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Types of Touchscreens

In the last decade, the uprise of mobile devices with touchscreens has been prominent, and there are 2 main types of touchscreens. The first, and cheaper style, is known as resistive, which uses 2 separated films that when come in contact they allow current to flow. This is what is used to determine the location of the touch, as wherever the current is flowing is where the user is currently touching. The issue with this system is that it requires physical movement of the plates, meaning it can b

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LED lightbulbs

Conventional light bulbs use a filament, something to run current through that will heat up and produce light. These are very inefficient however, as more energy is put towards producing heat than light. This is why the idea for CFL light bulbs came about, which use a current running through gas to produce it's light. This method is more efficient, but still isn't perfect. This is where LED's come in, as they are small, very efficient, and require little power to produce a good amount of light.

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Duct Tape

Duct tape is famous for it's ability to hold things together, as it's adhesive is incredibly powerful. Duct tape is made with a woven fabric to make up the tape, which could be made of nylon or polyester. This is then coated with a layer of thin polyethylene, which makes up the tensile strength of the tape. This can hold upwards of 65 pounds before snapping, despite how thin the tape is. This makes up partially for duct tape's strength, but where it really shines is the adhesive. This adhesive i

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The Physics of Tank Armor

The point of a tank's armor is to protect the crew inside from bullets, shells, and anything that may be potentially dangerous. The first tanks used metal plates that weren't too thick to protect from bullets, as that was all that was necessary. As the technology advanced, more armor was being put on tanks, so bigger guns were being used to break through this armor. This raised the issue of weight, as you can't just continue to add armor to a tank to make it safe, because the weight would make t

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The physics of Godzilla

Everyone knows what Godzilla is, and the creature's exploits in destroying cities, but not many question the possibility of such a creature's existence. Godzilla is 355 ft. tall, and weighs 90,000 Tons, meaning that he is massive in both size and mass. This is equivalent to the size and weight of a cruise ship, but it's capable of walking around. With all this weight to tote around, is it even possible that Godzilla would be able to walk around, let alone simply stand? Well, seeing as his weight

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Altimeters

Altimeters are used by many people in a variety of different situations, such as skydiving, flying, and even hiking. The purpose of an altimeter is to give the user a readout of their current altitude. This can be achieved in many different ways, but the most obvious method is to measure the air pressure. By taking into account the current temperature, one can calculate their current altitude. In early aircraft, this was done with analogue meters, rather than digital calculations. They weren't t

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Car Suspsension

Ever since the earliest days of the car, suspension systems have been in use to keep the ride comfortable. Seeing as how commonplace it is for cars to have good suspension nowadays, we often take for granted just what these systems do to make our daily that much more comfortable. There are many different kinds of suspension, almost every kind involves a sort of spring. The earliest system to be used in cars was a simple spring on the frame connecting to steering frame, allowing for some amount o

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Parkour and Freerunning

The culture based around the idea of parkour is a sport entirely based around momentum. The idea is to be able to control your movements to be able to maintain your momentum while running around. Normally parkour involves a lot of vertical movement, as well as large horizontal movements. The difficulty comes from having the strength to pull yourself up and over obstacles, or if you're good enough being able to stay at speed and direct your momentum to allow for fluid movements in all directions.

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EMDrive

Space travel has used many unique forms of propulsion, such as solid fuel rockets, liquid fuel rockets, ionic thrusters, etc. The newest type is still debated as to whether or not it is even possible. The EMDrive seems to break the laws of physics, as it outputs more energy than it takes in. The inventor sent a prototype to NASA to be tested to confirm his claims, and their tests confirmed it. This whole concept has yet to be accepted, as it is such an outlandish thing, but it is currently being

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Space Engine

I found this software a while ago called "Space Engine", which can only really be described as a universe exploring tool. It's just a simple thing that allows you to fly around in space, starting from Earth. You control the speed you go at, and I feel this is the only thing to ever really give me a feel for the perspective on how large the universe really is. At first impressions I thought everything I saw was based on reality, but I found out that by default anything outside of what we have obs

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The Physics of UP

The kid's movie UP, while serving it's purpose as a kid's movie, isn't exactly known for being accurate in the physics department. In the movie, an entire house is lifted up by nothing more than balloons. This iconic scene is pretty, but is it probable? Discovery channel's Mythbusters decided to test it harnessing a small girl into a ton of balloons, and seeing how many it would take to lift her. They estimated about 2000 fully inflated helium balloons would be enough to lift the young girl, but

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Digital Thermometers

Almost every device we use has a thermometer in it, even if we don't know it. They are used to determine whether or not different electronics have overheated, or if they are too cold. They work on a different principle than a typical mercury thermometer, using a resistor that is affected more by temperature than a normal resistor. The changes in resistivity are used to judge the temperature, which can be measured very accurately depending on the quality of the resistor, and the supporting electr

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The Xbox Kinect

A lot of people have used the Kinect for Xbox, and at the time of it's release in 2010 it was a new take on motion control technology. It allowed for control without a controller, by using 3 seperate cameras, 1 of which is a color camera, the other 2 are infared. They are seperated a small amount, just like our eyes to allow for the cameras to get a 3d model of what is in front of it, matched with the color camera to get an idea of the position of the person in front if the camera. This, along w

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The Physics of Passengers

I recently watched the movie "Passengers", and I noticed that on multiple occasions what happened was actually accurate. A lot of other sci-fi movies have huge innacuracies that detract from the overall movie, but Passengers showed one really good example of this, which is a large spoiler, so fair warning to anyone who wants to see it. Jim, the main character, is blown out into space with a makeshift shield he had made. When he was thrown out of the ship, his tether broke and he was heading stra

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The Physics of being Colorblind

I was first discovered to be colorblind in kindergarten, when the teacher had us coloring, and I grabbed the wrong crayon multiple times. Many people don't fully understand what colorblindness is, how it affects someone, and what causes it. My type of colorblindness is known as "Protanopia". That means I struggle to identify differences between red and green, blue and purple, and sometimes light greens with yellow. Whenever someone finds out I'm colorblind, the question they usually ask is "What

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Microphones and Speakers

We use microphones all over the place, and most people have one or more on them at any point in time. Most work on a fairly simple concept, using 2 plates. One of them is much thinner than the other, and acts as the diaphragm, the part that moves as a result of sound. The other one is thicker, and works to make the 2 plates into a capacitor. The sound waves change the distance between the two plates slightly, and therefore changes the capacitance of the system. These changes in capacitance are m

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Real-Time Water Simulation

A new type of software development that is being used to create realistic looking water without having large processing times is based off of approximating almost everything. The basic principal is to use a bunch of small spheres, and calculate how they would react in whatever situation, say water pouring out of a pipe. This would look like a large amount of balls rolling out of a pipe, but the real magic happens in the approximations that are used. The software uses how the balls move to judge

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Transparent Displays

We spend many hours every day looking at some sort of display, whether it be attached to a computer, phone, TV, or maybe even a car. These displays work on a relatively simple concept of using liquid crystals that change the color of the light that is provided by the backlight, which is usually white. This tech has replaced the old CRT (cathode ray tube) technology that shot electrons at a screen over and over scanning across to form the image. The next innovation in display tech is hopefully so

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Clean Rooms

A "Clean Room" is what it sounds like, a room which is very clean. There are varying types of them, from the variety used to make watches to those used to produce satellites. The general idea is to prevent contamination of the air, which is typically dust. In order to enter a clean room, one typically has to wear a full body suit that is meant to contain everything within the suit, so no dust enters the room. No makeup is allowed inside, as those types of particles easily come off and float arou

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The Physics of Transistors

Every computer has millions, if not billions, of transistors in it. These transistors have one use, to control the flow of electricity. They act as a switch, but without any physical moving parts. Their size is incredible, since they work to allow electricity through on the atomic level, rather than a larger scale. The physical makeup of a transistor allows it to prevent the flow of electricity in one state, but when a small positive voltage is applied to the side, it allows the electricity to f

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Cooling Tech in Computers

The first microchips didn't need any kind of cooling, they were cooled by just the air around it. Now, they produce enough heat that it needs to be transferred away in order for the chip to function properly. The solution was to create a heatsink, an array of spread out metal fins in contact with the chip to transfer the heat. Over the years, these have increased in efficiency and size. The heat is spread out to the fins using copper pipes, and then fans push air over the fins to move the air aw

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Bottle Flipping Physics

The trend of flipping a water bottle through the air to make it land upright again grew rapidly, and has some interesting physics behind it. The difficulty in the trick comes from the fact that when the bottle isn't full, it doesn't spin around the center. What happens is the center of mass goes toward the bottom as more of the liquid is drained, so to the average observer the bottle flips in a strange and unpredictable way. But the rotation of the bottle is predictible, because the axis of rota

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Stage Physics

Almost every stage production uses a pulley system or some sort of rope system to suspend something. Whether it be a curtain, backdrop, or even an actor, using counter weights to hold something up is an old practice. Ropes are all brought down from the ceiling to a row along the wall, over pulleys. These ropes have a plate with vertical pipes on the bottom, and the weights rest on top of the plate. The other end is attached to a horizontal bar on the stage, which multiple things can be attached

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Physics in Games

Half Life 2 was the first game to have a proper 3d physics system implemented, and while it wasn't flawless, it worked. It allowed the player to grab specific items, and carry them around and throw them into other objects, which would react accordingly. This was shown off a lot throughout the game, since the developers were proud of it. Now, it has become commonplace for almost every game to have a physics engine, as it's called, although it doesn't have to be a main gameplay element. The t

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Downforce

Formula 1 cars are well known for being among the fastest cars to be raced competitively, and their inner workings are just amazing. These cars are really wide and low, giving them a low center of gravity. This helps with turning, as the centrifugal force doesn't tip the car as much, since there is less torque. This isn't the thing that helps these cars go so fast, their engines are incredible, and the body is extremely lightweight. It's made of a very complicated composite, part of it being car

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