how is the world going to meet it’s power requirements? Using the renewable energy sources, of course. They are called green energy generators because they supposedly do not harm the earth and deplete the resources permanently.

At least that is what the scientists pushing green energy are trying to get you to belive. They give you all the good stuff and they hide some ugly truths, like the fact that generating most green energy uses practices which are definetely not green.

Take for example solar power, the ultimate renewable resource. One would think it was absolutely environmentally friendly. Unfortunately the process used to produce the solar cells that can store and utilize solar energy are far from green. They use many toxic chemicals in the manufacturing process of these cells.

The trick is going to be not just to use green energy but also to find the renewable energy source that does the least amount of harm to the environment. How do we find out which is the most environmentally friendly energy source?

That’s simple. It is the energy source which leaves the smallest carbon footprint. It would make an interesting science project to map out what the carbon footprint of different green energy sources is.

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Does Lavender Make You Sleepy?

Aromatherapy is the practice of using oils derived from flowers, leaves, roots, and other plant parts to promote a feeling of health and wellness. These essential oils are said to produce a calming and soothing effect on the person when their scent is inhaled. Aromatherapists also say that the smells stimulate brain function to enhance physical and psychological health.

Each oil has certain attributes associated with it. For instance they are known to reduce anxiety, ease depression, boost energy levels, speed up the healing process. In case of Lavender, the essential oil is supposed to have a sedative and pain relieving effect. Does that means that if you sniff at the bottle of Lavender essential oil, it will make you sleepy?

Studies have shown that Lavender oil is primarily comprised of linalyl acetate and linalool. Both these chemicals are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and tend to inhibit a number of neurotransmitters. It lowers the heart rate and reduces anxiety. This means that the claims that Lavender is a soothing essential oil has scientific backing.

There is a lot of good in essential oils and aromatherapy that science projects are still working on proving. In the meanwhile if splashing a dash of Lavender essential oil on your pillow helps you sleep better, go ahead and do so.


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Star War Like Holograms Possible Soon

Remember the urgent plea in a hologram that Princess Leia sent out to Obi-Wan Kenobi? The one that was hidden in R2D2 and was accidentally intercepted by Luke Skywalker? The probability of a similar hologram message being actually made is much higher today than it was in 1977 when the original movie was made.

Researchers at the Australian National University’s School of Physics and engineering have been working on creating a hologram  in infrared which could be used by the VR (virtual reality) industry. Current research has only made picture possible but adding sound is what they are working on next.

While standard photographs display a 2D projection of the information that they capture, a hologram would have a far more superior, 3D projection which would be used inn futuristic devices. The device is made up of millions of small silicon pillars even thinner than the human hair.

The small and compact size of the augmented reality device will make it easier to use and store on space missions. They are definitely an improvement on the current rather bulky equipment being used today. This is a science project which will have far reaching effects in how the people of the future communicate.

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How the Smart Glasses Work

The University of Utah’s Science Technology and Research economic initiative have come up with these smart glasses that will automatically focus on what you look at, eliminating the need for bifocals even if you have different eye power prescriptions for distance and close vision.

Since a solid can find it difficult to shift focus the computer engineering professor Carlos Mastrangelo and his student Nazmul Hasan created the glasses out of glycerin which is enclosed in thick rubber like, transparent membranes. The membranes are connected to three actuators that help push the membrane forward and back.

This piston action on the membrane allows the curve of the liquid glycerin lens to be adjusted as required. The lenses are placed in special frames where the bridge contains a distance meter. There is also a set of rechargeable batteries in the frame which can last up to 24 hours once powered. This is a promising science project.

The first working prototype of the rather bulky pair of eye glasses was unveiled in the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The biggest advantage of the smart glasses is that the customer will never have to buy another pair of glasses again as the lens can be automatically readjusted by feeding in the new eye prescription in to a smart phone app that connects to the glasses via Bluetooth.

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Smart Glasses for Auto Focus

The human eye has a natural lens that allows us to pick and focus on an object. As we age, the lens loses it’s flexibility and a set of additional lenses is worn over the eyes in the form of glasses to help make up for this deficit. Eventually two sets of lenses are required for reading and distance vision.

If you have two sets of numbers for your eye glasses and require bifocal lenses, you know how much of a jolt the eyes can get when they have to go from focusing on an object close by to a distant one. At the University of Utah researchers are working on developing smart glasses that automatically focus on the object that you wish to see.

The smart glasses come with a distance meter that measures the distance of the object the person is looking at. Then the lens is curved automatically to the right curvature to adjust the vision. The lens is able to change focus from one object to another in 14 milliseconds. That’s literally faster than in a blink of an eye.

To configure the smart glasses the individual needs to input their eye sight prescription into an app that is present on an accompanying smart phone. The actual calibration in this science project takes place via a Bluetooth connection.

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Sonic Boom Photograph

The sound barrier is broken when an object moves faster than the speed of sound. Sound is essentially a set of waves. These waves travel outwards from the source of the sound. When an object moves really fast, it creates it’s own pressure waves that move super fast in all directions. Now as the object beats the speed of the sound it is creating a shock wave is created.

This shock wave is a result of a number of pressure waves layered one on top of the other. The shock wave is also called a sonic boom. Needless to say the occurrence is so sudden that the naked eye will never be able to catch it. Scientists have been working on a super quick camera which could photograph the pressure waves.

They are shaped like cones of light and are referred to as Mach cones. Researchers at Washington University have developed a camera with which it is possible to photograph and view the Mach cones as the light waves behind the sound waves form them. The graphic representation of a sonic boom is an interesting image showing small specks of light moving fast and blurred as the cone travels through them.

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Preparing for Mars

Getting a group of human beings on to the red planet is one of NASA’s current projects. Needless to say it is one full of difficulties. Living on Mars will have it’s own set of challenges. In order to prepare these people for their strenuous and demanding journey, NASA is currently training them to survive the conditions that they will face in outer space right here on Earth.

Below the summit of the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii there are four men and two women living in a vinyl coated pod. They were selected from over seven hundred applicants, and now they are preparing themselves for the eight month long journey to Mars.

As part of the program they will live in cramped quarters to simulate the space craft. They will eat only frozen and dried food as such will be actually available to them for the long voyage. They will have twenty minute delay in relaying messages and responses to “Earth” like they would when travelling through space.

The science project is a simulation to check what problems the astronauts will face on their Mars adventure and just what all NASA needs to prepare them for. The researchers will also learn about team dynamics and human behavior during the project.

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Why Your Smartphone Battery Will Not Explode

The exploding batteries of the Samsung Note 7 made headlines across the globe. A company which was considered a pioneer in the field of mobile creation was suddenly under a dark cloud of suspicion. Did Samsung compromise safety for some extra bucks? Not likely when it’s reputation was at stake.

With the fear of exploding batteries following smartphone users, it made sense for researchers at the University of Stanford to begin a science project that looked into making batteries safer to use. The scientists have been working on a method to introduce flame retartdants into lithium ion batteries. While this does stop the batteries from overheating, it does prevent them from bursting into flames.

What the research scientists have done is to encapsulate a chemical called triphenyl phosphate into tiny sheaths made of plastic. The chemical is a common flame retardant. These sheaths are then inserted into the electrode which is positioned between the anode and the cathode. The plastic sheath keeps the retardant from touching the electrolyte material.

It is the electroyte material that is most imflamable and the source of the majority of batery fires. When the material overheats and may begin to produce flames, the plastic sheath melts and releases the triphenyl phosphate into the mix. This retards the formation of flames and reduces the chance of the battery fire. Thereby making sure that the smartphone battery will not explode. Now this is a science project with very practical use!

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Book a Flying Taxi

There have been countless references to flying cars in science fiction movies and novels. The kind that don’t get you stuck in traffic and can handle amazing speeds to get you to your destination as soon as you possibly say where you want to go. The concept has found merit in popular fiction, but it’s been a way behind when it comes to actual implementation.

The technology of Vertical Take Off and Landing also known as VTOL, has been in existence for a while now. Aircrafts equipped with this facility have been constructed and tested. They have some snags, but on the whole it’s completely replicable in a smaller vehicle like a car. Now that’s what Airbus is experimenting with.

Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus, said at the DLD conference in Munich that a hundred years ago urban transportation when underground, now they have the technological wherewithal to go above ground. He was speaking about Project Vahana, which is working on a single passenger taxi that is capable of VTOL, which is about ready for testing this year.

The company is also experimenting with a science project that deals with a multi passenger flying car. Enders says that with flying you don’t need to pour billions into concrete bridges and roads. Airbus actually envisions a taxi service which will work with bookings through an app, much like regular road running taxis today. If you could book yourself a flying taxi by the end of the year, would you?

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Spinning an Artificial Web

Spider’s web is made of a thread which is much stronger than any thread artificially produced in that size diameter. It’s tensile strength is 1.3 GPa which is a little lower than steel which has a tensile strength of 1.65 GPa. Tensile strength refers to the stress that any material can bear before breaking.

Spider web thread is not as dense as steel and makes a much lighter material. Considering it’s almost five times as strong as a thread of the same weight made from steel, it is a material that scientists have been trying to replicate. Rather unsuccessfully as so far the material that has been formed used harsh chemicals and had an extremely limited use.

Now scientists at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Karolinska Institute have come up with a new step wise method for biomimetic spinning of artificial spider silk. The researchers focused on the protein in spider’s web silk which was water soluble and then used an artificial protein which was also water soluble in the creation process.

Anna Rising, says that their science project has come up with the first successful example of biomimetic spider silk spinning. They designed a process that recapitulates many of the complex molecular mechanisms of native silk spinning. In the future this may allow industrial production of artificial spider silk for biomaterial applications or for the manufacture of advanced textiles

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