Friday, April 25, 2014

Benjamin Franklin

In addition to being a politician and diplomat in the early days of the United States, Benjamin Franklin (here by Tormentalous) was also a scientist and inventor. One of his most famous experiments was the kite experiment depicted here. Contrary to popular belief (and my own belief until a few minutes ago when I looked this up), his kite was not struck by lightning. Instead he flew his kite up into storm clouds and found that static electricity built up on the kite (and traveled down the wet string to the key), and he got a static shock from touching the key. From this he deduced that lighting bolts were an electric discharge, and subsequently he invented the lightning rod to protect tall buildings.

Ben Franklin lived in Philadelphia, and this weekend is Philly Brick Fest, a LEGO gathering here in Philly. I hope to be at the public exhibition with my son, so maybe I'll see you there.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Magdeburg hemispheres

Otto von Guericke, a German scientist and also the mayor of Magdeburg, invented a vacuum pump and studied the effects of vacuum and air pressure. In one of his most spectacular experiments, he fit two copper hemispheres together and used his pump to create a vacuum inside. This created a force holding the hemispheres together that was so great, teams of horses could not pull them apart until the valve was opened and air was let back inside. This experiment was illustrated here by Tim v.F. for the New Scientist LEGO contest.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

T4 virus

Recently NewScientist held a LEGO contest. Lisa Strazdina was runner up with her model of enterobacteria phage T4. This virus infects E. coli, injecting DNA into the bacterium and using the bacteria's own enzymes to reproduce itself, killing the bacterium in the process.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Flickr LEGO Astronautics group

A new group has started on Flickr, LEGO Astronautics, for people to share their real-space (as opposed to science fiction) creations. Check it out to see lots of great MOCs. I'm sure I'll be returning to this group often to find content for SciBricks.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

What is black and white and red all over?

A recent study that appeared in Nature Communications saying that zebra stripes somehow help them ward off biting flies. Here's a zebra that I'm pretty sure is from the life-size animal displays that Sean Kenney has been building for zoos around the US.