YouTube is probably the world’s most-used educational aid, and continues to provide an entire generation of visual learners with everything from instructions to tying a tie to the formation of our universe and the evolution of the human race.
SmarterEveryDay is yet another YouTube channel that takes the everyday science we take for granted and makes it accessible, fun and probably nothing like you remember in school (unless you had one of those cool science teachers, who burned lumps of magnesium just for fun).
Slow Motion Science
Haven’t you heard? Google made every YouTuber invest in a slow-motion camera that shoots thousands of frames per second, and now the network is awash with terabytes of slow-motion footage of raindrops and exploding watermelons. Fortunately, SmarterEverDay puts a scientific spin on the eye candy.
For example – did you know that the way spaghetti snaps puzzled scientists for decades? It’s all about how many pieces you are left with – usually at least three, sometimes more. The fastest research papers online only take this research to 4,000 frames per second – but 250,000 frames per second is required to really get to the bottom of it.
Here’s a cool science experiment involving shattering glass. Prince Rupert’s drop is the name given to molten glass dropped into a bucket of cold water – essentially a turbo-cooled glass tadpole. This glass object has some interesting properties: the drop itself cannot be broken, but break the tail and the whole thing explodes. A few hundred thousand frames per second should shed some light on what’s going on here.
Alan Sailer is one of the best high speed photographers currently practicing the art, so SmarterEveryDay joined him to set off some explosions in plastic bottles and learn something at the same time. If you want to be impressed by Alan’s growing collection of explosions, flying bullets and moments of impact check out his Flickr page.
Cold Hard Science
As part of a special three-part series, SmarterEveryDay takes a look at winter sports like skating, curling and ice hockey.
Ice skating is all about technique, but you can’t simply grab any pair of skates and tackle any job. There are three common different types of skates, and they each have their own benefits. Let SmarterEveryDay school you in the difference between figure, speed and hockey skates complete with slow motion examples (and bits of ice majestically sailing through the air).
Curling is essentially boules on ice, and you either love it or hate it. It’s the perfect combination of tactics, vigorous sweeping and passive aggression – but there’s actually something pretty special about a curling stone in order for it to travel in the way it does.
In the last winter sport themed video in the series we take a look at the science of a slapshot, and find out exactly what happens to the ice, stick and puck when hit at full-pelt. It’s all about potential energy and the “whippyness” of a stick – though as the video demonstrates, you shouldn’t necessarily trust the manufacturer’s description in this department.
The Physics Of A Tattoo
If you’re considering getting inked, you might want to know a little bit more about what the process involves before jumping into the chair. One way to really get up close and personal is through a macro lens at a few thousand frames per second.
The permanence of tattoos is what attracts many, but there’s a downside to this too. The act of getting a tattoo removed is known for its often time-consuming and painful nature – but what exactly does laser tattoo removal do to the ink, and how is it finally removed from your body? You might be surprised!
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There are over 100 episodes of SmarterEveryDay to sink your teeth into, covering everything from water balloons that don’t pop to mud bricks and lighting a match inside a balloon with a laser. If one of your favourite pastimes is watching vaguely educational yet thoroughly entertaining videos on YouTube instead of getting real work done, be sure to check out similar from ASAPScience, long-running YouTube institution SciShow or YouTube’s dedicated zone for learning.
What did YouTube teach you today?