Fridaygram: science education, simulating galaxies, spider webs

FEB 03, 2012
Author Photo
By Scott Knaster, Google Code Blog Editor

Most software developers started getting interested in technology at an early age. With that in mind, Google Roots in Science and Engineering (RISE) is a program that annually awards grants to groups that come up with great new ways to teach students in Computer Science (CS) and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This year’s awards were just announced. The winners included a program that helps primary school students in Dublin, girls in the San Francisco Bay Area, and kids in Uganda who want to learn about technology.

Scientists love to have reproducible results so they can test theories and ideas. What if you’d like to reproduce the creation of a galaxy? That task is still out of scale for humans, but scientists at the Laboratoire pour l'Utilisation de Lasers Intenses (LULI) have figured out a lab procedure that simulates the magnetic fields in newly formed galaxies. The experimental version uses lasers and carbon rods in place of clouds of gas and dark matter, but the results are useful, and you don’t need a galaxy-sized lab to work in.

Narrowing our view from giant galaxies to little spiders, a new study says spider webs are not just strong, but also have the ability to become either stiff or soft, as necessary. Spider webs are also designed to stay as strong as possible when strands are damaged. So spiders are good engineers.

Finally, you might use some of your weekend time to ponder this Vi Hart video about SpongeBob SquarePants and Fibonacci sequences.

Fridaygram posts are just for fun. Fridaygrams are designed for your Friday afternoon and weekend enjoyment. Each Fridaygram item must pass only one test: it has to be interesting to us nerds, and we certainly love our lasers.