Monday, December 15, 2014

Chocolate gun dispenses edible molten chocolate

I modified a standard hot glue gun to dispense molten semi-sweet chocolate. This is great for decorations and gingerbread houses.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Obeying the law (of physics)! Kinetic energy and momentum explained

In my video on the Crookes Radiometer, I showed that the devices spins because of a thermal gas effect -- not the force of photons hitting the vanes.  In the comments section, someone asked about kinetic energy and how incoming photons impart force to the rotor.  This video is a more complete answer to that question.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Encode information in fire!

A burning strip of carefully cut flash paper can encode information, which is then read by an optical sensor.  I'd like to determine if it's possible to perform computations with nothing but flash paper -- using the shape of the paper as data and program, and the flame as the readout.

Hamamatsu S7815 photodiode -- might be discontinued:

Harvard Infofuse project:

Source for flash paper and flash cotton:

Subscribe to my channel here:

Saturday, November 29, 2014

SEM data files and image generation script

I've posted some sample data files from my SEM, and also the MATLAB/Octave script that I use to convert them into images:

Let me know if you have any questions.

This is the support structure underneath a single DLP mirror.  The width of each mirror is about 10 microns.

Ben answers your questions #1

I experiment with zinc oxide in a vacuum chamber, and answer your questions from the previous video.  If this format is successful, I'll do another Q/A session in the future.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Color-changing Zinc Oxide -- and submit your questions for Ben

Submit your questions for Ben in the comments section for a Q and A session next week.

Heating zinc oxide with a blow torch causes it to turn from a white powder into a golden yellow.  The process reverses when the substance cools back down to room temperature.  The heat drives out some oxygen from the ZnO lattice, cause some locations to have a Zinc metal ion.  This disruption in the lattice is able to absorb more blue and violet light, causing the overall substance to look yellow.

Monday, November 3, 2014

How a Crookes radiometer works

A Crookes radiometer is driven by a thermal gas effect, and not "light pressure" as often thought.  I demonstrate the radiometer in a vacuum chamber and explain its optimal running pressure.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Catalytic cigarette lighter

Demonstration of a New Method catalytic cigarette lighter:  The device uses a platinum catalyst to generate heat from methanol vapors, which in turn ignites the vapor.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tire sealant chemistry and tire pressure monitors

Demonstration of how tire sealant works and how it can damage tire pressure sensors.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Car engine science: Ignition timing, emissions, mixture

I describe how ignition timing and air/fuel mixture affect car engine power, emissions, and driveability.

Monday, October 6, 2014

High pressure gas cylinder transfer

I transfer high pressure ethylene gas from a rental cylinder to another cylinder that I own.  I use a cooling water bath to condense the ethylene and transfer as much mass as possible.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cryogenic Machining: Custom rubber parts

I demonstrate the process of cryogenically freezing rubber, then CNC milling it into a custom shape. This avoids the need to injection mold or cast rubber parts.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Electron microscope image capture with an oscilloscope

I show how I collect digital electron microscope images with my Tek MDO3000 oscilloscope.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Applied Science T-shirts

Get yourself a nifty T-shirt while supporting the creation of new Applied Science videos

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hydrogenation: transform liquid oil into solid fat

Learn the science behind the buzzwords surrounding saturated, unsaturated, omega-3 and trans fats, and see a demonstration of hydrogenation.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Liquid laughing gas supports combustion

I liquified a small amount of laughing gas (nitrous oxide) and put a burning piece of wood in it to see the result.  The heat from the flame causes the nitrous oxide to decompose into nitrogen and oxygen, which supports combustion more vigorously than air.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

How to chemically strengthen glass (eg Gorilla Glass)

I describe why glass fails, and how to improve its apparent strength via a simple chemical treatment. This process is used to create Gorilla Glass.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ultra low-temperature cascade refrigeration system repair

I bought a -100*C refrigerated cold trap from a surplus sale, which was not operational.  In this video, I describe how the unit works after recharging its second stage with R1150 (ethylene) refrigerant.

Savant RVT4104 - (manual)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Vote for future video topics on Applied Science

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Monday, July 7, 2014

How to electropolish aluminum

I show a basic electropolishing technique that requires no special equipment and has proven to work well on aluminum (aluminium).

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Mathematical integration without calculus

I show how to convert an area measurement problem into a mass measurement problem that is easier to solve.  In general, this idea of converting measurement problems into different spaces is very powerful, and may prove useful in the future.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Measure the mass of an eyelash with a DIY microbalance

I built a microbalance based on a design by Paul Grohe:

It is has a precision of about 5 micrograms, and I measured a single eyelash at about 35 micrograms.  The balance is built from an analog panel meter that is controlled by a servo loop which optically monitors the meter's position. Adding mass to the meter's needle requires that the servo loop add more current to maintain the needle's position.  This additional current is read, and converted to a mass value.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Use an oscilloscope to collect optical spectral data

I'm using my new Tek oscilloscope to collect data from a DIY spectrometer.  The scope is in X-Y mode with infinite persistence.  The X axis is controlled by the rotational position of the diffraction grating in the spectrometer, and the Y axis is controlled by the photomultiplier tube, which is detecting the spectra.  In this video, I discuss the scope setup, and in future videos, I will talk more about the spectrometer, and how to use it.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Measure car engine speed RPM via the cigarette lighter

I setup my new oscilloscope to measure a car's engine speed by connecting to the cigarette lighter.  The inductive kicks from the ignition coil provide a timing signal that can be used to calculate RPM.  In this particular car (a DeLorean), the engine fires unevenly by design, so the inductive kicks are not all regularly spaced.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Diffusion pump giveaway contest - ends May 31 2014

I'd like to send this diffusion pump to someone who can make good use of it.  If you are interested, please send me an email (500 words or less), or post a video (2 minutes of less) explaining what interests you about high vacuum, and what you plan to do with the pump.  I'm especially interested in folks who regularly blog or make videos about their work.

The contest will end on May 31 2014.  The order in which I receive the submissions is not important.

I may not respond to all submissions, and my decision will be final.

You will assume all liabilities and risks involved with using this equipment.  Once I send it to you, you will own it completely.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Unusual usage (hours) counter with mercury capillary

This is a usage counter that works by moving mercury in a capillary tube via electrochemistry.  As electricity flows through the device, mercury atoms are transferred across an electrolyte gap in the capillary. The position of the gap changes as mercury is transferred, and shows how much total charge has been passed through the device.

I realize that the divider network looks more like 20:1.  This might kill my theory that the mercury ions are in the 2+ state.  I'm really not sure.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Trigger circuit for large xenon flash tubes

I built a trigger circuit for very large xenon flash tubes, which will be used in my ruby laser project.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Electron beam control in a scanning electron microscope

I describe electron beam optics and deflection as they are employed in scanning electron microscopy. - Deflection amplifier - CRT Christmas tree - FEI Company

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Vacuum and pressure frying fruits and vegetables

I talk about the technique of varying the pressure in a fryer to change how it cooks food.  Lower temperatures and pressures allow the food to be dried, and infused with oil without scorching or browning it. Higher temperatures and pressures keep the interior of the food moist while darkening the exterior. Fruits and vegetables are generally more appealing when vacuum fried, and chicken is arguably better when pressure fried.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

How a Mass Flow Controller works

I bought a couple mass flow controllers from eBay to improve the process control of my sputtering chamber.  These MFCs are much better suited than a needle valve and rotameter (manual flowmeter).

Monday, March 3, 2014

pH indicating soap bubbles - more work needed

I thought it would be cool to have a colored soap bubble that responded to changes in pH.  I concentrated some phenol red (pH indicator), and mixed it with commercial bubble solution.  Unfortunately, it was not dense enough to actually show its color. While investigating this, I noticed that normal soap bubbles lose their color as they become thinner (due to evaporation) and eventually burst.  I tried to get footage of this color loss, but the bubble will not stay in the same place!  I started to develop a method to partially fill the bubble with helium to make it neutrally buoyant.

Monday, February 24, 2014

How a breathalyzer works (alcohol sensor)

I teardown a commercial, handheld breathalyzer and discuss how it works, then test a standalone ethanol sensor.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Self-cleaning glass windows

Alien technology?  No!  A thin coating of titanium dioxide on your windows will use the UV in sunlight to burn away dirt and wash itself clean with rainwater.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Cookie Perfection Machine

This machine allows me to mix a single cookie and vary the recipe for each cookie on the sheet. Hence, I can test many different recipe variations with one batch of ingredients in one afternoon.

Music:  Cool Vibes - Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Monday, January 6, 2014

Ruby laser design process

I describe the basics of ruby laser design. I'm building a laser with about 8KJ of electrical pump energy.