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Physics

The Bizarre Physics of Fire Ants

The Bizarre Physics of Fire Ants

You never want to get too close to a mound of fire ants. But from the comfortable distance of your browser, they’re neat little buggers. Vox explores some of the fascinating ways in which colonies stick together to form structures, and how they can act as both a solid or fluid.

What If You Had X-Ray Vision?

What If You Had X-Ray Vision?

On the surface, the power to see through anything seems like a pretty useful superhero ability. But as What If explains, not only would you need an X-ray emitting sidekick to take advantage of your power, but your viewing subjects would probably end up getting cancer unless they wore safety aprons.

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Randall Munroe: How To

Randall Munroe: How To

xkcd creator Randall Munroe’s latest book offers solutions to real-world problems. But don’t expect to get advice you can actually use. Instead, you’ll receive overly-complicated and impractical methods, in what he calls “world’s least useful self-help book.” Drops 9/3/19.

Angular Momentum Demo

Angular Momentum Demo

Utah State University Professor Boyd F. Edwards uses a Hoberman sphere to demonstrate the conservation of angular momentum. After spinning the sphere to generate angular momentum, he pulls its string to shrink its size, and its speed increases dramatically.

Color Unmixing Machine

Color Unmixing Machine

Destin of Smarter Every Day put together a device that demonstrates reversible laminar flow. He uses it to blend together several different colors of corn syrup, then geeks out about how reversing its direction can completely unmix the blended fluids.

The Engineering of Droplets

The Engineering of Droplets

The Engineer Guy explains how droplets form. It happens when fluid is allowed to drip such that it takes a form with the smallest surface area – a sphere. By vibrating the fluid’s container, one can control how fast droplets form. This knowledge is used in printing, painting, and even medical applications.

How Sound Works in Rooms

How Sound Works in Rooms

Ever wonder why the sound echoes in an enclosed room? This 2013 clip from Acoustic Geometry, demonstrates some of the key principles of direct and reflected sounds using a combination of NERF disc guns, moiré patterns, and more than 1100 feet of fluorescent string.

Moving Trampoline Stunt

Moving Trampoline Stunt

You’d think that bouncing on a trampoline while it’s being driven down the road would be a bad idea. You’d probably be right, but at least the guys from the Dunking Devils Squad have physics on their side as the forward momentum of both the trampoline and jumpers keep them in sync.

Topsy Turvy

Topsy Turvy

The man we know as Vsauce Michael of the channel formerly known as DONG is shows off a nifty plaything. Designed by Pacific Puzzle Works, this oversize top conceals a smaller top inside that automagically spins when you spin the larger top. Available as a kit or fully-assembled.

Supernova

Supernova

Maxim Zhestkov’s experimental film was inspired by the nature of our universe – in which stars explode, leaving behind the matter to create new things. There’s just something so satisfying about the millions of particles flying around in this mesmerizing CGI short.

Ball Won’t Fall

Ball Won’t Fall

A neat little loop captured from The Royal Institution’s fascinating video about trapping particles in a particle accelerator. The machine shown here is a rudimentary version of a Paul Trap – a saddle-shaped device that can hold an object in its center as it rotates.

The Physics of Surfing

The Physics of Surfing

If you’re into surfing, you’re actually using your body and mind to take on the interactions between fluid mechanics, tectonic geography, weather patterns, and more. TED-Ed’s Nick Pizzo provides a brief explanation of how these systems of nature work together.

Magnetic Fields in Slow-motion

Magnetic Fields in Slow-motion

To show how easy it is to visualize magnetic fields, Magnetic Games tossed a super-strong neodymium magnet into a pile of magnetite sand sitting on an impromptu trampoline. As the magnet and particles fly through the air, the patterns emerge.

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The Spoke Blur Effect

The Spoke Blur Effect

Have you ever noticed how when a bicycle wheel rolls along the ground that its top spokes appear to be much more blurred than the bottom ones? Michael of DONG explains the physical and optical properties that bring this effect to life.

Shock Absorbed

Shock Absorbed

A wonderfully satisfying video of a 100kg (~220 lb) weight being dropped directly onto a TEIN shock absorber to show not only how well it can cushion such force, but how smoothly it can do it. It’s a pretty magical effect.

The Mystery at the Bottom of Physics

The Mystery at the Bottom of Physics

(PG-13: Language) “The universe is as mad as a bucket of coked-up ferrets.” Exurb1a looks at universal constants and laws of physics which provide us with context for everything, and help us make sense out of the seemingly random nature of things.

The Coupled Pendulum

The Coupled Pendulum

A simple, but fascinating construction that demonstrates the energy transfer that occurs when two pendulums are placed along the same string. Each one almost completely stops as its momentum moves to the other one like some kind of a seductive dance. (Thanks Kate!)

Viscoelastic Cocktail

Viscoelastic Cocktail

A hypnotic video of a martini glass filled with some kind of black fluid that is both thick and viscous, and exhibits elastic properties as well. This unspillable gunk looks like the lifeblood of some sort of demonic creature.

The Brazil Nut Effect

The Brazil Nut Effect

We know there are always crumbs and debris at the bottom of containers of chips, cereals, nuts and other solid mixtures. What’s strange is that shaking the container doesn’t solve the problem – it makes it worse. Scientists call it the Brazil Nut effect.

Coffee Cup Sounds Explained

Coffee Cup Sounds Explained

Stanford mathematician Tadashi Tokieda explains a strange phenonmenon which occurs when tapping the inside of a coffee mug with a spoon – as it creates differently-pitched tones depending on where you place the spoon. More from Quanta Magazine. (Thanks Susan!)

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Mendocino Levitating Motor

Mendocino Levitating Motor

Physicsfun presents a brief demonstration of one of the more interesting motors we’ve seen – the Mendocino motor uses magnets and a solar energy source to levitate as it spins. You can pick up a similar version for your own desk over on Amazon.

Does Time Exist?

Does Time Exist?

TED-Ed’s Andrew Zimmerman Jones provides a brief overview of the different ways in which physicists theorize how time and space relate, and ponders the question that time may not be a fundamental property of the universe, and only exists in our collective minds.

The Science of Snow Driving

The Science of Snow Driving

If you live somewhere that snow coats roads in the wintertime, you’ll want to check out Engineering Explained’s latest clip, as Jason walks us through the variables at work when driving on slippery surfaces, and provides some tips on how to maintain control on the snow.

Is a Rocket Gun Possible?

Is a Rocket Gun Possible?

Getting spaceships and satellites into orbit requires powerful rockets and all of the challenges that come with them. But would it be possible to use a giant cannon of sorts to shoot these objects safely into orbit instead? Curious Droid explores the possibilities.

Debunking the Flying Phone

Debunking the Flying Phone

A while back, a video made the rounds showing what was supposedly a flying phone case. We figured it was fake, but as Mark Rober and Captain Disillusion point out, it also scammed people out of cash. Keep an eye on Peter Sripol’s channel for his WORKING version.

Emergence: Preview

Emergence: Preview

A look at Universal Everything’s latest interactive visual experiment, in which you control a character standing in the midst of thousands, each of whom reacts to your movements while you remain an individual. We’re dying to try a real-time version of this.

The Meisner Effect

The Meisner Effect

Harvard Natural Sciences presents a nifty experiment that shows how a liquid nitrogen-cooled metal substance (YBCO) can cause a neodymium magnet to levitate. As the disc cools, it becomes a superconductor, causing the Meissner effect to kick in.

Marble Machine Simulation

Marble Machine Simulation

We’ve seen some pretty slick wooden marble machines over the years, but we’ve got to hand it to CG motion designer Moby Motion for this purely digital rendition which manages to capture all of the textures and physics in an extremely convincing way.

Wormholes Explained

Wormholes Explained

Portholes that can instantly transport us between different areas of space and time are a staple of science fiction and fantasy. But are wormholes really a thing, and if they are, how might they work, and where could we find one? Kurzgesagt explores.

The Aerodynamics of Star Wars

The Aerodynamics of Star Wars

While we’re certain there’s way more at play in the physics of space flight than EC Henry’s video mentions, it’s still interesting to learn about the relative speeds of various ships from the Star Wars universe, and what sort of drag coefficient their designs would result in.

Are Electric Planes Possible?

Are Electric Planes Possible?

More cars than ever are relying on electricity for propulsion, but using electric motors and batteries for aircraft poses challenges. Real Engineering explores whether a pure electric flyer would be possible, and why it’s so difficult to achieve. Caution, physics equations ahead.

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