Sep 15, 2014

Not so Easy Electricity

I recently flew to Seattle to talk to an electrical engineer
regarding the electricity/magnetism segments for Physics 101.
You would think that for all we know on electricity, this
would be a no-brainer.  But some parts of 
electricity are very odd; maybe a brainer or even a two-brainer!



We talked for over 8 hours.  The main question was:
"What physically causes the filament of a light bulb to glow hot?"


To actually show what is happening at the atomic level 
can be so complex that by the second year in college they abandon the attempt
and just switch to mathematic models.
Incredibly, the segment on electricity and magnetism was more challeging 
to write and edit
than light or sound or gravity or even quantum mechanics!






There were a few perks on the trip: Seattle coffee! 





We are still aiming for a release date in Spring of 2015.
If you'd like to be notified when Physics 101 becomes available
and if I met my deadline (**ahem**) --




Aug 28, 2014

Classifying Plants

In Biology 101, 
Wes takes us through the steps 
of how to classify plants.

 The plant kingdom has two main groups: 
vascular and nonvascular.

 Vascular plants are in a division called Tracheophyta.

Tracheophyta comes from the same word we get trachea because they both refer to hollow tubes to move air and/or water around.

Vascular means "a slender tube or vessel." 
It's related to the word vase.

Nonvascular plants absorb water through their surfaces.

Vascular Plants






Nonvascular Plants





Can anyone identify any of these plants?!
Leave us a comment with your answers!


Aug 21, 2014

11 Weird Element Abbreviations


Most of the elements have abbreviations that are pretty intuitive. 
Neon is Ne
Argon is Ar
But 11 have rather weird ones!

1. Cu=Copper
From the Latin word for the Island of Cyprus, Kypros, where copper was mined in the past.


2. Ag=Silver
From the Latin word Argentum meaning shiny white. Argentina was named after this word as they thought silver was located there.

3. Hg=Mercury
From Hygrargyrum meaning. Hydra-Argentum...silver that runs.



4. Au=Gold
From the Latin word meaning the golden color of dawn, Aurum.

5. Fe=Iron
From Ferrum, the Latin word for Iron and where we get the word Farrier...to shoe horses with iron. 

6. Pb=Lead
From Plumbum, the Latin word for lead. Plumber comes from this word.



7. K=Potassium
From the word potash and the Latin word for plant ash is Kalium 
which is why Potassium gets the letter K.

8. Na=Sodium
From the word Natrum, the Latin word for soda. Soda is that white, salty mineral on the edges of dry lake beds.

9. Sn=Tin
Because early miners called the metal Stean which became the Latin word for stannum. Nobody knows what Tin means.



10. W=Tungsten
Many Europeans refer to this element as Wolfram...because extracting tungsten consumed lots of tin and produced a white foam...like a wolfs' mouth while eating its prey.

11. Sb=Antimony
For Stibium, as the black form of antimony makes a black mark. Stibium means 'a mark'.





There you have it, the 11 weird abbreviations of our Periodic Table! 




Aug 15, 2014


Last week this question was posed:

Does anyone remember the three extinct birds that were mentioned in the
Biology 101 Guidebook?


The first answer is: The Dodo bird
Good job P.J.K.!





The Dodo bird was first recorded by Portuguese sailors in 1507 
but was found to be extinct within 100 years.

The second answer is: The Passenger Pigeon





Two hundred years ago the Passenger Pigeon 
was thought to be the most populated bird! 
They were hunted to extinction by 1900.
 The last Passenger Pigeon known to be alive, Martha, 
died in captivity in 1914 and is now on display 
at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.

The third answer is : The Archaeopteryx





The Archaeopteryx is about the size of a crow, 
had scales on its legs, and had teeth and feathers!

~ ~ ~





Aug 7, 2014



Does anyone remember the three extinct birds that were mentioned in the 
Biology 101 Guidebook?

I'll give you some hints:

The first mentioned was a large, flightless bird 
found near the island of Madagascar 
(and other neighboring islands) in the Indian Ocean.

The second mentioned was named by the French. 
It gained its name because this particular bird traveled in such large numbers
-- sometimes by the billions! 

The third mentioned was discovered 
fossilized in a shale rock in Germany around 1861. 
It was a perching bird and its name means "ancient wing".

Any guesses?
(Answers next week!)