Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Build Up

Having to go to class thirty minutes earlier than usual really isn't that bad. Especially if there's Dunkin' Donuts and coffee involved. We all finished our donuts and bagels while listening to Mary discuss some physics terms and the different types of radiation. Ranging from the lowest to the highest amount of radiation that can be produced, the three major kinds are alpha, beta, and gamma. Radiation is inescapable since we are being affected by it all the time from sun exposure to our usage of cell phones. These exposures are not incredibly lethal to the human body, whereas alpha, beta, and gamma radiation can be very toxic and can lead to cancer and fatal illnesses. 

I think that one of the world's greatest accomplishments in history are the breakthroughs that scientists have made in radiation and how we can limit our contact with them. For example, alpha radiation can be simply barricaded by your skin, but gamma requires a much thicker obstruction. In addition to discovering how we can protect ourselves from these exposure, radiation has strongly impacted our world. To be more specific,  it has influenced our developments in the production of military weapons.

Blue Glow from Corn Syrup and Polarized Lenses
Bill took over the lectures and talked about bombs and nuclear warheads, which was then related to a discussion about  World War II. As horrible and devastating that the outcome of the war was, there was an upside to it: the advancements that were made in science. Bill emphasized the importance of ambition that a nation should possess in order to improve our knowledge in the studies of science. I enjoyed listening to all the different viewpoints on WWII's bombings of Japan, since it kept me attentive with an open mind. After the discussion, our guest speaker, Phil Nelson, lectured on the physics behind human vision. It is actually a very fascinating subject on how we see color, our visual sensitivity, and how Nature essentially implemented vision into the human race. First off, he showed us a demonstration of the light spectrum of each color (such as red, yellow, blue, green, and white) by reflecting the colors off a projector onto a screen, using a crystal. Personally, the most interesting color for me was his demonstration with white. Although white is usually mistaken has having "no color", it is actually a combination of green, blue, and red.
The glow started to change color as more corn syrup was added 
His second demonstration involved polarized lenses, and my group started getting super excited when we found out that he was using the same lenses that we experimented with for our light transmission project yesterday. Phil filled a beaker of water and placed it between two polarized lenses. As he slowly rotated the lenses to darken our image of the water, the view of the substance became succumbed in darkness. On his second experiment with the lenses, he poured corn syrup into the beaker instead, which gave different results. Unlike his first trial with water, the view of the corn syrup in the container actually emitted a soft blue glow. And as he continued to add more corn syrup into the beaker, the glow would change to different colors as Phil rotated the lenses. Since my group's experiment is involved with polarized lenses, it was very interesting to learn more about our project through Phil's phenomenal presentation.

After lunch, we all got down to business and went over some information for tomorrow's trip to Hershey Park! Mary, Bill, and Craig gave us an overview on the experiments that we have to do on one of the rides, some safety tips, and instructions on how to use the equipment. After that, the class broke up into groups to test out the the accelerometers by running up and down stairs, using the elevators, and pacing around the halls to check whether our collected data was accurate. Since class ended earlier than usual, my group members and I decided to go work on our PowerPoint presentation and discuss our plans for tomorrow at Starbucks. We all seemed to be having busy and packed weekends however, so we worked as efficiently and productive as possible. 
Working on our PowerPoint at Starbucks
The class is finally going to test out all our new physics skills at Hershey Park! I can't wait to see everyone rocking fanny packs and blue vests with accelerometers tomorrow.  

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