Science is Magic – Disappearing Water

Concept: someone, who is obviously very magical (either with a top hat and a small black wand or a giant, pointy hat with stars on it and the most magnificent beard anyone has ever seen) pours water into a cup. The audience can clearly see the water going into the cup, can almost see the water inside the cup, yet when the magician turns the cup over, no water comes out. The magician then tells the audience the water did not come out because it’s gone (“POOF!”) into another dimension. Someone somewhere has probably just been drenched in approximately 50 mL of water. Everyone laughs.

It’s a pretty strange concept. It’s impossible to make water just disappear – sure, it can change into a gas if heated, but the water disappeared almost instantly. There wasn’t any time for this magician to heat all the water up so that it disappeared, so where did it go?

Someone who is not scientifically inclined may say that the concept illustrated in the first paragraph is entirely fictional, but those who care about the events of the world at an atomic level know that that’s not true. Magic can be found in the simplest of places – in this case, diapers.

The sort of powder that is found in lining of diapers is called sodium polyacrylate, more commonly known as polymer powder. It’s an anionic polyelectrolyte, and is highly hygroscopic, meaning it can absorb a lot of water. In the case of sodium polyacrylate (-CH2-CH(CO2Na)), it can absorb up to 300 times its weight in water. When it comes into contact with the water, the polymer powder uses osmotic pressure to absorb all the water, so the water mixes with the powder, and the powder expands, taking the water with it. It then makes the water take on a gel consistency, as demonstrated in the video.

In the video, only enough sodium polyacrylate to cover the bottom of the cup was used, and we poured about 30 millilitres in, enough to fill a quarter of the cup. Within about three to five seconds, all of the water was gel.

We encountered this trick via lots of research into chemistry-based magic tricks. Apparently, it’s quite popular, which makes sense. We can’t be the only ones who have ever wondered how baby diapers never leak!





This amazing, beautiful, astounding project was accomplished by the dazzling expertise of Sara Parker and Logan Willis. Because we’re awesome. 



In our research, we found a way to build a death ray out of a microwave. So we didn’t do that project, for fear of being contacted by the RCMP or any other investigative organizations that think death ray building is dangerous, especially when done by two sophomores.

Everything I Know About Trig (Spoiler: it’s not that much)

Trigonometry is the study of triangles, specifically right triangles, specifically the angles and side of right triangles. It is also a long word that I still don’t know the root of.

Trigonometry deals with the ratios of sine (sin), cosine (cos), and tangent (tan). The shortened versions (as seen in the brackets) can be found on a calculator, and you can figure out angle degrees using them.

Sine is equal to opposite/hypotenuse. Cosine is equal to adjacent/hypotenuse. Tangent is equal to opposite/adjacent.

Opposite and adjacent sides are in comparison to the angle you’re working with, most likely “x”. “X” can never be a right angle, because then the opposite is the hypotenuse, and that just does not work.

There are also a series of right triangles where you don’t need a calculator to figure out the ratio, such as when the adjacent and opposite both equal 1, and hypotenuse is √2.


Sine, cosine, and tangent, you put in an angle and that gives you ratio. The inverse operations (ex. sin-1), you need to put in the ratio and it will give you the angle. Both ways will help you find the required sign or the angle.

Garibaldi Lake

What would happen if the Barrier at Garibaldi Lake were to collapse?

Bad things. Terrible things.


Garibaldi Lake is a lake located just north of Squamish, BC, and lies between mountains and volcanoes. Surprisingly enough, the sheer amount of water the lake holds is more dangerous than the active volcanoes.

There is one thing separating the lovely town people of Squamish and approximately 1.2 x 10^9 tons of water, and that is the Barrier. If it’s important enough to have a Wikipedia page, you better believe it’s pretty vital. The Barrier is about 300 metres thick and 2 kilometres wide, which seems like a lot, but if for some reason it were to break, all the water in Garibaldi Lake would come rushing out and probably swamp any surrounding towns.

There actually used to be a town next to the lake called (you guessed it) Garibaldi, but they had to relocate in 1981 because the dangerous tectonic plates and heavy rainfall made it an incredibly dangerous place to be.

The water in Garibaldi Lake is equivalent to ten times the amount of tap water Americans drink every day.




Interesting note: while trying to find the equivalent, I discovered MYSELF that when Mount Vesuvius erupted in Pompeii in 79 AD, it erupted close to 1.35 x 10^10 tons of debris, which is a lot. About ten times more than Garibaldi. Source.

   Latex coding does not support exponents larger than 10. So I apologize for the not-so-fancy format. 

Sources: (Photo)

History of Measurement

I really enjoyed today’s lesson, actually. I’m really interested in history and anthropology, so I found the information about the development of measurement and numbers fascinating.

I didn’t actually know what a Cubit was defined as – I know the Ancient Egyptians built the pyramids of Giza using various measurements from the Pharaoh (this isn’t that old of a method – Henry I defined a yard as the length of the tip of his nose to the tip of his middle finger of his outstretched arm), but I didn’t really think about the name. I also got some information from the video that I plan on using in my inquiry project, which was really great.