Doing Science Is Fun

V.G. Kulkami, R.M. Bhagwat, V.G. Gambhir
Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

Publications & Information Directorate (CSIR)
Dr K. S. Krishnan Marg
New Delhi 110 012

Doing Science Is Fun
V.G. Kulkarni, R.M. B h a g w a t V.G. Gambhir
© Publications & Information Directorate
First Edition : November 1993
Second Edition : September 1995
ISBN : 91-7236-082-57

Volume Editor

: Dr(Ms) B.S. Mahajaa Dr Sukanya Datta
Ms Sudha Kannan

Cover Design

: A.D. Ghaisas
: A.D. Ghaisas, Pradeep Banerjee,
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I am sure that students will enjoy conducting investigations along lines suggested in this book. and deal with real situations encountered in daily life. In fact. produced by scientists at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education. That is why these experiments deal with curiosities arising out of common everyday observations. I am. Unfortunately. the only way to satisfy one's curiosity about nature is to investigate systematically into the how and why of natural phenomena. chemistry or biology. delighted to write this foreword to "Doing Science is Fun". but to help young minds to explore on their own. Our rich store of knowledge in science and technology has been made possible by the brilliant experimental investigations conducted by scientists in the past. The experiments suggested in this book cut across artificial barriers like physics. The aim is not to convey information alone.Foreword Experiments constitute a crucial component of learning science. Even the scanty laboratory programmes that have survived in schools and colleges are so heavily dominated by the need to obtain the correct value of some physical entity that the spirit of exploring is simply lost. developing skills to investigate and to explore is largely ignored in our science curricula at all levels. therefore. I am happy to note that these experiments can be conducted using materials and implements readily available even in rural areas. Chairman Atomic Energy Commission . They will also develop a deep insight into science besides acquiring precious skills to explore nature.

D.G. As the Founder Director he has nurtured this institution to a status of considerable reputqtion. role of language in science education and use of mass media. education of the underprivileged.M. Gambhir (1948 -) Holds a degree in geology and a Masters degree in education. rock collections. Bhagwat(1931 -) Holds Masters degrees in mathematics and education.The Authors V.G. His interest in science education led in 1974 to the establishment of the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education at the TIFR. His interests in science cut across disciplines. printing technology and model building. R. Was awarded the G. His interests include. Clear and lucid writing and a deep understanding of children's difficulties are his fortes. Has a wonderful rapport with children. . photography. V. Kulkarni (1932-) Began his research career in 1953 as a physicist at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). A skilled experimenter he is equally at ease in animal dissections. Joined the Homi Bhabha Centre in 1976 after a brief but successful career as a teacher. Parikh Memorial Award in 1985 for his contributions to the education of the underprivileged. Joined the Homi Bhabha Centre in 1975 with considerable experience and reputation as a successful teacher.

but an experimental investigation which may involve a series of experiments. the prescribed conventional textbooks constrained to present the formal structure of science. can hardly discuss such experiences. strategy. Conventional experiments for children are short and crisp.Preface The experiments and activities described in the book cover a wide range of topics in science and technology. therefore. Social aspects of science have also been highlighted when relevant. to be finished in a few minutes. This choice is deliberate. children will develop aspects like planning. resourcefulness. the power of reasoning to establish causal relationships. the reader is encouraged to look for and understand the differences between simple and pure experiences in a well designed home experiment and the complex technology. and an ability to isolate factors and test them one by one. Careful observations leading to a guess. At the same time. We hope that in a systematic investigation. further activities to test the validity of the guess. and patience. We have also made an effort to present the method of science through activities. However. are all emphasized at appropriate places. where the choice of the next step depends on the outcome of previous steps. The experiences provided in this book are expected to reveal the connections between basic principles of science and the processes used in laboratories and industry. What is described in this book is not a set of experiments. especially to a young mind. High technology is always dazzling. It is. Many of these deal with experiences which a typical Indian child encounters in daily life. necessary to bring out supplementary material to cater to the natural inquisitiveness of young minds. .

a book of this type can hardly aim at completeness. Many more books on similar lines would be needed to satisfy the truly enormous thirst of children.Obviously. ask questions. . and demand more information. We have also enjoyed the task of writing this book. We have enjoyed performing these activities with children. It can only be a sample. It can never be an exhaustive repertoire of all experiments. It is hoped that children will enjoy conducting these investigations.

We are grateful to Dr (Ms) Jayashree Ramadas for reading the manuscript critically and for her valuable suggestions. Mahajan for patiently editing the book. V. The authors feel extremely obliged to Dr G.Acknowledgements This book is based on field experiences gathered by research scientists working at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education.S. Purohit for typing the manuscript. to appreciate the typical questions that occur to a young mind and the intellectual equipment and material resources available to children. Vijaya. Thanks are also due to Mr V. the book would not have come out in this format. We are grateful to all our colleagues for making this fund of information available to us. It is a pleasure to thank Dr (Ms) B. The final editing and formatting of the manuscript was done by the ever willing staff of the Publication and Information Directorate.P. Also. some of these experiments have been tried out in rural areas in action research programmes undertaken by the HBCSE. Their field-work enabled us to understand the way a child thinks about natural phenomena.N.G. incorporating several changes that kept coming up till the end. VGK RMB VGG . Phondke who took a personal interest in the publications of HBCSE and prompted us to try innovative formats for this book. Without the patient and meticulous work of Dr Sukanya Datta and Ms Sudha Kannan. Kulkarni would like to thank his wife. (HBCSE). whose silent support has contributed in no small measure to this endeavour.

. 33 Sound's fun . 8 Natural gates .... 83 Universal currency .Contents Endpoint ..101 Silence is golden .......... 63 A silver lining .. 95 A lightning flash in your room . 15 No noise is good noise ....107 Ready reference . 45 Safety first ...... 88 Friend or foe .. 31 Your own spiderman ... 51 Not by hands alone .. 74 Strings of music ....112 ... 1 Matchmaker . 57 Floods and flows . 24 Short circuit ...

Wash your hands. But why should the prices vary so much? Your hands can immediately tell you why.ENDPOINT "Wash behind your ears".. in their price. wash your hanky. for shaving and even liquid soaps. There are many kinds of soaps in the market. smoothness or texture and of course. There is an entire range of pleasantly perfumed and coloured toilet soaps. wash your cup.. Your skin will protest and show its irritation by feeling dry and rough. A really good toilet soap can cost many times more than a cake of washing soap. Just lather a washing soap and use it for bathing. So what is it that a toilet soap has.the iist of things to wash seems endless and each time you have to use a different soap. admonishes mum ever so often. one should be a bathing soap and . smell. that makes it softer on delicate skin? How does a toilet soap differ from a washing soaps? Let's find out. There are soaps for washing. These soaps differ in their colour. For this we will need two kinds of soap.

1 cm broad and 1 /2 cm thick) from each of .2 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN The two cubes of soap should be of the same size the other an inexpensive washing brand. a dropper. Let's cut a small piece of about 3 gms from each cake of soap or else we could cut pieces of equal size (say 1 cm long. a lemon. and some turmeric powder. two dishes. a knife. a strainer.

us do it again. This is the juice that we will add drop by drop to the solution of bathing soap.ENDPOINT 3 the two cakes and assume that their weights are the same. doesn't it? Have you paid attention to the delicate tints of the changed colour in both solutions? If not. let's do it and find out. Which solution shows a deeper tint? For the next bit of the experiment. To each dish we will add equal amounts of water. Finally. we will need lemon juice so let's squeeze the lemon and filter the juice through the strainer so that we get clear juice. It is a really colourful experiment isn't it? So let. . The solution around the drop changed from red to yellow but the rest of the solution remained red. We have to be very careful at this stage and label the dishes. This means that we have two soap solutions with about the same quantity of soap in them. it took longer and longer for the yellow colour to disappear. the yellow colour readily disappeared. the entire solution turned yellow. Now we will add a pinch of turmeric powder to each of the solution and see what happens! The colour changes. What is your guess? Will it require the same number of drops or a few more to reach the yellow colour stage? Well. the soap solution changed colour locally. 5-7 teaspoons should be enough. this time with the dish containing washing soap solution. drop by drop. If you have been following the colour changes keenly you must have noticed that as soon as you added a drop of lemon juice. When you stirred the solution. There are many interesting details to observe in this experiment. Now in two different clean dishes let us dissolve the pieces separately. do it again. But as you went on adding the lemon juice. so that we know which dish contains bathing soap and which one the washing soap.

there may be many questions in your mind.Beginning the colourful experiment Now that the colourful experiments are over. Why did turmeric become red when it was added to the soap solution? How could the addition of lemon .

ENDPOINT 5 Drop by drop juice turn the turmeric to yellow again? Is there any relation between the depth of the red tint of turmeric in the soap solution and the quantity of lemon juice required to change the tint to yellow? Can you recall a similar observation (changed colour of a turmeric stain) from your experience? Think about .

like castor oil and alkali such as caustic soda or caustic potash. It is the unreacted extra alkali left in the soap that affects our delicate skin.6 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN it. unreacted alkali may remain in the soap.the yellow colour of turmeric changes to red if it is added to lime water. It's a common everyday affair. Some alkalis are mild. non-edible oils. Soap is formed when an alkali and a vegetable oil(or fat) react with each other. Now can you guess what happens with inexpensive soap cakes? Since the expensive process of removing excess alkali is not carried out. are used in soap. change their colour when they are transferred from an acidic solution to an alkaline one. Caustic soda. too. Removal of this excess alkali in the soap involves further processing. These tell-tale chemicals immediately signal by colour change if the solution is alkaline or acidic. This alkali can cause irritation and roughness of the skin. Such substances can. Some other substances. If the alkaline nature of the solution is changed later and no more alkali is left in it. Turmeric is yellow. therefore. the alkali remains in the soap. However. . some excess. the turmeric regains its original yellow colour. washing soda solution. These substances are called indicators and are used regularly in the chemistry laboratory. be used to indicate the nature of the solution.making industry. This leads to further expenditure and the soap becomes costly. washing soda. Generally. lime water are some of the substances called alkalis. It is also responsible for the changes in the colour of turmeric. slaked lime. Questions such as these also had the scientists scratching their heads till they finally arrived at the answer. or to caustic soda solution. In the process of soap making. The colour of turmeric changes from yellow to red when it comes in contact with an alkali.

try to observe the many apparatus such as burettes. Lime water is a mild alkali as compared to caustic soda. you will need a fixed quantity of alkali. While carrying out the neutralization. For full neutralization of a given quantity of acid. That is.ENDPOINT 7 whereas others are strong. The exact quantities of these chemicals will depend upon the relative strengths of the solutions. Next time you visit a laboratory. pipettes and indicator bottles. To make such accurate measurements. Both salt and water are neutral. If you add more acid the solution will not be neutral. This reaction is called neutralization. Usually caustic soda. is used to prepare washing soap. . one must know when to stop adding acid to the alkali. it will be acidic. If the volume and strength of one of the solutions is known. salt and water are neither acidic nor alkaline. but in the meantime have fun changing the colour red to yellow but don't use up all the soap at home! However. while doing these experiments remember to use soaps only not detergents. A neutral salt and water are formed when an acid and an alkali react with each other. You may wonder as to what happened to the alkali in the soap solution on adding lemon juice? Lemon juice contains an acid called citric acid. a strong alkali. the strength of the other can be calculated. The technique of neutralization is used frequently in laboratories and in many industries. Indicators help in indicating the state of neutralization by signalling the end point when the solution is neither acidic nor alkaline. as also the technique of using these. a specially prepared tube with a nozzle and markings to measure volumes is used.

It is a colourless. About two or three teaspoons should be . We will also need some test tubes or small bottles. Why should this be so? Doctors often use hydrogen peroxide to clean wounds.MATCHMAKER ^WtMeet hydrogen peroxide. It does not evaporate rapidly. odourless liquid and looks like water.ds. people use it to bleach hair and it is also used in rockets. Shall we try to find out something about its properties? Well then. Let's take some hydrogen peroxide in a clean test tube or bottle. A chemist or a beauty parlour will be able to provide it. nor is it flammable. we will need hydrogen peroxide of course. You must be wondering about its versatility and special properties that make it indispensable in so many varied fiel. Yet the bottles are kept tightly corked. and a little bit of manganese dioxide for the first experiment. Hydrogen peroxide is stored in coloured bottles which have tight caps.

Touch the test tube to check if it is hot or not. Also watch for any vapour rising from the test tube! How is the powder in the test tube behav- . Do you see the tiny bubbles rising in the liquid? The liquid seems to be boiling slowly. Now just add a pinch of the black manganese dioxide powder and wait a minute or two. But is it really boiling? You know what happens when water boils.MATCHMAKER 9 Hot or not? enough. You have noticed that the liquid is clear like water.

an injection syringe and lighted agarbatti. First we will fill three-fourth of the test tube with hydrogen peroxide and add about 2 gms of man- . Do you think some of the particles have dissolved in hydrogen peroxide? Now let's carry out a few more experiments and see if we can learn more about this useful fluid. We will also need a rubber tube.10 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN The apparatus must be correctly set up ing? Are the particles darting about? Once the bubbling has stopped. It should have a tight fitting cork through which we will fix a rubber tube. look for changes in colour and particle size. For the second experiment. we will need a test tube or a small bottle.

This time we will repeat the experiment but with one difference. Does this make a difference to the intensity of the glowing tip? Of course. This time we will also require a potato in addition to the items we have already used. say upto the 5 ml mark on the syringe. Now one of you take a glowing agarbaffi while your friend releases the rubber tube from the syringe and then pushes the plunger slowly. The potato has to be cut into two small cubes each weighing about 2 gms. But. manganese dioxide or potato was the reaction faster? Were there any . Now can you tell which gas causes a glowing splinter to glow more brightly? Yes! It is oxygen. the plunger of the syringe is slowly pushed back. We will attach the free end of the rubber tube to an injection syringe. In the meanwhile. Let's wait till the plunger is pushed back considerably. A cube 1 cm x 1 cm x 1 cm will approximately be 2 gms by weight. we could note the time taken for the plunger to be pushed back this far. With which of the two materials. releasing the gas towards the agarbaffi. As the hydrogen peroxide bubbles vigorously. where did it come from? To get the answer let's have a variation of the second experiment. Are they changed in any way? Many questions will crowd your mind but to some you have already noted the answer. We will add the potato cubes to hydrogen peroxide instead of the manganese dioxide. the agarbaffi is now glowing more brightly.MATCHMAKER 11 ganese dioxide powder to it. And then in another test tube we will add potato slices cut from the other cube Have you taken note of the time taken to push back the plunger to the 5 ml mark on the syringe? Also take a look at the pieces of potato. Then we will cork the test tube.

Can you guess why? The experiments have hinted at the nature of hydrogen peroxide and the results become clear when we learn that hydrogen peroxide is a compound of hydrogen and oxygen. hydrogen oxide). Water. too. with which is the reaction faster? changes noticed in manganese dioxide or in potato? Slices of potato worked better than the cube even though the weight was the same.12 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Potato cubes or slices. Hydrogen peroxide is H2O2. It is not . is a compound of hydrogen and oxygen. water is H2O (that is. Chemically.

you will need 'energy' to heat hydrogen peroxide. Why is hydrogen peroxide used in treating wounds? You have seen that it gives off oxygen which is useful in disinfecting the wound. That is why it is kept in coloured bottles with a tight cap. in this case potato. manganese dioxide and potato (actually an enzyme present in potato) acted as catalysts. At the end of the reaction. Hydrogen peroxide is also used in a rocket as a source of oxygen. Can we show that the rate of the reaction really changes when a piece of potato is added to hydrogen peroxide? Let's take some hydrogen peroxide in a test tube and dip into it a piece of potato tied to a string. So far. scientists have found quite a few catalysts for specific chemical reactions. A substance which functions as a catalyst in one reaction may not act in a similar manner in other reactions. Hydrogen peroxide decomposes faster when it is in contact with manganese dioxide.MATCHMAKER 13 as stable as water. sulphuric acid and refrigerants. hydrogen peroxide changes into water and oxygen. Repeated lowering and raising the piece of potato alters the rate of bubbling. The breaking up of hydrogen peroxide is faster when it is warmed or exposed to light. However. In the experiments we carried out. It slowly releases oxygen leaving behind water. The liquid bubbles as soon as the potato is dipped into it. Catalysts are used in industrial processes manufacture of urea. Substances called catalysts affect the rate of reaction. Breaking or splitting of hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water is a process of decomposition. Even the simple process of converting an edible oil into a ghee- . You can also speed up the bubbling by heating hydrogen peroxide. The catalyst. has saved this energy.

however. in principle. These processes will be uneconomical without the use of catalysts. to increase the surface area." Sometimes. Therefore. catalysts are generally used in the form of a fine powder or thin layers spread on some supporting substahc^jke asbestos. the catalyst can. dip. ' The reactants and the products do not form stable compounds with aaatalyst. bfe usefd repeatedly. Therefore. substances''Involved in the reaction affect the . The effect is enhanced if the area of contact is increased. dip like substance needs a catalyst.14 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Dip. The area of contact between the catalyst and the reactants is an important factor in deciding the rate of a chemical reaction. other.

we need both the positive and negative catalysts. Can you think of some instances of each type? . While using the catalysts in industry. considerable care needs to be taken. especially to avoid catalyst poisoning. A few drops of ammonium hydroxide added to hydrogen peroxide can slow down the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide. They are called negative catalysts. In such situations. the catalyst becomes useless. There are some other catalysts that slow down chemical reactions.MATCHMAKER 15 action of the catalyst adversely. it is called 'poisoning of the catalyst'. We may wish to speed up some reactions and slow down many others. Therefore.

Still other chemicals may be strictly forbidden to enter into the cell. microscopic really. But we can study the way they work. While open. has sensitive doors. Nature. They cannot distinguish between the desirable elements and the undesirable ones. these incredibly efficient doors are too tiny. They are opened when we wish to enter or leave a room.NATURAL GATES The doors that man has designed are simple. With other chemicals they may exercise the restriction in reverse. let's raid the kitchen for a couple of raw potatoes. to be seen with the unaided eye. They may allow certain chemicals to enter but not leave. Sounds fun. on the other hand. This means that the doors will allow a chemical to leave but not allow it to re-enter. doesn't it? But how do these doors work? Can we see them? Of course. They will also allow animals and dust to enter. they allow other people to enter or leave at will. These doors are selective. . some sugar. To do so.

any water soluble colouring matter (potassium permanganate will do fine or even some colours left over from Holi).NATURAL GATES 17 Let's raid the kitchen water. if available. a knife. You may also have to cut a proper base so that the cups will sit well on a dish. two dishes and. Let us take the potatoes and scoop them out so that they resemble a cup. . Experiments become easy to observe if we add a pinch of colour to the plain water in the dish. After that let's fill the dish with water taking care that it does not overflow into the potato-cup. Then we will dissolve 5 spoonfuls of sugar in a cup of water and pour this carefully into the potato-cup so that it is half-full with the concentrated sugar syrup.

why don't we reverse the experiment we have just set up? Let us put plain water in the potato-cup this time and sugar solution in the dish. For some extra fun while we are waiting. before we check if the doors are on their job.18 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Making the potato-cup Now the experiment is set up and we are eager to see if the doors work. Won't it be fun if we were right? We could even try and find out how the doors worked. This will be our second experiment. Then we could compare our notes with what we will see in fifteen minutes time. But we must give the invisible doors some time to operate smoothly and silently. . In the meanwhile we can make waiting easy by writing down our guesses about what might happen. So we will wait for about fifteen minutes or so.

How did this happen? How did water know which way to go? And why did not sugar particles (molecules) also pass in or out of the potato-cup? It would seem that water has been selectively allowed to pass out but not sugar. Scientists say that the potato-cup is made up of cells and each cell has its boundary wall. we see that in both. that is not the case. If we look again.NATURAL GATES 19 Invisible gates at work For this experiment too. the movement of water takes place towards the sugar solution. we will allow fifteen minutes for the gates to operate. These walls allow . The results are interesting because although apparently it seems the flow of water in the two experiments are opposite to each other.

and we can see it ourselves if we carry on the experiments for a sufficiently long time. Why does this happen? Why does the movement of solvent stop? Scientists tell us that nothing is perfect. The semipermeable membrane also allows a few solute molecules to pass through. of water and sugar (as we have just done). Such a screen that is selective about the molecules. it allows to pass through is called a semipermeable membrane. The name semipermeable membrane itself indicates the nature of the membrane.20 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN only water to pass through them but do not allow sugar particles to pass through. But for how long will the process continue? Will it go on for ever? The answer is No. Now. not even the sensitive doors of nature. sugar which dissolves is called the solute and the water or medium in which it dissolves is called a solvent. This process of selective passage of a solvent in preference to the solute through a semipermeable membrane is termed osmosis. In the second experiment it is equally certain that water from the potato-cup has entered the dish. . a semipermeable membrane will allow a solvent free passage through it but will prevent or resist the passage of the solute. If we make a solution. The entire process continues till concentration of solutions on both sides becomes equal. say. It has become clear that some of the water in the dish has entered the potato-cup in the first experiment. At that point there is equal number of solute and solvent molecules on either side and osmosis stops. Parchment paper and the membranous sac or the white thin membrane which covers the inside of an egg are also semi permeable in nature.

For this we will need a thistle funnel. The tiny pores in the walls of the potato worked as efficient doors. the shell will be dissolved and the egg sac left behind.NATURAL GATES 21 Making a semipermeable membrane In all the cases. This sac can be used as a semipermeable membrane. All we need to do is to drain the contents of an egg through a small hole at one end. Shall we try to get some other semipermeable membrane? It's easy. Then we will immerse the egg in dilute hydrochloric acid which is available in any chemist's shop and which is often used at home to clean sinks. Now that we have a semipermeable membrane. In about 10 minutes. let us try another experiment. They allowed water to move in or out depending on the location of the concentrated sugar solution. which is a little like the funnel used at home to .

When too much salt is put around the roots of a plant. and tomato salad only just before serving? What do you think will happen if we add the salt beforehand and keep for sometime prior to eating? We have read that it is harmful to use fertilisers like ammonium phosphate and urea indiscriminately. onion. either with a piece of parchment paper or with the egg sac. The school science laboratory will surely have it. Plants and animals require many substances . of course. Does repeating the potato-cup experiment with concentrated solution of common salt instead of sugar yield results similar to those we got during the experiments we did using sugar solutions? Why is salt added to the cucumber. Why don't we try out further experiments and see what happens when we take some dry grapes (kismis) and put them in water for some time? Or put some fresh grapes in a concentrated solution of common salt and note the results. We know that plants and animals cannot live without water. Invert the funnel and place it in a beaker filled with water. Let's fill the thistle funnel partly with concentrated sugar solution and then close the mouth of the funnel tightly. the level of water in the stem rises with time.22 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN pour kerosene or oil but with a longer stem. water from the cells of the roots comes out into the soil. Fertilisers are added only at specific stages in the life of a plant. Also mark the level of the sugar solution in the stem of the funnel and closely observe over a period of time the difference in the level of water in the stem. We will also need concentrated sugar solution and a beaker filled with water. Now we understand why gardeners and farmers are advised to use the right concentration of fertilisers and that too not frequently. Yes.

They can absorb nutrients only when these are dissolved in water. Thus. The walls of these cells act as a semipermeable membrane. cell walls ensure that water and nutrients go into the cells. but useful materials in the cell do not get out. It decides what will go across and in which direction. The nutrients necessary for plants are present in the soil in the form of salts. The roots of plants have these interesting doors which allow food and water to come in. Each membrane is a special one. Does everything pass through this way? No. When we water a plant the salts in the soil get dissolved in water. obviously not.NATURAL GATES 23 called nutrients for their growth. . Otherwise the cells would also lose some important molecules to the soil. These roots have minute root hairs made of cells. That is why animals and plants depend on water for their survival and growth.

We must do this . first. Then. hold one end of the wire at the base of the cell. there is a simultaneous disturbance on our television and radio sets. Switch the radio on. Someone outside the house starts his motorcycle. precisely at that moment. The loud noise of the motorcycle and also the crackling disturbance over the radio! The voice of the commentator is lost . and with the other end. switches the tube-light or puts the mixie on.irritating.NO NOISE IS GOOD NOISE the last ball is about to be bowled and that will decide the fate of the match. All we need for this is a dry cell from the flashlight and also a wire. isn't it? But why blame the motorcycle alone? When someone rings the doorbell. The commentator is about to announce the events of the next few moments. Why do you think this happens? Let us try to deliberately cause such a disturbance and check out when exactly the noise is created in the radio. scratch the upper end of the cell.

The scratching of the wire on the cell leads to making or breaking of a circuit which causes noise in the radio. But. The voices on the radio are no longer clear. If there is any hindrance or interference in the waves reaching the receiver. but are disturbed by a simultaneous crackling sound. why should the electrical disturbance elsewhere affect the radio at all? The radio functions as a receiver of radio waves. The spring of the buzzer in the doorbell repeatedly makes and breaks contacts. Similar is the case with the doorbell. right? The noise disappears the moment we stop rubbing the wire. then we cannot hear the trans- .NO NOISE IS GOOD NOISE 25 Causing noise in the radio near the radio. This causes the noise in the radio.

We will also need a metal can and an insulated electric wire. and the radio receives them. Let's make a small hole . In the case of radio wave transmission. without any wires to carry them. Let us tune in the radio to its loudest.the electric bell. 1901 he sent the first telegraphic code across the Atlantic Ocean from England to Newfoundland. let's try covering the source of the disturbance . electromagnetic waves produced accidentally or unintentionally. we must shield the radio from the disturbing waves. let's try ringing the bell. Where does this noise come from? Where are these noise-producing radio waves generated? Actually. in addition to those sent out by the radio station. on December 12. is there? Similarly. The speciality of radio waves is that they can be used to send messages between distant points. From this humble beginning came such developments as television radio broadcasting and RADAR. Noise of this kind can be eliminated if we prevent the disturbing waves from interacting with the radio waves coming from the radio station. we hear a continuous background noise. interfere with the' main transmission and produce hoise. In other words. There is no disturbance. Now. electromagnetic radiation consists of several different types of waves carrying different amounts of energy across space. Electrical disturbances obviously send out unwanted waves. The first to succeed in this attempt was a young Italian engineer. We have noticed that when we are attempting to tune in a particular station. as in the case of the doorbell. One such wave is the radio wave.26 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN mission clearly. A simple solution to the problem is covering the radio with a metal can. After some preliminary experiments. Guglielmo Marconi. and cover it with a can.

We now cover the can with the lid and ring the bell. The metal acts as a . Thus a grounded metal cover protects the radio from the noise. These waves produce a current which travels to the ground via the can instead of affecting the radio set. We can now keep the bell in the can and the can on the ground. Let us join this wire to the bell. Does it create a disturbance in the radio? Remove the lid and check again. What do you think happens when the radio and the bell are covered with the metal can? The electromagnetic waves generated by the bell are received by the can.27 NO NOISE IS GOOD NOISE Enjoy the music on one side of the can and pass an insulated electric wire through it.

Cars too have radio sets. The body of the car acts as a shield and . These are in the form of circuits. It is really not possible to cover our radio sets with this kind of a shielding apparatus. Generally. Can you guess how radio noise is prevented in cars? Cars have a long wire-like antenna fitted outside the car. It will make it very difficult for us to listen to the radio. and they suppress or filter out the unwanted waves and allow only waves of desired frequency to pass through them. which receives the broadcast..28 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Does this work as well? shield and hence this method is called 'shielding' the apparatus from radio disturbance. certain devices installed in the radio set help decrease the noise.

an engineer in Bell Telephone Company. The telescope consisted of a large metal disc. This field is now one of the most important disciplines in the study of the universe. shaped like a parabolic mirror (like a mirror of a car lamp). You might be surprised to know that apart from visible light. stars emit many other radiations like radio waves and X-rays. After several years of this discovery. In 1932. a German scientist constructed a radio-telescope to receive radio waves from stellar objects. All these are. Thus. Jansky found that the radio noise was coming from the centre of the Milky Way. . with a sensitive radio receiver at its focus. USA. These would never be visible to the naked eye and can be seen only by radio-telescopes. electromagnetic radiations. of course. he received a continuous noise from an unknown source in the sky. Grote Reber. This was the first detection of radio waves coming from a source in outer space. Moreover the spark-plug in the cars is also completely covered with a metal casing. He was trying to listen to the crackling noises from distant thunderstorms. Now you can guess why we cannot hear the radio clearly when we are in a moving train or bus. The study of radio-noise had an unexpected. the basic technique of Radio-Astronomy was established. Karl Jansky. but extremely fruitful result. was trying to find out how much noise he would receive from the atmosphere in his short-wave radio receiver. In addition to the expected noises. This telescope could receive faint signals from galaxies and stars and could fix the direction of the source of radio waves.NO NOISE IS GOOD NOISE 29 prevents the disturbing waves from entering the car. He had built an aerial which could locate the direction of the source of radionoise. There are some sources which emit mostly radio waves.

30 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Radio telescope The biggest and the best radio-telescope is now in operation at a site near Pune in Maharashtra. . telecasting. Of course. the most familiar uses of radio waves are in the fields of communication broadcasting. and radio telegraphy and telephony between ships and across continents or oceans.

C. But men experimented with it many centuries ago. the movement of electrons. Most of us probably think of electricity as a recent discovery. The electric current which flows through wires and reaches our homes is in fact. became 'electrified'. a Greek philosopher who lived in about 600 B. Elctricity is indeed responsible for thousands of inventions and appliances that make life in the twentieth century so comfortable. noticed a strange effect when he rubbed a piece of amPer with a woollen cloth. . A childhood in a remote village where the summer nights were spent without the luxury of even a fan.SHORT-CIRCUIT So many of us have heard our grandparents speak of their childhood. as a result of the friction. The amber. Thales. The word 'electricity' comes from the Greek word electron which means 'amber'. one of man's greatest discoveries in the modern world. The comfortable life we now live is mainly because of electricity.

To be precise. a switch.SHORT-CIRCUIT 32 Electricity is of tremendous use to man. We hear of fires in peak summer. Let us place the two batteries on one side and the Lighting up the bulb . a bulb with the holder. 'Must have been a short-circuit'. we hear people say. we will need two batteries of the kind which we use in our torch lights. But we all know that it must be used extremely carefully. All we need are some electrical material we often have lying around at home. some copper wire. a dozen crocodile clips and a thermocol sheet. What is a short-circuit? How does it cause so much damage? Let us see how a short-circuit occurs. We will use the sheet as the base. The consequences of one careless step can be disastrous.

It is the components in the circuit which determine how much current they will draw from a given battery. less brightly or not glow at all? Supposing we connect a wire across the circuit? Do you think the bulb would still glow? We realize now that the amount of current through the circuit is not decided by the battery alone. Electric current takes the path of least resistance. Do you think the bulb will glow more brightly. It took the usual wire route and hence there was no change in the gJowing of the bulb. It is called an insulator. as when the switch is off. What if we create some obstruction to the flow of electric current in the circuit? A pencil refill made of graphite will do. When the current path is broken at any point. A substance that has extremely high resistance will not allow electricity to flow through. Some materials allow larger current to flow through them. when we connected the graphite refill in the circuit. All we have to do is link up the graphite refill in the circuit with the help of wires and crocodile clips.33 SHORT-CIRCUIT bulb with its holder on the other. certain materials offer more resistance to current than other. In other words. the bulb does not light up. Let us connect it in the circuit. Let us then linkup the wires with crocodile clips at both ends. This wire had extremely low resistance and the current took that path. the current could have gone directly through the wire or through the high resistance of the graphite. . But other materials do not. no current is allowed to flow. We then connect up all these. Let us now put the switch on. When we press the switch . This is a closed circuit. the electric current must flow round and round continuously in the circuit. Thus for the bulb to glow. When we switch off the circuit. we have an open circuit. Thus. the bulb glows and when we switch it off.

the circuit is broken and current stops flowing. This leads to considerable heating. What is earthing of an electrical gadget? It is yet another safety measure always used in electrical appliances to prevent us from getting a shock. considerable power is used. The fuse is a piece of wire made of a material with a very low melting point. however. In such a short-cut. we used a power source which was very feeble. In addition they are covered by a rubber or plastic layer. All wires used in an electric circuit are coated with a layer of insulating material. Hence large amounts of current can flow. Then let us connect the bulb holder to the base of a . the current meets little resistance. the fuse wire gets heated and melts. and an inferno can result. As a result. Wires are often wrapped in rubber. In our experiment. As a result ordinarily the wires do not come in direct contact. A minor spark can lead to a major fire.34 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN bypassing the bulb altogether. which is an insulator. Serious damage can occur if two points with little resistance get connected accidentally. a spark can occur. Let us prepare a similar circuit as we did the first time. In other words. an easy short-cut was available and the current took it. The most important safety device used for protection of electric circuits is the fuse. If a contact at any point along the circuit is loose or becomes loose due to heating. At home or in a factory. When a high current flows through the circuit due to overloading or a short-circuit. Many precautions and safety measures are taken to protect the circuits against damage due to overloading or a short-circuit. What will happen if the rubber on two wires fixed side by side wears off and the two wires touch each other? In such cases a large current will flow.

What will happen if we provide an easy path for the current from the can to the earth? We can easily do that by attaching two crocodile clips to a long flexible wire. The lamp glows! What if the wires touch the metal can? Will the lamp glow? Why not? The current is in fact flowing through the can. What must we do for this? Yes. Now let's switch the circuit on. we should use an insulator such as an adhesive tape between the wires and the can. One clip can be attached to the can and the other to a nearby pipe. We must take care that the wires of the circuit do not touch the can anywhere.35 SHORT-CIRCUIT Earthing electrical gadgets metal can. .

but should the wires inside it ever accidentally touch such a gadget. to flow through our body to the earth. it can give us a shock. or to flow through the wire connected to the earth. the body of the gadget does not get any current. Normally. The resistance of our body being much higher than that of the wire. Thus when we touch it. the current has two options. the 'tester' an electrician uses when we complain about the refrigerator or iron giving a shock? How about trying to make one? . The earthing of instruments thus saves us from shock.36 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Now we can guess why electrical gadgets have a three-pin plug. The third pin is connected to the ground. Can you recollect. the current chooses to flow through the wire.

The wire or rope used in such rescue operations is always manufactured to meet precise specifications so that we know how much weight it can support. the same factor operates when commandos carry out risky rescue operations.YOUR OWN SPIDERMAN Just mentioning the word 'spider' often makes many of us look for the cobweb duster. of course. It is also rigorously tested before use so that it does not suddenly snap in mid air. . lightweight yet strong. They airlift stranded people using a wire or rope that is lowered from the helicopter. The thread is strong enough to hold the spider's weight and this factor is. sticky enough to trap flies and other prey. The web is made up of threads spun by the spider itself. vitally important from the view point of safety. In fact. But have you ever stopped to admire the delicate web the spider weaves in the garden? Transparent. yet allowing the spider to swing merrily like a trapeze artist in the circus.

We will tie the hook to one end of the string which should be about 50 cm long and the other end we will tie to a strong nail on the wall. the thread should remain taut. are equal lengths of strings of various types. a hook and some weights. we can see that the thread is elongated. But we must be careful that when we tie the hook to the string. Let's then attach a small weight to the hook on the thread. All we need Jor that. If the addition of the weight does not cause the string to break.DOING SCIENCE IS FUN 38 When does it snap? But how c$in the strength of thread and rope or even wire be studffed? It's rather fun and simple as well. ohail on the wall. -we can go on adding extra weights till at last the thread snaps as soon as we . Placing a meter scale behind the thread will allow us to know the length of the thread or string. This will stretch the thread and by reading its length against the meter scale.

Let's note the length of the string each time a new weight is attached and the thread comes to a steady position after elongation.YOUR OWN SPIDERMAN 39 add more weight. If we record the weights needed to break the different types of threads. The thread is made up of a number of strands or yarns spun into one thread. an index of this can also be prepared from the way the string elongates. In fact. we can easily estimate the materials able to withstand extra weight and those that cannot. we can repeat this experiment using threads of the same material but with different thicknesses. What do we find if we compare the number of . But what makes it strong? Is it the thickness that determines the strength of the thread? To confirm our guess. If we prepare a systematic table like the one shown. We can get an idea about the elasticity of the string if we record the length of the string just before it breaks. Material Original Length Length at Breaking Increase in Length Breaking Point Weight Cotton Silk Wool This table will readily reveal which thread is the strongest. the results will be obvious at a glance. we realize that it is not really a single strand of cotton. Does thickness really make a difference to the weight the thread can support before snapping? When we observe a cotton thread closely.

you might be surprised at your findings. copper and aluminium wires are easily available. Interesting. we could also try threads obtained from plants like hemp. we can obtain a single number by dividing the break-weight by the thickness of the thread. brass. depending on the material of the thread. in fact. stronger than a steel strand of the same thickness. isn't it? If you obtain and test the strengths of a single strand of each kind of thread. Apart from the common choice of cotton.40 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN strands in two different threads of the same material? There are many different kinds of cotton threads. We could also jute. etc. Metal wires would also be suitable for our experiments. A thin thread of fine cotton may even be stronger than a thickerthread of coarse cotton. To measure the thickness of threads. To compare different types of threads for their strength. We could also use man-made fibres like rayon and nylon and. silk and wool. of course. we should find the thickness of the thread and the weight that is necessary to break the thread. But with the material and equipment that is available to us. The thread is held fast on a slide under the lens of the . Iron. From these two. This can be done only in technical laboratories. But that does not mean we cannot measure the thickness of threads at all. It is. This will give us the comparison of the strength of different threads. we can use different methods. there is the spider's fragile looking thread! Scientists have found that the thread of a spider's web is not weak. it will be difficult to test the strength of very thin threads. and the measuring apparatus that is available to us. as if all of them are of the same thickness. The best method is to use a special kind of microscope which is used in the laboratory for this purpose.

we can measure the total thickness of (say) ten turns. Then the diameter of the rod only is measured. The threads that we use are seldom single stranded.5 mm thick. such that there is no gap between turns. Now the thickness of the four threads is easily measured. With an ordinary ruler. For example. and wind two or three turns of the thread around the rod. Let's wind the thread on a thin pencil (so that we will get many turns). If we do not have any instruments like a microscope or a micrometer screw. take a rod. we can measure the thickness of a thread even if we do not have a graph paper. Dividing this by the number of threads taken.. But what if we do not have graph paper? Never mind. taking care that the threads do not overlap one another. How does this affect the strength of the thread? Let's find out. It is used in engineering workshops. Another method is to use a micrometer screw. Now we can estimate the thickness of one turn easily. if the thickness of the four threads together is equal to 2 mm. then each thread is 0.YOUR OWN SPIDERMAN 41 microscope. The thickness is measured with the help of the scale attached to the microscope. Let's take a few threads (say four) together and stretch them between our fingers and hold them on the graph paper while taking care that no gap is left between the two adjacent strands. or a pencil. Perhaps it is available in the school laboratory. From this we can get the thickness of a single thread. we may use a graph paper formeasuring the thickness of a thread. This is usually the thickness of thread used in sewing. Now the diameter of the rod with the threads is measured. The difference gives us double the thickness of the thread. will give us the thickness of each thread. They are formed by spinning several threads together. To measure the thickness of your thread. .

DOING SCIENCE IS FUN 42 Measuring thickn'ess .

"United we stand divided we fall' — the old saying seems to have a scientific application! Talking about strength reminds us of the heavy cranes that lift loads. We have seen pictures of workers carrying heavy stones to build a pyramid. Is it different from the strength of two single threads taken together? A striking example of how a rope of twisted strands may be made quite strong merely by twisting together the many individual strands can be seen here. These are carefully tested to ensure that they are strong enough to withstand the pull of the ship.YOUR OWN SPIDERMAN 43 For this. But thick ropes of grass are strong enough to tie an elephant and were used not long ago for this purpose. But on what does it depend? The steel cables of a crane consist of a number of wires twisted together. The hooks to which the cables are attached must also be strong enough to withstand the pull. and a steel cable used on a crane. Why are these wires twisted together to form a single cable? Why are not the same number of wires used separately? Strings in the form of threads. There is a considerable difference in the thickness of the rope used to tie the ships to the capstan in a harbour. We will test their strengths by attaching a weight to the first strand and then testing the strength of this thread. Why do you think there is so much difference in their sizes? . From their experience (or perhaps by experiment also). Strong ropes have many uses. Steel cables are used to tow ships. they must have judged (or measured) the strength of the ropes. ropes. we have to take two single strands of nylon. The maximum load which can be handled by a crane is marked on it. or cables have been used from ancient times for a number of purposes. is not enough to simply ensure the strength of the towing cable. Ordinary grass is too flimsy to make strong ropes.

44 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN More recently. so necessary in building air-crafts and space-crafts where both strength and low weight are necessary. glass. like nylon. rayon. Glass fibres are extensively used in various industries. . fibres are being used to strengthen other materials. carbon. it is possible to obtain light yet strong materials. metals. By this method. and other materials become extremely strong when they are impregnated with fibres of various materials. etc. Plastics.

They travel out in all directions.sound's fun Isn't it irritating when the chatter in the next room or the shrieks of the neighbourhood children disturb us just when we are enjoying an interesting novel? How nice it would be. Or. Some of these strike our eardrums and the message is signalled to and recorded by the brain as sound. As it topples. These waves are. it produces disturbances in the air. if we could read in peace. Do you know that scientists have studied sound and ways to adjust sound levels to our convenience? But what exactly is sound? Say a tree crashes to the ground. even have secret talks with our friends without an inquisitive ear getting to know about it. If we could redirect these sound waves occurring outside our room in another direction or let them be . of the air. These disturbances give rise to waves. vibrations or movements back and forth. There must be some way to stop the sound from outside coming in or the sounds of our whispers going fact.


right? The smooth. and our friend has the other tin against his ear.SOUND'S FUN 47 absorbed en route so that they never reach us. we hear the loudest ticking. the sound waves are carried through the twine to our friend's ears. and hit the surface of the mirror placed on the other end. we could have a sound-proof room! Similarly. All we have to do is to place one tube at an angle and look through the mirror on the other side of the cardboard. two hollow cylindrical tubes about 30 cm long. We will see an image of this tube in the mirror. Now. Let us place the mirror vertically on a table. They are then reflected back. polished . we would again have a sound-proof system. We will now partition the mirror into two halves by placing a cardboard in the middle. Then we will place two-tubes on either side of the cardboard making the same angle with the cardboard. When the tubes are kept at the same angle. if we direct all the waves in one direction (without letting them scatter). There is an easy way to study the behaviour of sound. The pressure waves emanating from the ticking clock are channelled in the tube. place the clock at the mouth of one tube and your ear at the mouth of the other. Remember when you made phones out of tin cans and a twine. for secret talks with your friend? When we speak into the tin can. We can keep the second tube in line with this image. This is easy. It would be easier to place it against the wall. Let us now replace the mirror with an uneven surface. Can you hear the steady ticking of the clock? Do you think the ticking would be as clearly audible if the tubes were not kept at the same angle to the mirror? Try shifting the tubes and then listen to the ticking. All we need are a mirror. to a destination of our choice. and a clock that ticks.

when we talk or sing in a room. reflects the sound in all directipns and only a small portion of it comes through the tube. This is exactly what happens. on the other hand. The sound that we produce hits the walls of the room and is bounced back in all directions. . The uneven surface.48 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Tick-tock surface of the mirror directly reflects the sound waves into the other tube.

We have a soundproof room ready! Can you name a few places where a lot of care needs to be taken regarding damping of sound? A broadcasting studio is one of them. The walls of studios are covered with boards with a number of holes. take care to close the windows and doors. let us do another experiment which will give us a clue as to how we can soundproof our room. Sometimes an additional layer of felt is fitted behind the boards.SOUND'S FUN 49 Can you recall the booming sound you hear when you speak in a room devoid of any furniture? We don't hear it in a room full of furniture. In these studios. Now cover the mirror with a piece of felt. The floors are left flat. Now. Let us place the mirror and tubes as before. thick cloth or a woollen blanket with lots of folds.the walls and ceilings are provided with curved surfaces. A gap of air between the two layers helps still more in absorbing sound. We can easily guess that the ticking sound is hardly audible. So let us make sure to cover the entire edge of the door with a lining of cloth or paper and last. do we? Curtains and upholestry absorb part of the sound wave9. How about trying to make our rooms sound-proof? Let us line the walls with soft porous material. Why is that so? The folds of the woollen blanket absorb the sound waves and don't reflect them back as the mirror does. In certain broadcasting studios. The studio needs to be totally sound-proof in order to allow good quality sound recording. but not the least. sound is so perfectly diffused that microphones can be set almost anywhere! . cover the walls. Even tiny cracks can allow sound to pass through . doors and windows with thick curtains.

crisp notes from the stage.50 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Audiotoriums must have good acoustics Next time you visit an auditorium try to find out the precautions taken to allow the audience to hear the clear. .

Lightning is usually not dangerous but it does sometimes strike tall buildings or trees with devastating results. But nature can also be very frightening.SAFETY FIRST Nature is beautiful. But it is relatively safer inside a closed car. the heavy rumble of thunder and the dark clouds must have made everyone uneasy. the car acts as a shield and protects the passengers. This is because the metallic body of the car safely carries the charge to the ground. of course everyone sat nice and dry in the car while the storm lashed everything and the lightning lit up the sky. But what did they do? Did they sit quietly in the bus or did they run out into the open to shelter under trees? Yes. Even running or walking in the open is likely to attract lightning while sheltering under a tree is equally dangerous. . Have you ever been caught in a thunderstorm while travelling in a car or a bus? Wasn't the experience frightening? The bright flashes of lightning. In fact.

52 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Safety first .

a thick sheet of plastic or a glass piece. The experiments are not dangerous and are easy to perform. It is necessary to shield electronic equipment. Very tall buildings also have special lightning conductors on the roofs to safely conduct lightning to the ground such that the building and its inhabitants remain secure. a wooden block. we can perform a few simple experiments to learn more about the principles that protect us from it. These instruments are shielded in wellgrounded enclosures of metals. The sheath is grounded in many places to obtain effective electrical shielding. electrical instrument and telephone cables from electrical and magnetic disturbances which may be present all around us. two pieces of string or thread and a clamp system. Such instruments are shielded by grounded metal enclosures or wire-cages.SAFETY FIRST 53 But what happens to an aeroplane that encounters a thunderstorm? When lightning strikes a plane. Many places. usually made of copper or aluminum. Although a direct lightning hit can be dangerous. including laboratories also need special shielding from electrostatic charges. Some electrical instruments may show wrong measurements or readings when affected by external electrical charges. an insulating base like. the charge spreads over the metal body of the plane and passes to the surrounding air through pointed conductors. Telephone cables are enclosed in metal sheaths. These conductors are specially provided on the wings and the rudder of the plane. For the first experiment we will need a small round metal pot. and are pointed in shape so that the charges pass out easily and so the passengers are not harmed. Let's put the metal pot on the insulating base and attach the two strings from the clamp rod in such a way that the first string hangs .

That is why you are safe from lightning if you stay inside the car and do not touch any metal parts. The inside of the pot is completely free from any charge. Now we will duplicate the effects of a lightning strike but on a very low level by charging the pot with a plastic strip or a glass rod. This shows that all the charge given to the pot spreads over the outer surface of the pot. This experiment shows that electrostatic charge always stays on the outer surface of a conductor. Immediately the string outside the pot is attracted towards it and moves till it touches the pot.54 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Duplicating the effects of a lightning strike free outside the pot while the second string dangles inside it. The string inside the pot does not move at all. The charge from the lightning spreads over the metal body of the car and jumps to the ground from .

What will happen if we bring another magnet near the first one? Interestingly the iron filings do not move as long as the other magnet is outside the ring. Or else we can make a ring by bending a piece of soft iron. we may even tap the arrangement gently until the filings arrange themselves. of course. Let's make a nice wide ring so that we have more space to play in. Let's make a ring from a tin can. especially when they are wet. a tin can is usually an iron can plated with tin. Some of the charge may also pass through the tyres.SAFETY FIRST 65 Magnetic shield its lower parts. Once the ring is made we will place a magnet inside the ring and sprinkle iron filings around the magnet. The second experiment that we will perform will give us more information about magnetic shielding. We can even repeat the experiment using a magnetic needle and the results are the same. So now both the magnet and the filings are inside the ring. .

56 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN The iron ring acts as a magnetic shield. . Thus a proper shield is needed to provide protection from both electrical and magnetic energies. The needle will only move if we lift the ring. What happens when we put the ring back? What happens when we put the ring around the second magnet? Let's try out all the combinations! What is the ultimate result? From our observations we see that the iron ring also protects the outside region from the field of the magnet inside the ring.

How does the light go on and off automatically? The light on the iron is actually an indicator. central-heating and air-conditioning. refrigerator. glowing light is an indication that the iron is getting heated up. the light stops glowing and we know that the iron in hot enough for us to go ahead with the ironing. A tiny light on the iron starts glowing. Soon after we start ironing. the light begins to glow again. We generally do not notice it. The light going off is an automatic switching off of the heating system within the iron. . A little later. Automation has become part of so many aspects of our daily lives.NOT BY HANDS ALONE In the early morning while hurrying to go to school we switch on the electric iron to press our uniforms. Elevators. the direct-dial telephone system — all involve automation. Actually. It ensures that the iron does not get overheated. The automatic switching on or off of a machine is called automation.

58 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Automation is a part of life .

we will fix up the electromagnet along with . automation is used widely. if you connect the two ends of the wires wound around it to a battery? Indeed. First. a battery and a wooden board. But. But. and also a tiny straight strip of soft iron. how exactly does simple automation work? Wouldn't you like to find out? This time we need a U-shaped piece. from canned food to cars. Do you know that soft iron becomes a magnet. some insulated wires.Battery Simple automation at work In large scale production of many goods. We will now make an electric circuit on the wooden board. The moment we break the connection. we must remember that the direction of the winding on one arm should be opposite to that on the other arm.Switch S'-Strip B . This is what is called an electromagnet. we can pick up nails and pins and other light iron objects with this magnet. the iron loses its magnetism and the nails fall off.NOT BY HANDS ALONE 59 M . Let us wind insulated wires around the arms of the U-shaped piece of soft iron.Magnet S .

The second circuit is now complete and the bulb lights up.Batten Red to Green in seconds the battery to the wooden board. Opposite to the U ends of the electromagnet. As soon as the switch of the first circuit is switched on. we place the small movable strip of soft iron at a distance of 2 to 3 mm. The strip moves forward and touches the two screws. >> •n \ M 1 Green Red M~ Magnet S .Strip B . the magnet is activated.60 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN T. Then we link up the circuit with a switch.Switch S' . We link up the metal screws in another circuit with a battery and small bulb. Just pause and think how the traffic signal changes from red to green and vice versa at periodic intervals. Now begins the experiment. It pulls the soft iron strip. Do you think we can build up a circuit to do this at home? . We now fix two metal screws between the strip and the magnet.



Make your own Thermostat

We will use the same circuit except now we will use
two bulbs, a green bulb and a red one. They will be
linked up to the second circuit in such a way that when
the electromagnet is not active, the soft strip will close
the circuit of the green lamp. Whien the magnet is
activated, it pulls the strip which breaks the circuit of the
green lamp and completes that of the red lamp.
Automatic processes to control temperature levels in
electronic devices are called thermostats. Electric irons,
refrigerators, geysers, all have thermostats. Thermostats
consist of a thin strip of two different metals welded
together to form a bimetallic strip. The metals used are
usually copper and steel. When heated, the two metals
expand to different lengths. The strip bends on the side
of the metal which expands less. Thus a bimetallic strip
of copper and steel will bend on the side of steel.
Why not try this out in our circuit? Two thin strips of
copper and iron will be required. They have to be



welded together, We could get it done at a welding
workshop. If we fix it to a wooden stand and gently heat
it using a candle flame, we can see how the strip bends
as temperature increases.
This bimetallic strip can work as a switch in our circuit.
As temperature increases, it will bend and touch the
wire when a certain temperature is reached. This will
complete the circuit. As the temperature decreases,
the strip will bend backwards and the circuit will open
Don't you think this will be very useful in an alarm
system in case there is a fire? Where else do you think
such automatic mechanisms will be of use?
There is really no magic in automation, is there?


The kitchen is such a nice place. Tasty things like jams,
murambas, gulab jamuns and jaleebes are made
there. But the cook is always so busy and does not like
to be disturbed, He takes a drop of the syrupy solution
and tests it between his fingers. He tries to judge the
stickiness of the solution before deciding if the fruits or
the fried jamuns should be added.
The painter who comes to paint the house also does
something similar. He opens the lid of the tin, stirs the
contents with a brush and watches as the paint drips off
it. Then he adds a thinner to the paint, stirs it and closely
studies the flow of the paint down the brush, He frowns
and may add a little thinner once again, This time he is
happy. The consistency is just right so he paints a strip on
the wall and observes the movement of the paint as it
flows down.
The cook and the painter — what were they looking
for? They were both examining a basic property of

64 •• DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Judging viscosity is an everyday affair .

FLOODS AND FLOWS 65 Drop by drop liquids. . but not at the same speed. some water and other liquids like castor oil. Viscous liquids offer considerable resistance to flow and so their rate of movement is slow. Some. honey and gum. This property of flowing is called fluidity. like water. In fact the difference in the rate of flow can provide some fun. It is the opposite of fluidity. a vessel. We wiil also need a stop-watch. or flow slowly and sluggishly. flow ever so slowly. or else a digital watch. several other properties of liquids are related to the rate of flow. Others. a funnel. Viscosity is the technical term for this condition. like honey. or a watch with a seconds hand. Viscosity is an important property of liquid. are called viscous. Liquids that do not flow well. For this we will need a ring stand. All liquids flow. flow readily.

too. This is because honey. by which we can measure the difference in viscosity between two or more liquids. In fact. We can maintain an index with the most fluid liquid at the top and the most viscous liquid at the end. . Also don't forget to place the beaker just under the funnel or else you will get wet and it won't be fun. cooking oil and kerosene. we can even assign numbers to denote the viscosity of each liquid. The viscosity of a liquid is high if it takes a long time to empty the funnel. Just fixing a funnel to the ring stand is ail that you have to do. Water flows very fast. Now ask another friend to give a signal. and so maybe you and your friends will have some difficulty in timing it. This number gives us the viscosity of the liquid as compared to water. There are other ways. In fact. glass tumbler or bottle. Ask your friend to block the outlet of the funnel while you fill the funnel with water. To do so. Thus we can assert with confidence that cooking oil is more viscous than water.66 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Setting up this experiment is easy. See that the funnel is large. We can try it with milk. We can then find the ratio of time taken by a liquid to flow out completely to the time taken by water. your friend has to remove the finger from the outlet stem and let the water flow while everyone else times the event. narrow. this easy experiment can be repeated with other liquids with which we are familiar. For this we will need a tall. this time we will do it with gum or honey and we will have enough time to measure the flow accurately. gum and castor oil flow slowly. As soon as the signal is heard. But never mind. We will also need a small heavy steel ball like a ball bearing in the wheels of a bicycle. let's take the viscosity of water to be 1. Comparing the time taken by each of these liquids to empty the funnel gives us an idea about their viscosity.

Now we will fill the tumbler with a different liquid. The ball should be . Maybe we could fill it with cooking oil this time. We can then record how long it takes for the ball to sink this time. Timing the event may be difficult as the ball sinks almost instantly. but if we repeat the experiment a few times we will surely be able to time it correctly. But to carry out the experiment successfully we have to take care about certain things.FLOODS AND FLOWS 67 Reaching the bottom We will at first fill the tumbler with water and then gently release the ball so that it sinks.

This air bubble always stays at top when the bottle is erect. That is why we used a ball bearing. the bubble moves accordingly. For another experiment of a similar nature. On the other hand. As we do so the liquid in the bottle also gets repositioned. This is because if the paint is too thick. we have to be careful about releasing it slowly without splashing the liquid. Also. But what happens when we use gum or honey? To make the experiment more interesting. this change is very quick. Now. we see the movement of the air bubble. However. This would help us to see the ball properly. The liquid should be transparent or else we will not be able to see the ball move through the liquid. At first we will hold the bottle in a vertical position with its mouth up and then we will quickly turn it to the horizontal position. as usual. When the bottle is turned upside down. usually . it would be difficult to spread the paint evenly over the surface. when the bottle is turned upside down very quickly. let's fill a bottle half-way with some liquid and then close the mouth of the bottle tightly. the viscosity of the paint has to be checked extremely carefully. And it would also help if we could position the tumbler in a way that light falls on it from one side. it it is too thin. we can fill the bottle almost completely with a liquid before corking it. as expected it differs from liquid to liquid. when dropping the ball in the liquid. With water. it will not give a good coat. Do you know that when we use oil-bound paints to colour doors and windows. Therefore. we use a thinner.68 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN heavy enough to sink completely even in very viscous and sticky liquids like gum. Can you now guess why the air bubble always moves to the top? Let us go back to the painter and the cook who encouraged us to launch our experiments. This movement of the bubble can be timed. especially in semi-transparent liquids.

FLOODS AND FLOWS 69 Cars use many kinds of oils turpentine. special standard cup. Cars and some other machines need to use different oils. The manufacturers of paints test the quality of different paints by measuring their viscosities. Viscosity of these oils is one of the critical properties deciding their quality and specific use. The time taken for the cup to become empty is taken as the measure of viscosity of a paint. to make the paint thin enough to flow properly and give a good coat of paint. For this purpose. Also crude oil and several other products obtained by refining the crude oil have to be transported over long . with a hole is used. In other words. we adjust the viscosity of the paint by using a thinner.

Let's also measure its dimensions which means that we now know its length. This time span is sufficiently long for us to measure. It is a thick black sticky substance. Doesn't the castor oil flow more readily now? Viscosity depends upon temperature and liquids flow more readily when they are heated. Have you ever looked closely at what is done to the tar prior to using it to surface the road? We can also do something similar. Now let's close the mouth of the bottle tightly. These substances are called 'plastic substances'. Now we will place a flat weight on the plasticine block. If now we turn the bottle sideways. although the rate of flow may be very very sluggish indeed and the process may have to be carried out under pressure. But its viscosity can be easily changed. But fluidity is not the property of liquids alone. Walking down the road is an everyday affair for most of us and it is a pleasure to walk down a newly surfaced road.70 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN distances. We can also experimentally change the viscosity of a substance. There are many solids which flow. Tar is used for surfacing roads. A big fat book will suffice as the weight. It sounds unreal doesn't it?So why don't we check it out? Let's take some plasticine or dough and make a thick rectangular block from it. breadth and height. and plasticine are two common examples. as well as the power required to pump the liquid flow are dependent on the viscosity of the liquid. let's repeat the experiment but with a difference. it will take some time for the oil to adjust to the new horizontal position. They are usually pumped through pipes. We will measure the dimensions of the block every hour. The second time around. The rate of flow. Let's take castor oil in a small bottle so that it is half full. Let's hold the bottle in hot water for some time before carrying out the experiment. . The dough made with flour and water.

FLOODS AND FLOWS Plasticity can be easily demonstratea 71 .

the interior of the earth becomes increasingly hot. In fact. The fact that many materials become plastic at high temperatures is taken advantage of by many manufacturers. the impression of the coin is left behind on it. Rocks under the earth's crust also provide an interesting example of plasticity. Even in nature.72 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN From the observation. The heat of the friction is enough to melt the wax which then sticks to the object. Coloured sealing wax is used to colour wooden toys. This shows that the viscosity of sealing wax changes as we warm it. Which flows faster — the plasticine or the dough? We can also do something similar with sealing wax. utensils. boxes. . You can all guess now. etc. the continental land masses are-virtually floating on the plastic layers of rocks under the crust. Plastic toys. Some lavas are more viscous than others and hence do not flow over long distances. It is hard at room temperature and does not easily show any plasticity. You know that as you go deep into the earth. The deep layers of rocks under the crust become plastic due to the heat and flow under the pressure of the upper layers. we get on idea about how slowly the flow has taken place. examples of various viscous materials abound. When a volcano erupts. The wax is held firmly against the toy which rotates with great speed. it throws out molten lava which flows for some distance. are manufactured by taking advantage of the plasticity of the material concerned at high temperatures. The distance covered by the lava-flow depends on the viscosity of the lava. But when we warm it a little and press a coin on the heated sealing wax.. why it is called sealing wax.

FLOODS AND FLOWS 73 Now we know that liquids and some solids flow under pressure. They flow many times faster than the liquids. This property is something that we have to be careful about in the kitchen — especially if using LPG for fuel. What about gases? Of course. . gases also flow.

At the same time. a lamp and a few friends. You can even reverse positions and take a look for yourself too. As the sun sets behind them. it can either be reflected. The cotton lump appears like a dark cloud with bright edges. We know that when light falls on an object. there is always a ray of hope. of course we can! For this we will need a lump of cotton wool. it appears white. Can we demosntrate this at home? Can we pretend we hold the clouds in our hands? Why. to the person holding the lamp on the other side.A SILVER LINING cloud has a silver lining. dark clouds gather on the horizon. clouds sometimes seem to be fringed with a silver streak. Hold the cotton between the lighted lamp and your friend and then ask him what he sees. many clouds acquire a bright silvery edge. But literally speaking too. Often on a rainy day. What they mean is that no matter how dark and unhappy the situation. ab- .

Light that falls on the main mass of the cotton . But the lump of cotton does not have any sharp edges like those of a disc of wood or metal. while that falling on a transparent piece of glass passes through it. Most of it is white and opaque. Most of the light falling on a mirror is reflected. Let's observe the cotton wool closely.75 A SILVER LINING Creating the silver lining at home sorbed or can even go through the object.

cqmpare our reflection in a mirror or looking glass ta-thqt formed on the still waters of a pond. This will serve as a screen on which we will reflect light from different surfaces. Let's do it with aluminium or . Let's bounce the sunrays off a mirror and onto the screen. you had known that it would be so. If fact. What do you think would happen if we took a bit of wet cotton instead of dry cotton? The margins of wet cotton are not fluffy. It is fun to play with different surfaces and to find out the ones which are good reflectors and those that are poor'©ftA/hile. while light falling on the very edges of the cotton has another fate. we can also check out some other things. is'brfghTeVp'df course. You must have seen these white ciuuas. It simply goes through the openings in the edge to reach the viewer's eye. . It's a dazzling shine. Which . To the person who receives this reflected light. shall we? Rain clouds have water droplets and dust particles. They almost look like the brightly edged clouds in the sky. So now can you guess if the wet cotton shows a bright edge or not? Lets try out our experiment with wet cotton again. This is because some surface reflect light better than other surfaces. the image formed in the mirror is "brighter by far. But not all the light falling on the cotton is reflected. A small part of the light falling on the cotton is also absorbed. These make the clouds opaque. They are firm.. The best way to find this out is to fix a piece of white paper on a piece of cardboard.'mfe4ields and scan the skies for suitable clouds.76 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN gets reflected backk. Thus the edges of the lump of cotton appear to be bright. Jn. But there are also clouds of ice crystals which look white and appear thin and transparent.the. the lump appears bright and white.i5<3 they have bright edges? To check it let's go outHnf^'.

This will make the task of comparison easier. we can reflect the light off the mirror and the metal plates such that they fall side by side. white silk or even the still surfaces of liquids . In a parallel experiment we could use white glossy paper or art paper (used to print fine covers of magazines). Aren't even these very bright! Which is the brightest of them all? In fact if the screen is large enough.A SILVER LINING 77 Dazzling shine stainless steel plates.

But what about the surface used? We can have a variety of surfaces. all the rays of light falling at a given angle on different parts of . You now tell the difference between a smooth and a rough surfaces. we have a surprising finding. Now let's take three pieces of white art paper. So why does a rough surface make a poor mirror and why does a good mirror always have a smooth surface. Of all rhe materials tested. All we have to do to find out. For example we can use very smooth surfaces of different colours or else we can use all types of white surfaces. Can you tell why we can see our face better in a new stainless steel dish than in a used one? What makes the used dish rough? For any surface to be useful as-a plane mirror. Not all surfaces will give reflections of similar brightness and the comparison of the brightness of reflection in each case will allow us to grade the materials according to their brightness. The reflection from the art paper appears as a bright spot on the screen. Then we will shine sunlight on both the pieces of paper and try to get two reflected areas side by side on the think these qualities are correlated? Let's repeat the experiments just to make sure. is to follow some clues and arrive at an answer.78 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN such as water and oil. Then we will try to find out which of them forms a bright spot. If we grade the materials according to their toughness and also their reflectivity. though it illuminates a large area. that the metals are the best reflectors. make corrugations on the other by folding it several times and keep the third as it is. Do. Let's take a piece of ordinary white paper and a piece of glossy art paper and put a white screen near a wall. The reflection from the ordinary paper forms a dull spot on the screen. We will crumple one of the pieces. it is obvious isn't it.

It is said that Archimedes used huge mirrors to focus the heat of the sun's rays on to the enemy ships to burn them. We will vary the angle of the beam and observe if this makes any difference to the reflection. The mirrors used in telescopes are polished by giving a thin coat of silver or aluminium to the glass. You know now that highly polished metal surfaces reflect most of the light falling on them. The reflection is better if this angle is increased. Even if a rough surface reflects most of the light falling on it. Maybe you could also explain why the reflection of a setting sun in a pond is always very bright. However. where mirrors are used to reflect and focus the sun's rays on to a cooking vessel. Astronomers use huge concave mirrors to focus starlight. When the beam meets the paper at a grazing angle. A beam is then reflected back. This condition is met if the surface is plane.A SILVER LINING 79 the surface must be reflected back at the same angle. Maybe now you will be able to say why some students in a class complain about a glare on the black-board while others do not have any problem. if you shine a beam of light on a rough surface. Today we use the same principle in solar cookers. For the next experiment we will place a piece of white paper on the table and throw a beam of light on it. not as a beam. It can be fun repeating the experiment by using a piece of black paper instead of white. but as diffused light. Mirrors have been used since ages. Yes! The reflection is weak when the beam makes a right angle with the paper but better when the beam falls on the paper from the side. Aluminium is one of the best reflectors. With the telescopes astronomers can see the heavenly bodies but even without the telescopes we can see the moon. the reflection becomes very bright. A full moon shining overhead is a . you may not be able to use it as a mirror. many rays will meet the surface at different angles.

In other words. But it is also a puzzle because if the sun and the moon both give the same (sun)light why is moonlight more pleasant? The reason is that the moon reflects very little sunlight. Can you imagine how bright the earth must be looking from the moon? You can even read a book on the moon in the earth. the light reflected by the earth is falling onihe moon.light.light. You can also see the rest of the moon. though faintly. in fact. However. This part is illuminated by earth. only seven per cent of the light that it receives. The earth reflects about half of the radiation that it receives from the sun.80 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Bright cresent beautiful sight. This is being reflected back to us and is strong enough to show the . you do not have to travel all the way to the moon to realise how strong the earth light is! Have you observed the crescent of the moon soon after the new moon ? The bright crescent is illuminated by the sun.

The bright light reflected by it can dazzle and harm your eyes.A SILVER LINING 81 Earth seen from the moon moon faintly. . Fresh snow is the best reflector in nature. Now you will understand why mountaineers use dark glasses. this effect disappears. As the crescent increases in size.

while some others absorb light. Fuel tanks are painted white to reflect light. Both are useful to us in different situations.82 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Some substances reflect light. We have many active groups of scientists working on this discipline in India too. Due to the patience and diligence of scientists. while solar heaters are painted black to absorb as much radiation as possible. properties of hundreds of substances are being studied in the many laboratories of the world. He uses black colour in his dark-room to absorb light. A photographer uses reflectors when he takes a photograph in his studio. . These efforts are constantly leading to the discovery of new materials and to many new uses of old materials. A new discipline called Material Science is an extremely active area of research. Today we have reached a stage in human evolution where the human race has become highly capable of exploiting the different properties of a substance to its advantage. and repeated experiments. through the process of trial and error.

This produces the required tension on the strings which is necessary to produce the musical notes he wants to play. he has to tune his instrument. In the hands of expert musicians. some of the most beautiful musical sounds can be obtained from these instruments. But these are just some instruiments where man has made clever use of strings.. sitar and sarod. the strings vibrate and produce the desired musical notes. He does this by means of the knobs and screws present on the instrument. But before the musician can get the right note. mandolin. guitar. When the musician pluciks one of the strings or uses his bow on them. But how much tension is necessary to produce a certain note from a string? And can we measure this tension on a string? These questions arise in our minds .STRINGS OF MUSIC The spider's web and the rescue rcope from a helicopter may seem to have little in comimon with musical instruments such as the violin.

. on a table. We will also fix two pulleys to each end of the plank. we place a 1 kg weight on the pan. Then we will attach one end of a thin steel wire (about a metre long) to the hook. For the first experiment.84 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Stringed Instruments whenever we see a stringed instrument. The wire is now taut due to the weight stretching it and the stage is all set for the experiment. we will need many participants. Then. we will need to fix a wooden plank about one metre long. We will also need to attach a hook at one end of the plank. To begin with. To the free end of the wire we will attach a pan on which we will place some weights. A few simple and enjoyable experiments can give us the answers. Let's ask all those who have a keen ear to help us with this experiment.

Let's pluck the string again and again so that the sound becomes familiar to us. Its not easy but discussing with friends will allow us to reach an agreement. Let's repeat the experiment by changing the weights in the pan. This time too there is a distinct sound.STRINGS OF MUSIC 85 Setting the stage for the experiment Let's gather around and pay close attention when one of us plucks the wire and makes the string vibrate. Don't the notes change with the change in weight on the pan? Of course they do! The note . But is it the same note as before? What is the difference between the two notes? Let's all try to describe the difference. Now we shall add a half kg weight to the pan and pluck the string again. There is a sharp sound. We can repeat this as often as we want so that we can recognize the note the next time we hear it.

This method is used commonly in science. the entire string does not vibrate. the sound produced by it also changes. We then found that the note. Now when we pluck the string. To begin with. changed according to the length of the vibrating strings. we keep the supports well separated so that we have a long vibrating string. Now let's modify our experiment by placing two triangular wooden blocks under the wire. the length of the wire was held constant and the tension on the string was changed. Only the wire between the two blocks vibrates. Then we pluck the string repeatedly and note the sound. Thus. This means that we have shortened the length of the string. we could produce other notes on the string by moving one of the supports. Let's talk about this with our friends and try to reach an agreement about how the notes change when the length of the wire is changed. by say 5 cm. These two experiments have many similarities but they also have two important differences. that is. changing only one property (parameter) at a time. We then found that the note produced depended on the tension of the string. This method helps scientists to pinpoint the factor(s) responsible for a particular change or situation. Now when we pluck the wire. Once familiar with the sound. the tension was kept constant. it is clear that the sound produced this time is different from that produced previously. In the first activity. In the second activity. and the length of the vibrating string was changed using supports.86 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN produced by plucking the wire depends on the weight. the weight and therefore. especially when there are more . on the tension or tautness of the string. The blocks should be big enough to lift the wire by about 5 mm. we studied the properties of a vibrating string. Everytime we change the length of the string. These should be inserted under the wire as supports.



than one factors operating simultaneously, By changing
only one varying factor at a time it becomes easy to
pinpoint the factor responsible for the change.
We can think of several properties of a string. The
thickness, length and also the material from which it is
made are its properties. It will be difficult to get metal
wires of different thicknesses, but strings of cotton, nylon
or silk are available more easily. We can obtain strings
of different materials, but of the same thickness and
repeat the previously performed activities. Then strings
of the same material, but of different thicknesses can be
taken and the experiment repeated. We will find that
the note produced depends on all these properties.
If we use a hollow wooden box to fix the pulleys we
immediately notice the difference between the quality
of the sound produced by plucking the string. The sound
becomes considerably louder because the air in the
hollow box also vibrates with the string and enhances
the sound.
All these facts make us think — What is the use of the
knobs of a violin or a guitar? Is plucking the only method
of vibrating a string? Can we use a bow to do the same
A violin player produces different notes by moving
the bow on strings and at the same time he presses his
fingers at different places on the strings. How do these
movements help in producing different notes? To
answer all these questions we have to observe as many
string- instruments as we can and see if we can identify
the mechanisms for changing the tension on the string
and for adjusting the length of the vibrating wire.

BANK OF e n e r g y

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• • » ' TEM WAITS

I am very tired, I don't have the 'energy' to do any
more work. We often say such things, don't we? The
word energy, generally suggests motion, vitality and
strength. The limitless amount of radiant energy from the
sun is captured by green plants. This provides food for
all. We are told that food with 'high energy content'
should be part of our daily diet. The food we eat gives
us energy for our day to day activities. Man has learnt
to use the energy available in nature. Petroleum, 'the
high energy fuel' helps drive vehicles. Electricity,
another form of energy, plays a major role in our day to
day activities. Strolling down the roadside, you see so
many stones. Do you think this stone has energy? Let us
find out. Let us drop a stone from a height on to a mud
ground. What do we see? We hear a typical 'thud' and
the stone leaves an impression on the ground.
Let us be a little more systematic in our experiment.
Let us go out into the park, Let us dig a pit, say one metre



Let's dig a pit

long, one metre wide and about two centimetres deep
into the ground. We will then fill up this pit with fine sand.
Let us hunt around for a big stone, it must weigh at least
about one kg. Hold the stone over the centre of the pit,
ask one of your friends to measure the height of the
stone from the ground. Now release the stone. The stone
will drop to the ground with a thud, and as it hits the
ground, sand will be thrown out, all around the stone.

Remember reading . let us lift the stone. Now drop a marble or a similar object on it and measure the depression created. maida or even besan will be fine). is called a crater. depending on the height from which the stone is released? How about trying it out? If you cannot go out into the park and play in the sand you can modify the experiment and carry it out at home. Just pile the flour into a nice. smooth rectangle. What do we see? Isn't there a deep depression. Do you think this will differ. Such depression on land caused by the impact of a falling object. without disturbing the sand. where the stone fell? Now. This is the substitute for the pit you would have dug in the sand.90 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN The Quebec Crater Lakes (Canada) Carefully. For this you will need some flour (atta. let us measure the diameter and depth of this depression.

as does the drop of ink. Stone falling from greater heights moves more sand.THE UNIVERSAL CURRENCY 91 about the craters on the surface of the moon? Craters on the moon are really big. What difference do you find in the diameters? What does all this have to do with energy. Some such craters are even seen on the earth's surface. would you like to try out some similar experiment in your room? Let us take a sheet of paper and fill an ink dropper with ink. Now we know. how a meteorite creates such a huge crater. you may ask. Just allow a drop of ink to fall on the centre of the sheet. These occur when huge meteorites hit the earth's surface. Indeed. it will splash around and create a star-like figure. If you don't feel like going out into the sun. As the ink drop hits the sheet of paper. Experimenting with ink . even the piece of stone has energy. Measure the diameter of the star. Try dropping the ink from different heights. The falling stone had the energy to displace sand from the pit.

What do you see? The reflected light dances on the walls. Would you like to have some more fun? Let us make a hollow tube about 5 cm wide with a cardboard. so does the speed with which it hits the ground and hence acquired more energy. chemical. von Leibnitz described this energy as vis viva meaning living force. we fix a small piece of mirror to the centre of the paper. comes the fun part. Water vapour collects as . Then. is a form of energy. Now. heat. that (the paper) gets heated enough to catch fire. The object released from a higher position falls towards the earth and as the height increases. light. Let us cover one end of the tube with a piece of thin paper. Would you like to study some more forms of energy? Can you try and obtain a convex lens from your school laboratory? Try holding this convex lens in the sun and focussing the rays on a piece of paper. This energy is transferred to the paper which moves. The ancient scientist Gottfried W. The word 'energy' first entered the technical vocabulary of science in 1807. electrical and nuclear energy. Energy due to motion is called 'kinetic energy' Kinetic simply means 'due to motion'.92 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN An object at a height acquires energy because of the earth's pull or gravity. Energy can be converted from one form to another. The movement or vibrations of this paper. The paper will catch fire. The water of lakes and oceans evaporates due to the heat produced by the radiant energy of the sun. doesn't it? Sound too. Ask one of your friends to speak into the other end of the tube. We are capturing and concentrating so much of the sun's heat energy at one place. Energy thus manifests itself in many forms. cause the reflection to dance around. We must be very careful doing this. Using a torch we flash a beam of light on the mirror and get a reflection on a wall or a screen. There are at least five major forms of energy.

it turns the generators of power houses. are all examples of the conversion of one form of energy into another. Look around you. then falls as rain.THE UNIVERSAL CURRENCY 93 Energy manifests itself in many ways clouds. heat houses or charge a chemical storage battery. The current generated may flow through a wire to light a bulb. Flowing downhill. Striking a match or lighting a candle. Can you explain the energy conver- .

94 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN sions taking place around you? Whenever you see energy being used. in principle. all of the energy is not converted into the desired form. when we strike a match. the wind that blows in our fields can do useful work for us when it is made to drive a windmill. However. The energy spent in producing the sound and in heating the side of the match box are examples of wasted energy. We must make an effort to prevent wastage of energy. try to trace its source. The energy stored in petrol and coal. Nature will not make this energy for us in a hurry. was made by nature over millions of years. we convert the chemical energy into usable heat. While. when we change the form of energy. in practice. . For example. we convert it into a form which suits our needs. For example. energy in any form can be converted into another form.

What is the difference between the two surfaces? Now you can guess why the cricket ball moves faster and over a longer distance on a smoother surface. too. you guessed it right. Friction tends to stop two surfaces moving over each other. Such opposing force is called friction. . A carrom coin. It is greater for some surfaces than for others. don't they slide smoothly? The same is not the case when we rub together blotting or sand paper. When we slide two glass strips over each other.FRIEND OR FOE Have you ever wondered why a carrom coin stops just before the pocket even when it is aimed to reach it? Or why a cricket ball stops after travelling some distance? Scientists say that the ground surface opposes the moving ball and the board opposes the motion of the coin. Yes. Friction is usually greater between two rough surfaces than between two smooth ones. moves more smoothly when the board is sprinkled with powder.

glass. Besides. As we raise the board. . We can repeat the process after fixing a polythene sheet. we shall also need sheets of glass. polythene. Let us measure this angle. The coin starts sliding down only when a particular angle is reached. the coin starts sliding down at a different angle. and raise the board carefully from one side. We need a flat board and a coin. wood or cotton on the board. In each case. Let us place the coin on the board. at one point the coin starts sliding down the board. wood and a cotton cloth.96 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Demonstrating friction We could check this out using different surfaces. The object starts sliding only when the downward pull along the surface overcomes the force of friction between the coin and the surface of the board.

a couple of times. This is the trick used to sail boats.FRIEND OR FOE 97 Hold fast Now. The rope holding the sail is just passed around a hook. . Can we play tennis with greasy hands? What would happen if the knobs of a guitar or violin do not hold fast in the desired position? Can you now explain why we can hold objects firmly in our hands? Have you ever wondered as to why fishermen always make two to three turns with their ropes around a hook and then release the sails of their boats? A rope can hold large weights with a few turns around a rod. a large number of questions are answered. The friction of the rope with the rod contributes a large part of the force required to hold the weight.

No wonder.98 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Overcoming friction Friction stops the cricket bail from crossing the boundary. Roller bearings in the form of logs were used in ancient times to move heavy stones for building monuments like big temples and pyramids. and forces us to pedal our bicycles. vehicles and in machinery for smooth motion. spoils the game of carrom. A bicycle ride is perfect for studying friction. we are constantly making efforts to reduce friction one way or the other. We can do the same on various roads: on a good . Ride your bicycle and pedal hard till you reach good speed. Then stop pedalling and see how far the bicycle will take you. Ball bearings and roller bearings are used everywhere in factories. The discovery that a rolling object has to overcome less friction is one of the breakthroughs achieved by pre-historic man.

Let us then hold a ball of crumpled paper hard against the rim of the wheel. and rotate the rear wheel using a pedal. Quite obviously the speed of the wheel is reduced until it stops. What difference will we find? Let us try another experiment. The friction of the paper . a hard stony road. Let us keep the bicycle upside down. a dust tract.99 FRIEND OR FOE Testing the power of friction surface.

Ancient men used to start fires by rubbing dry sticks of wood together. This produces a lot of heat. we would" soon as we tried to walk. Nowadays we make a flame by striking a match. These would cause a lot of friction if they are rubbed together.100 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN with the rim reduces the speed. So. The ancient method of making fire was to produce enough heat to produce a flame. When a motor car engine is running there are many moving metal surfaces. heat is produced due to friction? Quite right. When a spacecraft re-enters the earth's atmosphere there is friction between the air and the surface of the spacecraft. But prolonged use of the bicycle does wear out the rubber pads. the heat generated by friction can be inconvenient. The ball of paper on the other hand is worn out by friction. This prevents the engine from getting too hot. our friend or foe. The oil forms a film between the metal surfaces so that they do not rub together. and the hands begin to get comfortably warm. we must remember that if there were no friction •• ' between the soles of our shoes and the ground. Does that mean. rubbing the match on a rough surface gives enough heat to set fire to the chemicals at the end of the match. oil is used in the engine. A special heat shield has to be fitted around the craft to protect the astronauts. We rub our hands together on cold winter evenings. Do you know that the bone joints in our body have some arrangement to protect them from rubbing against surrounding parts and to prevent the wearing caused by this? Be it. Similarly. Sometimes. . The brakes of the bicycle are made of hard rubber and this rubber does not wear out easily when it rubs against the rim of the wheel. next time we take the first step to walk.

Today. the father of gods.A LIGHTNING FLASH IN YOUR ROOM A brilliant flash of lightning followed by the deafening roll of thunder. we know there is nothing supernatural about it. except that it is on a much smaller scale compared to the one in thunder cloyd^ . is because of an electrical charge. is indeed one of nature's most awe-inspiring displays. It is simply a rapid discharge of electric charges which have accumulated on the thunder clouds. Benjamin Franklin in 1752. Ancient Greeks believed that thunderbolts were actually hurled by Zeus. But what exactly is an electric charge? Remember the crackle we hear when our nylon clothes rub against our woollens in winter? The crackle. too. and may be even a bit of fear. even though we hold lightning in awe. This landmark discovery was made by the famous American scientist.

We will realize the presence of a charge. the fundamental unit of ail matter. Typically on atom has a nucleus. Do you think we will feel the presence of the charge when we don't rub the plastic sheet and the kerchief? Let's try that too. or centre. The answer to this came when the structure of the atom. The paper pieces are instantly attracted to the sheet and cling to it atleast for a short period of time. Negatively charged particles known as electrons revolve around . the moment we take the rubbed polythene sheet near tiny bits of paper. Scientists pondered over what actually brought about this kind of an attraction.102 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Commonplace example of electric charge Let us try rubbing a handkerchief on a polythene plastic sheet. was unraveled. containing positively charged particles — protons — and neutral or uncharged particles — neutrons. and why it happened only when two substances were rubbed against each other.

The other surface loses electrons and gets positively charged. One surface acquires more negative charge on it. That explains why the tiny bits of paper are attracted to the plastic sheet. it gets positively charged if electrons are lost. But when an atom either gains or loses electrons. The atom becomes negatively charged when electrons are gained. Now can you guess what happens when we rub the polythene sheet with the handkerchief? The friction between the two surfaces removes some of the electrons from one material to the other. An electrically charged object attracts other light objects. Thus these surfaces become 'electrically charged' when rubbed together. Ordinarily. a charge is acquired. there are as many protons as there are electrons in an atom. doesn't it? Wouldn't it be nice if we could puzzle our friends with some tricks for which we have an explanation and they don't? Let us tie a thin cotton or silk thread to a support .A LIGHTNING FLASH IN YOUR ROOM 103 Let's puzzle our friends the nucleus.



from where it hangs down, Supposing we take one of
our plastic scales, rub it on a piece of nylon cloth and
bring it near the free end of the hanging thread, what
do you think will happen? The thread is attracted to the
plastic, isn't it? Not only does the thread move, it also
becomes taut. The latter happens when the charge on
the plastic is more. We could try it out with other
materials also. Isn't it an easy way to test whether an
object is electrically charged or not?
Do you think if we touched the charged portion of
the plastic scale with our fingers, it would still attract the
thread? Let's try it.
An electric charge on one object can be easily transferred to other objects just by contact. If a charged rod
touches another object, the charges on the rod are
transferred to that object.
Would you like to try creating a lightning-like spark in
your room? Let us take a glass or plastic tumber. We
cover the lower half of the tumbler both from inside and
outside with a thin metal foil. We then fix a copper wire
to the outside of the tumbler and allow it to touch the
ground. We will take a long key chain and pass it
through a small hole in a piece of cardboard. We only
need to take care that when we place the cardboard
on the tumbler, the chain should touch the bottom of
the tumbler. The upper end of the chain with the key
ring must remain above the piece of cardboard.
Now comes the most exciting part. We will switch off
the light and charge the key ring just the way we have
done before, After we feel that enough charges have
accumulated, we touch the ring with a finger. In that
darkness, we will actually see a spark. Indeed, a bright
spark will jump from the ring to the finger, along with a
crackling sound. Don't worry, it is all perfectly harmless.



Lightning flashes made to order

The lightning flash we see in the sky is a very large
amount of charge (compared to the ones we just
created) which are discharged through the air. A
thunder cloud is formed when the water droplets are
pulled up vigorously by extremely fast winds. A turbulent
cloud gets charged due to friction. The large number of
negative charges on the base of the cloud induces
positive charges on the earth below. The charges leak
when the system builds more charges than it can hold,
We cannot see the electrons themselves. What we see
in air is the glow by the passage of these charged
Scientists call this accumulation of charges, static
electricity. Static electricity has been exploited for
several uses. Understanding static electricity and its role
in causing lightning has helped us to make a device that
protects tall structures from being hit by lightning. Invented by Benjamin Franklin, it is a rod made of copper



Lightning conducters protect tall buildings

with pointed ends. It is fixed near the top of the high
structure. This rod is connected by a cable to another
rod buried in the ground. Lightning is safely conducted
into the ground when it strikes the rod on tall structures.
Have you ever noticed that these lightning rods are
prominently found on wooden and non-metallic structures, while metallic structures do not have these rods?
This is because the metallic frame itself provides a path
for the lightning to reach the ground.
Did you know that even a photocopier we make use
of static charges? These charges allow the carbon powder to cling to the paper on which the copy is to be
made. Can you think of any other uses of static

The sharp report of a gun is due to the exhaust gases that follow the bullet with great speed. air within it. . which was maintained under a great deal of pressure. As the gases come out of the muzzle of the gun. Noise is not always bad. When a balloon bursts. We make noise to chase away wild animals. Here we are talking about noise that hurts us. then too. a loud noise is created. Similarly noise is created when exhaust gases coming out of the car engine hit the air with great speed. is instantly released with great speed. What do you think creates this noise? The answer to all these questions lies jn the speed of air.SILENCE IS GOLDEN Have you ever wondered why a balloon makes so much of noise when it bursts? When a car or a motorcycle starts. it makes a lot of noise. A gun makes an explosive noise when a bullet is fired.

Let us join their broad rims using an adhesive tape. There will be a definite . Now. let us try and get two plastic funnels. there must be some way to reduce the speed of air. Now. about 5cm wide and 30cm long. if only to ensure silence. hold a tiny strip of paper near one end of the tube and blow air through the other end. we will hold the same.108 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Does the paper strip move? If if is the speed of air that causes such a lot of noise. in the second step. Let us see how this can be done. Let us find (or make) a hollow cardboard tube. We could try this out with air blowing at varying speeds.strip of paper at one end and blow through the other. The strip will obviously move depending on the speed of air. How about calling some friends over? Each of them would blow air at a different speed.

Tiny ones. Let us place this tube in a cardboard box. When the air enters the bulge.SILENCE IS GOLDEN 109 Drilling holes into the pipe needs care difference in the movement of the strip. Will the strip move faster or will it not move at all? Yes. The bulge in the middle has reduced the speed of air considerably. We will drill some holes into this tube. the strip hardly moves. . just heat it up and pierce the tube with it. If you can find a screw. not more than half a centimetre wide. lying around the house will do. about 30 cm long. it expands and its speed is reduced. Can you try and get a plastic tube about a metre long from somewhere? Even an old pipe.

a device quite similar to what we just constructed.110 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN . let us use a table fan as the air source. they can move . fitted to the tube. This reduces the speed of the air before it comes out at the other end of the tube. and then switch on the fan. If this air is channelized through a big cardboard funnel. let us hold a strip of paper at the other end. A perforated metal plate is fixed in front of the tube. expands as it enters the tube. the speed will be sufficiently high. The gases bounce back and expand in the cylinder. is it? The air. The exhaust gases which come out of the narrow tube are obstructed by the plate.How far does the paper strip move? instead of blowing air through the tube. the strip is not really blowing away. As before. to stop them from making too much noise. is attached to cars. The car silencer is made up of a wide cylinder around a narrow perforated tube. in fact. Finally. Aptly called the silencer. What do we see? Despite such a fast speed of air.

do you think silencers can be used? . Aircraft models are tested in tunnels where air is blown with tremendous speed. when the gases come out of the silencer tube. The exhaust gases expand in the space between the thin plates. their speed is not sufficient to create the loud report. Silencers are sometimes used in guns as well. This will need large silencers to minimize this noise. This can create deafening noise and disturb the surroundings. Ultimately. and are no longer at a fast speed.SILENCE IS GOLDEN 111 A car silencer out only through the perforations in the metal plate. Each plate has a hole at the centre through which the bullet passes. Where else. This silencer is also a long tube fitted with a number of thin plates. At each step the speed of the exhaust gases is reduced.

101-106 Radio telescope 24-30 Reflection 74-82 Resistance 31-36 Semipermeable membrane 15-23 Short circuit 31-36 Silencer 107-111 Sound 24-30 Soundproof room 45-50 Sound waves 45-50 Static electricity 101 -106 Tensile strength 37-44 Thermostat 57-62 Viscosity 63-73 .107-111 Osmosis 15-23 Plasticity 63-73.45-50. 101. 101-106 Electromagnet 51-56 Electromagnetic shielding 51-56 Electron 31-36.106 Energy 88-94 Fluidity Friction 63-73 95-100 Indicator 1-7 Insulator 31-36 Light 74-82 Lightning conductors 51-56 Material science 74-82 Music 83-87 Neutalization 1-7 Neutron 101-106 Noise 24-30.Ready Reference Acid 1-7 Alkali 1-7 Automation 57-62 Catalyst 8-14 Circuit 31-36 Decomposition 8-14 Earthing 31-36 Endpoint 1-7 Elastic limit 37-44 Elasticity 37-44 Electricity 31-36.


encountered in daily life. ISBN : 81-7236-082-7 . The aim is not to convey information alone. these experiments can be conducted using materials and implements readily available even in rural areas". Moreover. That is why these experiments deal with curiosities arising out of common everyday observations."The experiments suggested in this book cut across artificial barriers like physics. and deal with real situations. chemistry or biology. but to help young minds to explore on their own.

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