Favourite experiments...

Howie Watkins mail at howiejw.demon.co.uk
Wed Aug 23 10:30:35 EST 1995

I've always had a soft spot for the experimental demonstration of 
Pythagoras' law of cooling.  Remember the one?  A known quantity of 
water is boiled, stuck in a calorimeter and its temperature recorded 
over time.

This beautifully simple experiment demonstrates that heat 
flows "downhill" from hot to cold and also illustrates the relationship 
between the temperature difference, between a body and its 
environment, and the rate of heat loss (or of course gain).  It 
provides a basis for understanding the laws of thermodynamics 
and from this point one can go on to explore the effects of surface 
area:volume ratios and the role of insulators both of which are 
important factors in the lives of animals, particularly Homeotherms.  

I was 13 years old when I first performed this experiment and by 
then I had already cottoned on to the fact that a cup of tea goes 
cold if its left!  However, it showed me the importance of a 
quantitative, scientiffic approach that allowed me to hypothesise 
about other, related, phenomenon and then test my hypotheses.

I am interested in hearing from others with a similar affection for a 
favourite experiment, (it need not be as simple as my example).  For 
instance, my favourite proof of evolution occuring through a 
process of natural selection is the degree of conformity in the H2b 
Histone complex allied to DNA!

To summarise then, the search is not for high school science projects, 
but for experiments which demonstrate a wider scientiffic/personal 

Fancy replying?  Then why not email me, I'll compile the responses and 
re-post to sci.bio.


Howie Watkins
Performance Biologist and Leaper Extrordinaire
mail at howiejw.demon.co.uk


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