Many Miles, Many Smiles

One of your fellow students, Makayla Lara, is going to be embarking on a journey to help needy people in Nicaragua.

This year, for her Academy of Science senior project, she wanted to do something a little different.  She has been to Nicaragua the last two summers as part of an organization that helps collect medical supplies for those desperately in need and wanted to do a senior project involving her trips.  Through some brainstorming, she came up with the idea to raise money for medical supplies and help educate the community on basic needs that are missing amongst the people there.  She created a goal of raising 25,000 dollars for medical supplies by completing a walk from Houston to Austin.  With her parents support, she leaves this Saturday, November 23rd, to walk over 100 miles.

I’m sure she will appreciate any encouragement you can send her during her walk.  If you, or someone you know, is interested in contributing to this cause, you can do so at http://www.crowdrise.com/manymilesmanysmiles.

Makayla's Photo

Physics Phriday: Nuclear Fusion Milestone Passed

Inside a fusion reactor.

Nuclear fusion is the process that powers the sun.  It can release a tremendous amount of energy from a small amount of fuel.  Many people see it as the energy source of the future.  However, no one has had a reactor good enough that they get more energy out of the fusion reaction than they put into the reaction.  It’s not a very good energy source if you have to put more energy into it than you can get out of it.  That’s like having a battery in your phone that has to stay connected to the charger, but the level of charge keeps going down.  Not very useful.

For the first time, researchers at Lawrence Livermore Labs have created a fusion reaction that gives them more energy than they put into it.  This is a huge milestone in fusion research!  We’re on our way to having a Mr. Fusion on every time machine!

Read the full article.

An uncontrolled fusion reaction.  "Tsar Bomba" was the largest hydrogen bomb ever exploded.

An uncontrolled fusion reaction. “Tsar Bomba” was the largest hydrogen bomb ever exploded.

 

Physics Phriday: The Double Slit Experiment

We have talked in class about how light behaves as a wave and as a particle (a photon), and we talked about how electrons behave the same way.  It’s one of those things that is pretty mind blowing to think about.  Here’s a video that shows what’s going on.

 

Physics Phriday: What If a Meteorite Hit Houston?

With the recent meteor seen over Russia, you might have wondered “What would happen if a meteorite hit Houston?”  Fortunately for you, you’re not the only one who has wondered.  The SciGuy at the Houston Chronicle wrote an article about just such a scenario.  It turns out that if a rock 45 meters across hit downtown, our school would probably be ok.

Here are a couple of calculators you can use to figure out what would happen if different sized meteors hit different places on the earth.

http://media.smithsonianmag.com/images/Meteor-Crater-Arizona-631.jpg

Meteor Crater in Arizona