Archive for October, 2016

Theft-Proof Smart Bike

The bicycle is an excellent exercise machine. You can hop on to the lightweight bike and get a good workout on both city roads and cross country. The only thing is, that the very portability and ease of use of the cycle also makes it an easy target for thieves.

A simple cycle lock is never truly secure enough to keep it out of the hands of a determined thief. What then is the solution to keeping your bicycle safe? A company called Vanmoof offers the solution to theft- proof your bike.

They offer a smartbike in three or eight speed versions that has a computer chip and GPS system built into the very frame of the bicycle. This allows you to track the distance you peddled, the speed, and a number of other variable statistics.

What is most remarkable is that it allows you to always know exactly where the bike is thanks to the GPS. This means that even if some thief does make off with your cycle, you will be able to trace him down pretty quickly.

So confident is the company that they even offer a free replacement if you are unable to trace your smartbike for some reason. Now that’s a science project that I can get behind full heartedly.

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Does Your Fish Recognize Your Face?

Your dog waits eagerly for you to get home so that he can greet you. Your cat may allow you to pet her if she’s feeling friendly enough. Your hamster definitely knows the hand that feeds it, but what about your pet fish? Does your fish know who you are? Can it recognize your face?

Considering that fish do not have the visual cortex that humans have to allow them to recognize faces, one would think that your pet fish would be unable to know you. Researchers at the University of Oxford  conducted an experiment using archerfish that would prove otherwise.

A tropical species, archerfish can shoot jets of water at it’s prey. The researchers used this property of the fish to train them to squirt water at one of the two face images that they were shown. The fish were shown the one familiar face along with 44 new ones and coaxed into squirting one.

Apparently the science experiment was conducted twice and the archerfish were seen to accurately recognize and squirt the known face image 80 percent of the time. Even recognizing the face when some details of the face, such as color and overall shape, were altered. This was a surprise to the researchers.

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Sharpest Knife in the World

The sharpest substance would lead to the sharpest knife. Currently Obsidian is considered to be the sharpest blade you can get. The thinnest blades known are three nanometers wide at the edge. The knife is said to be ten times sharper than the edge of a razor blade.

Obsidian is actually a stone formed by volcanic activity. The material is also called volcanic glass due to it’s looks. The Obsidian blades are constructed by flaking a long  and thin sliver from the core of an Obsidian stone.

They do make very fine surgical knives given their edge and sharpness, however since they have  a tendency to break easily, they are not yet used for human surgeries. It would be disastrous if the scalpel being used for the surgery were to break midway and embed glass into the patient.

The glass fragments would complicate an already dicey surgery. This is why despite being the sharpest material in the world, Obsidian knives are not licensed for use during human surgeries.  Most surgical knives are usually made of metal which is much more sturdy.

Make a science project out of finding out what other materials are hard and sharp. Make different lists for materials that are found in nature and those which are man made.

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Mine Kafon

Minefields have been the cause for some of the worst casualties in war struck areas. The damage done by a mine is truly heart rendering. There have been a number of protests against using mines, but despite a number of celebrities lending their voice to the cause not much attention has been paid to the warnings by the war mongers.

What is worse is that even after the war is over mines are still around to cause damage. This is where the Mine Kafon, an unmanned drone is coming in to detonate minefields. Developed in the United Kingdom by the Find a Better Way charity led by Sir Bobby Charlton, the drone is a giant, biodegradable ball with bamboo spines.

This huge ball is light enough to be blown by the wind across the minefield and if its spine touches a mine it gets detonated. An on board GPS keeps track of the area where it has traveled. The mine kafon as it is called, is a simple enough to run gadget and does not have to rely on chemical leaching from a mine to spot it’s location.

This is one science project that will make it much easier to detonate existing mines and allow the locals to reclaim the land for more useful purposes.

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Does Sunshine Make You Tired?

Going out in the sunlight and playing is tiring, but what makes you tired? The actual physical activity that you have undertaken or the fact that the sun zapped your energy? Sometimes the mere act of being outdoors on a really sunny day is enough to make you exhausted and get a headache. So how does this work?

The body needs to exert extra energy when you are out in the sun to ensure that you do not overheat. This involves the physical process of sweating to cool you off. As you lose fluids you get dehydrated and eventually this leads to a certain degree of lethargy where you don’t feel like doing anything.

The best way to deal with this reaction to being in the sun is to ensure that you get to drink a whole lot of water to replace the body fluids that you are losing through sweating. If the body does not have to work too hard to maintain an optimal temperature, you will not feel quite as tired when you are out having fun in the sun.

As a science project, you could consider drinking varying amounts of water and checking to see what your body temperature is like on a sunny day. This will give you a good idea of how much water you need to drink to stay hydrated and active when out in the sun.

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Can We Reach Earth’s Core With a Probe?

Humans have been out to Space, visited the Moon and even managed to exit the Solar System using an unmanned vehicle. Now how about our own blue planet? Can we send a probe to the center of the Earth and find out the mysteries that it holds?

The deepest known hole to be drilled was the Kola Superdeep Borehole. It was 12 km deep but that is merely scratching the surface when it comes to the 6,371 km radius of the Earth. The trouble is not just that it would be an engineering feat of extraordinary proportions, it is also that we don’t have a material sturdy enough to build the probe.

The Earth’s core has a temperature of 5,000 degree Celsius and a pressure more than 3000 times what is experienced at the bottom of the deepest ocean. Any present day material known to man would probably melt and be crushed to the size of a small ball under these adverse conditions.

The journey to the center of the Earth is likely to remain science fiction till we can come up with some material that can tolerate the heat that is generated at that depth in the Earth’s Core. It would be interesting to conduct a science project to see just what all properties the material will need to have.

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