Stories tagged physics

Haven't gotten enough information about the current football controversy? Here's a quick video that delves into the physics at play in under-inflated footballs.

After 19 hours of work yesterday, the crippled cruise ship Costa Concordia was successfully tipped upright. You can read more about the science involved in the parbuckling process used to make it happen right here.


So I saw a news report last night about this new recreational activity, flyboarding. All you need is a jet-ski and about $10,000 in specialized gear to soar above the water just like Iron Man, except without the iron. The video above is very cool. This link here explains the specific physics at work that makes this be so cool. When you get all this stuff and figure it out, invite me over. I wanna try this!!!

Physics in action

by Liza on Jan. 12th, 2012

Get out there, if you can, and watch skaters take on the insane Red Bull Crashed Ice course here in downtown St. Paul. It's a great place to watch all sorts of physics in action. And bundle up. Winter's back, suddenly, and the laws of thermodynamics apply to you, too.


var docstoc_docid="110689206";var docstoc_title="RBCI_Spectator_Guide_SM_1";var docstoc_urltitle="RBCI_Spectator_Guide_SM_1";


Ten abandoned mining pits in Minnesota's Iron Range could have new life as pumped-storage hydroelectricity plants, according to a University of Minnesota,* Great River Energy, and Minnesota Power study.

[Hey, now: did you click on the hyperlink above? I don't put hyperlinks in posts for my own amusement, you know. They're for your viewing pleasure and learning enjoyment! Seriously though, click on them for great explanations, photos, diagrams, graphs, and more. You won't be disappointed.]

Match made in Minnesota: Wind and water "play nice" in pumped-storage hydroelectric technology.
Match made in Minnesota: Wind and water "play nice" in pumped-storage hydroelectric technology.Courtesy Steve Fareham

Pumped-storage hydroelectric technology sounds like something from a science fiction movie, but it's really just a neat combination of water and wind energy technology. What makes pumped-storage hydroelectric projects sexy is that they make it possible to store excess energy generated by wind turbines on windy days. This stored energy can then be used during the inevitable calm days -- addressing one of the biggest issues for today's wind energy industry!

How does it work?

It's basic physics, my friends: building potential energy and releasing kinetic energy. Specifically, excess energy generated by wind turbines "is used to pump water from a low-lying reservoir to a higher elevation pool" within the mine pit. This builds the potential energy of the water. Then, when that energy is demanded, "water from the upper pool is released generating hydroelectricity and refilling the lower pool." This releases kinetic energy, which can be turned into electricity.

How effective is it?

Researchers estimated that a pumped-storage hydroelectric facility built in Virginia, MN could output the same electricity as a "modest-sized" generator burning natural gas. However, at a cost of $120 million, the pumped-hydro facility would be more expensive than a comparable natural gas generator.

There are 40 U.S. locations currently employing pumped-storage hydroelectricity technology, but there are no definite plans for any such projects in Minnesota -- yet.

Read the Star Tribune's coverage of this story here.

*Including scientists from UMD's Natural Resources Research Institute, St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, and Humphrey School of Public Affairs; and funded largely by the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment.

It's Friday, so it's time for a new Science Friday video. Science Friday
Science Friday
Courtesy Science Friday
"Kelly Ward, senior software engineer for Walt Disney Animation Studios, was tasked with bringing Rapunzel's locks to life in Disney's new movie, Tangled. The hair had to look realistic, but not too real -- otherwise Rapunzel would be towing 80 pounds behind her."
It's Friday, so it's time for a new Science Friday video. Science Friday
Science Friday
Courtesy Science Friday
This week,
"Pumpkins of the Atlantic Giant variety can weigh more than 1800 pounds. For a mechanical engineer with an interest in plus-sized fruit, like Georgia Tech’s David Hu, this raises an interesting physics question: how can the pumpkin get so big without breaking?"

Gravity Sim: You can enable path tracing too. The shapes traced are pretty awesome.
Gravity Sim: You can enable path tracing too. The shapes traced are pretty awesome.Courtesy Joel Bonasera
Check out this awesome gravity simulator (you'll need Flash and a decent processor). You can introduce objects of different mass and watch how their gravitational pull moves them through space. My personal favorite is the "proto disk" button. Protoplanetary disk theory is one explanation for planetary development, and you can investigate it on your own on the site. Once I have a complex system started, I like to throw a huge mass through and see how it wrecks the balance of forces. Just don't tell my psychologist.


What happened to the missing ships and planes?

Bermuda triangle
Bermuda triangleCourtesy alphaios
Large amounts of frozen methane gas can be found under the ocean floors. When the BP oil drills hit a pocket of this gas it raced upwards, expanding ever larger as the pressure on it decreased. When it reaches the surface it really expands.

Methane bubbles can sink ships and snuff out airplane engines

Methane deposits occasionally erupt to the surface. A research paper published in the American Journal of Physics explains how large methane bubbles rising from the ocean floor might account for many, if not all, of the mysterious disappearances of ships and aircraft.

Oceanographic surveyors of the sea floor in the area of the Bermuda Triangle have discovered significant quantities of methane hydrates and older eruption sites.


How Brilliant Computer Scientists Solved the Bermuda Triangle Mystery Salem News