• Question: How does the principles of science and mathematics apply to your everyday tasks?

    Asked by zoha to Ant, Dan, Matt, Mike, Steph on 15 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: Dan Veal

      Dan Veal answered on 15 Mar 2012:

      One example from this week: i’ve been trying to figure out the equations to describe the motion of something that moves back and forth along a section of a circle. (this is is a mass on the end of a metal arm, just like a pendulum in an old clock) So you know the pythagorean theorem? That’s the long name for a^2 + b^2 = c^2 where you can find the 3rd length of the sides of a triangle if you know the other two. I’ve literally used that formula a dozen times this week trying to figure out angles, and trajectories, and dimensions. Loads more examples if you want them.

    • Photo: Stephanie Tomlinson

      Stephanie Tomlinson answered on 15 Mar 2012:

      One example is the project I have just finished designing and is being assembled right now. I think you will have learnt about these science principles at school already…

      I need to create thin film solid hyrdogen target (for experiments looking into making nuclear fusion work). Hydrogen solidifies at about 20K (-250 degrees C) – therefore I need to make something very cold in order to cool the hydrogen onto. Fortunately for me, there are companies specialise in making equipment that has a cold end. I designed all the components that will fit onto the cold end so that we can turn hydrogen gas (at room temperature) into solid hydrogen (at very low temperature). Therefore I need to consider all the principles of science to do with heat transfer. 1) Conduction – i need to make sure that the bits I want to be cold are made of good conducting material and suitable sized. i also need to make sure that I do not create any conductive paths for unwanted heat to get to the cold bit 2) Convection – the equipment will be used in vacuum so I do not have to worry about convection heating up the whole piece of equipment – only the local hydrogen region 3) Radiation – I need to stop radiation from the warm room getting to the cold bit – therefore I need to put shields in place, consider the surface finish and material used. I use maths to work out what the heat loads from all these principles are so that I know if my bit of equipment has enough power to overcome the amount of heat getting in.

      This is just one example – there are many many more – basically I use principles of science and maths everyday.