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science fair 2000 report2 - Antibubbles

Connett proposed that the antibubbles absorb dissolved air ..

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Science fair project: Making Antibubbles

that below 452 F the system lost all electrical resistance and became an ideal conductor. This would be sort of like cooling an ipod down to hundreds of degrees below zero and finding that the battery remained fully charged no matter how long or loud you played music, until infinity, as long as the helium kept the circuitry cold. A Russian-Canadian team pulled an even neater trick in 1937 with pure helium. When cooled down to 456 F, helium turned into a superfluid, with exactly zero viscosity and zero resistance to flow perfect fluidness. Superfluid helium defies gravity and flows uphill and over walls. At the time, these were flabbergasting finds. Scientists often fudge and pretend that effects like friction equal zero, but only to simplify calculations. Not even Plato predicted someone would actually find one of his ideal forms. Helium is also the best example of element-ness a substance that cannot be broken down or altered by normal, chemical means. It took scientists 2,200 years, from Greece in 400 BC to Europe in 1800 AD, to grasp what elements really are, because most are too changeable. It was hard to see what made carbon carbon when it appeared in thousands of compounds, all with different properties. Today we would say that carbon dioxide, for instance, isn t an element because one molecule of it divides into carbon and oxygen. But carbon and oxygen are elements because you cannot divide them more finely without destroying them. Returning to the theme of The Symposium and Plato s theory of erotic longing for a missing half, we find that virtually every element seeks out other atoms to form bonds with, bonds that mask its nature. Even most pure elements, such as oxygen molecules in the air (O 2 ), always appear as composites in nature. Yet scientists might have figured out what elements are much sooner had they known about helium, which has never reacted with another substance, has never been anything but a pure element.* Helium acts this way for a reason. All atoms contain negative particles called electrons, which reside in different tiers, or energy levels, inside the atom. The levels are nested concentrically inside each other, and each level needs a certain number of electrons to fill itself and feel satisfied. In the innermost level, that number is two. In other levels, it s usually eight. Elements normally have equal numbers of negative electrons and positive particles called protons, so they re electrically neutral. Electrons, however, can be freely traded between atoms, and when atoms lose or gain electrons, they form charged atoms called ions. What s important to know is that atoms fill their inner, lower-energy levels as full as possible with their own electrons, then either shed, share, or steal electrons to secure the right number in the outermost level. Some elements share or trade electrons diplomatically, while others act very, very nasty. That s half of chemistry in one sentence: atoms that don t have enough electrons in the outer level will fight, barter, beg, make and break alliances, or do whatever they must to get the right number. Helium, element two, has exactly the number of electrons it needs to fill its only level. This closed configuration gives helium tremendous independence, because it doesn t need to interact with other atoms or share or steal electrons to feel satisfied. Helium has found its erotic complement in itself. What s more, that same configuration extends down the entire eighteenth column beneath helium the gases neon, argon, krypton, xenon, and radon. All these elements have closed shells with full complements of electrons, so none of them reacts with anything under normal conditions. That s why, despite all the fervid activity to identify and label elements in the 1800s including the development of the periodic table itself no one isolated a single gas from column eighteen before That aloofness from everyday experience, so like his ideal spheres and triangles, would have charmed Plato. And it was that sense the scientists who discovered helium and its brethren on earth were trying to evoke with the name noble gases. Or to put it in Plato-like words, He who adores

Antibubbles are thin spherical skins of air which float around underwater. Here's how to make them.

suspend judgment. Indeed, cold-fusion fanatics seemed giddy at the chance to overthrow old dogma, a delirium typical of pathological science. Still, a few skeptics, especially at Cal Tech, seethed. Cold fusion upset these men s scientific sensibilities, and Pons and Fleischmann s arrogance upset their modesty. The two had bypassed the normal peer-review process in announcing results, and some considered them charlatans intent on enriching themselves, especially after they appealed directly to President George H. W. Bush for $25 million in immediate research funds. Pons and Fleischmann didn t help matters by refusing to answer as if such inquiries were insulting questions about their palladium apparatus and experimental protocol. They claimed they didn t want their ideas to be stolen, but it sure looked as if they were hiding something. Despite withering dismissals from nearly every other scientist on earth, Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann claimed they had produced cold fusion at room temperature. Their apparatus consisted of a heavy-water bath with electrodes made of the superabsorbent element palladium. (Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah) Nevertheless, increasingly doubtful scientists across the world (except in Italy, where yet another cold-fusion claim popped up) learned enough from what the two men said to rig up their own palladium and heavy-hydrogen experiments, and they began pummeling the Utah scientists with null results. A few weeks later, after perhaps the most concerted effort since Galileo to discredit, even disgrace, scientists, hundreds of chemists and physicists held what amounted to an anti Pons and Fleischmann rally in Baltimore. They showed, embarrassingly, that the duo had overlooked experimental errors and used faulty measuring techniques. One scientist suggested that the two had let the hydrogen gas build up and that their biggest fusion spikes were chemical explosions, à la the Hindenburg. (The supposed fusion spike that burned holes in the table and bench happened overnight,

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around them, too. Whereas those techniques are more like firebombs, gadolinium could someday allow oncologists to make surgical strikes without surgery.* This is not to say that element sixty-four is a wonder drug. Atoms have a way of drifting inside the body, and like any element the body doesn t use regularly, gadolinium has side effects. It causes kidney problems in some patients who cannot flush it out of their systems, and others report that it causes their muscles to stiffen up like early stages of rigor mortis and their skin to harden like a hide, making breathing difficult in some cases. From the looks of it, there s a healthy Internet industry of people claiming that gadolinium (usually taken for an MRI) has ruined their health. As a matter of fact, the Internet is an interesting place to scout out general claims for obscure medicinal elements. With virtually every element that s not a toxic metal (and even occasionally with those), you can find some alternative medicine site selling it as a supplement.* Probably not coincidentally, you ll also find personal-injury firms on the Internet willing to sue somebody for exposure to nearly every element. So far, the health gurus seem to have spread their message farther and wider than the lawyers, and elemental medicines (e.g., the zinc in lozenges) continue to grow more popular, especially those that have roots as folk remedies. For a century, people gradually replaced folk remedies with prescription drugs, but declining confidence in Western medicine has led some people to self-administer drugs such as silver once more.* Again, there is an ostensible scientific basis for using silver, since it has the same self-sterilizing effects as copper. The difference between silver and copper is that silver, if ingested, colors the skin blue. Permanently. And it s actually worse than that sounds. Calling silvered skin blue is easy shorthand. But there s the fun electric blue in people s imaginations when they hear this, and then there s the ghastly gray zombie-smurf blue people actually turn. Thankfully, this condition, called argyria, isn t fatal and causes no internal damage. A man in the early 1900s even made a living as the Blue Man in a freak show after overdosing on silver nitrate to cure his syphilis. (It didn t work.) In our own times, a survivalist and fierce Libertarian from Montana, the doughty and doughy Stan Jones, ran for the U.S. Senate in 2002 and 2006 despite being startlingly blue. To his credit, Jones had as much fun with himself as the media did. When asked what he told children and adults who pointed at him on the street, he deadpanned, I just tell them I m practicing my Halloween costume. Jones also gladly explained how he contracted argyria. Having his ear to the tin can about conspiracy theories, Jones became obsessed in 1995 with the Y2K computer crash, and especially with the potential lack of antibiotics in the coming apocalypse. His immune system, he decided, had better get ready. So he began to distill a heavy-metal moonshine in his backyard by dipping silver wires attached to 9-volt batteries into tubs of water a method not even hard-core silver evangelists recommend, since electric currents that strong dissolve far too many silver ions in the bath. Jones drank his stash faithfully for four and a half years, right until Y2K fizzled out in January Despite that dud, and despite being gawked at during his serial Senate campaigns, Jones remains unrepentant. He certainly wasn t running for office to wake up the Food and Drug Administration, which in good libertarian fashion intervenes with elemental cures only when they cause acute harm or make promises they cannot possibly keep. A year after losing the 2002 election, Jones told a national magazine, It s my fault that I overdosed [on silver], but I still believe it s the best antibiotic in the world. If there were a biological attack on America or if I came down with any type of disease, I d immediately take it again. Being alive is more important than turning purple.

table, since solids virtually always pack themselves more tightly than liquids. What s more, that bismuth ice would probably be gorgeous. Bismuth has become a favorite desktop ornament and decorative knickknack for mineralogists and element nuts because it can form rocks known as hopper crystals, which twist themselves into elaborate rainbow staircases. Newly frozen bismuth might look like Technicolor M. C. Escher drawings come to life. Bismuth has helped scientists probe the deeper structure of radioactive matter as well. For decades, scientists couldn t resolve conflicting calculations about whether certain elements would last until the end of time. So in 2003, physicists in France took pure bismuth, swaddled it in elaborate shields to block all possible outside interference, and wired detectors around it to try to determine its half-life, the amount of time it would take 50 percent of the sample to disintegrate. Half-life is a common measurement of radioactive elements. If a bucket of one hundred pounds of radioactive element X takes years to drop fifty pounds, then the half-life is years. After another years, you d have twenty-five pounds. Nuclear theory predicted bismuth should have a halflife of twenty billion billion years, much longer than the age of the universe. (You could multiply the age of the universe by itself and get close to the same figure and still have only a fifty-fifty shot of seeing any given bismuth atom disappear.) The French experiment was more or less a real-life Waiting for Godot. But amazingly, it worked. The French scientists collected enough bismuth and summoned enough patience to witness a number of decays. This result proved that instead of being the heaviest stable atom, bismuth will live only long enough to be the final element to go extinct. The wild, Technicolor swirls of a hopper crystal form when the element bismuth cools into a staircase crystalline pattern. This crystal spans the width of an adult hand. (Ken Keraiff, Krystals Unlimited) (A similarly Beckettesque experiment is running right now in Japan to determine whether all matter will eventually disintegrate. Some scientists calculate that protons, the building blocks of

Bubble Science Projects and Experiment Ideas - ThoughtCo

Antibubbles are droplets of liquid that are surrounded by a thin ..

no one would remember his biography today had he not constructed his periodic table. Overall, Mendeleev s work is comparable to that of Darwin in evolution and Einstein in relativity. None of those men did all the work, but they did the most work, and they did it more elegantly than others. They saw how far the consequences extended, and they backed up their findings with reams of evidence. And like Darwin, Mendeleev made lasting enemies for his work. Naming elements he d never seen was presumptuous, and doing so infuriated the intellectual successor of Robert Bunsen the man who discovered eka-aluminium and justifiably felt that he, not the rabid Russian, deserved credit and naming rights. * * * The discovery of eka-aluminium, now known as gallium, raises the question of what really drives science forward theories, which frame how people view the world, or experiments, the simplest of which can destroy elegant theories. After a dustup with the theorist Mendeleev, the experimentalist who discovered gallium had a definite answer. Paul Emile François Lecoq de Boisbaudran was born into a winemaking family in the Cognac region of France in Handsome, with sinuous hair and a curled mustache, prone to wearing stylish cravats, he moved to Paris as an adult, mastered Bunsen s spectroscope, and became the best spectroscopic surgeon in the world. Lecoq de Boisbaudran grew so adroit that in 1875, after spotting never-before-seen color bands in a mineral, he concluded, instantly and correctly, he d discovered a new element. He named it gallium, after Gallia, the Latin name for France. (Conspiracy mongers accused him of slyly naming the element after himself, since Lecoq, or the rooster, is gallus in Latin.) Lecoq de Boisbaudran decided he wanted to hold and feel his new prize, so he set about purifying a sample of it. It took a few years, but by 1878 the Frenchman finally had a nice, pure hunk of gallium. Though solid at moderate room temperature, gallium melts at 84 F, meaning that if you hold it in the palm of your hand (because body temperature is about 98 F), it will melt into a grainy, thick puddle of pseudoquicksilver. It s one of the few liquid metals you can touch without boiling your finger to the bone. As a result, gallium has been a staple of practical jokes among the chemistry cognoscenti ever since, a definite step up from Bunsen-burner humor. One popular trick, since gallium molds easily and looks like aluminium, is to fashion gallium spoons, serve them with tea, and watch as your guests recoil when their Earl Grey eats their utensils.* Lecoq de Boisbaudran reported his findings in scientific journals, rightfully proud of his capricious metal. Gallium was the first new element discovered since Mendeleev s 1869 table, and when the theorist Mendeleev read about Lecoq de Boisbaudran s work, he tried to cut in line and claim credit for gallium based on his prediction of eka-aluminium. Lecoq de Boisbaudran responded tersely that, no, he had done the real work. Mendeleev demurred, and the Frenchman and Russian began debating the matter in scientific journals, like a serialized novel with different characters narrating each chapter. Before long, the discussion turned acrimonious. Annoyed at Mendeleev s crowing, Lecoq de Boisbaudran claimed an obscure Frenchman had developed the periodic table before Mendeleev and that the Russian had usurped this man s ideas a scientific sin second only to forging data. (Mendeleev was never so good about sharing credit. Meyer, in contrast, cited Mendeleev s table in his own work in the 1870s, which may have made it seem to later generations that Meyer s work was derivative.)

For his part, Mendeleev scanned Lecoq de Boisbaudran s data on gallium and told the experimentalist, with no justification, that he must have measured something wrong, because the density and weight of gallium differed from Mendeleev s predictions. This betrays a flabbergasting amount of gall, but as science philosopher-historian Eric Scerri put it, Mendeleev always was willing to bend nature to fit his grand philosophical scheme. The only difference between Mendeleev and crackpottery is that Mendeleev was right: Lecoq de Boisbaudran soon retracted his data and published results that corroborated Mendeleev s predictions. According to Scerri, The scientific world was astounded to note that Mendeleev, the theorist, had seen the properties of a new element more clearly than the chemist who had discovered it. A literature teacher once told me that what makes a story great and the construction of the periodic table is a great story is a climax that s surprising yet inevitable. I suspect that upon discovering his grand scheme of the periodic table, Mendeleev felt astonished yet also convinced of its truth because of its elegant, inescapable simplicity. No wonder he sometimes grew intoxicated at the power he felt. Leaving aside scientific machismo, the real debate here centered on theory versus experiment. Had theory tuned Lecoq de Boisbaudran s senses to help him see something new? Or had experiment provided the real evidence, and Mendeleev s theory just happened to fit? Mendeleev might as well have predicted cheese on Mars before Lecoq de Boisbaudran found evidence for his table in gallium. Then again, the Frenchman had to retract his data and issue new results that supported what Mendeleev had predicted. Although Lecoq de Boisbaudran denied he had ever seen Mendeleev s table, it s possible he had heard of others or that the tables had gotten the scientific community talking and had indirectly primed scientists to keep an eye peeled for new elements. As no less a genius than Albert Einstein once said, It is theory that decides what we can observe. In the end, it s probably impossible to tease out whether the heads or tails of science, the theory or the experiment, has done more to push science ahead. That s especially true when you consider that Mendeleev made many wrong predictions. He was lucky, really, that a good scientist like Lecoq de Boisbaudran discovered eka-aluminium first. If someone had poked around for one of his mistakes Mendeleev predicted there were many elements before hydrogen and swore the sun s halo contained a unique element called coronium the Russian might have died in obscurity. But just as people forgave ancient astrologers who spun false, even contradictory, horoscopes and fixated instead on the one brilliant comet they predicted exactly, people tend to remember only Mendeleev s triumphs. Moreover, when simplifying history it s tempting to give Mendeleev, as well as Meyer and others, too much credit. They did the important work in building the trellis on which to nail the elements; but by 1869, only two-thirds of all elements had been discovered, and for years some of them sat in the wrong columns and rows on even the best tables. Loads of work separates a modern textbook from Mendeleev, especially regarding the mess of elements now quarantined at the bottom of the table, the lanthanides. The lanthanides start with lanthanum, element fifty-seven, and their proper home on the table baffled and bedeviled chemists well into the twentieth century. Their buried electrons cause the lanthanides to clump together in frustrating ways; sorting them out was like unknotting kudzu or ivy. Spectroscopy also stumbled with lanthanides, since even if scientists detected dozens of new bands of color, they had no idea how many new elements that translated to. Even Mendeleev, who wasn t shy about predictions, decided the lanthanides were too vexed to make guesses about. Few elements beyond cerium, the second lanthanide, were known in But instead of chiseling in more ekas, Mendeleev admitted his helplessness. After cerium, he dotted his table with row after row of frustrating blanks. And later, while filling in new lanthanides after cerium, he often bungled their placement, partly because many

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