Monday, July 16, 2012

Oobleck And Other Oogly-Googly Things

I stopped by Mclleland to get breakfast on my way to class then started the trek of about three block to the classroom. I enjoy the long walk in the morning because it allows me to wake up and mentally prepare myself for the day. I arrived to class a few minutes before 9:00 so I went outside to the food truck to buy coffee. This was only my second full cup of coffee in my life, and it was delicious. 

The first half of class was spent talking about exponential growth. Exponential growth is when the growth rate of a value is proportional to the function's current value. To get a better understanding of this, we related it to population growth. The population growth one year depends on the number of people in the population the previous year. Albert Bartlett once said "The greatest shortcoming of the human race is out inability to understand the exponential function." Countries such as China have a huge problem with their population because they have yet to understand exponential growth. After we discussed exponential growth, we were given a half sheet to choose our special interest groups for the next week and our roller coaster groups chose what lab they would like to work on. Mariko, Clara, Jessica, and I decided that we wanted to learn more about radioactive decay. The first experiment we did to observe how radioactive decay involved 200 die. We emptied the die and collected all of the die marked with one dot and continued until we had no die left. When we finished this experiment, we plotted it on a graph and moved on to the next. In the next experiment we just observed how many counts of radioactivity passed through our counter in thirty second intervals. Just like the previous experiment, we plotted this on a graph.

We broke for lunch at noon and were told to be back in an hour. Instead of the usual chatter about physics, lunch today was filled with Jessica talking about how excited she was for The Bachelorette season finale which is airing tonight. We hurried back to class so we wouldn't be late. 

Craig broke us into our special interest groups and I was glad to see the letter "NNF" next to my name. These letters meant that I was in the Non-Newtonian Fluids lab group. In this group we were going to experiment with a substance made of corn starch and water called oobleck. I was vaguely familiar with this substances properties from watching an episode of "My Strange Addictions" where a woman was addicted to eating corn starch so the producers of the show mixed up a batch of oobleck to demonstrate what it does. Oobleck is a very strange fluid. When you run your fingers slowly through the mixture it feels just like water; it you pound your first into the mixture it firms and doesn't even splash. ur job in this lab group is to find out the consistency at which we have the "perfect" mixture of oobleck. We will also mix up nearly two-hundred and fifty pounds of corn starch with water at the end of the week for the class to run across.

Today was an extremely exciting day for a Monday! Mudane Monday's? Psh, never. I am super excited to get to work with oobleck for the rest of the week, I just have to remember to dress accordingly, as working with corn starch and water can be a huge mess.

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