Monday, January 28, 2013

The fantastic parachuting egg

At our last SWE meeting (Society of Women Engineers), we tested our activity for Expanding Your Horizons, an event for middle school girls to encourage them to go into the STEM fields. Our activity is the traditional egg drop, but with a bit of a twist. To make it more like engineering, we are giving each team a budget and a list of materials, and the team that uses the least amount of "money" but has an egg that survives a minimum 8-foot drop wins. When we tested this at our meeting, we had many designs where people wrapped the egg in as much stuff as possible, but my friend Jacob and I took a different approach.

At first, I was thinking about making a glider or something for the egg to soar down in, but Jacob suggested we make a parachute. With 2-feet of plastic cling wrap, a foot of tape, two popsicle sticks, and five tissues, we came up with this design: 

We used the popsicle sticks to keep the cling wrap parachute open, and made a cradle out of the five tissues to nest the egg and soften the blow when it landed. We tested from the 8-foot drop, and much to everyone's surprise, it worked! 

(Ignore my yelling at the end. I was very excited.) 
But we had to take it a step forward. We then went and gathered some of our professors and tested it from the third floor stairwell onto a concrete floor.

It somewhat worked. We were surprised that it made it all the way down, but about a foot up from the floor, the egg hit the wall. I think had it not hit the wall, it may have stayed in tact; the egg cracked but it did not catastrophically break!

This was actually the first egg drop competition I ever did. It was a lot of fun! And for those of you who live in the North Florida area and want to register your daughter or refer a friend to Expanding Your Horizons, you can! The website with all the info and registration is here: Expanding Your Horizons North Florida.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Star Wars themed eyewear

Those of you that know me or have been following me for a while know that I am a HUGE Star Wars fan. I grew up in a household that loved Star Wars, and it was a fundamental part of my childhood. When I saw these Star Wars themed glasses online, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Check out Aigen's Star Wars themed eyewear! As much as I would love to have them, I'm not quite willing to pay for the $500 price tag that accompanies them. You can check them out here, or see some pictures from geekologie below.

Source for images: here

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

New life goal: to dance with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of my idols and heroes. I adore the man, and got to hear him talk once at my university. Now, I saw these videos online of Neil dancing, and I fell in love.

New life goal: to dance with Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Videos found on

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Instagram photos

I did a post like this a while back where I posted some of the favorite pictures I had taken with instagram, (post can be found here), and I decided to make another. These are some of the favorites of my more recent photos. You can also follow me on instagram @queenofquarks. Enjoy! 
(Also, if any of you are super particularly fond of a photo, please don't use without permission!)

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Hey everyone! Sorry for the temporary hiatus; with the new semester starting, I've been very preoccupied! I apologize in advance if I blog less frequently, but I will still "blog on"! Now on to what's happening.

Loving: The blanket my mom made me for Christmas and my new TARDIS iPhone case. The blanket is sooo warm and is purple and gray, my two favorite colors. The TARDIS iPhone case is just awesome. 

Reading: A Feast for Crows by George R.R Martin. Honestly, I'm finding this to be the slowest of the Song of Ice and Fire series. My favorite characters aren't really in this book, so it is slower for me. But it is still a good book! 

Listening to: I've been listening to a lot of old school Maroon 5. Songs about Jane is one of my favorite albums; it is sooo good! "Not Coming Home" is one of my favorite songs from the album, especially because it's live. Adam has an amazing voice, and this song is just gold. 

Anticipating: I don't want to say just yet because nothing is set in stone, but hopefully there will be an announcement on this soon!  

Thinking about: The tons of things I have to do this weekend. Even though it's only the first week of the semester, I already have tons of work to do!

Watching: 'Big Bang Theory' is on right now. I really love this show, but I think it needs to start mixing things up a bit. It's starting to seem like the same old thing over and over again. 'Elementary' has gotten even more exciting with the introduction of Moriarty, (I'm totally fangirling over this! I love anything and everything Sherlock Holmes.)

Working on: Homework and a scholarship essay! I've been working for weeks on this essay, it's not coming to me as naturally as most essays do, but I have to finish it this weekend. Here's to hoping it turns out well! 

Wishing: That my car would magically be fixed. It sure would make getting around a lot easier!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Greatest scientific & engineering breakthroughs of 2012

2012 has been an awesome year for science. From Curiosity landing on Mars to advanced prosthetics,  there have been many advances in science and engineering. Here is my list of what I believe to be the top scientific and engineering advances of 2012 (in no particular order).

8) Curiosity rover reaches Mars! 
One of my favorite breakthroughs this year was the landing and success of the Mars Curiosity rover (aka Mars Science Lab). After the scary and dangerous descent to the surface of the red planet, Curiosity started conducting experiments to discover if Mars once or does have the building blocks necessary for life. The video of the Curiosity's descent can be found here; NASA's page for all Curiosity news is here.

7) Quantum teleportation records broken
The distance record for quantum teleportation was broken; particles were teleported 89 miles by two teams of researchers. Quantum entanglement is used to teleport the particles. Quantum internet or new ways of transmitting information to satellites can come from this breakthrough. You can read more about this here.

6) First commercial spacecraft docks with International Space Station
This year was also a big year for commercial space companies; SpaceX's Dragon capsule launched and docked with the International Space Station, making SpaceX the first commercial space company to dock with the ISS. It took 822 pounds of cargo to the ISS, and returned with waste. There were no astronauts on board, but it was a milestone for the commercial space industry.

5) Higgs Boson detected by LHC
Arguably one of the biggest scientific discoveries of all time, the Higgs Boson, the particle that gives all matter mass, has been discovered by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Although more testing is being done to absolutely ensure it is the Higgs, the particle discovered is consistent with the properties of the Higgs. With this discovery, the Standard Model of the universe is much more complete, and we are closer to understanding our universe.

4) Wandering planet found
A new type of planet has been discovered by astronomers. CFBDSIR2149 is a planet near our solar system that does not orbit any star. Roaming planets had been theorized for many years, but had never been proved until CFBDSIR2149's discovery.  

3) Ice found on Mercury
More space news! Incredibly, ice has been found on Mercury, the closest planet to the sun! substantial amounts of ice were discovered by Messenger at Mercury's North Pole, and it is believed that ice can also be found on the South Pole. Mercury can reach temperatures of 800 degrees Fahrenheit, but the poles are shielded from the sun, allowing ice to form.

2) Monkeys born from cells of different embryos 
"Mixed embryo" monkeys have been born. The monkeys are made of cells from different embryos that were then implanted in female monkeys.

1) Advanced brain controlled prosthetics developed 
Prosthetics have made incredible advancements this past year. Prosthetics have become so advanced that people can control them with their mind, such as Jan Scheuermann, a woman paralyzed from the neck down, (article here). She can move a robotic arm to reach for things, such as picking up a chocolate bar and feeding herself. Scientists believe that this research can be advanced in the future to restore activity to paralyzed limbs.