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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gummi Bear Science Round-Up!

On twitter, I have had many people send me the link to the "Molten Potassium Chlorate and Gummy Bear" video, presumably assuming I have not seen it. If one delves into the "favorites" on my youtube channel, buried within is that very video. It was the original inspiration for the series of Gummi Science videos I have created.

Viewing that video more than a year ago reminded me of sonicating (using high frequency sound waves to decimate) a gummy bear at a student's request, so that was the first video I made, which you can watch HERE.

These were followed by several others that are on my Gummi Science page.

My most recent gummi experiment, combined with a book review of Steve Spangler's book Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes: Unforgettable Experiments That Make Science Fun  is finally ready. It has been three months since I created and posted a video, in part due to the demands of my new position here at the university. I walk through determining the density of a gummi bear and other ways we use density gradient columns in a cell biology lab. My original reading of the volume displacement of the gummi bear was amended upon looking at my video, so I had to make a few changes in post production. I've switched from AVID video production (on my old PC)  to Final Cut Express on my new Mac, so am learning new things. One thing I learned is that for voice-overs, the Mac is notoriously weak on the built in mic input, so portions with voice-overs are quieter. Will prevent that next video. I'm learning video production by trial and error each time.

I have given thought to many, many experiments I could do with gummi bears. Some I have even filmed. I have some footage of coating one in gold and palladium and putting it in the Scanning Electron Microscope (the one that gives us great images of pollen grains and flies eyes!), but haven't had a chance to process the footage yet.

I tried to electrocute a gummy bear, but all i learned was that they are excellent insulators, which makes for quite a boring video. In the attempt to make it conduct electricity, I added one to salt water and came up with THIS video.

By popular request, I put a GIANT 5lb gummy bear in water to see if it will expand.  Again, this is something I filmed but have not processed. I'm sorry to say, the results were very disappointing. My advice to those wishing to expand gummi bears in water is to use only Haribo brand. Those might have more gelatin and less starch, making it able to hold water and not turn quite so "slimy" on the outside.

I've expressed an interest many times in using a laser to see if they are able to cut a gummy bear in half. Someone on twitter obliged with a video demonstrating the ability of a laser to create a gooey mess, and not exactly cutting it in half (as in the famous James Bond scene). It is fascinating the resistance of a simple candy to such power. Take a look! All that's missing is the science behind how these lasers work and the power of this particular laser. I think I will have to do some research!

A few weeks ago, I gave a workshop on the science of skin care and make-up to a large group of young ladies. One of the concepts I spoke of was the optical physics of color absorption. As you know, when you look at a color, it absorbs every other except the one we see. The interesting fact is that it absorbs MOST STRONGLY the color opposite of it on the color wheel and this is the science behind using color correcting make-up. Red and green are opposite of each other on the color wheel, making green the best color correcting make-up to apply to red discolorations such as capillaries, pimples and other redness because green absorbs red most strongly. I will caution that green concealer must be applied properly or you can end up looking an unfortunate greenish hue, rather than healthy.

Also, yellow works well to disguise violet discolorations like those undereye circles many of us want to diminish. 

gummy/green-concealer.jpg gummy/yellow-concealer.jpg 

You may be wondering what this has to do with gummy bears! Lucky for us, BioPhotonicsWorld created a gummi bear video that demonstrates the absorption and reflection of different colors of light. I like this video as it thoroughly discusses the science behind all of this. Even better, it starts with green and red gummy bears and green and red laser pointers. I wish I had thought of making this video!

As I attempt to share with you on this website, science can be used to explain everything around us, as everything inherently exhibits chemical and physical properties and many things have some relation to biology. The concepts any physical object can demonstrate seem almost limitless, including gummi bears!
Until next time,
Kindly, Joanne 
Tue, November 30, 2010 | link 

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