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

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therefore. I am sure that students will enjoy conducting investigations along lines suggested in this book. I am. Chairman Atomic Energy Commission . produced by scientists at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education.Foreword Experiments constitute a crucial component of learning science. 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. In fact. Unfortunately. delighted to write this foreword to "Doing Science is Fun". Our rich store of knowledge in science and technology has been made possible by the brilliant experimental investigations conducted by scientists in the past. but to help young minds to explore on their own. The experiments suggested in this book cut across artificial barriers like physics. I am happy to note that these experiments can be conducted using materials and implements readily available even in rural areas. 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. The aim is not to convey information alone. That is why these experiments deal with curiosities arising out of common everyday observations. They will also develop a deep insight into science besides acquiring precious skills to explore nature. and deal with real situations encountered in daily life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 dropper. a strainer. two dishes.2 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN The two cubes of soap should be of the same size the other an inexpensive washing brand. 1 cm broad and 1 /2 cm thick) from each of . a knife. a lemon. and some turmeric powder.

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

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 .

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

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

MATCHMAKER ^WtMeet hydrogen peroxide. It does not evaporate rapidly. 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. Why should this be so? Doctors often use hydrogen peroxide to clean wounds. We will also need some test tubes or small bottles. odourless liquid and looks like water. About two or three teaspoons should be . Hydrogen peroxide is stored in coloured bottles which have tight caps. A chemist or a beauty parlour will be able to provide it. Yet the bottles are kept tightly corked. 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.ds. and a little bit of manganese dioxide for the first experiment. It is a colourless. Let's take some hydrogen peroxide in a clean test tube or bottle. nor is it flammable.

MATCHMAKER 9 Hot or not? enough. But is it really boiling? You know what happens when water boils. Do you see the tiny bubbles rising in the liquid? The liquid seems to be boiling slowly. You have noticed that the liquid is clear like water. Now just add a pinch of the black manganese dioxide powder and wait a minute or two. 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- .

It should have a tight fitting cork through which we will fix a rubber tube. 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.10 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN The apparatus must be correctly set up ing? Are the particles darting about? Once the bubbling has stopped. We will also need a rubber tube. For the second experiment. look for changes in colour and particle size. an injection syringe and lighted agarbatti. we will need a test tube or a small bottle.

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

hydrogen oxide). Chemically.12 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Potato cubes or slices. Hydrogen peroxide is H2O2. Water. 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. 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. is a compound of hydrogen and oxygen. It is not . water is H2O (that is. too.

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

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

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

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

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

. before we check if the doors are on their job. 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. So we will wait for about fifteen minutes or so. But we must give the invisible doors some time to operate smoothly and silently. This will be our second experiment. Won't it be fun if we were right? We could even try and find out how the doors worked. In the meanwhile we can make waiting easy by writing down our guesses about what might happen.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. Then we could compare our notes with what we will see in fifteen minutes time. For some extra fun while we are waiting.

If we look again. These walls allow .NATURAL GATES 19 Invisible gates at work For this experiment too. 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. The results are interesting because although apparently it seems the flow of water in the two experiments are opposite to each other. the movement of water takes place towards the sugar solution. we see that in both. that is not the case. Scientists say that the potato-cup is made up of cells and each cell has its boundary wall. we will allow fifteen minutes for the gates to operate.

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

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

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. 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. We will also need concentrated sugar solution and a beaker filled with water. either with a piece of parchment paper or with the egg sac. Invert the funnel and place it in a beaker filled with water. The school science laboratory will surely have it. 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. Plants and animals require many substances . Fertilisers are added only at specific stages in the life of a plant.22 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN pour kerosene or oil but with a longer stem. Yes. When too much salt is put around the roots 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. Now we understand why gardeners and farmers are advised to use the right concentration of fertilisers and that too not frequently. water from the cells of the roots comes out into the soil. We know that plants and animals cannot live without water. onion. of course. the level of water in the stem rises with time. Let's fill the thistle funnel partly with concentrated sugar solution and then close the mouth of the funnel tightly.

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

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

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

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

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

Cars too have radio sets. The body of the car acts as a shield and . 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.28 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Does this work as well? shield and hence this method is called 'shielding' the apparatus from radio disturbance. and they suppress or filter out the unwanted waves and allow only waves of desired frequency to pass through them. Generally. These are in the form of circuits. certain devices installed in the radio set help decrease the noise. It is really not possible to cover our radio sets with this kind of a shielding apparatus. which receives the broadcast.

This was the first detection of radio waves coming from a source in outer space. was trying to find out how much noise he would receive from the atmosphere in his short-wave radio receiver. Jansky found that the radio noise was coming from the centre of the Milky Way. Moreover the spark-plug in the cars is also completely covered with a metal casing. Karl Jansky. The telescope consisted of a large metal disc. This field is now one of the most important disciplines in the study of the universe. Thus. but extremely fruitful result. USA. an engineer in Bell Telephone Company. In 1932. the basic technique of Radio-Astronomy was established. This telescope could receive faint signals from galaxies and stars and could fix the direction of the source of radio waves. with a sensitive radio receiver at its focus. These would never be visible to the naked eye and can be seen only by radio-telescopes. In addition to the expected noises. There are some sources which emit mostly radio waves. You might be surprised to know that apart from visible light. All these are. 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. He had built an aerial which could locate the direction of the source of radionoise. electromagnetic radiations. He was trying to listen to the crackling noises from distant thunderstorms. of course. Grote Reber. shaped like a parabolic mirror (like a mirror of a car lamp). stars emit many other radiations like radio waves and X-rays. he received a continuous noise from an unknown source in the sky. . a German scientist constructed a radio-telescope to receive radio waves from stellar objects.NO NOISE IS GOOD NOISE 29 prevents the disturbing waves from entering the car. After several years of this discovery.

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. and radio telegraphy and telephony between ships and across continents or oceans. the most familiar uses of radio waves are in the fields of communication broadcasting.

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

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

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

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

We must take care that the wires of the circuit do not touch the can anywhere. we should use an insulator such as an adhesive tape between the wires and the can. 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 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.35 SHORT-CIRCUIT Earthing electrical gadgets metal can. What must we do for this? Yes. . One clip can be attached to the can and the other to a nearby pipe. Now let's switch the circuit on.

the body of the gadget does not get any current.36 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Now we can guess why electrical gadgets have a three-pin plug. to flow through our body to the earth. 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 third pin is connected to the ground. The resistance of our body being much higher than that of the wire. it can give us a shock. Normally. or to flow through the wire connected to the earth. The earthing of instruments thus saves us from shock. the current chooses to flow through the wire. Can you recollect. but should the wires inside it ever accidentally touch such a gadget. Thus when we touch it.

sticky enough to trap flies and other prey.YOUR OWN SPIDERMAN Just mentioning the word 'spider' often makes many of us look for the cobweb duster. . vitally important from the view point of safety. In fact. 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. They airlift stranded people using a wire or rope that is lowered from the helicopter. 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. It is also rigorously tested before use so that it does not suddenly snap in mid air. the same factor operates when commandos carry out risky rescue operations. The web is made up of threads spun by the spider itself. lightweight yet strong. of course. The thread is strong enough to hold the spider's weight and this factor is.

If the addition of the weight does not cause the string to break. All we need Jor that. ohail on the wall. 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.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. -we can go on adding extra weights till at last the thread snaps as soon as we . This will stretch the thread and by reading its length against the meter scale. But we must be careful that when we tie the hook to the string. a hook and some weights. the thread should remain taut. Let's then attach a small weight to the hook on the thread. Placing a meter scale behind the thread will allow us to know the length of the thread or string. we can see that the thread is elongated. are equal lengths of strings of various types.

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

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

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

DOING SCIENCE IS FUN 42 Measuring thickn'ess .

The maximum load which can be handled by a crane is marked on it. Ordinary grass is too flimsy to make strong ropes. 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. The hooks to which the cables are attached must also be strong enough to withstand the pull. These are carefully tested to ensure that they are strong enough to withstand the pull of the ship. we have to take two single strands of nylon. 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. 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). "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. Strong ropes have many uses. they must have judged (or measured) the strength of the ropes. wires. We have seen pictures of workers carrying heavy stones to build a pyramid. There is a considerable difference in the thickness of the rope used to tie the ships to the capstan in a is not enough to simply ensure the strength of the towing cable. ropes. But thick ropes of grass are strong enough to tie an elephant and were used not long ago for this purpose. or cables have been used from ancient times for a number of purposes. and a steel cable used on a crane. But on what does it depend? The steel cables of a crane consist of a number of wires twisted together.YOUR OWN SPIDERMAN 43 For this. Steel cables are used to tow ships.

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

Or. of the air. They travel out in all directions. As it topples. vibrations or movements back and forth. it produces disturbances in the air. If we could redirect these sound waves occurring outside our room in another direction or let them be . These waves are. if we could read in peace.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. There must be some way to stop the sound from outside coming in or the sounds of our whispers going fact. These disturbances give rise to waves. even have secret talks with our friends without an inquisitive ear getting to know about it. 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. Some of these strike our eardrums and the message is signalled to and recorded by the brain as sound.


we would again have a sound-proof system. we could have a sound-proof room! Similarly. This is easy.SOUND'S FUN 47 absorbed en route so that they never reach us. and our friend has the other tin against his ear. polished . right? The smooth. We will see an image of this tube in the mirror. and hit the surface of the mirror placed on the other end. Let us now replace the mirror with an uneven surface. the sound waves are carried through the twine to our friend's ears. Remember when you made phones out of tin cans and a twine. When the tubes are kept at the same angle. All we need are a mirror. and a clock that ticks. two hollow cylindrical tubes about 30 cm long. to a destination of our choice. for secret talks with your friend? When we speak into the tin can. if we direct all the waves in one direction (without letting them scatter). we hear the loudest ticking. We will now partition the mirror into two halves by placing a cardboard in the middle. The pressure waves emanating from the ticking clock are channelled in the tube. It would be easier to place it against the wall. We can keep the second tube in line with this image. Let us place the mirror vertically on a table. place the clock at the mouth of one tube and your ear at the mouth of the other. 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. There is an easy way to study the behaviour of sound. 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. Now. Then we will place two-tubes on either side of the cardboard making the same angle with the cardboard. They are then reflected back.

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

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

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.

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. the heavy rumble of thunder and the dark clouds must have made everyone uneasy. But nature can also be very frightening. the car acts as a shield and protects the passengers. .SAFETY FIRST Nature is beautiful. But it is relatively safer inside a closed car. 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. Lightning is usually not dangerous but it does sometimes strike tall buildings or trees with devastating results. This is because the metallic body of the car safely carries the charge to the ground. In fact. of course everyone sat nice and dry in the car while the storm lashed everything and the lightning lit up the sky.

52 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Safety first .

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

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. Immediately the string outside the pot is attracted towards it and moves till it touches the pot. The string inside the pot does not move at all.54 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Duplicating the effects of a lightning strike free outside the pot while the second string dangles inside it. 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. The charge from the lightning spreads over the metal body of the car and jumps to the ground from . That is why you are safe from lightning if you stay inside the car and do not touch any metal parts.

Once the ring is made we will place a magnet inside the ring and sprinkle iron filings around the magnet. Or else we can make a ring by bending a piece of soft iron. Let's make a nice wide ring so that we have more space to play in. Some of the charge may also pass through the tyres. especially when they are wet. We can even repeat the experiment using a magnetic needle and the results are the same. of course. .SAFETY FIRST 65 Magnetic shield its lower parts. Let's make a ring from a tin can. The second experiment that we will perform will give us more information about magnetic shielding. 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. we may even tap the arrangement gently until the filings arrange themselves. So now both the magnet and the filings are inside the ring. a tin can is usually an iron can plated with tin.

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. The needle will only move if we lift 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.

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

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

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

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



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 .

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

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

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. But to carry out the experiment successfully we have to take care about certain things. Maybe we could fill it with cooking oil this time. The ball should be . 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. Now we will fill the tumbler with a different liquid. We can then record how long it takes for the ball to sink this time.

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

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

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

FLOODS AND FLOWS Plasticity can be easily demonstratea 71 .

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

They flow many times faster than the liquids.FLOODS AND FLOWS 73 Now we know that liquids and some solids flow under pressure. gases also flow. 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. .

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

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

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

Aren't even these very bright! Which is the brightest of them all? In fact if the screen is large enough. we can reflect the light off the mirror and the metal plates such that they fall side by side.A SILVER LINING 77 Dazzling shine stainless steel plates. 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). This will make the task of comparison easier.

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

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

This is being reflected back to us and is strong enough to show the . though faintly. the light reflected by the earth is falling onihe moon.light. The earth reflects about half of the radiation that it receives from the sun. only seven per cent of the light that it receives. in fact. This part is illuminated by earth.80 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Bright cresent beautiful sight. In other words. However.light. 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. You can also see the rest of the moon. 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.

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

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

In the hands of expert musicians. He does this by means of the knobs and screws present on the instrument. When the musician pluciks one of the strings or uses his bow on them. some of the most beautiful musical sounds can be obtained from these instruments. This produces the required tension on the strings which is necessary to produce the musical notes he wants to play. the strings vibrate and produce the desired musical notes. guitar. But these are just some instruiments where man has made clever use of strings. mandolin. 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 . he has to tune his instrument.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. sitar and sarod.. But before the musician can get the right note.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

moves more smoothly when the board is sprinkled with powder. A carrom coin. too. you guessed it right. Friction tends to stop two surfaces moving over each other. When we slide two glass strips over each other. It is greater for some surfaces than for others. Friction is usually greater between two rough surfaces than between two smooth ones. . don't they slide smoothly? The same is not the case when we rub together blotting or sand paper.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. Such opposing force is called friction. Yes. 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.

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

The rope holding the sail is just passed around a hook. This is the trick used to sail boats. 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. a couple of times.FRIEND OR FOE 97 Hold fast Now.

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

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

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

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

or centre. Scientists pondered over what actually brought about this kind of an attraction. was unraveled. the fundamental unit of ail matter.102 DOING SCIENCE IS FUN Commonplace example of electric charge Let us try rubbing a handkerchief on a polythene plastic sheet. containing positively charged particles — protons — and neutral or uncharged particles — neutrons. The paper pieces are instantly attracted to the sheet and cling to it atleast for a short period of time. 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. the moment we take the rubbed polythene sheet near tiny bits of paper. The answer to this came when the structure of the atom. Typically on atom has a nucleus. We will realize the presence of a charge. Negatively charged particles known as electrons revolve around . and why it happened only when two substances were rubbed against each other.

An electrically charged object attracts other light objects. But when an atom either gains or loses electrons. there are as many protons as there are electrons in an atom.A LIGHTNING FLASH IN YOUR ROOM 103 Let's puzzle our friends the nucleus. 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 charge is acquired. The other surface loses electrons and gets positively charged. Thus these surfaces become 'electrically charged' when rubbed together. it gets positively charged if electrons are lost. The atom becomes negatively charged when electrons are gained. That explains why the tiny bits of paper are attracted to the plastic sheet. 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. One surface acquires more negative charge on it. Ordinarily.



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

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

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

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

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

45-50.106 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. 101.107-111 Osmosis 15-23 Plasticity 63-73.101-106 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 . 101-106 Electromagnet 51-56 Electromagnetic shielding 51-56 Electron 31-36.


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

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