Archive | November 2010

What’s cooking?

An incandescent light bulb

Image via Wikipedia

Ever wondered how an electric incandescent bulb, an electric room heater or an electric stove worked?  Ever wondered how they produce so much heat and light?  Today, we will explore the working of electric bulbs and heaters.  I will given an overview of how electric power is converted to heat and light.  As a bonus, here is a quick poll to give you a teaser.

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A Fowl Dilemma

Which Came First, The Chicken or The Egg?

Image by "The Wanderer's Eye" via Flickr

Today, I will tackle the conundrum of Which came first:  the chicken or the egg? This is an age-old dilemma, confounding early philosophers.  The core argument takes the form of a catch-22.  All chicken hatch from an egg.  Hence, to have a chicken, one must first have had an egg.  But chicken eggs need to be laid by a chicken.  Hence, to have an egg, one must first have a chicken to lay it.  Phrased this way, this question does not seem to have a good solution.  Nevertheless, evolutionary biology has been able to resolve the issue with a correct but perhaps unsatisfactory answer.


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The Eternal Fall

Here is a video of some astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS).  It depicts some common (and uncommon) activities that they do aboard it.  It has background music – so turn down your volume if you are at work.

As you can see, astronauts in space operate in a ‘zero-gravity’ environment.  They float around effortlessly and don’t fall toward the ‘floor’ of the space station.  Water, in a space station such as the ISS, automatically assumes the shape of a ball and floats around.  This is indeed, quite a strange environment.  But have you ever stopped and wondered – why are the astronauts actually floating?  Is it because there is no gravity in outer space?  Is it because the earth’s pull is so weak that it no longer affects them?  Is it because they are constantly being pushed away from the earth by rockets?  Or is it something more subtle?  In this post, we shall explore the phenomenon of micro-gravity.

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Three Strokes and Out

In this post, I will discuss the working of a four stroke internal combustion engine such as the one used in most automobiles.  The engine of most modern cars runs on gasoline/petrol.  It does this by burning petrol in air and using the energy of the hot gaseous by-products to produce mechanical movement and motion of the car.  We shall explore how fuel and air are combined in the engine, how the controlled explosion is initiated and how all the heat is converted into rotational energy for the wheels.

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