Simon’s thoughts

Quantum mechanics says that space and time are different things. Three dimensional changing universe, general relativity says that it’s a four dimensional static universe and time already exists. If we increase these three or four dimensions to infinity then that would be a theory that describes everything. If there is a theory that describes everything then that would be a theory that the universe is infinity-dimensional. There even exists an interpretation in quantum mechanics that produces uncountably many universes just to get out of collapsing a wave function.

Gravity is infinite inside the singularity ofa black hole which means that if you’re already inside the singularity and are trying to escape, you instantaneously pop back into the singularity.


Physics Experiments: Hydrodynamic Levitation

A really fun phenomenon that Simon learned from the Veritasium channel, based upon the Coanda effect. Simon later went on to repeat this experiment several times, even in the cold fountain at the park – anything for science!

Physics Experiments: How to build a simple generator

Simon came up with the idea to make this simple electric generator a while ago, but we had bad luck with the ceramic magnets we ordered: they had chipped ends and literally crumbled in my hands, which I found very dangerous. Simon was extremely upset when I told him we couldn’t use those magnets and had to order new ones, not¬†ceramic but neodymium ones this time. Even though we had to wait for the new set of magnets, Simon had already prepared the square cardboard base with the long iron screw piercing it in the middle. He made it all by himself. Today we finally had the time and everything necessary for the project:

a 1,5 Volt, 40 mili-ampere miniature lamp;

coated copper wire,  0,25 mm thick;

and of course, two new 40 x 20 x 10 mm neodymium magnets (very strong, make sure to take precaution as such magnets can cause injuries when they jump towards each other — adult supervision required).

The generator works because of Faraday’s law, which states that a dynamic (moving) magnetic field creates electricity. The objective is to make sure the magnets can freely spin inside your cardboard box when you turn the iron screw. We put around 250 loops of copper wire around the box to create a coil (Simon actually counted). Carefully scrape the enamel off at the tips of the two loose ends of your copper wire and attach those to the lamp’s contacts.

Physics Experiments: Light and trapped inside the water stream

Another take at our light trapping experiment, this time using a red laser pointer. We punched a hole in the plastic bottle and filled the bottle with water. As the water flows through the hole, the trick is to point directly at the hole through the bottle. This makes the photons enter the water stream and they can no longer leave it, getting reflected inside the stream and traveling along with it, so no longer in a straight line. This is exactly the way fiber optic cable works.

Simon gave me a whole lecture the other day about how fiber optic cable transmits binary data like a morse code, with long light flashes for ones and short flashes for zeros. (“And underwater robots fix them!”) He explained ASCII, the way to encode English letters and special characters in binary, 95 characters in total: “7 bits allowing for 128 combinations, which is even an overkill. To transfer pixels, you need 24 bits. And 2 to the 24 is exactly the same as 256 to the third (total number of possible shades). I worked this out!”

With two bottles:

Physics Experiments: Standing wave

“It’s so mesmerising!” Simon explains what a standing wave is and the nodes in a wave, using a Slinky. Standing waves can be polarised in any direction (horizontally, vertically or diagonally) or they can be circularly/elliptically polarised or any combination of polarisation direction. A sea wave is normally just a regular wave, but it can become a standing wave if you introduce some kind of boundary.


Physics Experiments: Viscous roll

Caution: this is not a dessert, but ping-pong balls dumped in honey. Yes, we had to shop for a lot of honey yesterday to let Simon do the trick. It’s about a bottle rolling down a slope and stopping on the way, and rolling again. The viscous honey makes the balls super slow, this us why the bottle has uneven/unstable weight on each side. We didn’t quite succeed. The bottle did stop, but did not quite resume its motion down the slope. On other occasions it did roll well, but didn’t stop. We also tried a different bottle and a longer slope (ironing board). Perhaps, the slope still wasn’t long enough or the balls needed even more space inside the bottle?

Inspired by a Veritasium video.

Physics Experiments: The Color Wheel and Mind Blending

Inspired by Physics Girl, here come a couple crafty color wheel experiments involving what Physics Girl calls “mind blending” (it may not be the real name) – mixing color wave lengths in your mind. Simon has already studied the way our brain perceives blended/ moving color before, in the several optical illusions he programmed. This time, however, he decided to observe how simple paint can produce the same effect.

CORRECTION by Simon: You can’t actually even see the entire visible spectrum. You only see red, green and blue (I couldn’t think of that in the video).

The rotating green and red disk look more yellow in this extra 2 sec of footage taken by a different camera:

Simon prepared the props himself, with some help from his sister New (who painted one of the disks) and me (I helped cutting the hard cardboard). We couldn’t figure out a way to get the disks to spin fast and tried several options (like straws, pencils and even a dismantles giroscope). Eventually, we decided to use a small drill from a children’s woodworking set and it worked!

Making the fourth disk was the most difficult part as Simon wanted to divide the circle into 12 equal sectors. He came up with this elegant solution: he drew a hexagon and then bisected every angle (see below).