Posted November 29, 2010
In honor of the 12th month of the year, let's look at the 12th element on the periodic table:
Magnesium is an abundant, strong, and light metal with many practical uses. It produces an amazingly bright white light when it burns, which is a favorite chemistry demonstration. Magnesium is also a key component in chlorophyll, so without it plants would have to use a different chemical to harvest energy from the Sun.
Posted November 22, 2010
Finding planets outside our solar system:
Astronomers are finding more exoplanets all the time, and some of those recently discovered are close to the same size as the Earth. One has even been found to be the right distance from its star for water to be liquid on the surface.
Posted November 15, 2010
Fun with liquid nitrogen!
The behavior of materials when they get very, very cold can be surprising. Liquid nitrogen is just 77 kelvins or −321°F, where flexible materials often become brittle, and the thermal contraction is extreme. (Remember, liquid nitrogen is a potentially hazardous material. Please visit NSTA's safety portal for resources on safety in your science classroom.)
Posted November 8, 2010
Snow leopards are one of the most difficult large animals to study in the wild:
Conservation efforts focus on education, so that people living in snow leopard territory take precautions to protect livestock from predation. When they are not seen as a threat to domesticated animals shepherds leave the leopards alone. Check out the Snow Leopard Conservancy website for more.
Posted November 1, 2010
A low-cost space program:
This video from a camera attached to a weather balloon that went up to about 100,000 feet before falling back to Earth gives a neat perspective of the East coast. The low temperature in the upper atmosphere would have disabled the camera, but chemical hand warmers packed with the camera kept it running.
Jacob Clark Blickenstaff is Assistant Professor of Physics and Assistant Director of the Center for Science and Mathematics Education at the University of Southern Mississippi.