Thursday, November 21, 2013

Random Acts of Science

It's not all squashbuckling.  The other day, I noticed that Zorg and Leena were flying peppers down the stairs.

They had worked out a way to make parachutes from paper and pipe cleaners, and were sailing the peppers down in pairs, much to the delight of the audience lining the stairs.

There's quite a bit of random science going on all the time here.  I keep finding strange things in the freezer (and outside now that it's freezing at night).

Recently, Zorg asked if he could see what would happen if he microwaved a partially inflated balloon.  He thought it might expand in volume, but he wasn't sure.

I wasn't sure what would happen, either, because there wouldn't be much water in the air in the balloon, so I agreed to watch and provide technical assistance (my plan: I'd stop the microwave if the balloon seemed to be burning).

At 30 seconds we didn't notice any change, and the balloon didn't seem too warm.  I suggested that we draw a line that we could measure.   This time we tried a full minute and the balloon (still not very warm) had expanded the line from 9 inches to 9.5 inches!

We immediately thought of other possibilities: would a more fully inflated balloon see a greater proportional expansion? Would there be a difference between a balloon inflated with a pump (plain air) and one inflated by mouth (warmer, moister air)? (Me: should I put in a cup of water with the balloon, so I don't damage my microwave?)

I'd show you the balloon, but I cut it up to make a working model of a lung.  More on that later, we're finishing up Anatomy and Physiology this week!

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