Tag Archives: science

FFORX: 5 scientists on a mission

I know, I know. An English major interested in engineering and numbers! What crazy parallel universe is this? But, despite the stereotype of English and Math mixing as efficiently, or effectively, as oil and water, I happen to thoroughly enjoy the sciences. So I’ve made sure to have friends who not only love math and scienceĀ  but actually understand it, and have tremendous ambitions.

One of my friends did an internship with NASA last year, which opened the door for him to apply to do with research with them this summer on a micro-gravity flight. In complete aerospace engineering nerdiness, he gathered up a group from his class. The group did extensive research regarding potential experiments they could run under NASA’s strict requirements, and they wrote a research proposal while everyone else was attempting to work off their Christmas love-handles. They created FFORX and explained to anyone who gave them 2 seconds the details surrounding the potential contained within ferrofluid.

And their hard work paid off because this summer, they’re traveling to Houston. They’re going to run an experiment dealing with ferrofluids, energy production, and micro-gravity (their website has a detailed, slightly jargony, explanation). What I understand is they’re taking a fluid made of tiny pieces of iron and putting it into a pump to see if they can turn on a light. (complete disclosure: this is probably an over-simplification of their intricate experiment and should reflect my ability to pay attention – see opening statement). And they’re experimenting on NASA’s micro-gravity flight because, if their hypothesis that ferrofluid energy production is effective in a low-gravity environment, it can potentially be used to power rovers in space and on Mars.

FFORX’s genuine excitement, however, works to their advantage; it brings everyone they interact with on board, which has helped them get as far as they have. Houston is not close to Southern California, and their experiment isn’t cheap. And, by making the most of their enthusiasm, their connections through Fullerton College, and their conversation skills, the team has raised a decent chunk of the necessary funds.

You should check out their site, see more pictures of their experiment, and see how you can connect with them. They’re really fun and quite brilliant, and they deserve each chance they encounter.

Scientists are fantastic

I love scientists. Their curiosity and dedication to discovery inspire me to never stop asking questions and learning.

Their sense of humor and gambling nature make their discoveries entertaining. I’ve heard several stories of major discoveries being fueled by bets. The biggest, most recent one I remember involved Stephen Hawking and a set of encyclopedias on baseball.

So when I stumbled across an article about the title of a paper on dark matter, I wasn’t surprised. Symmetry Breaking, the online element of Symmetry, a particle physics magazine, posted the story behind the title of a paper: “Poker face of inelastic dark matter: Prospects at upcoming direct detection experiments.”

Turns out the reference to Lady Gaga is indeed the result of a lost bet. Which is fantastic.

Frequently, scientist get pictured as out of touch nerds who don’t really care about the world everyone else lives in. I’m sure there are some scientists like that, just as I am sure there are some pop culture fanatics that are out of touch with the world everyone else lives in. But the point is that each group is not necessarily dominated by the stereotypes. If these scientists didn’t pay attention to the world outside of their labs, they would not have such great stakes for their bets.

I hope the science community doesn’t stop with what they’re doing. Especially their betting. Life would be a little dimmer if I couldn’t look forward to whatever the new Britney Spears’ Guide to Semiconductor Physics will be.

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