Myth Buster – Are windows from cathedrals actually melting?

By: Akshaya, Science Expo Ontario

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Myth:
You’ve probably seen medieval European cathedrals and have observed the glass. You’ve probably assumed that glass is a liquid, and that since it was hard, you must have assumed further that it was a “super cooled” liquid. This was probably all from internet myths that even chemistry teachers might’ve believed, because the glass panes were thicker at the bottom in medieval windows. Glass, believe it or not, is neither a “super cooled” liquid nor solid!

The Science Behind it:
Glass is an amorphous solid – basically, a state in between liquid and solid. However, this still doesn’t explain the thicker bottomed window because the particles in glass move too slowly for visible changes to occur. This is because solids have a highly organized particle structure, and the millions of atoms are lined up in rows. In that sense, glasses and liquids are both a little disorganized, but amorphous solids are more organized than liquids, but don’t have as rigid of a structure as solids.

When glass is made, the material is cooled from its liquid state quickly, but it doesn’t become a solid when its temperature becomes cooler that a melting point. Technically, the material could be called a “super cooled” liquid, because it’s an immediate state between liquid and glass. For it to become an amorphous solid, it needs to be cooled even more. At this point, movement of the material’s particles slows down and it becomes a glass. Glass is a solid for purposes such as holding a drink, but it’s a disorganized one.

Because it is a disorganized solid, glass can flow a little, extremely slowly. A mathematical model shows that it would take longer than the existence of the universe for room temperature glass from a cathedral to appear melted.

So clearly melting isn’t an option, so you’re probably wondering why the cathedrals look like they’ve been melting. It was most likely because the glass pieces were never all uniformly flat, and the builders decided to put the thicker ones at the bottom of the windows for better support. Looks can be deceiving, and glass certainly isn’t a liquid.

Mythbuster – Does sugar make kids hyper?

By: Akshaya, Science Expo Ontario

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Myth:

You’ve probably had the terrifying experience taking care of a accepting a babysitting request to a sweet little angel, only to find out that you’ve lucked out to get them while they were on a ‘sugar high’. But should you really blame the sugar? Let’s find out!

The Science Behind It:

Sugar is believed to cause hyperactive behaviours for a variety of reasons. The reasons range from allergic responses to refined sugar to alterations in blood glucose levels. However, according to a study in 1995, there is almost no evidence of a link between the consumption of sugar and hyperactivity.

There were two studies that were completed. In the first study, children were given sucrose or an artificial sweetener and their behaviour was monitored without the subject knowing whether or not they were given sugar or a placebo. The second study focused on children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and involved subjects between the ages of two and thirty. Both studies concluded that sugar does affect behaviour or cognitive performance.

So why do children seem more hyperactive?

In the first experiment mentioned, half the mothers were led to believe that their children drank something sugary and other mothers were told that it was a placebo. However, all the children were given the placebo drink. The mothers who thought their children consumed a sugary drink thought they were more hyperactive, and resulted in them staying closer to their children and watching them. Based on this experiment’s results you could say that it changed the mothers’ behaviour more than the sons.

This myth is mainly psychological. When people believe a link exists, in this case between sugar and hyperactivity, they see one. Also, often times children are generally more excited at events where sugary foods are usually served, where the environment is a bigger factor than the food itself.

Nonetheless, sugar does have other implications, although it may not make kids hyper, be linked to it is linked to obesity, diabetes, and cavities. Just keep it in moderation!

BC Ambassadors Scavenger Hunt!

The BC Ambassadors gathered together for their on boarding social on August 13th. They knew that they were joining other ambassadors for activities and such, but they were in for a surprise.

The group was split into 4 teams of 4, and they were to complete ridiculous tasks within a set time limit, in order to win the most points. Each task scored differently, but the earlier they are to finish, the more bonus points they’d get. What are some of the ridiculous tasks? Well…

11908263_824980960943401_1549340045_nLaying on a bed…
11873970_838425966277901_1555671633_nCopying a mannequin’s pose…
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Taking a “selfie” on an iPhone 6 at an Apple store!

The winning team received cupcakes as a prize, as they scored the most points!

You could tell already that this year’s ambassadors were full of energy and ideas – we’re excited for the upcoming year, BC!

Mythbuster – Can a penny kill you?

By: Akshaya, Science Expo Ontario

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Myth:

Have you ever stood under the CN tower or any tall building for that matter and worry that you might be killed by a penny that was accidentally dropped off the top? Thankfully, we’re here to tell you that that is almost impossible! If a penny hit you after going off the edge of a very tall building, it would feel like someone flicked you on the forehead and not even a hard flick!

The Science Behind it:

A physicist named Louis Bloomfield, from the University of Virginia modelled this situation a few years ago with wind tunnels and helium balloons. He concluded through this experiment that it wouldn’t hurt.

The majority of people believe that when a penny is exposed to gravity, it will accelerate for the entire fall, reaching immense speeds by the time it hits the ground. However, this could only happen if there was no air and the penny was tossed in a vacuum. Therefore, theoretically, yes it can kill you. However, realistically, it cannot due to a number of factors.

One of the factors is drag force which is the collision that occurs between the molecules in the air. Drag force opposes gravitational pull. As the penny falls faster, it experiences the equal amount of air resistance. Therefore, even at its maximum velocity, the drag force still opposes the velocity. Since the two forces are balanced in this situation, the penny does not accelerate. It travels at a constant speed. This is known as terminal velocity.

Another factor is the physical nature of the coin. Pennies experience more air resistance due to their physical nature. They are flat, not very aerodynamic, and light. Therefore, it does not require much drag to slow it down.

It has been assumed that the falling penny accelerates 335 kph from a building such as the Empire State, but in reality it would only reach speeds of 40 kph.

Although a penny being able to kill you from its plummet from a tall building is a myth, it does contain a grain of truth. A penny may not hurt, but if a nail, a pen, or anything with a sharp or pointed edge hits a concentrated area on your head, it could kill you. So don’t relax with the head protection just yet! This may be a post for another time! Stay tuned.

Pluto: A Whole New World

Remember when Pluto was declared a dwarf planet, back in 2006? Many mourned over the fact that the outcast planet is no longer a planet (I certainly did). Instead, it was titled a dwarf planet, along with 8 others. Since then, words have spread, textbooks have been corrected, and there are officially only 8 planets in the solar system.

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2006 was also the year when the New Horizons mission was launched. A space probe engineered by the University of Johns Hopkins, and the first to explore Pluto. After 10 years, the voyage is complete with pictures of the planet. As of July 15, 2015, high definition images of Pluto had been released by NASA as we start to learn more about the dwarf planet. Through the New Horizons, we discover Pluto and its personality. It has heart-shaped plains and reddish colour, which somehow, brings a romantic side to Pluto. Its abnormally big moon, Charon, is half its size in diameter. Along with an icy atmosphere and incredible mountains, the geology of Pluto is a worthy discussion. We are exploring way beyond our expectations, and Pluto surprised us all.

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Looking at the dwarf planet in a different angle – the sun shines behind the planet, revealing a halo-like ring of fuzzy atmosphere. Breathtaking, I know.

I can’t say I wasn’t excited for Pluto’s come back.

Image Source: NASA

[ARTICLE] How are we influenced as food consumers?

Riana Torrejon, Science Expo Ambassador | H.E. Beriault Catholic School | May 11th 2015

When it comes to purchases, our choices as consumers can be influenced by several factors like packaging, labels, accessibility or affordability. Everything is designed to stand out to us. This is most often shown during grocery shopping and in fast food places where we most often access our food.

Items are often placed strategically in grocery.
Items are often placed strategically in the grocery store. It is best to be aware of these tactics as consumers.

Grocery Shopping
In grocery stores, while we are grocery shopping, there’s a strategic placement of products to force us to look around the store. Stores will place essential grocery items like milk at the back of the store to ensure we pass through their aisles. As well, when you pay at the register, there will be conveniently situated chocolate bars and last- minute grabs you can add to your cart there.

While walking through the aisles, you will be distracted by the different colors surrounding you, and you’ll be more likely to make a purchase on impulse or emotion. Attractive packaging designs, and names will stand out. Apart from visual factors, food companies will use health claims to encourage a buyer looking to make a healthier choice. For example, “High Fiber, Low Fat!” are commonly used on cereal boxes and granola bars. This gives off an illusion of health. According to “Food Politics: How the food industry influences nutrition and health” by Marion Nestle, consumers are more likely to believe a product is more healthy or natural if its packaging is green! Most companies will make their product alluring to children to gain their loyalty. In return, kids will urge their parents to buy the specific brand of food such as Kellogg’s etc. For example, some cereals will use cartoons or a free toy to win over a child’s interest.

Colors of certain brands can affect our choices as well.
Colors of certain brands can affect our choices as well.

Ready to Go Fast Food!
Have you noticed that there are McDonald’s restaurants almost within five miles of every neighborhood?

According to the documentary, Feeding Frenzy, by the Media Education Foundation, “80% of the food decisions we make and 80% of the food we eat is within 5 miles of our house”.
Location is a vital part of marketing. It isn’t a coincidence that McDonald’s is a popular choice, it is always conveniently nearby, and provides speedy service. In fact, studies show that more people can identify the golden arches more than the Catholic Cross! Or for instance, Tim Horton’s is attached to gas stations. People will be able to grab a quick bite while they’re on the run.

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Domino’s Promotional Tactic

Fast food is usually bought for its cheap prices. Many restaurants like McDonald’s will give out coupons that offer “Buy one get one” free deals. If you were a parent trying to feed your children but looking to save money, you would most likely look to fast food to get your quick fix. You won’t mind a cheaper quality that was hurriedly made, if you’re not spending as much in quantity. In fact, offers like lunch combos put us in the position to buy even more, although we don’t need it.

Our choices as consumers are affected by marketing tactics and strategic placement when we shop. Along with that, availability and price influence what we go for in fast food establishments. People who make fast food and junk food such as potato chips, candy, and soft drinks know that their merchandise is not an essential part of a healthy diet. We don’t necessarily need these products in our shopping carts. With this in mind, they have to rely on clever sayings, cool commercials, and convenience in order to encourage people to add these unhealthy concoctions to their diets. Keep these things in mind the next time you are shopping!

Want to be featured on Science Expo’s blog like Riana? Apply to be 2015 – 2016 ambassador here !

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