With scientific progress moving faster than ever before, numerous new and immensely useful inventions came out during 2017. Let us take a peek through the past year, at the inventions that had the most impact on our world.
Technology is one thing that changes at a fast pace each day. Everyday new technologies emerge, and accepted theories are challenged. This does not mean that the existing technology is becoming obsolete. With great efforts, researchers are coming up with new inventions all the time. Here are a few of the most memorable inventions which were revealed in 2017.
Top Inventions of 2017
Look Around Corners Using Smartphone Technology
Scientists from MIT have transformed a reel life idea into a real life idea. This technology uses a smartphone camera to detect moving objects around hidden corners. This technology has potential applications in reducing car accidents around blind corners, search and rescue operations, and in hostage situations.
This technology uses natural light reflected by the objects hidden away from a person’s line of sight. The new Corner Camera system analyzes the light reflected off by the hidden objects that fall within the line of sight of the camera which is held in a steady position.
The system analyzes the light and measures the speed and trajectory of the object in real time. The steady camera requirement is one of the limitations of this technology. Further research is expected to get rid off the shaky camera system with advanced image stabilization.
Atomic Fingerprinting to End Counterfeiting
Researchers have developed a new method to detect if a product is real or counterfeit. The technology has two components – a unique pattern on holograms and a smartphone app. This can find applications primarily in the automotive as well as the pharmaceutical industry.
In this new anti-counterfeiting method, a unique pattern is created by fabricating flaws in the thin atomic layer of materials like graphene oxide. Once the flaws are set, the material is combined with ink which helps in printing the hologram using inkjet printers.
To confirm the authenticity, the person has to use the flash of his smartphone camera. When the light falls on the label it excites the atoms which generate a unique color pattern. The built in app analyzes the pattern and confirms the authenticity of the label.
Windows as Solar Panels
The world has taken climate change and sustainability seriously. A Dutch bank became the first commercial organization to be fitted with solar windows. A square meter of the windows will generate enough power for a user to charge his phone twice a day.
The start-up called Physee has outfitted the headquarters of a Dutch bank with fully transparent solar power generating windows. The windows have solar cells fitted at the edges at an angle.
The glass windows are coated with a specific material which converts the incoming solar light into electricity. This will help to convert the modern day estates into energy neutral buildings.
Wired Roads to Power Electric Cars
This new wireless system will help the people to charge their electric cars without using cords. Researchers have innovated a new way of charging cars. One only has to park his vehicle above the charging pad (source) and the battery (receiver) will get charged with the help of radio waves.
The wireless charging system is based on the concept of quantum physics called parity-time (PT) symmetry. The new system has a source and a receiver like other conventional systems. It uses an amplifier at the source designed to magnify the electromagnetic energy in the coil, inductor, and rectifier at the receiver.
The PT symmetry automatically selects the frequency of the waves that leads to maximum power being transferred from the source to the receiver. Further research is being carried on, to charge the car while it is in motion.
Flexible Touch Pads
Scientists have developed a transparent touch pad which is flexible and can sense touch even when it is bent. These new flexible touch pads have paved the way for creation of touch screens that could be wearable in the future.
This device is made of hydrogel; the same material from which contact lenses are made. Salt is added to this hydrogel, which leads to the formation of electrically charged ions which generate electricity around it. When a finger is touched to the hydrogel, it interacts with the electric field to generate the signal.
The signals are distinguishable between a normal touch pad and a stretched one. The touch pad is able to detect multiple touch inputs simultaneously. Future research is carried to improve the stretching factor and the durability of the touch pads.
Other Notable Inventions of 2017
- Spray paint that turns flat surfaces into touchpads.
- Artificial flexible touch responsive skin for robots.
- Tiny cameras with no lens.
- Moth-eye film to reduce glare on screens.
- Ultra-thin speakers which generate energy through motion.
- New 3D display that uses bubbles to project images.
- Magnetically controlled micro robots to combat cancer.
- Low cost medical diagnostic tools using ancient toy.
- Brain implants to regain the body movement stopped due to paralysis.
- Self driving trucks.
- Financial transactions using face recognition.
- Gene Therapy 2.0 to treat rare hereditary disorders.
All these inventions are known for their functionality. They are surely going to make life easier in the future. However, with the tremendous pace of science it is only a matter of time before these inventions too become obsolete, and are replaced by inventions that are unheard of.
It would be an understatement to say that a good education is the base for a prosperous life. These education cliparts might just be the necessary medicine to give you that extra push that you need to go out and achieve the success that you deserve.
School, or Town!
The City Montessori School in India is the largest school in the world, with around 40,000 students and 2,500 teachers.
The hundreds of education cliparts on display here are a stark reminder of how lucky we are to have gotten an education. You’ll find a wide variety of images here, ranging from lighthouses, aviation, bicycles, bikes, books, doctors, detectives, earth-science, fruits, historical-events, ships, besides many others.
Education Clipart Brochure
Knowledge is power, as simple as that. These education cliparts visually prove just that.
Technology has made so many things easier for us. From drones to cell phones to Skype, you name it! Man has come a long way. But humans always want more, which is why we still feel the need that technology should make our lives even more easier. For starters, these are some of the things we wish someone would invent!
This could save us from so many problems. A perfect way to slip out without being noticed from awkward situations, a boring class, or even work. One more advantage of being invisible is, you can eavesdrop without getting caught, so you’ll know who’s talking behind your back.
Won’t it be fun if you can watch where a particular person you want to follow and spy upon is going? You will know exactly where he is standing. Imagine how helpful it would be to know where your boss is! Just that, each map must have a different password. Mischief managed.
This gadget would be a boon for students with problems memorizing notes. Just dab the bread on the notes you want to learn by heart, and eat it. No more burning the midnight oil.
You think the job you’ve done is good, but no matter how well you do it, you can’t please the other person. ‘As you like it’ pills will help you do so; just feed it to the person you want to please, and they’ll see what they exactly want to see.
Want to go to Hogwarts? Want to talk to your favorite actor or rock star? Just start this device and there you are! While scientists are close to creating this device, unlike Holodeck, they are devoid of the ability to touch.
The major problem that we face when we are visiting non-English speaking countries is the language. Won’t it be lovely if we could just speak their language fluently and effortlessly, surprising our peers and the local people alike?
What if we had a notepad to catch and write down our thoughts as we think them, before we forget them.
If there were clones! Bored to go to work? Send your clone to work while you lounge around and enjoy some time with family, or friends, or just alone.
What if we could control time? As the name suggests, this contraption is the ultimate solution to repair or alter those ‘oops’ moments.
We all should have a magic bag. You can put all that you want into this small magical bag like Hermione Granger did in the seventh part of the Harry Potter series. You don’t have to worry about your luggage anymore!!!
Being watchful to not miss the correct ‘exit’ when on an interchange hardly lets you enjoy the drive and the surroundings. Never mind! This ScienceStruck post brings you all those glimpses of the most astounding flyovers, you probably missed out on. This Puxi Interchange has merged the Nanbei Elevated Road and the Yan’an Elevated Road, and also has service roads at the bottom levels. At the central interchange, there stands a pillar known as the Nine-dragon Pillar.
Did you know?
An overpass (known as flyover in the UK and most Commonwealth countries), can be a bridge, road, an interchange, or railway crossing. It resembles a junction or a crossroad, often a stack of roads.
Watching the world from the top is an experience in itself. Flying on a plane gives you that one-of-its-kind bird’s-eye view. So does a long drive via an overpass. While you drive and ‘are up above the world, so high’, it is a pleasure to know that it has been built quite higher than you actually thought.
But if, by any chance, driving yourself home by the same highway everyday has caused all the fun element to drift away. Take a look at some of the most beautiful flyovers in the world that have smartly used grade separation to ensure a smooth transit.
Amazing Flyovers Around the World
The Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange, California, USA
Don’t go by the entangled look of this structure. Always busy, this overpass in Los Angeles has a High-occupancy Vehicle (HOV) or carpool lane, and a Harbor Transitway. It is a meeting point primarily for two freeways, Interstate-105 (Glenn M. Anderson Freeway) and Interstate-110 (Harbor Freeway). This flyover is named after the federal judge who was ruling the case for the construction of Freeway I-105.
Spaghetti Junction, Birmingham, UK
Though it opened in 1972, it got its name in 1965. The sub-editor of the local Birmingham Evening Mail had titled the news article of the then unfinished flyover construction as ‘Spaghetti Junction’. The real name of this intersection is Gravelly Hill Interchange.
Binhai Flyover, Tianjin, China
The Binhai bridge in the northern Chinese municipality of Tianjin is next on the list of the world’s most amazing flyovers. With a length of 5.3 km, it connects the city’s port, the Tianjin Development Zone, and the old urban district. Besides, it looks spectacular at night.
High Five Interchange, Dallas, USA
With five interchange ramps, this ‘high five’ is a composition of 37 bridges spread across all five levels. It joins the Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway (Interstate 635) and the Central Expressway (US Highway 75). Interestingly, this overpass in Texas, USA, has a biking and hiking trail under all five planes, which is called the Cottonwood Trail.
The Circle Interchange, Chicago, USA
Or, as it is officially known, the Jane Byrne Interchange in the United States, puts together the Dan Ryan, Kennedy and Eisenhower expressways. An example of a ‘turbine interchange’, this structure differs from the usual four or five-level stack interchanges. The design is more flattened. However, it is rather known for its heavy traffic and congestion.
Kathipara Junction, Chennai, India
One of the largest cloverleaf interchanges in Asia, the Kathipara junction is situated in the southern Indian city of Chennai. It eases the traffic inflow from four different roads, including the Grand Southern Trunk Road or National Highway 45. Maduravoyal, also in Chennai, is another crucial cloverleaf junction built in 2010, where the National Highway 4 and Chennai Bypass intersect.
Tom Moreland Interchange, Georgia, USA
Tom Moreland, after whom the stack interchange is named, is an ex-commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation. He served during the 1980s. This flyover in the United States connects the Interstate 85, Interstate 285, and many other access roads along its five stacks. It was built to especially eliminate the frequent congestion caused at the intersection.
As a part of an ecosystem, all decomposers are important in sustaining the food chain. In this ScienceStruck article, we discuss the importance of decomposers, and the various creatures which perform this role in the vast oceanic zones of our planet.
Recent research shows that macroconsumers such as detritivores work on breaking down dead animal and plant matter. This is why the newer definition of decomposers includes a wider range of creatures than before.
Decomposers are the living/biotic beings which occupy the last stage of the food chain. These creatures are considered to be the cleaning crew of any ecosystem as they live on organic wastes of dead plant and animal matter. The ocean biome, consisting of open waters, reefs, estuaries, and shores covers over 70% of the earth’s surface. Therefore the number of plants and animals in the ocean zones is very extensive, compared to that of the land biome, which means that oceanic decomposers are also larger in number and variety.
The availability of all creatures depends on the sunlight and temperature in the water. Therefore, the number of decomposers in the tropical oceans such as the Pacific ocean, is much higher compared to that in the cooler counterparts like the Atlantic and Arctic oceans.
Examples of Decomposers in the Ocean and their Role
Like terrestrial ecosystems, the ocean too relies very heavily on bacteria for most decomposition. Since bacteria are present everywhere in the marine environment, they start acting on plants and animals as soon as death occurs. They turn the organic matter into basic nutrients, which feed plant life and microscopic animals in the ocean. Since they are invisible to the naked eye, bacteria are known as microdecomposers.
Sea Mushrooms on Coral Reef
Many varieties of fungi grow in the oceans of our planet; most are microscopic in size, and others are bigger than small animals. One can usually identify the action of underwater fungi, as they grow a jelly-like, slimy layer around the dead organic matter. Larger varieties filter the surrounding water for organic particles, which are turned into basic nutrients, similar to the bacteria. However, only fungi and bacteria act as decomposers in the colder waters of the world, as the macro decomposers mentioned below cannot survive in this extreme environment.
Christmas Tree Worms
Feather Duster Worm
The oceans have a number of worm varieties, which slowly crawl around the seabed, while consuming organic waste, and turning it into useful material for other plants and animals. Due to their larger size, these creatures are known as macrodecomposers. Marine worms can be of different colors, and shapes, which is the reason why some species are popular as aquarium pets. A common variety known as feather duster worms or Christmas tree worms, are found in abundance in shallow waters. They are largely sedentary in nature, and they collect food, by building tubes of sand and shells around their bodies, and spreading feathery appendages in the water, which filter floating organic matter for decomposition.
Sea urchins, sea cucumbers, sea stars, etc., are creatures which are known as echinoderms. These creatures are often characterized by their colorful, symmetrical bodies. Although, some of them actively hunt and eat other animals and plants, echinoderms also feed on decaying organic matter, which coats rocks, and other stationary surfaces in the ocean, before releasing it in a simpler form, which is why they can be considered as macrodecomposers.
Crustaceans and Molluscs
Similar to the echinoderms, many molluscs and crustacean creatures like clams, mussels, crabs, shrimp, etc., are also macrodecomposers, which feed and convert decaying organic matter floating around in the seawater, thereby sustaining the food cycle, and maintaining the underwater ecosystems.
The variety of living creatures in a marine environment is very diverse, as these creatures have adapted to a wide range of living conditions. In this ecosystem, it is important that the food chain remains balanced, for the survival of life. While producers such as phytoplankton are important for providing food to consumers like fish, it is equally important for the decomposers to clean up and convert dead matter into nutrients vital for the producers’ survival.
The importance of the rubber industry from the time it came into being and the role that it has played in the growth of civilization has been enormous. There are two types of rubbers; natural and synthetic. Synthetic rubber is easier to produce than natural rubber, and has a wider range of applications. This ScienceStruck article gives you a comparison between synthetic rubber and natural rubber.
|Did You Know?
In 1839, American inventor, Charles Goodyear, discovered a way to improve the properties of natural rubber and make it stronger and more usable. He called the process vulcanization. It revolutionized the rubber industry.
Natural rubber is an elastomer (elastic hydrocarbon polymer), that is made from latex, which is a milky colloid obtained from many plants. An elastomer is a substance which can undergo much more elastic deformation under stress than most materials and still retain its previous size without any deformation. The commercial source of natural rubber is the native Brazilian plant, Hevea brasiliensis, which belongs to the family, Euphorbiaceae. Some other plants from which natural rubber is made are gutta-percha, rubber fig, Panama rubber tree, common dandelion and Russian dandelion. Natural rubber has been in commercial use since the early 20th century. Natural rubber occupies an important place in the market due to its large number of applications. Some of its applications include making tires used on racing cars, trucks, buses, and airplanes.
Synthetic rubbers are made in chemical plants by polymerization of monomers into polymers. They are artificially produced. Some of the most important synthetic rubbers are butadiene, styrene-butadiene, neoprene/ polychloroprene, polysulfide rubbers, nitrile, butyl rubber, and silicone. They have various applications and varying chemical and mechanical properties. Many synthetic rubbers have been developed during the 20th century. Some of them are used in place of natural rubber due to their properties. Typical applications include power transformers, wet-suits, laptop sleeves, orthopedic braces, electrical insulation, automotive fan belts, vehicle tires, shoe soles, pencil erasers, birthday balloons, adhesives, protective gloves, conveyor belts, flexible toys, tubing, mats, rubber bands, paint, hoses, gaskets, and floor tiles.
Difference between Natural Rubber and Synthetic Rubber
Synthetic rubbers are made by the polymerization of different petroleum-based substances known as monomers. Some examples include styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) which is produced from copolymerization of styrene and butadiene, butyl rubber (IIR), a synthetic rubber derived from copolymerizing isobutylene with isoprene, nitrile rubber (NBR), an oil-resistant synthetic rubber produced from a copolymer of acrylonitrile and butadiene, and neoprene that is produced by the polymerization of chloroprene.
♦ Natural rubber is made from latex, which is mostly extracted from the sap of the plant, Hevea brasiliensis. An incision is made into the tree bark, the latex is collected in a cup or pot, then filtered, washed, and made to react with an acid to make the particles of rubber solidify and form a mass. The rubber is then pressed into slabs and dried. It is then given for the next stages of production in the industry to make it refined.
Synthetic rubbers are more resistant to oil, certain chemicals and oxygen, have better aging and weathering characteristics, and good resilience over a wider temperature range.
♦ Natural rubber has good wear resistance, high elasticity, high resilience, and tensile strength. It has a good dynamic performance and low level of damping. However, it ages with time and has poor chemical, oil, and ozone resistance. It has poor resistance to elevated temperatures.
Aging Properties, Low Temperature Flexibility and Abrasion Resistance
Styrene butadiene, one of the cheaper general-purpose synthetic rubbers has inferior physical strength, resilience, and low-temperature properties. However, its aging properties and abrasion resistance are better than those of natural rubber. Unlike natural rubber, it hardens with time instead of softening.
♦ Natural rubber has good physical strength, resilience, and low-temperature properties, but inferior abrasion resistance and aging properties compared to those of styrene butadiene. Compared to nitrile, its low-temperature properties are inferior.
Oil resistance and Resilience
Nitrile has better oil resistance, low-temperature flexibility, abrasion resistance and resilience compared to that of natural rubber. It also has low gas permeability.
♦ Natural rubber has inferior oil resistance and resilience compared to that of nitrile. However, it has better physical strength.
Ozone, Chemical, and Electrical Resistance
Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM), Neoprene/polychloroprene and some other synthetic rubbers have excellent heat resistance, oil resistance, ozone and weather resistance, polar fluids resistance, and better aging and chemical resistance. Also, physical properties and low-temperature resistance is good. It has low flammability and gas permeability. EPDM can be combined with other compounds to give excellent electrical resistance.
♦ Natural rubber has poor resistance to ozone, polar fluids, and chemicals. It is swollen and weakened by hydrocarbon oils and is degraded by oxygen and ozone as it ages.
Silicone Rubbers have excellent electrical properties and great resistance to weathering and ozone attack. Physical properties are retained at higher temperatures. They are more expensive than most other rubbers.
♦ Natural rubbers have poor electrical properties and low resistance to weathering and ozone attack. They have better physical properties.
Natural rubber has an important position in the market due to its applications. However, synthetic rubber is used in place of natural rubber in many cases, particularly when improved material properties are necessary.
In most cases, people like to snuggle under a blanket, next to a fire, with a warm cup of coffee, when the cold winters arrive. However, the climates of the top 12 coldest countries in the world are so extreme, that blankets, fires, and coffee are nowhere enough to keep the chill away.
Did You Know?
Although bizarre, science has a measurement for the maximum level of coldness. This temperature is measured at 0 degrees Kelvin (-273.15°C), which is the coldest that any type of matter can ever get. If attempts are made to go beyond this range, the atoms of matter completely disintegrate.
For most of us, warm, sunny days are a regular occurrence, and we hardly give the climate any thought in our day-to-day lives. Even when it snows, the experience is fun, more often than not.
However, as they say, too much of anything is bad. The same goes for ice, snow, and cold. For there are some places in the world that are so very cold and severe throughout the year, that even on the warmest summer days the climate is dull and freezing. Winters are absolutely unbearable, making daily activities a challenge, and putting human endurance to the test. Here is a list of 12 of the coldest countries in the world.
The Coldest Countries in The World
Most of the landmass of Greenland is covered in ice throughout the year. This means that, sunlight has a hard time in heating up the atmosphere of this country. While the average temperature across the land is -10°C, winters can easily go up to -65°C. Even during the warmest summer months, Greenland has a maximum temperature of around 8°C, which makes human influence on this wild, desolate land negligible. The British research station North Ice, in the middle of the Greenland ice sheet, faces even worse climate lows, up to -86°C.
Most summers of Kazakhstan are quite pleasant and warm, with average temperatures of around 30°C. But come winter, harsh and erratic rainfall, coupled with the hilly topography, make the climate so cold, that the summers seem like a distant dream. Average winter temperatures range between -20 and -30°C. Certain regions, such as the city of Astana, have extreme winters, which puts anyone who steps outdoors at a high degree of risk of losing fingers and toes to frostbite.
Located in Central Asia, between China and Russia, Mongolia is known for its vast grasslands, and its association with the conqueror Genghis Khan. Although this country is picturesque to look at, travelers often have a misconception about the climate here. The average temperature of Mongolia during the winters (October to April) is below 0°C, while the rest of the year is just a little above freezing point. This is because of Mongolia’s high altitude, at 4,900 feet above sea level, and its desert-like climates. The months of January and February are particularly severe, with temperatures going as low as -30°C; water all around freezes completely, and any precipitation is biting, to say the least.
Finland is the northernmost country in Europe, and its topography is unique in comparison to the other Nordic countries. Due to the Baltic sea and the Atlantic current, the country has an extremely cold climate for most of the year. The winters here last for four months, where the temperature can drop to -45°C, especially in the Lapland region which suffers strong biting winds. One can see frost for more than 130 days each year.
During the winters, the southern regions of Finland receive only 6 – 7 hours of sunlight in a day, while the northern regions have periods of continuous darkness, which can occasionally last for 2 months. Fortunately for the Finns, the summer months are tolerable.
Although most of the Chinese mainland has pleasant weather throughout the major part of the year, winters (October – February) can be really unbearable. Save a few regions in the southern part of the country, China receives heavy snowfall, and the humidity makes conditions even worse. The areas in north, west, and central China are subject to snow, permafrost, ice, and slush, which leads to temperatures ranging between -10°C and 3°C. Due to poor insulation and other heating infrastructure, the common man of China faces a lot of trouble during these months.
United States of America
The U.S. has some of the hottest places in the world, such as Death Valley. However, due to its vast size, it is also home to some of the coldest places on the planet. Northern U.S. states like Alaska are nearly always cold, with temperatures dipping to extremes of -62°C. In addition, these states receive immense quantities of snow each winter, wreaking havoc on all modes of transport, and turning the surroundings totally white. Thankfully, the southern states have nice, warm summers, and are spared from the worst of the winter season.
Compared to most other countries on this list, Estonia has a relatively warm climate. However, it experiences icy climate resulting from erratic rainfall, which causes massive drops in temperature, regardless of the time of the year. Winters are very severe here, especially in the southeastern regions, with temperatures ranging between -3 and -8°C, making daily life nearly impossible for the locals. Summers are relatively pleasant, at an average of 15°C.
Various cities of this country have different annual temperatures. However, the overall climate of Canada is very cold. The prairie regions can get particularly chilly, with day time temperatures as low as -15°C, and night temperatures dipping to -40°C. In fact, the city of Snag, in Yukon, has the lowest temperatures (up to -63°C), not just in Canada, but the whole of North America. The fact that Canada has a topography suitable for strong winds doesn’t help either. Cities such as Ottawa suffer from heavy snow in the winters, which forces commuters to switch to ice skates while going about their daily lives. Thankfully, the excellent infrastructure of the cities means that people do not suffer much.
The name ‘Iceland’ is very apt for this country. This is because, the average temperature of Iceland hardly ever goes above 0°C, and in the northern regions -10°C is the best you can hope for. The cold Arctic winds overcome the effects of volcanic activity and the warm Gulf Stream ocean current to maintain the frigid climate. Occasionally, winters can get really bad, with temperatures going down to -40°C, which is one of the major reasons for the low population of this small island nation.
The immense expanses of wild open spaces in Russia makes most of the country a very windy place. This, by itself, causes low temperature averages all across the country, throughout the year. It snows and rains for at least 8 months each year. Due to these factors, average winter temperatures are -27°C, while the summers can go up to 8°C. With such a bitter climate, it is no wonder that vodka and other types of alcohol are popular here. Car owners often leave their cars idling for hours together, as switching off the car in the cold outdoors creates the risk of the vehicle being unable to restart.
Russia is also home to the coldest village in the world – Oymyakon. Here, temperatures can dip to around -71°C. The place is so cold, that electronics such as mobile phones don’t even work, and homes have outside toilets due to the difficulty in creating underground plumbing. Water supply comes in tankers from outside the region, as all local water bodies are completely frozen. In fact, locals can take up to 3 days to dig a grave for a funeral, as the frozen hard soil has to be thawed with hot coal before digging can commence. Many other Russian cities and towns, such as Yakutsk and Verkhoyansk, also boast of mind-numbing frigid climes.
Compared to other entries in this list, Norway is definitely more pleasant due to the Gulf Stream and warm air currents. However, its close proximity to the Arctic circle gives the country a mostly cold climate through the year. June, July, and August are the best of times, as these summer months can raise temperatures to an average of 16°C. However, the rest of the year has a consistently chilly climate, with temperatures ranging between 8°C and -40°C. This, coupled with frequent heavy rains and gales, makes the winters an ordeal.
Although not technically a single country, the continent of Antarctica belongs to a large number of nations, under diplomatic treaties. As such, the entire land mass is the coldest place in the world. The continent gets little to no sunlight, which is why temperatures can dip to -93°C, with -83°C being the average. This makes it impossible for humans to make a sustainable life in this snowy desert. Explorers in this part of the world are at the risk of dying simply by being outdoors in this frozen version of hell.
These were some of the top coldest places on Earth. While most people will steer clear of these places and stick to ice skating rinks, those with an adventurous bone can make plans to get to these countries, and experience some of the most spectacular, yet alien sights and sounds that our planet has to offer.
Ethnomethodology, in simple words, is about the methods people employ to make sense of the everyday world. Something like a casual question asking your friend about how his/her weekend was could turn into an ethnomethodological case study. ScienceStruck explains how.
Norms are the accepted rules of behavior within a group or society. They are also called mores.
Ethnomethodology sounds like a very difficult and ‘heavy-to-digest’ term, at first. I won’t say that it is one of the easiest ones around, but it isn’t rocket science either if we get down to understanding it. Let’s consider an activity: write down all the actions (in a stepwise manner) that you would do if you were to get into your car (in the garage) and start driving. Quite easy a task, you may exclaim. Sure! Now, write down, again in a stepwise manner, your thought-process and actions when you say, “I am hungry”. … Confused? That’s quite expected.
What this field of sociology studies can span across anything and everything happening in our daily lives. The word ‘ethno’ refers to a specific sociocultural group or community; need not be an ethnicity per se. ‘Methods’ concern the patterns that are typically identified mostly in the interactions taking place within such groups or communities. So, let us take a look at what this complex term actually means.
Ethnomethodology Theory in Sociology
Definition and Meaning
Ethnomethodology is referred to as a perspective that centers upon the ‘ways and methods’ we employ to make sense of our surrounding world. It is also described to literally mean studies of ‘peoples’ methods’.
Studying how people gather the features of everyday life in actuality (not hypothetically) through concerted efforts is the mainstay of this discipline. A consensus over the prevalent norms existing in a society is an important assumption for a successful social interaction. If a community does not accord to this given set of standards, interactions would not be sustained, bringing any social activity to a halt. Thus, ethnomethodology strives to prove that there is immense background knowledge that is used by people in daily life, which sustains social processes.
Harold Garfinkel is believed to have coined this term in 1954 at an American Sociological Association meeting. It was curiosity in his mind that led him to undertake research about this topic. An analysis of the jury discussion of a Chicago case in the year 1945 made him wonder about the ‘way those jurors knew how to act as jurors’. He also discovered after his research in ethnomethodology, that the methods used by people to understand their society are rooted in their natural attitudes.
Indexicality is another significant concept in this area of sociological study. Indexicality, as a term in philosophy of language, and also with reference to ethnomethodology, means an (indexical) expression whose meaning changes from context to context. Any question asked can be responded by asking, “What do you mean?”. This reference to a particular context lends the expected meaning to a word.
There are independent social orders existing within the routine concrete activities, and they are not externally dependent. For example, these activities are not always coming from popular social institutions. This orderliness inherent in the actions of people stems from the interpretation they make of any signs, remarks, or actions. Also, phenomenology is considered to be the basis of ethnomethodology. The attempt to describe everyday experiences without any metaphysical speculations is thus, sourced from here.
Real-life Examples of Ethnomethodology
A simple conversation can be an example of a process, which needs observation of certain commonly established ways for it to function in order. These ways may involve different gestures like eye contact, nodding of the head, or any such acts of responding to each other, which keeps the conversation alive.
If you ask a colleague out for a drink, you do that assuming a lot of things. No, it’s not an assumption about what you want (or don’t want) to convey, or about the drinking habits of your colleague. In fact, very petite things like he/she understanding the question you really wanted to ask, as a casual or polite way of social interaction, are the obvious ‘methods’ or realities that are taken for granted. We assume that if I have asked something, the other person would respond, either with a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No. What if he/she asks you a very random question instead, or does not respond at all? If that happens, it might bring the dialog to an abrupt end. This is why ethnomethodology is also studied through social norm-breaking experiments. It investigates such routine situations, by ‘breaking the social rules’ which we never usually doubt or think over.
A striking feature of this subject is that, despite being a sociological discipline, it does not attempt to evaluate or judge any kind of socially accepted realities or social ways. It is a descriptive discipline that examines the methods used by people in day-to-day situations.
The Peltier effect is an important phenomenon in the study of thermoelectric cooling and heating. For a better understanding, click here for a brief explanation of the Peltier effect.
Did You Know?
The Peltier effect wasn’t of any practical significance for almost 100 years, until the dissimilar metal devices were substituted with semiconductors capable of producing a much larger thermal gradient
In 1821, German scientist Thomas Seeback conducted several experiments on electricity. He discovered that electric current will flow through a circuit comprising two dissimilar conductors, provided the junctions where these conductors join are maintained at different temperatures. However, Seeback was unable to explain the actual scientific reason behind this phenomenon, and wrongly concluded that flowing heat produced the same effect as flowing electricity.
Later, in 1834, Jean Peltier, a French watchmaker and part-time physicist, while analyzing the Seeback effect, noted that, heat could be absorbed at one junction of dissimilar metals and discharged at the other junction in the same circuit. Twenty years after this, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) was able to scientifically explain both, the Seeback and Peltier effects, and prove the relationship between them.
However, interesting as it may have been, at that time, this phenomenon was considered to be no more than a mere laboratory experiment. Then, in 1930, when Russian scientists began re-investigating the earlier works on the thermoelectric effect, world interest in this phenomenon was again piqued, which led to the development of practical thermoelectric devices.
The Peltier effect is said to be the inverse of the Seeback effect. Therefore, in order to be able to understand how the Peltier effect works, let’s first examine the Seeback effect.
The Seeback Effect
The Seeback effect is a phenomenon wherein a temperature gradient occurring between the two junctions formed by two dissimilar electric conductors or semiconductors causes a potential difference to be developed between them. This potential difference allows electric current to flow through the circuit. Thus, the Seeback effect states that, a temperature gradient will cause electric current to flow through a circuit.
Mathematically, if (T1 – T2) is the temperature difference between the two junctions of dissimilar metals, then, according to the Seeback effect, it will produce an Electromotive Force (Voltage) given by the following:
E = α (T1 – T2)
Note: α is the differential Seebeck coefficient or (thermo electric power coefficient) between the two conductors/semiconductors. It is positive when the direction of electric current is the same as the direction of thermal current.
The Peltier Effect
The Peltier effect states that, when an electric current flows through a circuit comprising dissimilar conductors, thermal energy is absorbed from one junction, and is discharged at the other, making the former cooler and the latter hotter. Thus, a thermal gradient develops from the flowing current, making the Peltier effect inverse of the Seeback effect.
If QC is the rate of cooling in watts, and QH is the rate of heating in watts, I is the current flowing through the closed circuit.
QC or QC = β x I
Note: β is the differential Peltier coefficient between the two materials A and B in volts.
The Peltier effect can be verified experimentally by using the following setup:
As shown, two pieces of copper wire are connected to the two terminals of a battery. These two pieces are then interconnected with the help of a bismuth wire, which completes the setup.
It is observed that when the circuit is closed, as described above, temperature gradient as predicted by the Peltier effect develops. At the junction where current passes from copper to bismuth, the temperature rises, while at the junction where current passes from bismuth to copper, the temperature drops.
How Does the Peltier Effect Work?
The Peltier effect occurs due to the fact that, the average energy of the electrons involved in the transfer of electric current is different for different conductors. It is dependent on several factors, including the energy spectrum of the electrons, their concentration in the conductor, and their scattering under the influence of applied voltage.
At the junction of two dissimilar conductors, the electrons pass from one conductor to another. Depending upon the direction of flow of electric charge, these electrons will either transfer their excess energy to the surrounding atoms, or absorb energy from them. As such, in the former, heat is dissipated, while in the latter, it is absorbed.
The major disadvantage of the Peltier effect is that, it is inefficient. The flowing current itself tends to generate a significant amount of heat, which gets added to the overall heat dissipation. In large applications, this results in an excessive amount of heat, which needs to be taken care of. Typically, additional fans have to employed to fix this problem.
This effect also uses a lot of electricity, which can make using it for large-scale applications very expensive.
If the components of Peltier devices are cooled too much, it can result in condensation, which may cause a short circuit.
The main advantage of the Peltier effect is that, it allows us to build cooling/heating devices that don’t have any moving parts, and therefore, are much less likely to fail as compared to conventional coolers and heaters. They also require almost no maintenance.
Peltier devices are silent in their operation, and can theoretically achieve temperatures as low as -80ºC (-176ºF).
The Peltier effect can be employed effectively at the microscopic level, where conventional cooling methods would not work.
Applications of the Peltier Effect
The Peltier effect is employed for building Peltier devices. These are solid-state devices that use this effect for cooling or heating. Commonly used devices include the Peltier heater, heat pump, cooler, and solid-state refrigerator.
When a direct current flows through a Peltier device, heat passes from one side of the device to another, allowing it to act as a heater or cooler. All Peltier devices function in this manner, by transferring heat from one side of the device to another against temperature gradient by using electric current.
The following are a few uses of Peltier devices:
Water Extraction: The Peltier effect is used in dehumidifiers for the process of extraction of water from the air.
DNA Synthesis: A thermal cycler make use of this effect for the process of DNA synthesis.
Spacecrafts: The Peltier effect is used in spacecrafts to balance the effects of sunlight on both sides of the craft. It helps in dissipating the heat due to direct sunlight on one side of the spacecraft to the other side which doesn’t receive sunlight, and so is much cooler.