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Physics of the Everyday

via Brilliant

Overview

Discover physics in unexpected places: from refrigerators and toilets, to traffic jams and water towers.

By the end of this course, you'll use powerful ideas like forces, energy, and estimation to catch criminals, design bridges, and throw axes through the lens of a physicist.

Syllabus

  • In the House: From the fridge to the toilet.
    • Refrigerators: Each component of your fridge does something different. How do you put them together to keep food cold?
    • Toilets: Take a deep dive into the physics of the flush.
    • Helicopter Toy: Propellers are fun to play with, but they're also a product of natural selection.
    • Water Contamination: How much meth is in your tapwater? Hopefully, not the same amount as in your sewage.
    • Water Towers: Find out why the water to your house stays on even when the power is off.
  • On the Field: A workout for your body and mind.
    • Axe Throwing: Hitting a target is easier than you think, if you know where to stand.
    • BMX: Use the concept of torque to land a wallride and grind a curvy rail.
    • Motocross: If you want to land a front flip, you'd better have a grasp on angular momentum first.
    • Tug of War: Brute strength won't help you in your next tug of war—find out what will.
    • Skiing: Ski the highest line in the solar system: Olympus Mons.
    • Gymnastics: Spinning: You're on a roll. Why is it an advantage to be small in gynmastics?
    • Gymnastics: Flipping: Judges know not all flips are created equal. How much energy does a gymnast need to flip?
    • Baseball: Hitting & Catching: Crack! A baseball bat turns to Jell-o under the crushing impulse of a homerun.
    • Baseball: Throwing & Running: Turn two! Turn two! Use the concept of average speed to perfect your throw in baseball.
  • Fuel the World: A series of high energy experiences.
    • Fossil Fuels: Most energy on Earth is just stored solar energy, including oil. So why are fossil fuels unsustainable?
    • Mammalian Caloric Intake: What fraction of its bodyweight does an elephant need to eat to survive? What about a mouse?
    • Solar Power: Weigh the pros and cons of solar energy. Can solar power meet the demands of modern society?
    • Nuclear Energy: Nuclear fusion powers the Sun, but how can something as small as an atom release so much energy?
    • Nuclear Reactors: Fission reactions are what powers nuclear power plants. Find out how this really works.
    • Dyson Sphere: What if we could harvest all of the energy from a star?
  • Out in Nature: Don't forget your jacket.
    • Seasons: Find out the real reason for the yearly cycle of seasons.
    • The Greenhouse Effect: How Earth found warmth in a cold, dark place.
    • Weather Systems: Low pressure, high pressure, cold front, warm front — decode the jargon in your weather report.
    • The Water Cycle: Earth's water can be solid, liquid, or gas. How long does it spend in each phase?
    • Hurricanes: It's hard to move in a straight line on a rotating planet.
    • Tides: High tide would come but once a day were not the Moon to have its way.
  • Infrastructure: The spice must flow.
    • Fluoridated Water: Is it a public health intervention, or a repressive government's mind-control tactic?
    • Airplanes: What is lift? More importantly, what is a lift dumper?
    • Traffic: Traffic jams aren't modern inventions, they're a force of nature.
    • Beam and Truss Bridges: You may want to tread softly on these bridges.
    • Arch and Suspension Bridges: From the Brooklyn Bridge to the Golden Gate — these majestic bridges stood the test of time.
    • Skyscrapers: Skyscrapers aren't as sturdy as you may think. Find out what's on their roofs to keep them from swaying.
    • Queen of the Monsters!: The top of a primordial ecosystem—but can she walk?
  • Crime: Whodunit?
    • Bike Tracks: Crack a tricky murder investigation with the physics of bicycle tracks.
    • Blood Splatter: Analyze blood splatter patterns to help reconstruct the events of a crime scene.
    • Auto Collisions: Use clues about the tire skids and the extent of the damage to reconstruct a fatal collision.
    • Stray Bullets: Can you predict where these stray bullets will end up? Kinematics can help.
    • Stray Bullets in the Wind: Stray bullets are more unpredictable when you factor in the motion of air around them.

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