Tag Archives: science


What if US currency featured science instead of people?

There is a lot of news this week surrounding the usage of Harriet Tubman on the new $20 bill in the United States. But did you ever wonder what US currency might look like if it featured scientific achievements instead of people?
Well, it might actually look a little like this rendering I recently discovered on imgur.
As you can see below, the individual bills are artistically designed to showcase things like astronauts, agriculture, buildings, environmental science, and more. There aren’t a ton of explanations on each bill but there is enough information to spark an interest.
I am of course not saying that US presidents and other noteworthy figures shouldn’t be on currency, just that it might be interesting and a fun new way to educate others about scientific achievements. That being said, I imagine this might be fraught with controversy for numerous reasons. Similar to the controversy around pretty much all other large-scale decisions, this one is likely never going to happen.
But it’s nice to dream. After all, that’s how most of these scientific achievements got started in the first place!

What would YOU put on your currency if you had the choice?

Share your thoughts with @DailyGenius and we may just make a rendering for you!

Read More

The incredible story of SpaceX rockets in under 5 minutes

The story of SpaceX is filled with huge risks and even bigger rewards. The space exploration company is destined to potentially become one of the most innovative companies ever. In fact, they’re already rocketing up to the top of that list as you read this. Yes, I included the term ‘rocketing’ intentionally. See what I did there?
So how did SpaceX get to where it is today? It has taken more than 5,000 hard-working people, big ideas, and plenty of money. But the important part here is not to focus on the financials, risk, reward, etc.
The important thing to focus on right now is inspiring the next generation of space exploration. That will take an emphasis on the importance of STEM and STEAM in schools around the world, a strong ecosystem of aerospace organizations, and a little healthy (but friendly) competition. Whether you want to build a spaceship, a rocket, an asteroid-mining vessel, or a space tourism company, there are a lot of ways to start building the future right now.

spacex crs-8 launch rocket

Taken by Jeff Dunn at NASA KSC – SpaceX CRS-8 launch

To help inspire you, I wanted to share a great new video that was just released a few hours ago. It details the story of SpaceX by focusing on the rockets. It doesn’t touch on Elon Musk, funding, government contracts, risk, reward, or anything like that. It’s a purely scientific look at the past, present, and future of SpaceX rockets.
Use this video to inspire students, friends, and colleagues to start learning about future technologies today. From astronautics to rocket propulsion to telemetry, it’s time to start mastering the basics of the next big economy: space exploration.

Read More

Space travel for all: live from the SpaceX CRS-8 launch

Remember that time you wanted to be an astronaut? Many students of many ages want to be one and we’re getting closer and closer to making that dream a reality. That’s because private companies like California-based SpaceX are developing all-new ways to make space travel a more reasonable undertaking than ever before.
What’s that mean? That discussing space travel in the classroom is something you should be focusing on right now. The folks at Daily Genius (hey, that’s me!) will be at the upcoming launch of the SpaceX CRS-8 mission happening Friday, April 8th. We will be on the ground at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
What’s our mission while visiting NASA, you ask? Simply put, it’s to find new and exciting to help you better understand space travel.
From crafting helpful videos to interviewing the brilliant people who make the magic happen, we’ll be crafting some (hopefully) insightful and useful resources for everyone. There’s a special focus on building resources for teaching about space travel in the classroom, of course.
So here’s what you should expect: regular posts and videos highlighting the CRS-8 mission as well as learning resources you may not have ever thought about before. It’s an exciting time for space exploration, STEM education, NASA, SpaceX, and  everyone else on the planet. That’s because we haven’t seen a huge step forward like this since the Space Shuttle.

How To Follow Daily Genius at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

It’s easy to keep up with what we’re seeing, doing, and learning during our time this week at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Just follow @DailyGenius on Twitter, like the Daily Genius page on Facebook, or sign up for email alerts to see our behind the scenes footage of what’s happening prior to the launch

2 Important Features of the SpaceX CRS-8 Mission

First, the most exciting part. SpaceX will once again attempt to land the first stage of the rocket on an autonomous drone ship in the ocean. This is highly complicated but there’s a better chance of success with this mission because there will be a little more fuel (LOX / RP-1) to use for the landing this time around. The last launch required a heavier payload so the fuel was used up far quicker.

Second, the actual payload of the Dragon consists of an the inflatable Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) which is an experimental new way to bring larger habitats to space. More specifically, to the International Space Station.
It’s less weight than standard portions of the ISS that required a Space Shuttle payload bay to be delivered. Now, the BEAM could offer an exciting new way to have larger work-spaces in space while requiring far less fuel to launch.
CRS-8 will be the first CRS mission to the ISS since the ill-fated CRS-7, and stowed in Dragon’s trunk will be BEAM; a small Bigelow inflatable module to be attached to the station. The first stage, provided the barge is go to support a landing, will attempt to land downrange on the drone ship ‘Of Course I Still Love You.’

Read More

The biggest scientific discoveries that happened by accident

That’s funny… is actually what Isaac Asimov said is the most noteworthy phrase in all of science. More than ‘Eureka!’ or any other phrase. This is because many of the biggest scientific discoveries happened by accident. In other words, someone likely uttered the phrase ‘that’s funny’ just when a discovery was made.

Pretty neat, eh?

This video walks you through some of those major discoveries that might have never happened were it not for pure dumb luck, happenstance, or basic accidents.

That’s really the nature of discovery and science, though, isn’t it. Constantly exploring and trying to unlock the mysteries of a variety of topics.

This is also the goal of Daily Genius, by the way. We’re a professional learning community that wants to help you in your quest to be the very best professional you can be. Sorry for the little plug there but we’re a pretty new site and any support you can offer is much appreciated!

Want to know some of the other major discoveries that happened by accident? Check out this great post on HowStuffWorks that talks about 9 major finds (e.g. Corn Flakes!) that happened by accident. Very cool.

Read More

Why science teachers should not have recess duty

Science teachers have inquisitive minds. The basis of science, after all, is to inquire and test hypotheses. So … bear with me now … what if you really put a science teacher’s mind to the test? What if you let them run a ridiculous experiment while on recess duty?
Nothing good would happen, that’s for sure.
That’s the idea behind this funny new comic we spotted on Twitter. It was shared by the Google Science Fair folks and if you don’t chuckle when glancing at it, then it’s time to check your funny bone.
If you don’t get it, ask a science teacher!
science playground

Read More
Education Work

These mesmerizing videos will make you love learning about chemistry

Something you may often hear is a statement to the effect of ‘nature is beautiful’. Most of us probably wouldn’t argue with this. When we think of nature we often think of gorgeous landscapes, interesting animals, and sunsets. Nature and science are so easily linked, but I doubt most of us would think of science as also being beautiful in the same way we think of nature’s beauty.

Only fatty cells and glands, there aren’t exercises that can actually make your breasts bigger. But underneath the breasts lie the pectoral muscles, which, if built up, can make your breasts look higher and more firm.

The folks over at Beautifulchemistry.net, which is a collaboration between the Institute of Advanced Technology at the University of Science and Technology of China and Tsinghua University Press aims to use technology and digital imaging to bring the beauty of science to life. You can see many more images and videos on their site, but we’ve highlighted three videos below which show the awesome beauty of three different chemical reactions. These awesome high-def time lapse videos are sped up (indicated on the top right corner of each video when you play it) and short enough to watch all three during a procrastination break.  The descriptions of each chemical reaction below the videos are from the original site -we’ve kept them as-is since we aren’t chemists and didn’t want to unintentionally transcribe a reaction incorrectly.

Whether you’re a chemistry teacher, a parent, an artist, or just someone who loves beautiful things, these videos are worth a look!


The molecules inside some plants giving them vibrant colors can change to other colors under acid and base conditions. What we show here is color change of purple cabbage and a flower named Teornia fournieri in sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and hydrochloric acid (HCl) solutions.

We dropped zinc metal in silver nitrate (AgNO), copper sulfate (CuSO), and lead nitrate (Pb)(NO) solutions, and recorded the emergence of silver, copper, and lead metals with beautiful structure. To preserve the fragile structure of lead metal, we also added sodium silicate (NaSiO) and acetic acid (CH-COOH) to the solution to make it gelatinize.

Many chemical reactions generate gases. In solution, gases escape as bubbles. Here we show 4 bubbling reactions. The last one is the electrolysis of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) aqueous solution. It is obvious that the reaction generated more hydrogen (H) at the cathode than oxygen (O) at the anode. In fact, the ideal volume ratio is H2 : O2 = 2 : 1.

Read More

Addicted to coffee? Time to understand the science of your brain on coffee

When you wake up in the morning, do you immediately start thinking about when you’re going to get your regular jolt of morning Joe? Do you wonder when you’re going to finally break through the morning his? You probably rely on a hot or cold cup of coffee to get you through your day. If you’re anything like me you rely on multiple cups of coffee every day.
I will be the first one to admit I’m pretty addicted to coffee. But up until now, I haven’t had a clue about why that is. I just thought it was something that was a useful tool for helping me be a productive member of society. But instead there’s a lot of science behind it, and you might not believe just how little control you have and what your brain looks like on coffee.
Check out this video to see exactly how your brain functions (or doesn’t function) when you’re dealing with coffee.

Read More

The Magnus Effect (aka how to bend it like beckham)

As someone who has suffered from Extreme Lack of Coordination for their entire life, I’m always amazed at professional athletes – especially those that demonstrate the things that I am least likely to ever achieve – aka, anything that involves hand-eye or foot-eye coordination. Since I can barely kick a ball into a net from straight on, I was fascinated by the video below that explains how great footballers can get the ball into the goal from well, anywhere on the pitch that is not straight on. There are also some really interesting animations and studies of soccer balls in this post, if you’re interested in further reading.
magnus effect
As it turns out, this is due to something called the Magnus Effect, which is when we observe a spinning ball moving in a curve away from its principal flight path. The direction of the ball is determined by the spin on the ball itself (back spin, top spin, side spin, etc). Perhaps some of the great footballers out there are also great physicists, but more likely, they just innately understand how to kick the ball so it spins the right way without thinking too much of the technicalities and equations that most of us normally associate with physics principles. But really, it is much more fun to play around with a soccer ball, so we’ll do that instead.

Understanding Spin: Practical Physics Lessons and the Magnus Effect

Since the trajectory of the ball is determined by the type of spin you put on it, what you really need to understand is where on the ball to kick with which part of you foot in order to impart the desired spin. But if you wanted to understand the Magnus Effect a bit more, check out the video below (which we’ve done a short summary for below).

  • You generate spin on the ball based on where you kick it (the location on the ball that your foot touches) and the direction of force you apply
  • The ball traveling through the air meets air flow resistance from the other direction
  • Right around the ball, there is air drag circling around it (the ‘spin’)
  • As oncoming air passes the ball, the side moving in the same direction as the spinning air drag will accelerate, following the curve of the ball
  • The air on the other side that is moving against the spinning ball meets opposing air and can’t continue around the ball, so it goes straight
  • This creates a net force of air to one side, forcing the ball to curve to the other side (see: Newton’s Third Law!)

Read More

Think You Really Know Why Volcanoes Are Dangerous? Hint: It's Not The Lava.

When a volcano erupts, most of us imagine ash exploding into the air and lava flowing from a crater in the top of a conical mountain. While technically some of this is true, erupting conical mountains are just one type of volcano. And traveling lava, while dangerous and problematic, is not nearly the only problem.
Those factoids and the following bits of information about volcanoes are really things that most people might not have actually known.
If you take a look at the video below, which shows Mount Tavurvur in Papua New Guinea erupting on Aug. 29, you’ll first see the blast of ash into the air, followed by the clouds getting the heck ‘outta dodge, and then you’ll hear a shockwave.The visible atmospheric disturbance prompted me to think about how volcanoes may impact our atmosphere over the long term.
With a little bit of research, I was able to find a good deal of information on the topic, but the short answer is this: volcanic ash can be extremely damaging (especially for airplanes) and can spread globally in just weeks, and hangs around in our atmosphere for years to come. They contribute a fair amount to climate change, and we all know that humans don’t really need a helping hand with that.

What do volcanoes have to do with climate change?

Some of the largest volcanic eruptions can cause pretty crazy chain reactions. Studies have shown that the immense flush of gases (Sulfur is the main concern) into the atmosphere can cause global temperatures to drop around 1 degree Celsius for up to 2 years afterward – causing longer term freezing and overall lower temperature (a lack of summer or a ‘volcanic winter’) and associated widespread crop failures around the globe. One example would be the “year without a summer” of 1816, where North America suffered from widespread food shortages in part because of a volcanic winter caused by the eruption of Tambora – all the way in Indonesia – in 1815.
While these major volcanic events don’t happen very often (Mega-Colossal, magnitude 7 eruptions only happen around every 1,000 years or so), they can wreak havoc for years to come. A magnitude 7 eruption is pretty serious – the scale only goes up to 8, and an 8 is considered ‘catastrophic’ (happening less than every 25,000 years, thankfully).

Read More

What Sunscreen Actually Does To Your Skin

When you head to the beach or out into the sunshine, you probably make a habit of slathering on some sunscreen in order to avoid harmful burns. I know I do!
But what actually happens when you put on that lotion? It’s not quite your usual skin moisturizer. In fact, that lotion contains a lot of interesting chemicals that make you almost invisible to the sun (for a period of time at least). This video explains how that works and why the sun views different parts of your body, um, differently, in my case I use this brand called newbodyessentials which has worked awesome for me.
This is our new product specifically for your face: http://www.eyecream.com

Read More
1 2