For Science!
6 Wondrous Technologies We Take for Granted (and Complain about)

CJ Miozzi | 22 Oct 2014 18:39
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5. Airplanes

(Warning: profane language in the video.)

"Oh my God, that three-hour flight was BRUTAL."

An airplane is a seemingly gravity-defying metal tube with wings that enables you to travel faster than has ever been possible in history. Big airliners use jet engines for propulsion, burning jet fuel at about 1,000 degrees Celsius and spinning rotors up to 15,000 times per minute - yet they remain safer than many other modes of transportation.

Airplanes are able to fly through thrust and lift. When thrust - generated by a propeller or jet engine - moves a plane forward, it is the movement of air over and under the wings that generates the lift needed to get and keep the craft airborne. The wing is specifically shaped to deflect air above and beneath it in such a way as to create a zone of low pressure above the wing relative to beneath it. The pressure difference results in an aerodynamic upward force that creates the lift.

The next time you're on an airplane and unhappy about your seating, remember the words of comedian Louis C.K.: "You're sitting in a chair in the sky! You're like a Greek myth right now!"

6. Electric Power

"Stupid, crappy smartphone battery... I have to charge this thing every night."

None of these technologies would be possible without Zeus' blessing. Through his divine will, lightning courses through wires and electronics, bringing them to life.

To put it more complexly, an electric generator converts mechanical energy into electrical energy by moving an electrically conductive material around inside a magnetic field. inducing a current of charged particles. An electrical grid consists of generators that transmit electrical power along transmission lines to where it's needed. In order to transmit power over great distances, the voltage is "stepped up" significantly, before being "stepped down" again to the voltages needed to power your home and appliances. The reason for this is that power is lost during transmission, and higher voltages result in less transmission loss.

A battery stores chemical energy and converts it into electrical energy when needed. Within a battery is one or more electrochemical cells, which generate electrical energy through chemical reactions. Each of these cells contains a positive and a negative terminal, and current flows from one end to the other through either a liquid or solid solution that is electrically conductive.

In a regular battery, the chemical reaction that generates electrical energy causes irreversible changes to the materials inside. In a rechargeable battery, by reversing the current flow, the changes can be reversed, allowing the battery to be used multiple times.

Before you complain about your smartphone battery again, consider that you're carrying with you a power source whose potential can be unleashed at your command. You used to need slaves for that.


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