home electrolysis

I like hydrogen. And I thought it might be interesting to separate some out from water, with the hope that I could fill two balloons (one with oxygen, one with hydrogen), and later ignite them to see which gave the more interesting burn (the potential boom). After some failed setups, I decided against separate collection; besides, putting the H2 and O2 in the same container would provide a ready source of oxygen for the combustion.

Continue reading home electrolysis

duplo® photosynthesis

The kids were reading a book which mentioned photosynthesis, and they asked how it works. I gave them the quick “the plant turns sunlight, water, CO2 into sugar, which it uses for engery.” That wasn’t enough for them. SO I went to the chalkboard and did a quick stoichiometry; then I got out some handy Duplo® bricks, made some water and CO2 molecules, which I put on a Duplo® base, to act as the leaf. Our hands became the sunlight, and we … disassociated … those molecules. 🙂 Then I rebuilt them into sugar* molecules that went deeper into the plant, and O2 molecules back into the air. They seemed to like that explanation.

Continue reading duplo® photosynthesis

hilbert 3d


Robert Dickau’s “Hilbert 3D curve, iteration 3” (CC BY-SA)

I’ve been a fan of fractals since high school (and have even read Mandelbrot’s Fractal Geometry of Nature). One of my favorite fractals is the Hilbert Curve. Many articles I’ve found try to explain how to generate a 3D version of the curve… but none to my satisfaction (meaning, they lost me at some point): mostly, because they seemed to be focused on an iterative loop to describe it, when it’s simplest to describe in terms of a recursive algorithm. Studying Dickau’s 3D image from the Hilbert Curve Wikipedia page, I was able to come up with a recursive 3D pseudo-turtle algorithm to draw it, and came up with a few other thoughts.

Continue reading hilbert 3d

bottomless pit: ultimate bungee

So a radio host’s silly quiz game had the failing caller “fall into a bottomless chasm” or some such phrasing. That got me thinking: it’s bottomless, so there is nothing downwards from it; but if it’s truly bottomless, you’d go through the center of the earth, at which point you could hit a “ceiling” at a rather high speed, since you’d be going upwards at this point. But if there were no ceiling, that would be like ultimate bungee! Continue reading bottomless pit: ultimate bungee