During the month of February, we had the opportunity to take a field trip to the Robotics Lab at ISU. It was neat to learn more about a Robotic Hands project that Dr. Alba Perez Gracia is working on. She and her students are working on the development of a multi-fingered robotic hand that can grasp devices and manipulate tasks. With this technology, the robotic hand could help industrial, agricultural and other applications to become more efficient. A single hand could do the work of two hands.
It was fascinating to hear about how the hand was developed. There has been collaboration between different disciplines (physical therapy, engineering, mathematics, etc.) to make this project possible. From capturing hand motion data, deciding which hand structure to use for a task, or how to capture objects using their image detection system, it was really interesting to see and learn more. One of our favorite parts of the tour was when we were able to use a laptop to control one of the hands and see it in motion. We want to thank Dr. Alba Perez Gracia and her students for sharing their time and their talents. We had a great time.
On April 5, 2014, Dr. Shropshire and a few physics students presented "electrifying" demonstrations at the Pine Ridge Mall. The event was free and the public was invited to attend. The exhibits were fun for the whole family. One could go from station to station and participate in hands-on activities or watch demonstrations. Dr. Shropshire and the students from the ISU Society of Physics Students were available at each station to explain the science behind their exhibits. These included a Van DeGraff electrostatic generator, magnets, and even liquid nitrogen. They made it a fun afternoon and encouraged learning more about physics in the world around us.
The Idaho Accelerator Center was the focus of Grants & Contract Accounting's March 2014 research spotlight. IAC Engineer, Brian Berls, took us on a tour that provided an inside look at several accelerators and control centers. At first glance, it appears to be warehouses full of scattered machinery projects. We quickly found out that the machinery was all connected to make up several accelerators which process enormous amounts of energy and radiation. These accelerators have attracted the attention of multiple educational institutions as well as private and government organizations from across the country for use in research and development activities. The IAC is one of only a few universities which have these resources available at their disposal. Over the course of the tour Brian Berls would describe several applications for these accelerators including medical, biological, energy and even projects with national security implications, such as port security.
Without a doubt, the IAC is an incredible asset to Idaho State University, and a source for many scientific discoveries to come. We want to thank Brian Berls for his time and providing us this informative tour. Furthermore, we want to thank Linda Egli for her efforts in setting it up.
Dr. Steven Shropshire (ISU Physics Professor) and his team of students, namely Ben Pearson, Bryce Graham and William Alston took us for an electrifying tour into their world of physics. Dr. Shropshire gave a presentation on the basic concepts of ELECTROMAGNETISM through a series of interactive demonstrations and interesting experiments.
As generally known, electricity and magnetism are two distinct topics, but as we explored the physics behind it, there is always a connection between the two which make them inseparable. This relationship between electricity and magnetism gave rise to the phenomenon of electromagnetism-discovered by a 19th century physicist named Hans Christian Orsted. He noticed that a compass needle, which is magnetic, would be deflected when placed near a wire with an electric current, this as we observed is true. Later developments proved that this electric current surrounding the wire creates a magnetic field. Which brought up the question: If electric currents can create a magnetic field, can a moving magnet create an electric current? Dr. Shropshire explained this concept through several demonstrations.And yes, it would create an electric current as it did light up a light bulb as it moved over a magnet. Voila! Let there be light! This magnificent discovery established the link between electricity and magnetism which still exists in our modern world today.
This simple phenomenon has shaped the world around us today. Mostly everything that we use in our everyday lives contains some electromagnetic component. For instance, electric/gas appliances, TVs, computers, video games, music, internet, cell phones, radio, medical equipment, cars, etc.-just to name a few. What would we do without all those everyday devices that have become necessities, or without all the high-tech medical equipments that are saving lives today? It’s hard to imagine life without all this technology that we’ve become so used to. Thanks to Dr. Shropshire for the wonderful demonstrations that we were able to see the construction and basic structure behind everyday devices such as hair dryers, small motors, radio, TV, earphones, speakers, generators, transformers, etc-all from the basic concept of Electromagnetism. It was truly an eye-opener and an immediate reminder of how fortunate we are today because of this discovery.
Thank you Dr. Shropshire, Ben, Bryce and William. We sincerely appreciate your time and effort in putting this field trip together.