Dropping Science: What Would Happen if You Fired a Gun in Space?


Two of our favourite youtube channels are vsauce and minutephysics so when those two channels team up to give us a pair of videos about shooting guns at space and digging holes through the earth, we take notice. I’ve only thrown up the first video because you can jump directly to the next one by clicking the link at the end unless of course you’re viewing on an ipad in which case the second video is here. Either way you’re about to get enough physics trivia to keep your drinking buddies enthralled for the rest of the month. You’ll also learn how to go about destroying the sun and ending all life on earth so if you’re a super villain or trouble youth with access to several solar masses of water, please don’t watch it.


Angry Birds Space, In Space!!

Newsflash! Angry Birds Space will be out on March 22nd. Don’t care? Fair enough. However, in case you were uncertain as to what might be special about the gameplay on this one Angry Bird’s have somehow involved a floating physicist (with a slight cold) in space. Yes, NASA’s Don Pettit from the International Space Station in orbit around the planet Earth is prepared to demonstrate to the kids how to wear socks in a weightless environment and how the new game will differ substantially from the current one by explaining orbital trajectories in space. Nice to see ’em trying out new stuff.

Considering that Angry Birds is effectively a game built on Team 17’s Random Map generating engine from Worms it’s nice to see their actually thinking about new physics engines to knock it all down. God knows they have enough money and time on their hands….

It’s now gonna use orbital trajectories instead of flat, old boring Earth based gravity sim. God help me I might actually get on it now. If it’s good enough for Space Ranger Don Pettit then it’s good enough for me. May his space flu clear up soon.

Dropping Science: Quantum Levitation!

I’ve always felt a little bit cheated that we’ve reached 2011 and I still don’t have my personal hoverboard. At the ASTC Annual Conference in Baltimore this year however, that dream moved a step closer to reality. Tel-Aviv University stunned the world (well the internet at least) with its demonstration of a quantum superconductor, locked within a magnetic field. Essentially the object can be placed at any angle within the field and so will remain locked in place with no other means of support, it can even move around given a magnetic track and a push!

The science behind it is (as you’d imagine from something with the word “Quantum” in it, pretty complicated but essentially it boils down to the fact that the material coating the levitating object is a superconductor and superconductors hate magnetic fields. As the superconductor tries to expel the magnetic field and the magnetic field attempts to pass through the superconductor the disk winds up frozen in space above the magnet. For a more detailed (and probably slightly more accurate) description of how it works have a look at their webpage on the subject.

So can we expect to be flying to work tomorrow? Well no. For the effect to work the object has to be extremely thin and extremely cold (like -185ºC ). Still it’s a hover-step closer and that’s exciting enough for me.