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The world of fractals

A fractal is a mathematical set that has a fractal dimension that usually exceeds its topological dimension and may fall between the integers. Fractals are typically self-similar patterns, where self-similar means they are the same from near as from far\\\". More »

Funny science

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TEDx Cambridge School of Bucharest

How I Passed Chemistry - Tedx Cambridge School Of Bucharest - April 3, 2015 More »

Leadership Authentic Summer Camp

I had a great time together with 26 great students that came from all over the cuntry - Casa Vlasia, Snagov - August 3, 2015 More »

Becoming a volunteer at the orphanage

Training - Bucharest - February 15, 2015 More »

 

7 Awesome Inventions You Never Knew Existed

 

Layer by layer

 

Andrew Turley investigates a build-it-yourself 3D printer you can use in your classroom.

It is often said that we are most creative when we’re young. Mozart was composing music at five. Einstein was 26 in the year he published special relativity. Zuckerberg started Facebook as an undergraduate. The evidence is everywhere you look.

The truth, of course, is a little more complicated. Plenty of luminaries burned their brightest later in life. But either way, there’s certainly no harm in starting early. With this in mind, access to tools becomes the key concern, and three issues stand out most prominently: cost, safety and basic mechanics.

In order to play, child chess genius Bobby Fischer needed just a board and some pieces, relatively cheap items to procure and harmless. And the rules of chess are pretty simple – a young Fischer could start experimenting, learning and creating pretty quickly. Chess might be considered one of the easier disciplines for a young student to access.

Chemistry, meanwhile, must rank as one of the hardest. Equipment is expensive, labs are dangerous and the basic mechanics are complex.

Student 3D printing
3D printing offers students a glimpse of how chemistry can be applied to engineering challenges.

As US high school chemistry teacher Matt Ragusa, puts it, ‘it’s not like I can just let the kids loose with the chemicals’.

Stereolithography

Matt’s solution has been the build-it-yourself 3D printer, designed by an education outreach team at the University of Illinois.1 The team is led by Joe Muskin, an education coordinator at Illinois tasked with finding new ways to take the university’s research into classrooms. Matt worked extensively on the printer while an undergraduate at the university. He was then able to take the skills, knowledge and experience gained with him into his teaching career.

The printer uses stereolithography, a printing process in which the product is built up, layer by layer, through polymerisation of a photoreactive resin by a light source of some kind, usually a laser. The process is well established, and consumer units are commercially available, but are too expensive for most educational environments.

The Illinois printer swaps out the most expensive components of the consumer units for parts that might be commonly found in schools and colleges or could be acquired at minimal expense.

Float the Salt, Please: ISS Family Dinner

When there are nine people aboard the International Space Station, it’s a bit of a full house….

 

Solar water-splitting technology developed

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Rice University researchers have demonstrated an efficient new way to capture the energy from sunlight and convert it into clean, renewable energy by splitting water molecules.

The technology, which is described online in the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters, relies on a configuration of light-activated gold nanoparticles that harvest sunlight and transfer solar energy to highly excited electrons, which scientists sometimes refer to as “hot electrons.”

“Hot electrons have the potential to drive very useful chemical reactions, but they decay very rapidly, and people have struggled to harness their energy,” said lead researcher Isabell Thomann, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and of chemistry and materials science and nanoengineering at Rice. “For example, most of the energy losses in today’s best photovoltaic solar panels are the result of hot electrons that cool within a few trillionths of a second and release their energy as wasted heat.”

Capturing these high-energy electrons before they cool could allow solar-energy providers to significantly increase their solar-to-electric power-conversion efficiencies and meet a national goal of reducing the cost of solar electricity.

In the light-activated nanoparticles studied by Thomann and colleagues at Rice’s Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP), light is captured and converted into plasmons, waves of electrons that flow like a fluid across the metal surface of the nanoparticles. Plasmons are high-energy states that are short-lived, but researchers at Rice and elsewhere have found ways to capture plasmonic energy and convert it into useful heat or light. Plasmonic nanoparticles also offer one of the most promising means of harnessing the power of hot electrons, and LANP researchers have made progress toward that goal in several recent studies.

Thomann and her team, graduate students Hossein Robatjazi, Shah Mohammad Bahauddin and Chloe Doiron, created a system that uses the energy from hot electrons to split molecules of water into oxygen and hydrogen. That’s important because oxygen and hydrogen are the feedstocks for fuel cells, electrochemical devices that produce electricity cleanly and efficiently.

Columbus space laboratory tour

In less than three months, ESA’s next astronaut to go to space, Timothy Peake, will depart on his five-month Principia mission – launch is set for 15 December.

 

Don’t call Katrina a “natural disaster”

 

NASA: There is no asteroid threatening Earth

nasa

Numerous recent blogs and web postings are erroneously claiming that an asteroid will impact Earth, sometime between Sept. 15 and 28, 2015. On one of those dates, as rumors go, there will be an impact — “evidently” near Puerto Rico — causing wanton destruction to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States and Mexico, as well as Central and South America.

That’s the rumor that has gone viral — now here are the facts.

“There is no scientific basis — not one shred of evidence — that an asteroid or any other celestial object will impact Earth on those dates,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

In fact, NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program says there have been no asteroids or comets observed that would impact Earth anytime in the foreseeable future. All known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids have less than a 0.01% chance of impacting Earth in the next 100 years.

The Near-Earth Object office at JPL is a key group involved with the international collaboration of astronomers and scientists who keep watch on the sky with their telescopes, looking for asteroids that could do harm to our planet and predicting their paths through space for the foreseeable future. If there were any observations on anything headed our way, Chodas and his colleagues would know about it.

“If there were any object large enough to do that type of destruction in September, we would have seen something of it by now,” he stated.

Another thing Chodas and his team do know — this isn’t the first time a wild, unsubstantiated claim of a celestial object about to impact Earth has been made, and unfortunately, it probably won’t be the last. It seems to be a perennial favorite of the World Wide Web.

Leadership Authentic Summer Camp

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It was amazing! I had a great time together with 26 great students that came from all over the cuntry. We learned what a real leader should be like by playing various development games that boosted our attention, coordination, creativity, and team-work. Two great actors, Madalin Mandin and Radu Ciobanasu, who were also mentors, taught us how to improvise and how important it is to follow our instinct, so we applied this in the games and they became more fun.

There were also a lot of guests that talked about their carrier and their way to the top. We were all amazed by their impressive stories which inspired many of us. These leaders were:

How I Pass Chemistry

I am very excited to present to you the first version of my chemistry project created for high school students. It already covers some very important chemistry concepts, but the program will be developed further as I am studying this subject and still have much to discover.

This software can be used by students to check their own work and to understand and remember patterns that are usually hard to memorize but that are asked to be known in international exams such as IGCSE or A-Level exams.
I already had the chance to present my work at the TEDx event and have developed it some more into this final first version.

This version of the program includes:

  • a self-generating periodic table with information about each element and the 2-D structure of every element,
  • a module to find out the type of bond between two selected elements and the empirical formula of the compound,
  • graphs to observe the patterns of the periodicity of elements (e.g.: observing the trend of melting points across period 3),
  • a calculator that gives information about the compund introduced based on the data it has.

Some screenshots of the program:

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TEDx Cambridge School of Bucharest

My speech!

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