Friday, March 30, 2012

Calculator Chat

Okay, so if you've seen an episode of Calculator Chat send me a picture of your calculator and we'll post it here. Here's mine:


Mr. Harris's...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

If you've ever sat in my class you're probably scarred for life. Also, coincidentally, you know i love graphs--and so does Adam Savage. Take a peek, it's pretty funny. Well done too.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Does this need an explanation? 

Regardless, if you do conduct an acid/base test at home and use this to determine the pH of your sample...comment and I'll publish it here. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Elephant's Toothpaste

A demonstration in class...

so you can relive the special moments.
and finally...

Yep...that's me teaching...

or something like that.

Blinded By The Light

The picture is from Alan Friedman--on Discover magazine. 
The Sun. Seriously. It's swell, super, spectacular, special even. ;) The solar flares start out from a sunspot. There have been a few this past week (flares--from a sunspot). Here's a picture of the sunspot in question. Pretty cool if you ask me. Here's a couple more pictures of our favorite star too.

The Doctor Is In

Edwin Hubble

Edwin Hubble was born in Missouri in the year 1889. He was one of seven children and his father was an insurance agent. He received his first telescope when he was 8 and developed an early passion for astronomy from it. He father tried to put an end to his astronomy because he wanted Edwin to study law. Edwin studied law at a college in Britain and also secretly studied physics and astronomy. He came back to the United States to teach high school and to also coach basketball. Hubble eventually got to use one of the Yerkes Observatory telescopes; this was the beginning to his astronomy career. Later Hubble saw that the Andromeda nebula was such a far distance away it could not be in the Milky Way Galaxy. It made others realize that the Milky Way is just a tiny area in our universe. He would soon later find that the universe was expanding constantly. Edwin found this by examining that the light of distant galaxies was changing meaning that everything in the universe was moving away further away from everything else. Hubble’s discoveries changed the perception that we have on the universe.
--Jonathan E.

Edward Teller is most well known for his contributions to the development of the hydrogen bomb. However, he was also a very well accomplished theoretical physicist. Born in Budapest, Hungary in 1903, Teller was well known to be extremely supportive of the development and discovery of nuclear weapons, and opposed those who wanted to ban bomb tests. He also was an advocate of many other projects such as the Strategic Defense Initiative. Edward Teller was named one of the most controversial physicists of the twentieth century and also labeled one of the most politically influential scientists of his time.

Charity V.

 Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was born in Lennep, Germany in 1845. When he was three, he move to Apeldoorn and was raised in the Netherlands. He went to the Institute of Martinus Herman van Doorn. He later went to the ambachtsschool in Utrecht, but was expelled for not admitting who a classroom bully was. He was investigating the external effects of vacuum equipment when an electrical discharge passed through them. He found that cathode rays created a fluorescent effect on a piece of cardboard painted with barium platinocyanide. He tested this effect over a weekend, and discovered a new type of electromagnetic radiation he called X-rays. He took a photograph of his wife’s hand, Anna Bertha, with X-rays. She was terrified when she saw her skeleton. Wilhelm continued testing for weeks to make sure he didn’t mess up his experiment, and wrote a paper entitled, “On a New Kind of Rays” on December 28th, 1895. Röntgen’s discoveries led to the use of diagnostic radiology, which uses X-ray images to diagnose disease. Röntgen died from carcinoma of the intestine in 1923.
 --Ryan S.

Gustav Theodor Fechner was an experimental psychologist born in Germany on April 19, 1801. He inspired many 20th century scientists and philosophers with his early ideas and experiments in psychology. He studied medicine at the Medizinisch-Chirurgische Akademie in Dresden and later continued his studies at the University of Leipzig. He was made the professor of physics in 1834 at the University of Leipzig. He later published well known chemical and physical papers and translated chemical works from the French language to others. He made many discoveries in bodily and conscious facts. He tried to find an exact mathematical correlation between the body and the conscience.
                  Ironically, in 1839 he acquired an eye disorder while studying color and vision. This caused him to resign from the office of professor and return home to recover. While in this state of recovery, he started studying the mind and how it relates to the body. He even gave public lectures on his findings on the subject. One of his most well known ideas is the Fechner color effect. This effect is a perceptual illusion whereby colors are seen in a moving pattern of black and white and is still very mysterious today. Fechner is known today as one of the founders of modern experimental psychology.
-- Adam K.

  Leo Szilard, a Hungarian physicist and inventor, was the first to conceive the nuclear chain reactor in 1933. He also patented the idea of a nuclear reactor with Enrico Fermi. Later, he also conceived three other important devices, which were the electron microspore, the linear accelerator, and the cyclotron. However, he did not build or publish these ideas in the scientific community often, so the credit often went to others who took his ideas and actually created them. Since he did not create his inventions, he did not receive any nobel prizes, but two of his inventions did. Leo Szilard was also directly responsible for the creation of the Manhattan Project. He drafted a letter to FDR explaining the possibility of having nuclear weapons and warning him of Nazi work on such weapons. He got a signature from Albert Einstein, a friend of his and collaborator, and sent it to FDR.
--Jeremy Wu

George Washington Carver was an African American chemist for agriculture, also known as an agronomist. He is known for his experiments to develop cheap alternatives for farming based off of products such as peanuts, soybeans, and potatoes. His success in his experimentation led to a boost in the agricultural economy for the southern United States.  Carver was born in 1864 as the child of slavery in Missouri. During the Civil War, his master sent him to Arkansas to prevent his freedom. He was eventually adopted by his owner, Moses Carter, and they provided him an education. When he was twenty, he eventually got his high school diploma in Minneapolis. He tried to apply to the University of Kentucky, but was rejected based off of his skin color. The college that he attended was Iowa State Agricultural College, where he got a master’s degree in agricultural science in 1896. George Washington Carver was one of the first African American scientists, who not only made a big impact on science, but also on the economy of an entire section of our country. In 1940, just three years before he died, he donated all of his life savings to establish the Carver Research Foundation for continuing research in agriculture.         
--Advaith A.                                     

Robert Hooke's researches over almost 40 years covered a variety of Natural Philosophy. According to, "He suggested in 1672 that the vibrations in light might be perpendicular to the direction of propagation. He investigated the colors of membranes and of thin plates of mica, and established the variation of the light pattern with the thickness of the plates."
Hooke is best known to those who study elementary Physics through Hooke's Law. His interest in gases and their properties also found expression in his work on respiration. He built the first reflecting telescope, discovered how Mars rotates, and also discovered one of the earliest examples of a double star.
--Monica K.


John Dalton was the son of a weaver. His family didn’t approve of him going out to study sciences. He became famous in a very short period of time. His first paper was about color blindness. Years later, he started research for atomic theory. He became very well known and was invited to many famous institutes for presentations. Towards the end of his life, he had 3 strokes which caused him to have a speech impediment. He died a couple months after his last stroke.
 --Geethanjali M.

Richard P. Feynman was born in New York City on May 11th in 1918. Feynman studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and continued his studies at Princeton University. He obtained his Ph. D. in physics in 1942 (24 years old). He met Hans Bethe at Cornell University and there became involved with the Manhattan Project. They became good friends, and later, with J. Robert Oppenheimer also. Feynman was usually the “life” of the parties at Los Alamos, and also loved playing practical jokes. In 1965, he shared a Nobel Prize with Shinichiro and Julian Schwinger in Physics.  Feynman later died in 1988 from abdominal cancer.
--Chris S.

IGNAZ SEMMELWEIS “The savior of Mothers”

He was one of the pioneers in antiseptic procedures.  Ignaz was working in a hospital that had a high incidence of puerperal fever in the obstetrical unit.  This fever was often fatal and had a mortality rate of 10-35%.  He found that the doctors where conducting autopsies’ or were working on cadavers, then they were delivery babies.  He observed that the doctors were not washing their hand in-between procedures.

Ignaz established a protocol of washing hands with chlorinated lime solution (1847). This reduced the mortality rate to below 1%.  Even with this evidence he was a “rebel” in the medical community and his hand washing theory was rejected.  He was not able to offer a scientific reason for hand washing; this was the main reason for rejection.  Also doctors of his time were arrogant and “were not about to wash their hands just because someone told them to.”

It is interesting my Mom works I healthcare today (2012) and she states that the one area she has to educate staff on over and over is hand washing.  People forget and the touch their hair, clothes, faces, etc and don’t realize they have just contaminated their hands.  How many more years do you think it will take before hand washing is done with the frequency it needs to be?

--Jeffrey H. 

 Stephen Hawking is probably one of the most (if not the most) influential theoretical physicists alive today.  He has published many books on physics theory, formed several prominent scientific theories, and reshaped the way humanity views the universe... all regardless of his chronic muscular sclerosis.  He was born in 1942 and received a degree at Oxford University in 1962, at which time he developed his disease.  Unhindered, Hawking went on to make huge additions to Einstein's Theory of Relativity and to Quantum Mechanics theories.  He quickly became famous; Hawking has taught classes, hosted television shows, even been in space.  He's won several scientific awards, including the Franklin and Einstein Medals.  He is, of course, still alive.
--Abe D.

Monday, March 12, 2012


This is a piece of Trinitite. This particular piece is from Alamogordo, New Mexico. Trinitite, all of it, was formed in a split-second when the first nuclear bomb exploded on July 16, 1945. This piece is slightly greenish, smooth on the top, and rough on the bottom. Enclosed on epoxy and labeled Trinitite & Los Alamos & Scientific & Laboratory this artifact must have sat on a desk. 

Just a seriously cool piece of American History.

Here's more (a wiki article on Alamogordo glass, a nice article on it, and another with some for sale).

Update: I emailed Los Alamos National Laboratory and asked. No reply yet.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Wonder what the teachers do behind closed doors? 


A nice Prezi by Morgan C. (nicely done, by the way)

Another by Sarah F.

Another by Elizabeth P.

Now, Ashley O.

Marie Curie by Megan D.

and Jim T. contributes

By Ryan S.

By Andrew P.

and AJ K.

Ryan W.

Abigail B.

And Ryker H.

Brittany B.

Nehida E.

Sam A.

Trieste F.

Bryce M.

Geethanjali M.

Adam K.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

My Friend the Doctor

Extra credit comes rolling in. 

Gregor Mendel
Gregor Mendel is most famous for his discovery on the laws of inheritance. Essentially – the basis of our knowledge on genetics. In the course of this discovery he bred pea plants. He found that one in four plants had pure-bred recessive alleles, two out of four were hybrid alleles, and one out of four was pure dominant alleles. This led to the Law of Segregation, or the fact that every person has a set of alleles for every trait they have. That pair is composed of one allele from the mother, and another from the father, creating a new allele pair. The segregation component is founded on the knowledge that one – not two – alleles are taken from each parent’s allele pair in gamete formation. Mendel’s discovery also led to the Law of Independent Assortment, meaning that the selection of gametes for one trait isn’t related to the gamete selection for another trait. Half of the 46 chromosomes come from the mother and the other half comes from the father. These two laws are the foundation of genetics; proof that Mendel was a vital scientist in our history.

 --Hannah T.

Maria Sibylla Merian 

She was born on April 2, 1647, in Frankfurt, Germany.  When she was 13 years old, her stepfather encouraged her to draw and paint.  Through this she started drawing images of insects and plants.  She made many careful documentations of the growth of insects and plants.  Her most famous observation was her documentation of metamorphoses.  She died on January 3, 1717, at age 69. 
--Elizabeth P.

Luigi Galvani was an Italian physician and physicist.  He was born in 1737 in Bologna Italy.  He studied medicine at the University of Bologna. He also recieved two advanced degrees in medicine and philosophy. He was a lecturer of anatomy and became famous for certain things.
He is most famous for the experiments considering electric currents in the body.  He performed experiments on frogs involving electric charges.  After hearing before that if an electric charge  is applied to the spinal cord of a frog it could create muscle spasms.  He experimented with this and soon        learned that dissected legs of frogs could move under certain        conditions.  That is an electric charge touches the spinal cord.        He concluded with this that there was a type of electrical fluid  in bodies.  This was one of his greatest discoveries.  He called this animal electricity and it was mostly the discovery of electricity moving through cells in the tissue. This helped contribute to future discoveries in neurology and neurophysiology.  
 --Ashley O. 

Fawzia Fahim

Fawzia is an Egyptian Scientist that has been studying effects of snake venom and iodoacetic acid on tumors.
She recieved a grant from the United Kingdom and, through this, attended Birmingham University.
She became an associate Professor in 1975 and a full professor in 1980.
Fawzia married her husband, whom she met during her time at Cario University, in 1959.

--Kenneth H.

Ernest Rutherford was born on August 31, 1871, to James Rutherford and Martha Thompson in Nelson, New Zealand.  He was the fourth child in his family, the second son of seven sons and five daughters.
            Rutherford received the 1908 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work with radiation and the atomic nucleus.  Though he was proud and honored from the award, he was slightly put out because he studied physics, a science, he felt was far superior to chemistry.  He is most famous for his work with the atomic nucleus and helping to further develop the model of atom.  His gold foil experiments led him to present the atom as having a solid, positively charged nucleus with space surrounding it in which electrons orbited around the nucleus.
            Ernest Rutherford died on October 19, 1937, two years before the discovery of atomic fission.  His work with the nucleus helped develop this reaction, which is also called nuclear fission.  This process is when the nucleus of one heavy element splits into two or more nuclei of lighter elements.  During this splitting, large, substantial amounts of energy are released.  From this discovery came the development of nuclear weapons, including the atomic bomb.

--Chelsea Y. 

John Rex Whinfield was born in England in 1901. He  attended Merchand Taylors' School and Gonville and Caiuse College, Cambride, where he studied chemistry and natural sciences. He is famous for his discovery of polyesters along with his assistand James Dickson. They patented their design in 1941, but due to World War II, the discovery was not released until 1946. He died in 1966. 

--Andrew P.

 Agnes Arber was born in London in 1879. She studied at the University College London and Newnham College.

At the beginning of her career she was a research assistant to a plant anatomist. She continued her research in

the anatomy of plants and in 1912 she wrote her first book, Herbals, their origin and Evolution. Later on in her career

she also published many other books on various aspects of the botanicals. In 1946 she became the first woman

botanist to be elected a fellow of the Royal Society. She completed 84 papers between 1902 and 1957 as contributions

to comparative plant anatomy. Agnes Arbor died in 1960.

-Rachel H.

 Tycho Brahe was born in Denmark in 1546. He went to the University of Copenhagen and Leipzig and studied philosophy and law. But in his free time he studied astronomy. In 1572 he disccovered a supernova near the Cassiopeia constellation. After this the king of Norway and Denmark offered him the funds to build an observatory on an island called Hven. he accepted and built his observatory that is now known as  castel of Uranienborg .

--Kaitlin H.            

This appears to be a picture without the golden nose, the drunk moose, or the dwarf. ~raine

Alfred Bernhard Nobel
            Alfred Nobel was born on October 21, 1833 in Sweden. His father was an engineer, who worked in St. Petersburg, Russia. When he became successful, he was able to bring his family to live with him. This is where Alfred Nobel grew up. He was very well educated, and by the age of seventeen, he was fluent in five languages. His first interests were actually literature and poetry, not science. Nobel’s father did approve of his interest in poetry, so he was sent abroad to study chemical engineering. He studied in Germany, France, Sweden, and the United States over a two-year period.
            While he was in France, he studied a chemical called nitroglycerine, which was highly explosive, but too difficult to control. He thought that it could be very useful in construction, if there was a way to safely detonate it. In 1864, Nobel’s brother was killed by nitroglycerin during an experiment in Sweden. The authorities thought it was too dangerous, so they forced Nobel to conduct his experiments in a remote area. To make nitroglycerin safer, he added other components to it. He found a way to put it into a paste form that could be shaped to fit into drilling holes. Nobel got a patent for his invention, and called it dynamite. He also invented a detonator which allowed the explosives to be ignited from a safe distance. This made him very wealthy and famous. Before died, Alfred Nobel left a large portion of his money to the foundation of the Nobel Prize, which is a very prestigious award to this day.
--Sam A.

  Enrico Fermi was born in Rome, Italy in 1901.  He studied at the University of Pisa.  He became a professor of theoretical physics at the university of Rome.  Fermi received the Nobel Prize in 1938 for "his discovery of new radioactive elements produced by neutron irradiation, and for the discovery of nuclear reactions brought about by slow neutrons." Fermi moved to the University of Chicago to become a part of the first major step in constructing the atomic bomb. He helped in the construction of the nuclear reactor. His death occurred in 1942, and a number of science awards and institutions have been made in his honor.

--Tessa H.

William Harvey (1578-1657) was the first man to totally prove and describe systemic circulation and the property of blood being pumped to the body by the heart.  Many people of his time thought that food was converted into blood by the liver. Harvey knew this was not right because of his observations of human and animal dissections. He would watch the action of the heart in fish and small animals, and proved that the heart pumps blood throughout the body.  By doing this, he also found out about veins, and correctly identified them by restricting blood flow. He believed that the heart pushed blood throughout the body through contractions of the heart, and even published a book on his findings in 1628, called De Motu Cordis.  William Harvey is thought to be one of the biggest medical leaders of his time, and contributed to the advancement of understanding the body.

--Karlie C.

 John Dalton (9/6/1766-6/27/1844) was born into a Quaker family in northern England. At the age of 15, he joined his brother in running a Quaker school. Soon after, in 1793 Dalton moved to Manchester and became a mathematics and natural philosophy teacher at “New College”.  Soon he started keeping a meteorological diary, in which he recorded over 200,000 observations, and started studying and doing research on color blindness.

                What Dalton is most famous for is his work on atomic theory. He came up with five main points. Although small aspects are wrong, the cores of them are still true. They are: Elements are made of extremely small particles called atoms. Atoms of a given element are identical in size, mass, and other properties; atoms of different elements differ in size, mass, and other properties. Atoms cannot be subdivided, created, or destroyed. Atoms of different elements combine in simple whole-number ratios to form chemical compounds. In chemical compounds, atoms are combined, separated, or rearranged. John Dalton died in Manchester, recording his last meteorological observation the night of his death. Today, Dalton is one of the many people we thank for what we know about atomic theory.

--Devyn Y.

   In the Austrian Empire on June 28 1856 Nikola Tesla was born.  Nikola went on to study at many schools and studied alternating currents. He later then went to Prague where he attended the Charles-Ferdinand University and it was here where he was influence by Ernst Mach. Then he moved to Budapest where he helped create the first loudspeaker. During this time he also created the induction motor but this is questioned because ideas of this idea had already been created by Galileo Ferraris. Other inventions he created are a machine for inducing sleep, invented a cordless gas discharge lamp, and transmitted electromagnetic energy without wires, building the first radio transmitter. His biggest invention is the Tesla generator. Even with all these inventions he died a poor man on January 7 1943.

--Thomas O.

Perhaps one of the lesser known collaborators on the Manhattan Project, it was Szilárd who worked on the idea of the nuclear chain reaction, the process which allowed the Atomic bomb to be developed. He was also the man who initiated the Manhattan Project, writing to President Roosevelt to urge him to develop these weapons, as he believed the Germans were researching something similar. While he abhorred the use of violence, having let the genie out of the bottle, Szilárd has contributed to the dawn of the nuclear age, and has changed the world dramatically.

--Seth H.