Resistance Is Futile!

I don’t know about you but working with electronics has never been a chore. I just like doing it, I guess. Just seeing the whole thing light up after properly connecting each component is already exhilarating for me.  Now, the moment I saw that I was going to learn more about resistance, I was excited because I’ve always wanted to try out this electronic component I’ve heard about from my brother that would help me better understand the concept better. It’s called the potentiometer and I heard that it’s a much cooler version of the resistor where you can tweak its resistance. I decided to put that to the test in this little experiment I found on the Internet that would, in turn, teach me how resistance and current are related.

Materials Needed:

  1. Breadboard
  2. Arduino Uno
  3. Printer Cable (USB Cable A to B)
  4. Laptop/PC
  5. Potentiometer (10k)
  6. 1K Resistor
  7. Light-Emitting Diode (LED)
  8. Insulated Copper Wire

So, first off, I gathered all of the materials above from a local electronics store except for the Arduino Uno and printer cable, which I borrowed from my older brother. Afterwards, I followed the diagram below exactly, making sure that everything is connected properly. I then connected the Arduino Uno to the family computer. This supplies power to the Arduino, which, in turn, supplies the circuit power as well. I lastly checked if the LED was lighting up, and it did. If it didn’t for you, don’t worry. Turn the knob of the potentiometer and see if the LED lights up then. This is because maybe the potentiometer was set to the max resistance it can sustain, thus causing the LED to grow dim, almost to the point that it looks turned off. Anyway, pleased that my circuit works, I then went straight to testing and slowly turned the knob, observing any changes to the LED. As expected the LED dimmed more and more until it looked as though it was off. Linking this to what I studied, I know that since resistance in the circuit is going up, the current passing through the LED decreased, which means less output. This also is true if in reverse. This is basically what is meant by resistance being inversely proportional to current. Food for thought, I suppose.

Now, that was fun. I can’t wait for the next time I can devise an experiment that involves electronics. Until then though, I’ll keep what I’ve learned in mind. Oh, by the way, you can see the circuit in action by clicking the following link:

Your boy,

Seth Martin

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You Spin My Head Right Round…

When I think of space, Star Trek usually comes to mind. Being able to whizz off into space at the speed of light just never gets old. Zero gravity fist fights? Now, that’s even cooler. The sad truth of it all, however, is that we are light years away from being able to reach the stars we see painted across the night sky. On the upside though, we reached the moon. Scratch that off mankind’s list of feats we thought were impossible. But, that’s besides the point. The point is that we can’t do it yet, at least not with what we have right now. I mean, forget about the distant stars and take a look at just the planets in our solar system.

The farthest planet we plan on reaching next, based on what I know, is Mars, which is only about 225 million kilometers away, an estimated 7-month trip. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Seven months isn’t really a long time and I don’t blame you. It isn’t, but we should look at this from another perspective. What I mean is that we shouldn’t look at how long it will take, but how much it will cost. Just getting out of Earth’s atmosphere is a feat in itself, as we use up gallons upon gallons of rocket fuel, and that’s only the start of the journey. We then have to think about the trip going to Mars, landing safely on Mars, and take into account the trip back. Forget about even trying to get to Mars. We already had problems getting to the moon.

But, let’s take a step further, shall we? Specifically, let’s look to the other planets in our solar system. In order to better understand our situation, I decided to take the challenge of creating a model of our solar system the size of a meter stick, so that it looks nice in picture. I’m kidding. But, I am serious about using a meter stick. Anyway, the following were used to construct it, with the help of my brother, Meeko:

  • Foam balls (11+ pieces of varying sizes)
  • Watercolor paint (For artistic value)
  • Brushes (Same as above)
  • Barbeque Sticks
  • Meter Stick
  • Tape

Now, painting the planets was easy. What me and my brother found hard was positioning the planets correctly, relative to the sun, of course. Actually, by constructing the model, I noticed that the first four planets were much more clumped together than I thought, as compared to the gas giants. This was why we found it hard to tape the planets to the meter stick, so much that we decided to poke BBQ sticks through the planet models so that we would have an easier time. We managed to pull through in the end and, for me, I consider the result as a success. Anyway, just by looking at the created model below, you can clearly see the relative distance every other planet is from the earth. So, if it takes us 7 months to get from Earth to Mars, I’m guessing that it would take twice or even thrice the time to get to Jupiter or Saturn. The resources needed to make the trip would make any billionaire quake in his boots. Believe me when I say this but the planets aren’t the only ones swiveling around its axis.

So, let’s rethink our plans for the future. What do you say?

Your boy,

Seth Martin

Less Is More And Not The Other Way Around

So, I’ll be straight to the point with this one, since I’m trying to make this post live up to its title. The topic that I’ll be discussing is on simple machines. Don’t let the name fool you, though, because identifying these in the real world is no small feat. The reason why is because many of the tools at our disposal are created by combining these simple machines, so you have to get creative with applying what you know about them. You see, simple machines are basic mechanical devices used in applying force. Like the bare essentials and when used correctly, they can help us achieve more for less. So, in honor of these energy-saving devices, I decided to make a chart enumerating the following simple machines:

  1. Lever
  2. Inclined Plane
  3. Wheel and Axle
  4. Pulley
  5. Screw
  6. Wedge

I wanted to start off with the lever because, well, we see this every time we rush to the dinner table to eat. If you guessed that both the spoon and fork are levers, you guessed correctly, my friend. This simple machine helps lift heavy objects by applying a force on one end of a rod that is fixed at a certain point. Other examples of a lever is the hammer and the seesaw.

Then, there’s the inclined plane. Examples of inclined planes are ramps and stairs. Its primary function, if you haven’t guessed it yet, is to be able to move an object to a higher elevation. It basically saves us the trouble of having to lift the object, because then, we would be against gravity. When using an inclined plane, however, you would only need to overcome friction, which can be easily remedied by using the next simple machine on the list, which is the wheel and axle. This simple machine helps us move loads over long distances with little ease. A car makes use of the wheel and axle to be able to move.

If, however, you don’t want to push whatever you need to move up a ramp, then you can opt to use a pulley, which is another simple machine. With a wheel and rope, objects can be carried vertically with ease, since instead of pulling the object upwards against gravity, you would just need to pull down on the rope to lift the object up.

But, wait. There’s more. Still on the topic of a ramp, warp it into a spiral and you have a screw, yet another simple machine. Now, a screw is essentially a device that is very good at holding things together. Its form can also be used to move objects upwards to a higher position and since it moves it in a circle, the device takes up less space. Examples include the screw (duh), spiral staircases, and jar caps. Pretty neat, if you ask me. Anyway, last but not the least, we have the wedge, the most interesting of all the simple machines, well at least for my case. From two inclined planes, cutting tools can be created. That’s basically the purpose of a wedge: to be able to cut other objects. With the point of contact being sharp, which means less surface area, you don’t need too much effort before the object splits into to two. Useful, right?

Whoa, I didn’t notice that this post got long. Either way, I hope I was able to relay how important these devices are, and how much harder our lives would have been if we haven’t come across them.

Your boy,

Seth Martin

Don’t Stare At The Sun!

Seriously, though. Don’t do it. Okay, maybe you can. Just not directly at the sun, of course. Why? Well, it’s the only way we’ll know for sure. What? Okay, let me explain. We know that our sun is made up of mostly hydrogen and helium. How do we know this, you might ask? Well, by looking at the light that our sun emits. You see, scientists found out that atoms, when excited, emit a certain wavelength of light depending on their chemical composition. They did this for numerous chemical elements, and with the accumulated knowledge, which came to be known as the atomic spectrum, the compositions of numerous stars were identified by comparing the spectrums of light that each star emitted, including that of our own.

As for what they used in order to do just that is a tool called the spectroscope, which scientists are using nowadays to identify the composition of stars AND planets in the far reaches of the galaxy, hoping that one day, they might find one such solar system much like ours. Think of it as our way of finding out if life exists beyond the boundaries of the solar system we live in, all from the comfort of our home. Pretty cool, right? I know, and it fascinated me so much that I searched up online about any related science experiment that I can do right here, at home. To my surprise, I can build my very own spectroscope that, although may not be as powerful as those used by astronomers, will allow me to at least see the light spectrum being emitted by light sources found around the house. All I needed was to gather the following:

Materials Needed:

  • A cereal box,
  • A CD – ROM,
  • Aluminum foil,
  • A cutter,
  • Tape

Procedure:

Once I got everything I needed, I just had to follow a video I found online (the link is provided above) step-by-step on how to set up my very own spectroscope. To give a background on how to operate it after you’ve completed yours, if you followed along yourself, is that you look through the hole directly above the CD – ROM that is inserted into the cereal box, while the slit made with aluminum foil is where the light enters, reflecting off of the CD, thus creating a visible spectrum. If you look closely at the light spectrums of different sources of light, you would notice that they would be slightly, if not, completely different from each other. Amazing!

Now, the home-made spectroscope is in no shape to give us an accurate image of the light spectrum being emitted so determining the composition is impossible. But, it’s still pretty cool to at least notice a difference in the spectrum patterns of different light sources. So, I suggest you make one yourself if you haven’t already.

Your boy,

Seth Martin

Get My Good Side, Will Ya?

People say I look like my dad a lot. Yet others say that I look like my mom. So I’d like think I got the best of both my mom and my dad. But, seriously speaking, we are the best of both worlds, regardless of what other people say. That’s basically what inheritance is. Simply put, we are not a clone of your father or mother, but have traits passed down to us from both to make, well, you. How do I know for sure? Well, we have Gregor Mendel to thank for that.

Gregor Mendel pioneered the science of genetics by discovering certain properties, laws, you might say, of biological inheritance. He did so by experimenting with garden pea plants. Yes, you heard me right. Garden pea plants. Okay, hear me out, because it’ll only get somewhat confusing from here on out. So, he started off with two different colored pea plants, a white flower breed and a purple flower breed. He labeled these the parental or P generation. Afterwards, he crossbred both of these and after quite a while of waiting, he noticed something peculiar. Instead of finding pink-ish offspring, which is a blend of both white and purple, he found that all of them were purple. Weird, right? Well, he thought so, too, which is why he didn’t stop there. He repeated the procedure but this time, with the offspring which he called the F1 generation.

After he self-fertilized them, he obtained yet another unexpected result. He found out that this time, there was a 3 to 1 ratio of purple flower pea plants and white flower pea plants respectively. He kept repeating this process over and over again, with other characteristics of pea plants, eventually finding patterns. From this, the Punnett square is born. Oh, he also proposed a few laws which are now known as the Mendelian Principles of Genetics. I added a link below to an online page that describes them in detail.

https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/resources/2000-mendel-s-principles-of-inheritance

Still on the topic of inheritance, I decided to do one of the experiments suggested in my science book that would help me determine from which side I got most of my traits. The result, well, wasn’t surprising. I got most of my traits from my dad, but that’s only out of few traits observed. Maybe if we take a look at all my characteristics, the result would change. But, for now, it’ll do.

Your boy,

Seth Martin

It’s Not My Fault!

The title is a joke by the way. If you still don’t get it, fret not. You see, I’ll be talking about faults. Not my faults, but actual faults that riddle the crust like a plague. Yes, I’m talking about those earthquake-causing cracks in the ground that, more often than not, causes us inconveniences every now and then, and that’s me being nice. Anyway, what I wanted to show you is this simple chart that shows the distinct types of faults and some examples for each. Hope you like it because I put effort into making it. I mean, look at it. It has color and all.

So, what are faults to begin with? Are they really just cracks in the ground? Well, yes and no. Hear me out. Yes, they are cracks in the ground. But, no, since that’s not all there is to them. Remember that the crust is made up of tectonic plates, and the thing is, they’re not stationary. Because of the lower layer, the mantle, the plates are constantly moving, therefore somewhere along the line, cracks started to form. Those cracks are the faults I was talking about and they are constantly shifting. Now, how they shift is what differentiates each fault and is why we have about three types of faults to work with here.

So, the first type of fault is called a normal fault. Whether or not that this is the default, this type of fault forms when the upper wall, otherwise known as the hanging wall, is moving down with respects to the foot wall. Some examples of normal faults are the Atalanti Fault and Corinth Rift, which are both located in Greece. Now, take the reverse of a normal, and you have a, well, reverse fault. Pretty simple naming convention, huh? Anyway, a reverse fault, this time, is when the foot wall is moving down, causing the hanging wall to bulge upwards. The Sierra Madre Fault Line located in Southern California and the Glarus Thrust are both examples of this type of fault. By the way, if the incline of the foot wall is a gentle slope, the reverse fault created is then called a thrust fault. Finally, the third type of fault is called the strike-slip fault, and from the name, they are formed when two plates continually slide against each other. Locally, we have the Marikina Valley Fault System as an example. There’s also the famous San Andreas Fault, as well.

So, there you have it. To be honest, I retract what I said about the title of this post. I think it’s a perfect description of what faults really are, since Mother Earth can’t really do anything about its tectonic plates from moving and cracking itself up. Yes, it’s the reason why we have earthquakes but hey, we can’t blame Mother Earth for that. There’s a reason why earthquakes are called natural disaster, emphasizing the “natural” part. So, just pray that the roof on top of you is strong enough to withstand the tremors.

Your boy,

Seth Martin

Mother Earth, Don’t Leave Me!

Human activities all around the world have damaged the ecosystem. As we damage the ecosystem, our environment changes and for the most part, not in a good way. One of the effects of all the destruction we’ve caused to Mother Earth is what is called global warming. To better understand what global warming does to the Earth, my brother, Meeko, and I have come up with a little experiment that shows why we should start thinking green.

The experiment involves making a replica of the Earth, or at least, part of it, inside a plastic container using clay. On one side of the plastic container, green clay is used to represent land, while blue clay was placed everywhere else to represent the sea. The green mound of clay was considerably higher than the blue clay, which represented the sea floor, to allow for water to be added. This was for added special effects, as I like to call it. Once the water has been added, ice was then placed on the other side of the container to represent the North/South Pole. Lastly, the plastic was sealed off and left in a sunny area.

The Result:

The ice has melted, causing the water level to rise. This left only a portion of the “land” above the water. Now, imagine this happening in real life, but with a lot more ice at a much faster rate. That’s pretty much what is happening right now from all the news I’ve been seeing online.

Why Global Warming is Happening:

One of the causes why global warming is a problem right now is pollution, specifically air pollution. Air pollution is caused by the burning of fossil fuels that release huge volumes of carbon dioxide, as well as other harmful gases into our atmosphere. They are collectively called “greenhouse gases”. A list of these can be seen below. Sources of greenhouse gas emissions are motor vehicles, agricultural activities, and industrial processes.

Greenhouse Gases:

  • Water Vapor,
  • Carbon Dioxide,
  • Methane,
  • Nitrous oxide,
  • Ozone,
  • Chlorofluorocarbons,  and
  • Hydrofluorocarbons

I know. I don’t know most of these gases myself either. But, I do know how these gases cause global warming. In essence, greenhouse gases trap the heat we acquire from the sun right here, on the surface of the Earth, and in recent years, increased human activities have doubled, or maybe even tripled the amount of these greenhouse gases we have in our atmosphere. This means that it is a lot hotter today than it was in the past, and is continually getting hotter. To make things worse, some of the greenhouse gases destroy the ozone layer, which keeps us safe from the sun’s harmful rays. So, not only does greenhouse gases keep the heat from leaving, but they also intensify the heat the earth absorbs from the sun. This was represented by the plastic container that was used in the experiment that I mentioned earlier. It lets heat in, raising the temperature of the air inside the container, and keeps the warm air from escaping.

Now, with increased temperatures, the ice present in the North and South Poles, as well as the areas near these locations, melt, which, in turn, causes flooding in certain parts of the world. This also causes tropical storms to increase in strength, which, living on an archipelago, is a big deal. So, yeah. Global warming is a growing to become a major problem for us. What can we do about it? Well, we should turn to the trees. Why? Because, as we all know, trees, or plants in general, help in decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. They also keep the ground we walk on solid, preventing landslides from happening. But, even though we know this, we still see forests disappear, which brings me to another cause of global warming, deforestation. Simply put, if we continue to cut down trees without replacing them afterwards, we might see our only home go down in flames, if you know what I mean.

Of course, nobody wants this to happen and I’m no exception. And on the positive side, we can do something about the current state of Mother Earth. As I’ve said before, we have to think green and make sure that whatever we do or buy is eco-friendly. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s better than the Earth becoming the next Mars.

That’s One Tornado Coming Right Up!

Tornadoes are both awesome and scary at the same time. Its destructive power can be both a sight to behold, and a sight that makes anyone run for their lives. As for me, you can say I’m in awe when nature unleashes its fury in the form of 100+ mph winds. Now observing one from a distance is very dangerous, as I am told, and I don’t blame those who say so. However, it is possible to downsize a tornado, enough to observe it and to keep creating one as many times as I like. All I needed were the following:

Materials Needed:

  1. 2 Bottles of Coke Zero (1.5 L),
  2. Duct Tape, and
  3. Food Coloring (Any color, which, in this case, is red)

It’s called “Tornado in a Bottle”, or at least, that’s what I call it. To create one, we first have to drain both bottles of its contents. What better way to do this than with the whole family, am I right? Anyway, after the bottles have been emptied, they were then washed and left to dry. Afterwards, the caps of both bottles were taken off. One bottle was then filled with a considerable amount of water, while the other was left alone. Food coloring was added to the bottle with water to give it color. Finally, the opening of the empty bottle was taped to the opening of the non-empty bottle as seen below. And that’s it! To create a tornado with it, all you have to do is overturn the setup and spin it while the water is transferring to the bottom bottle. The result is a mini-tornado that can be observed by anyone. Check the link below to catch the “Tornado in a Bottle” in action.

Now, being able to observe the structure of a tornado up close is great and all, but it does not tell us anything about how these natural disasters are formed in the first place. So, I dug around about it and found out that tornadoes, otherwise known as tropical cyclones, are made from tropical storms, as the name suggests. Apparently, heat emissions from the condensation of water vapor warms the surrounding air, thus making it rise. Now, as the warm air rises, it collides with cold air, which, in turn, warms it up. This heat exchange apparently causes the wind to travel in a clockwise direction until it eventually forms a spiral pattern. This then continues to pick up in both speed and size as more and more warm air is pushed upwards due to the water cycle. And there you have it, that’s a tornado/hurricane that mankind has to deal with, brought to you by nature itself.

Your boy,

Seth Martin

P.S. I’m just glad we don’t see that happening at all over here in the Philippines.

Plants Rule!

The beauty of this world lies in nature, and part of nature is plant life. Plants are found almost everywhere in the world, from the deepest parts of the ocean, to the highest places on land. You just have to know where to look. Seriously, you can’t miss it. I mean, they’re mostly color green. Anyway, plants supply all living things with the oxygen that anything, or anyone, so desperately needs. They are also a source of food and provide shade from the sun’s heat. They make our surroundings beautiful as well through the various colors of their flowers and leaves. In this blog, I’ll be writing about the different types of plants that exist in the so-called Kingdom Plantae and their defining characteristics.

There are about 260,000 species of plants on Earth and they are classified into two groups: the non-vascular plants and the vascular plants. Non-vascular plants lack vascular tissues that transport food and water throughout the entire plant body. Examples of non-vascular plants are mosses, algae and liverworts.

Vascular plants, on the other hand, can survive in areas with limited water supply. The main difference of vascular plants from non-vascular plants, if it wasn’t that obvious, is their complex body structure that consists of a network of vascular tissues. Examples of vascular plants are trees, flowers, grass and fruit-bearing plants. A lot of the plants that we see in our everyday lives are vascular plants.

As I used to take care of a few potted oregano, I enjoyed learning and writing about this kingdom and how plants differ from each other in more ways than I previously known. I thank God for adding plants to this world for not only providing us oxygen and the necessary nutrients to survive, but for also making this world a more vibrant place to live in.

Your boy,

Seth Martin

Water Is Not Just For Swimming!

Water is needed in our everyday lives and coincidentally, it’s everywhere. It is also what I am very fond of, being a swimmer myself. As a student, however, water is more than just the medium I swim in. It has very many interesting properties that I would like to discuss. So sit back, relax, and take a glass of water. You’ll thank me later.

Water has three states. In other words, it can be a solid, liquid, and even a gas under the right circumstances. As a solid, water becomes what is called ice. Water can become ice by reaching its freezing point, 0 ºC or 32 ºF. Solids, much like ice, have constant shape and volume. With this knowledge, mankind invented delicacies such as ice cream. Ice has also been used around the world by people to treat bruises and muscle pains due to its coldness.

The second state of water is what we see almost everywhere which is, of course, its liquid state. Now, before I get into the details of water as a liquid, I delved deeper and found out that water is a molecule made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Upon learning this, I instantly thought that maybe fish can breathe underwater because their gills allow them to filter the hydrogen, leaving only the oxygen for breathing.

Anyway, going back to water as a liquid, there are many kinds of liquids in the world. Different drinks have been made for to satisfy the many, different tastes we, humans, have acquired. Examples are iced tea, carbonated drinks, tea and coffee. Just by closely examining our own bodies alone, we can see that we are made up of a liquid known as blood. Like solids, liquids have constant volume but have an indefinite shape. In other words, liquids can’t maintain a shape of its own and takes the shape of its container instead. This is because the particles of any liquid can slide past each other, making it much more malleable than solids.

Because of these properties of water when in liquid state, we are able to enjoy the hot summer by going to a beach or a pool to swim in, which brings me to the next state of water, gas. If water gets heated enough, 100 ºC or 212 ºF to be exact, it turns into water vapor. Unlike solids and liquids, gases have neither a constant shape nor a constant volume. They, however, take shape and size if put into a container. Clouds are observable examples of water in its gaseous state, as they are the result of water vapor being cooled just enough to form clouds. Aside from vapor, mankind has discovered other gaseous substances such as hydrogen and nitrogen.

Water and its three states of matter have been and continue to be useful in our everyday lives. Personally, I love water and all its forms. But, you already knew that.

Your boy,

Seth Martin