Flame in space

by Stephanie Chasteen on March 1, 2009

A beautiful video of what a flame does in space. This is a good video to use in a classroom physics or chemistry lesson on convection. Convection needs gravity in order to draw flames upward (ie., “heat rises”). Without gravity, there’s nothing to draw the heat and energy of the flame in any particular direction. Although it’s a bit more complicated than that, and you can read more on Wikipedia.

Another thing that needs gravity to make familiar shapes are water droplets. (Boy, that’s a convoluted sentence. Let’s try that again). Water droplets are another familiar object whose shape depends on gravity. (Whew). Here’s NASA astronaut drinking tea with chopsticks. This is a great physics lesson in forces, since the force of gravity is no longer there to battle with the force of surface tension (cohesion holding the water droplet together).

{ 1 comment }

Laurel Kallenbach March 1, 2009 at 7:05 pm

I’m glad you explained that cohesion keeps the water in the tea together. I’ve always wondered how astronauts drank fluids. Now I’ve not only been enlightened, I’ve seen it on the YouTube video. Thanks!

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