Lightning Electricity in the Palm of Your Hand

Lightning Electricity in the Palm of Your Hand

During a thunderstorm, lightning often appears to flash instantaneously from cloud to ground, but there’s much more going on than meets the eye! Friction between air currents causes a buildup of negative charge in the lower parts of the clouds. Like charges repel each other, so the excess negatives begin developing an escape route. Strong,

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Geometric Bubbles

Geometric Bubbles

Bubble formation is governed by one simple rule: minimize surface area. Free-floating bubbles are spherical because that’s the most efficient way to enclose a given volume of air. Give a soap film edges to stretch between, and its behavior gets interesting! Try building geometric bubble frames out of drinking straws and pipe cleaners. Create corner

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Why Is The Sky Blue?

Why Is The Sky Blue?

Ever heard that the sky is blue because it’s reflecting Earth’s water? It’s a myth! If the sky was just mirroring the planet below, it would be brown in Utah. The real reason for our atmosphere’s hue has its roots in a more fundamental question: how do we see the world around us? The electromagnetic

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DIY Science: Make an Egg Bounce

DIY Science: Make an Egg Bounce

What do egg shells, coral reefs, and human bones have in common? They’re all made of calcium carbonate! This brittle mineral compound dissolves in acid. Try submerging an egg in white vinegar (a mild acid) for 24 hours, changing the vinegar, then continuing to soak the egg for about a week. What do you observe?

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What’s So Special about the North Star?

What’s So Special about the North Star?

The most famous star in the night sky is undoubtedly the North Star, also known as Polaris. It isn’t the brightest or most spectacular looking star, but it is nevertheless very important. Let’s take a look at why! The image above shows the north star in the Idyllwild sky. As we know, the Earth is

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Survival Skills: Science Style

Survival Skills: Science Style

Light travels incredibly fast. In a vacuum, it speeds along at nearly six trillion miles per hour. Ever notice how your feet look distorted when you wade in the water, or how a straw seems to be cut in half where it enters a full glass? When light travels through a medium, it slows down.

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DIY Wave Machine

DIY Wave Machine

Waves are everywhere! Electromagnetic waves traverse the vacuum of space. Gravitational waves ripple spacetime itself. Mechanical waves propagate energy through air, water, and other media. Sound is a great example of a mechanical wave. Vibrating molecules disturb their neighbors, which disturb their neighbors, and so on. The individual units don’t move far, but the energy

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Small but Mighty: Eggshell Architecture

Small but Mighty: Eggshell Architecture

In West Virginia’s New River Gorge, an 88-million-pound bridge spans a chasm eight tenths of a mile wide. Before its construction, drivers detoured for the better part of an hour to navigate the Gorge’s steep, water-carved walls. Today, the crossing takes less than a minute at highway driving speed. (Image credit: Louise McLaughlin.) For most

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DIY Tumblewing Glider

To build a tumblewing glider, start with a long, thin rectangle of paper. We experimented with gliders ranging from about three to eight inches in length and had good results with rectangles roughly 4-6 times as long as they were wide. The lighter and thinner the building material you use, the easier your glider will

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Is it a Microwave or a Shrink Ray?

Is it a Microwave or a Shrink Ray?

I’ll be honest: This one blew me away the first time I saw it! What is going on here? It all has to do with polymers, which are basically long chains of repeated molecules, which you can learn more about here. Just to re-iterate: This is not dangerous to you, but it is dangerous to

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Why Do Water Glasses Sing?

Why Do Water Glasses Sing?

Imagine pushing a child on a swing set. When, exactly, do you push? Intuitively, most of us wait for the swing to be at its closest, then give it a shove as it starts to fall away. At any other time we’d either be inviting a collision or chasing after the child.  Amplifying the swinging

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Fluorescent Flowers

Fluorescent Flowers

Water enters a plant at the root system and moves upwards through specialized tissue called xylem. Xylem carries water all the way to the plant’s extremities, where some escapes into the air through minute openings in the outer surface. This loss of moisture is called transpiration. In hot conditions, large trees can lose huge volumes

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