Applied Physics

For my Lego Optics Lab I have so far built a beam splitter, and a small lens holder. The beam splitter article got a link on io9 (my name is misspelled) and on Scientific American.

In my previous article, I started building a Lego optics lab with a dichroic prism I salvaged from an old computer projector that I took apart (I used the prism to build a beam splitter). I also salvaged several lenses, mirrors, and filters. To continue the Lego Optics Lab project I’ll demonstrate how I built a lens holder for the several small lenses from the projector. My lens holder uses mostly standard Lego parts except for the shock absorber brick.

A lot of problems, associated with the mixing of the liquid in the microchannels, could be solved via proper organization of the inhomogeneous slip on the walls of these channels, according to a joint group of Russian and German scientists lead by Olga Vinogradova, professor at the M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University. 

 I finally took apart a broken computer projector. Some of the optics were burned or broken but I managed to salvage several lenses, mirrors, filters, and a curious little glass cube.  

I've talked before about how life on present day Mars could be vulnerable to Earth life. If only humans could be sterilized of other life, like a plant seed. But sadly, we can't do that, and it would kill us to try. Recent ideas, and experiments in Mars simulation chambers suggest that there may be liquid water habitats on the surface of Mars. They may be no more than droplets of water a few millimeters in diameter, but these still are, as Nilton Renno said, "Swimming pools for a microbe".

A team of engineers have created tiny acoustic vortices and used them to grip and spin microscopic particles suspended in water.

The research by academics from the University of Bristol's Department of Mechanical Engineering and Northwestern Polytechnical University in China, is published in Physical Review Letters. The researchers have shown that acoustic vortices act like tornados of sound, causing microparticles to rotate and drawing them to the vortex core. Like a tornado, what happens to the particles depends strongly on their size.

By Joel Shurkin, Inside Science -- Super Balls are toys beloved by children because of their extraordinary ability to bounce. Physicists love them for exactly the same reason.

Drop a baseball on the floor and it will hardly bounce at all. Drop a Super Ball from shoulder height, and it will bounce back 92 percent of the way to the drop-off point. Super Balls also are just as bouncy vertically as they are horizontally, and they spin oddly.

A new adjustable female shoe based on memory shape composite of leather and Nitinol material allows fitting the shoe to the foot shape after obtaining anthropometric measurements through a portable scanner and modifying it with a machine that completes the process directly in the shop. The "InstantShoe" prototype expected to be out on the market at the end of 2015.
Vancouver-based architect Michael Green was unequivocal at a conference at which I heard him speak a while ago: “We grow trees in British Columbia that are 35 storeys tall, so why do our building codes restrict timber buildings to only five stories?”

 A new class of magnets that swell in volume when placed in a magnetic field also generate negligible amounts of wasteful heat during energy harvesting.

This "Non-Joulian Magnetostriction" could change the way we think about a certain type of magnetism that has been in place since 1841, when physicist James Prescott Joule discovered that iron-based magnetic materials changed their shape but not their volume when placed in a magnetic field. This phenomenon is referred to as "Joule Magnetostriction," and since its discovery 175 years ago, all magnets have been characterized on this basis.