Ingenious Video Series
2 Classroom Resources
Video | Catalysts, Molecular Structure | High School
The compound ozone, a known respiratory irritant, exists in high concentrations at flight altitudes, making the “fresh air” sucked in by air conditioners at those heights, well, not so fresh. In fact ozone exposure may be responsible for many of the short-term discomforts we associate with air travel. What’s more, ozone can react with other compounds in the air -- even the oils of our skin -- to produce other toxic compounds, like aldehydes and ketones. Some planes have catalytic converters, like the ones in cars, which use transition metals to turn ozone into breathable oxygen. But not every plane has one!
Video | Chemical Bond, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Molecular Structure, Molecular Structure | High School
We’ve been using pigments and dyes for thousands of years, but they’re not the whole story when it comes to making color. “Structural” color occurs when tiny nanostructures interact with light waves, amplifying certain colors and canceling others. From brilliant bird feathers to butterfly wings, mole hairs to octopus skin, structural color is everywhere in the natural world. Researchers have tried for years to harness this incredible natural phenomenon in a useful way. Because these colors are so small and complex, and therefore hard to copy, their efforts have met with little success. But novel research using a computer model based in repeated random sampling — a so-called “Monte Carlo” model — is showing promise. Using this approach, scientists have been able to mimic the gorgeous blue of the mountain bluebird in a thin film of reflective beads, leapfrogging millennia of evolution.