Here Simon explains one more effect he has played with at home, the Magnus effect.
Sunday at the beach, Simon was reenacting the 5 doors and a cat puzzle (he had learned this puzzle from the Mind Your Decisions channel). The puzzle is about guessing behind which door the cat is hiding in as few guesses as possible, while the cat is allowed to move one door further after every wrong guess.
“Here’s a fun fact!” Simon said all of a sudden. “If you add up all the grains of sand on all the beaches all over the world, you are going to get several quintillion sand grains or several times 10^18!” He then proceeded to try to calculate how many sand grains there might be at the beach around us…
In the evening, while having a meal by the sea, Simon challenged Dad with a Brilliant.org problem he particularly liked:
Simon’s explanation sheet (The general formulas are written by Simon, the numbers underneath the table are his Dad’s, who just couldn’t believe Simon’s counterintuitive solution at first and wanted check the concrete sums. He later accepted his defeat):
Simon loved our Easter weekend in Friesland, canoeing and taking boat rides together with his grandparents. He also did some experimenting with the splashing waves and learned how to use the waves to tell the Beaufort scale.
Going for a walk quickly turns into yet another Physics experiment. “Here’s a challenge: what if you can force the ball down so much and induce so much horizontal motion (when the ball bounces off of a wooden wedge) into the system that it goes all the way to the other side?” Simon shouts as he runs after a small bouncy ball in a large space that once used to be a tram depot. “With a back spin the ball goes horizontally! “
During an extended family visit to the Hoge Veluwe natural reserve (where it rained the whole weekend so we barely ventured outside), Simon tried two things for the first time: bowling (fascinated by the terms spare, gutter, strike) and going down a waterslide. “This was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done in my life!” Simon told me afterwards about the waterslide, “I think it’s remain the only time I tried this though”, he added, as it was “too exciting”. He also told me how going down the slide inspired him to build a machine (using LittleBits) creating bubbles in the water and we fantasised about the design together.
Although vacation is a vague notion in our family, where days are devoted to doing favourite things 365 days a year. For Simon, that means that his days are filled to the brim with science experiments, practicing math and devouring books and videos on quantum mechanics, also when he is on vacation (away from home). The past three weeks in Southern France and Spanish Sitges also involved a lot of swimming and enjoying the outdoors of course, but science remains Simon’s top priority. He also felt like he had grown unaccustomed to the beach overkill (while at home, we only went to the beach something like once a week max) and couldn’t bear the sand sticking to his wet feet for a while. By the time we settled at our Spanish Airbnb he gradually got acclimatised to this continuous sensory ordeal though and I was happy to see him relax at the seashore, especially on the last day of our stay. He had spent about two hours in the water (experimenting with vortices, swimming after a ball and just playing silly), and didn’t even want to get the sand off his feet anymore. We just sat there on the beautiful retro beach in Sitges, hugging and watching the sea, in absolute tranquility. Simon had even forgotten that Daniel Shiffman’s live stream was due that evening!
Made a lot of “binary calculators” (above)
Helped little sis learn fractions
Introduced little sis to infinite fractions
Checked out his new lathe tools and tried sawing
Experimented a whole lot (with surface tension, forces, water and gases)
Yet another experiment
Followed tutorials by Physics Girl, Up and Atop, PBS Space Time, Veritasium, Reactions, PBS Infinite Series
Loved his new Larry Gonnick Calculus book and did quite a lot of… Calculus. It was quite funny when a restaurant owner noticed Simon differentiate at dinnertime and was very impressed. He trend out to be a former high school science teacher. Interesting how Simon’s giftedness is usually only openly appreciated by those who have some understanding of the subjects he elaborates upon. People with less understanding show less tolerance, like a guard at the French swimming pool who told us off and snatched Simon’s (clean) plastic plate away, not allowing Simon to carry out his beloved vortices experiment in the public pool (resulting in a huge meltdown and Simon being afraid the pool would close or change rules every day).
Launching propeller rockets on the beach
Simon’s first chemical equations. He first thought they worked like linear equations 🙂
More Physics Girl inspired experiments
Favourite one: burning matches in a glass results in all the water in a shallow plate getting sucked into the glass (water level rising). Has a physical and a chemical explanation!
Favourite evening activity
Loving the waves
Wait a minute, is that Simon actually playing football? We never thought we would see that happen. All the credits go to Matt Parker. He is the one who got Simon interested in football, or rather – in the football as a geometrical object. Simon also gave us a lecture on the history of the football, its changing shape and aerodynamics.
Simon invented this fun game in Processing after he and his little sister had some proper winter fun outdoors in the fresh December snow (quite rare for the local climate and thus immensely cherished by the little people). The game is about throwing snowballs in such a trajectory that they stick to one another, forming a super-snowball. After I finished filming this, the two snowball throwers had such a great time with the game that I dare say the giggling effect from of this 2D simulation overshadowed the real snowball fight that had originally inspired it. They did love playing in the real snow on the next day though, until it melted away.