Michio Kaku’s High-School Science Fair Project was Astounding

By Anupum Pant

 michiokakuDr. Michio Kaku without a doubt is one of the finest Physicist of the present times. Besides that he is also a very popular person. If you watch TV, you must have definitely seen this man some where. He has made several appearances on TV channels like  BBC, the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, and the Science Channel. Also, he has written books and hosts a radio show.
He has made science popular. But if you live in a cave, this person in the picture is the man I’m talking about.

What made him the man he is today, was his great love for science since childhood. By the time he was in high-school, he had started doing incredible things. His high-school science fair project story, pretty much sums up the remarkable things he had started doing back then.

The science fair project

During his high school, when he was working on anti-matter photography, he had an idea to create his own anti-matter beam. He then went to his mom and asked her this:

Mom, can I have permission to build a 2.3 million volt atom smasher betatronic accelerator in my garage?

The shocked and proud mom obviously agreed to the proposal. This is what he had to procure to convert his idea into a reality:

  • 400 pounds of transformer steel
  • 22 miles! of copper wire

With the help of his parents, he wound the 22 mile long copper wire around a football field that was able to generate a magnetic field 20,000 times greater than the Earth’s magnetic field. It could produce collisions powerful enough to create antimatter. After a few troubles with the power, there, he had his own  2.3 eV atom smasher (cyclic particle accelerator).

This was an atom smasher built in his backyard garage – a mini version of the $ 10 Billion Large Hadron Collider.

Changed his life

This science fair put him in the right track. A nuclear scientist, Edward Teller, noticed it in the National Science Fair and spread the word to the scientific community. And soon, he got a full ride to the Harvard University.

via FromQuarkstoQuasars

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A Flashlight That Uses Body Heat Instead of Batteries

By Anupum Pant

I talked about a light that utilizes the power of gravity to light up a few days back. This flashlight is a bit similar in a way that, it also doesn’t need any batteries. But the underlying mechanism it uses, is completely different.

The winner of this year’s Google Science Fair, in the age group of 15-16, was a 15-year-old girl from Canada, Ann Makosinski. In her project she created a flashlight that, instead of batteries, uses our body heat to light up. She calls it “Hollow Flashlight”

The flashlight uses 4 Peltier tiles to convert the temperature difference (between body and room temperatures) into energy. One side of the tiles is heated by our body heat and the other side is at room temperature. This temperature difference creates electricity using the Thermoelectric effect. The tiles used for this light need a minimum of 5 degree difference of temperature to work.

Peltier Tiles

Peltier tiles utilize thermoelectric effect to convert temperature difference into electricity. When there is a enough temperature difference, charge carriers move from hot area to the colder area. This separation of charges builds up a potential difference across the height of the tile. This potential difference can be used up for various things. In this case, it was used to light up LEDs.

Advantages: The amount of potential difference produced depends on the material. Peltier tiles are great because they are compact and they do not use any moving parts. Elimination of any moving parts eliminates wear and tear. They last long and do not need a lot of maintainance. However, their efficiency is not so great. So, they are used only where long life is essential.
The Voyager space probe and other deep space probes, where long life is of prime importance, use Thermoelectric generators (another image). The heat there is produced by a radioactive isotope. Implanted pacemakers which require long life also use it as a source of energy. All of them work utilizing the same effect – thermoelectric effect. The eco-fan, a wood stove fan, also uses the same effect in a very creative way.

Thermoelectric Generators have a very interesting history.