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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Vanishing Polymers and My Brain, Part II [20110519|11:50]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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I went to a communications training course at the Royal Society a few weeks ago, and I've been meaning to share this video ever since. The training course was for people who will be manning stands at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition in July (details in a forthcoming post). In addition to designing part of the exhibit on the Cluster mission, I'll be on the stand for most of the exhibition.

While on the course, I met a group whose exhibit will be about polymers. They brought along a few for us to play with, including a perennial favourite, sodium polyacrylate. This is the stuff used in diapers, as it can absorb 200-300 times its own weight in water. If you make a sphere of it and soak it overnight, it takes on all the optical properties of water. Therefore, if you drop it in a glass of water, it seems to disappear. Like so (YouTube video, 24 seconds):

The second video shows a section scan through my brain (YouTube video, 15 seconds). Ooer.


[User Picture]From: flexagain
2011-05-19 13:19 (UTC)
That's really cool, I've never seen that trick with sodium polyacrylate before.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-05-19 18:44 (UTC)
I'd seen it once before at a Festival of the Spoken Nerd, but the trick I'd always seen before that is the one where you pour sodium acrylate into a vessel and then dump in some water. The water gets completely absorbed by the polymer, so what you dump back out looks like the same dry powder, just more of it.
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From: pbristow
2011-05-19 20:41 (UTC)
"It's bad news, I'm afraid. Our scan shows that you just sneezed half the front of your face off, and that's caused the rest of your head to implode to a singularity."
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-05-19 20:52 (UTC)

Forgive me.

"Oh no! Somebody get me a Doctor."
"Doctor who?"
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[User Picture]From: victorine
2011-05-20 05:22 (UTC)

Neato on both videos! I love the way I can interpolate your cranial features as it progresses through!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-05-20 10:01 (UTC)

Yes! I watched it going, "Ooh, there's my brain stem. And my cerebellum." It's very strange being able to see inside your own head.
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[User Picture]From: returntosender
2011-05-23 17:08 (UTC)
Both videos are awesome. I love the polymer!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-05-26 21:23 (UTC)
Me too! I need to find an excuse to order some of it. I'm going to try and dream up a first-year physics project based on it for next year.
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