Dianna Cowern (aka Physics Girl) is a physicist and an amazingly creative science ambassador. After studying physics and astrophysics as an undergraduate, she went to work in industry, and then found her calling in science outreach. I met Dianna this past June at the World Science Festival where she was announced as the winner of the Flame Challenge in the visual category. The Flame Challenge was begun by the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University in 2011 with a challenge to scientists of all kinds to answer the question “What is a flame?” in a way that an 11-year-old kid could understand. Next it was “What is time?” and then in Cowern’s year it was “What is color?”. One great thing about the Flame Challenge is that 11-year-olds actually choose the winners.
Cowern’s newest video is on vortices, and how you can spend your day poolside and claim you’re hard at work studying physics the entire time. OK, maybe I embellished that last part. Anyway, in the video she uses a dinner plate to create a pair of vortices that cross the length of the pool without dissipating or diverging. What is this magic? Turns out, it’s fluid dynamics. Watch!
So next time you’re hanging by the pool, start throwing around words like: angular momentum, friction, and vortex lines, because science is everywhere.
Here’s some geek that has not been pre-judged by 11-year-olds:
- The physiology of how pterosaurs likely breathed is complex and fascinating.
- For you archers out there, how much energy does the arrow get out of your energy pulling back the bow? [MATH]
- This woman discovered the mid-ocean ridge (which led to plate tectonics) but most people have never heard her story.
- The science of misheard song lyrics. There’s actually a word for that: mondegreen.
- 2014 is the International Year of Crystallography and it sounds like a pretty cool field to me. [VIDEO]
- Great read on the inventor of the game Simon and how it ushered in the era of computer games.
- NASA and the USGS are launching an app design challenge to help local communities prepare for the effects of climate change.
- This week, SpaceX will attempt to land a rocket on a floating platform at sea.
- Jet Packs. Flying in formation. Enough said. [VIDEO]
Keep on geeking! @Summer_Ash