Thursday, December 3, 2009

The band aid experiment

Bellow are some oversimplified ideas and then a fun and cheap experiment to show you the basics of the ideas.

How does friction work:

Have you ever rubbed your hands back and forth on each other really fast? Try it out.. If you rub them fast enough, your hands get very hot because of friction.

Friction is “a force that resists the motion of two bodies in contact”. That is what the dictionary says but this might make it a little more real for you.

You know that if you were sitting on one end of a completely flat football field and pushed a basketball towards the other end, it probably wouldn’t make it all the way. The reason that it slows down and stops is because there is friction between the ball and the ground.

Whenever you FORCE something to move against something else, the friction can’t make the movement stop instead the energy that is generated starts turning into heat.

How does a lightbulb work:

Heat isn’t the only byproduct of friction. In a light bulb, there is a tiny piece of metal that has electricity passing through it. In electrical terms, the wire provides “resistance” to the electricity which would normally stop those electrons from moving.. But just like friction, when you FORCE a movement to happen, heat is generated but in this case, light is too..

Now you can see that changing from one state (stopped) to another (moving) or forcing movement generates energy that has to be released in some way.

Weird chemical friction stuff:

Now.. Imagine applying that principal to chemicals.

Adhesives like glue work by creating atomic bonds to the atoms next to it. That is fancy talk for “they like to stick to stuff”.. Just like the friction idea, if you FORCE them away from each other pulling them apart, an energy is created which has to be released.

Now, here is something easy to do so that you can see that:

Ask your mom for a couple of band aids that are still in their individual package. Make the room as pitch black dark as you can and quickly open the band aid the way you usually do. This forces those atomic bonds to break which creates energy that is released as a blue light.

MAN I love science.. Weird how the same forces that make the sun work as it changes atoms from one state to another also happen on as small of a scale as opening a bandaid.

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