critical thinking

Cartesian Raisins

One of the fun things about thinking up new science experiments is combining two or more old ideas into one new one. This time, we will combine the Dancing Raisins activity with the Cartesian Diver.

Can Water Float?

There are many things that will float on water: pieces of wood, wax, Styrofoam, and many other things. They float because they are less dense than the water. Now for the question. Can water float on water? Is there a way to make water less dense?

The Science of Campfires

This experiment comes from my neighbors at the Malibu Creek State Park campground. While taking my morning walk, I heard a lady bragging to her husband that she started the campfire with only one match. That made me think of the fellow that I watched the night before as he poured two bottles of charcoal lighter fluid onto a pile of wood and still failed to get the fire going. He would pour on the liquid and get a huge blaze, which quickly died. How could the heat of one match work better than a gallon of blazing lighter fluid?

Bubble Colors

I came across the idea for this while searching for the website of Tom Noddy. Tom is the original bubble man (and in my opinion, still the best.) He planted the seed for my decision to go into business for myself. I met him while I was working at the Memphis Pink Palace Museum. He was doing a weekend of shows at the museum and got to see me doing an electricity show. He told me that I should take the show on the road. That was back in 1987. It has been a long and wonderful road so far, and hopefully it is far from over.

Breathing Hot and Cold

One of the most common questions that I get is where do I get the ideas for these experiments. Some are old classics that I try to give a new angle. Others are the result of questions sent to me by subscribers. Some of the ones that I like the best are the ones that just pop up, seemingly out of nowhere. This is one of those. It also comes with its own story, which makes it even better.

The story is one of Aesop's fables. If you have never read any of these, go read some. It is well worth the time.

Brain Freeze

This experiment comes from a question that I got from a subscriber. As I researched the question, it was even more interesting than I expected. It also seemed like a good excuse to eat lots of ice cream.

What is a Higgs boson, and why should I care?

The Higgs boson is one of the particles that have been predicted, but has only recently been detected. It was predicted by several physicists, including theoretical physicist Peter Higgs. That is where the first part of the name came from.

OK, so what is a boson? That huge number of elementary particles is divided into two major groups: fermions and bosons. Fermions are sometimes called matter particles because they are the particles that take up space. Two fermions cannot be in the same spot at the same time.

Why don't I wear a white lab coat?

During the years I was on the road, doing science performances at schools and museums, I could count on being asked that question at least once a week. After all, isn't that the official uniform for all "real" scientists?

To understand why not all scientists wear white lab coats, lets start by thinking about why some scientists WOULD wear one. After all, the standard, white, lab coat is not the most stylish outfit, so there must be other reasons.

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