Monthly Archives: August 2016

Scientists Discover a New Kind of Fire Called “Blue Whirl”

The University of Maryland’s’ scientists have discovered a new type of fire, which they have aptly named “Blue Whirl.” This new fire is small, whirling, transparent, and blue. It opens insights into new ways to use fire for cleaner burning, as well as opens up a wide range of potential applications, like cleaning up oil spills.

The new fire was discovered using the basic principles of how fire behaves in nature. In cases where hot air is rising from the ground quickly, a whirling and spinning circulation sometimes forms, much like a tornado. However, the air is not the only thing spinning, and the fire also gets pulled into the whirling mass. Some people might know fire whirls as fire devils or fire tornados.

yellow fire whirls

Fire whirls tend to burn much faster and hotter than normal fires. In nature, fire whirls can be dangerous when they occur during wildfires. Fire whirls have also been known to form during chemical fires, too. It is this concept of the fire tornado that scientists examined in greater detail. What if the power of the fire tornado could be harnessed, much like electricity was?

Yellow and orange fire whirls are signs there is insufficient oxygen levels to fully burn the fuel. As a result, the combustion process is incomplete and allows soot, particles, and pollution to be released into the air. By introducing sufficient levels of oxygen, scientists have been able to evolve fires from the traditional orange and yellow fire whirls into blue whirls.

The blue flame signifies the right balance between oxygen and fuel. As a result, the fuel burns more efficiently with little to no pollutants, particles, or soot being released into the air. The blue whirl has only been created in the laboratory, as this is the first time fire whirls were studied for potential applications.

Blue Fire Whirl

During their initial experiments, scientists accidently discovered blue whirls. Scientists were observing how fire whirls would behave over water when they noticed blue whirls forming. These blue fire tornadoes burned the fuel steadily and efficiently, leaving very few byproducts.

One practical application for blue whirls would be in the cleanup of oil and petroleum spills in the ocean or other bodies of water. For larger spills, they are enclosed using various methods and then set on fire. The fire releases smoke, pollutants, and other toxins into the air. With blue whirls, the process would be made cleaner and more efficient.

Since blue fire burns optimally, there would be fewer emissions released into the air; not to mention, the spill could be cleaned up faster. Scientists plan to continue to explore and discover other applications for blue whirls.

Whether you are studying fire whirls or trying to discover the cure for cancer, you need to record your findings and notes in official laboratory and research notebooks available from Scientific Notebook Company. Call us at 800.537.3028 today for more information!

The Science Behind Shooting Stars

Shooting stars light up the night sky and make for a wonderful show as they streak across the horizon. However, these are not really stars falling out of the sky, as the name would imply. Rather, they are particles of dust and meteors that have broken away from larger asteroids and comets.

They range in size from small particles similar to sand, to chunks of minerals as big as boulders. It is interesting to note, if the object makes it to Earth, it is scientifically classified as a meteorite, and if it is smaller than a particle of sand it is classified as space dust.

Shooting Stars

As the meteors enter earth’s atmosphere, they are moving at very high speeds, where they encounter resistance from air particles. As they “rub” against the air particles, it creates friction. The friction causes heat energy to be created. It is this heat energy that lights up the night sky as the meteor is essentially burned up and dissolved. Depending on the size of the meteor, the light effects seen from the ground can be quick and fast to slightly longer.

In very rare cases, part of the meteor will make its way through the atmosphere and reach the earth’s surface. When an impact does occur, the object is called a meteorite. Due to the high speeds, impacts from meteorites can create craters into the earth up to 20 times the actual size of the meteorite.

Meteorite crater impacts are quite noticeable on the moon, and there have been several throughout the world. One of the more famous craters, Meteor Crater, is located in the northern Arizona dessert, about 37 miles east of Flagstaff, AZ. Of interest is scientists and others avidly agree, the crater was misnamed and should have been called Meteorite Crater.

Scientific Notebook

There have also been cases where meteors have exploded while still in the air, before actually hitting the ground. One such case occurred in June 30, 1908 over Siberia, Russia and is called the Tunguska Event. Witnesses at that time reported seeing a fireball streaking through the sky that exploded. The explosion sent out shockwaves, knocking over trees and damaging buildings in nearby villages. After the explosion, dust particles were released into the atmosphere, where they continued to light the night sky over the next several evenings.

A more recent incident, similar to the Tunguska Event, occurred over Chelyabinsk, Russia on February 15, 2013, where a meteor also exploded prior to impacting the earth. Scientists estimated the size of the meteor was around 17 meters wide and the explosion took place approximately between 12 to 15 miles above the ground. The explosion did release shockwaves, with energy levels up to 40 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during WWII, and it injured over 1,000 people and damaged numerous buildings.

This recent event has brought to light the potential damage meteors could pose, and increased awareness within the scientific and astronomy communities. However, the likelihood of devastating impacts or explosions are still rare occurrences. You can keep a record of meteor shower events throughout the years, by recording the dates and times of events in scientific notebooks available from Scientific Notebook Company. Contact us at 800.537.3028 to place your order today!


How to Motivate Kids to Love Science

Science can be an interesting subject for kids to fall in love with, as long as it is presented to them in the right context. The key to getting kids of all ages to love science is to start by considering the age of the children. For instance, if you present scientific theory and concepts in lecture format to youngsters, chances are they are going to become quickly disinterested in science.

On the other hand, if you provide them with hands-on activities and ask intuitive questions, like “What do you think will happen when …” it better engages youngsters and gets them interested. While they might not understand that you are teaching them how to form a hypothesis, most youngsters are inquisitive and will respond with what they imagine will occur.

Laboratory Notebook

Afterwards, once the hands-on activities are completed and the children realize the actual outcomes, it is best to discuss this with them. Ask probing questions, like “Why do you think that happened instead of … ?”

If the child made the incorrect hypothesis, it is important to teach them to realize their initial guess at the outcome may not be what occurred, but that is perfectly acceptable when learning science. Sometimes outcomes will be different from what we expected based upon the information we had.

Another important concept, when teaching children science, is to avoid jumping from one concept to another in quick succession. Kids, teenagers, and even some adults do not retain the information if they are taught in this manner. It is much more efficient to spend a longer length of time on a basic concept and slowly build upon it with repetitive lessons.

It also does not hurt to repeat the same experiments and hands-on activities several times. Once all kids understand what the outcome will be, use the same basic experiment or activity, but vary it slightly so that it might have a different outcome. You could even provide kids with a scientific notebook to record their outcomes for different experiments.

For example, a common experiment that is fun for young kids is mixing baking soda with vinegar. Not all kids will be able to hypothesis these will “bubble up” when mixed together. To further enhance the concepts of bases and acids, you could try introducing other child-friendly substances and varying the experiment with the new substances.

For older students, keeping them engaged in science is not always as fun as it was in grade school. There are more lectures and development of scientific concepts. Even still, teens and college students can benefit from interactive and hands-on instruction where they will receive immediate feedback of the outcomes. Again, afterwards, it is essential for peers and teachers to discuss the outcomes and why they occurred.

Scientific Notebook

By following the same basic instructional methods used for grade schoolers, teens and college students will continue to love science. To obtain official laboratory and student notebooks for your science students, please feel free to contact Scientific Notebook Company today by calling 800.537.3028.

Studying Tips for Engineering Students

Pursuing an education in engineering can be a rewarding goal and lead to a successful career. However, the time, effort, and amount of dedication required to obtain your degree and land your dream job means you will have to develop proficient studying tips and learn how to balance these into an active university lifestyle.

  1. Stock Up on Engineering Notebooks – You will want to take good notes and keep them in engineering and research notebooks. Most students keep their notebooks and rely upon them throughout their college coursework, as well as later, after starting their career.

Engineering Students

  1. Prepare Ahead of Time for Classes – Preview and read any assignments before attending class. You should take notes on the material and make notations of any topics or other questions you want to ask your professors.
  2. Develop Relationships with Professors – Your professors are vital resources you should not discard. Take the time to build relationships with them, as you just might need them as a reference later when you start applying for internships and jobs.
  3. Manage Your Time Wisely –It is vital to keep your long term goals in mind and manage your time correctly. Get in the habit of starting homework assignments when they are assigned and not waiting until the night before they are due. This way, you will have time for some fun later, while everyone else is cramming to get their work done.
  4. Start a Study Group – If you are finding it difficult to study on your own, start a study group with other students. Studying in a group allows you to openly discuss and solve problems together, as well as provides a great support system for those times you feel overwhelmed or frustrated.
  5. Attempt to Solve Problems Before Seeking Help – Your professors are there to help, but are not going to do your homework for you. Take the time to attempt to answer questions and problem solve, as this shows you are willing to do the work, but are seeking their help to get you back on track. Be prepared to discuss what you have tried, and what you have already done, too.
  6. Take Non-Engineering Classes – From art classes to business and communication classes, you will want to pursue coursework outside core engineering ones to further enhance your overall learning experience and improve your skills.
  7. Enroll in Appropriate Classes to Maintain Your GPA – It can be tempting to enroll in honors classes to have this on your resume. However, with engineering, your GPA is critical in finding a job and starting your career. If you are struggling with honors classes, consider dropping them and taking the non-honors classes instead, so you can maintain a higher GPA.

Engineering Notebook

For all of your high quality engineering, lab, research, and student notebooks, order online today from SNCO or call us directly at 800.537.3028 for further assistance.