observation

Geology in the City


What if you live in a big city, with no road cuts or rock outcrops nearby? Are you out of luck for finding rocks to study? No! Many of the buildings in most cities have decorative stonework covering their outer walls and their lobbies. You won't be able to collect specimens, but you can collect some marvelous photographs.

Marbles, Inertia, and Paper Plates


This experiment started out as a Science Photo Challenge and got such a great response that I wanted you to experiment with it yourself. It is a wonderful physic puzzle, and offers interesting insights into the science of force and motion.

To try this, you will need:

  • a paper plate
  • scissors
  • a marble or other small ball

Lets start with the question from the Science Photo.

The Importance of Observation

Observation is a very important part of science. It lets us see the results of an experiment, even if they are not the results we expect. It lets us see unexpected things around us that might stimulate our curiosity, leading to new experiments. Even more important than observation is accurate observation. Often, our eyes and our brains play tricks on us, letting us see what we expect to see, instead of what is actually there.

Dancing Raisins

This experiment is another old classic which is still a lot of fun. Now that I think of it, it seems that most of the science tricks I did as a kid have become OLD classics, but this was already an old classic even way back then.

Creeping Carpets

This experiment is one that has been "cooking" in my mind for a while now. Today I had carpets on my mind, since I was cleaning them with our new carpet cleaner. We live at the beach, and our carpets tend to get dirty and sandy, so we place small rugs along the pathway that gets the most use. One problem is that the rugs don't stay there. They slowly migrate across the room. How can this happen? Is the cat doing it to drive us crazy? (She would if she thought it would work!) No, the cat is not involved. The movement is due to the interaction between the carpet and the rugs.

Coffee Rings

I have been doing some house cleaning. In cleaning the counters, I noticed a coffee spill that had dried. It had formed a dark ring, with almost no coffee stain in the center. This reminded me of an article that I have read on the science behind coffee rings, giving me the idea for this experiment.

Cat Lapping

This experiment comes from a recent event in the science news. Researches have discovered that cats drink in a very different way from dogs and other mammals. Now you might think that things like this had been completely explored decades or even centuries ago, but high speed photography has shown us things that we did not suspect before.

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?

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