Living in Glass Houses

Because modern glass is so strong, people who live in contemporary glass houses can perhaps risk throwing stones.  But modern glass is more than strong – it’s smart too.  Smart windows change their absorbency as conditions change, permitting better control of brightness and temperature within buildings.  The secret rests in coatings applied to the surface…

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Natural Magnetism

It seems that some migratory ants navigate by staying in tune with the Earth’s magnetic field. Scientists recently discovered that some migratory ants have particles of magnetic iron minerals implanted in their body. These particles act like compass needles and give the ants a sense of direction. In one particular species of Brazilian ant, the…

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The Dance of the Honey Bee

When the forager honeybee discovers a good source of food, it returns to the hive and dances on the wall of the honeycomb to tell the others the location of the food source. The routine it goes through is quite precise. If the food is close to the hive it does a round dance, making…

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How Hot Can It Get?

On a really hot day somebody is bound to say “Well, it can’t get much hotter than this!” That could be true as far as the weather is concerned, but it raises the interesting question “How hot can it get?” Adding heat makes atoms and molecules move faster. So the question of how hot something…

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The Universal Speed Limit

Despite the impression you get from watching Star Trek™ adventures, you can’t really zip around the Universe faster than the speed of light! Light always obeys the speed limit. In the vacuum of outer space, it hurtles along at three hundred thousand kilometres a second. The speed of light is nature’s speed limit – the…

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Colour Blindness

As many as twenty-five million North Americans may be walking around with a congenital, incurable, and occasionally life threatening condition. I’m talking about colour blindness. This problem may affect one in twelve men and one in two hundred women, and often we are unaware of it. I only realized I had a slight touch of…

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A Famous Streaker

Long after those physics definitions have faded from memory, we can often recall stories associated with the scientists behind an idea. For example, many people who can no longer state Archimedes’ Principle formally, (that the ratio of a body’s weight to that of the displaced water is called its specific gravity) still remember that Archimedes…

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