Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Can I build and EMP?

Recently a Wyoming sophomore asked us, "I'm looking into building a small scale EMP for the Science Fair. Do you think this would be okay with ISEF?"

Several of the Science Posse's engineering graduate Fellows responded:

What an interesting idea!

Unfortunately, there is a pretty good chance that playing around with an ‘electromagnetic pulse’ producer immediately rubs up against FCC rules in the US Because the effects of EMP can be damaging to both electronics and people (and other living things), I'd back away from it pretty quickly.  A "twist" on the idea might be to look at EM sensing, that is, there are a bunch of things that can be "picked up in the ether," beyond just radio broadcasts.  Here's an example detector found via googling: http://www.zen22142.zen.co.uk/Circuits/Misc/emf.htm

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Slippery Science!

Recently a Wyoming sophomore asked us, "I am currently considering researching and doing my project on the coefficient of friction and how it applies to winter sports. I heard that when you snowboard down a hill, the friction between the board and the snow melts a thin layer of it and gives you a sheet of water to slide on. I am looking to research this more in depth and possibly experiment with different amounts of friction."

Wow!  What an interesting project!  One of our graduate students in mathematics, Stephen Garth, found an article he thought might be interesting to you as it looks at the same idea you are interested in, although it talks about the idea using ice skating. We would encourage you to read it over and then get back to us with how that might impact what you want to research, and how you might research it.  (What does the article say about the ice melting under an ice skate? Do you think the same might be true with a snowboard?)   From there, we can try and match you up with a mentor who could help you a bit more!

Here is the link to the article that talks about 'why ice is slippery': http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/21/science/21ice.html?pagewanted=all.  The New York Times article is pretty good and also nontechnical.  

Also Cornell has an “Ask a Scientist” portion on their Center for Materials Research website which is also below. This might be another great resource for your project as you develop it further!