What do you see? A bowl of water? Yes, it’s a bowl of water, but it’s also filled with Clear Spheres – a water-absorbing polymer that soaks up 300 times its weight in water. It’s a science demonstration that many of us have done with our students to demonstrate the index of refraction. When you drop the hydrated spheres into the bowl of water, they vanish since the water-filled spheres have an identical index of refraction as the water in the bowl. This quick sequence was part of the opening scene on the show Numb3rs and used to illustrate things that are “hidden from our view.”

2 replies
  1. Olivier
    Olivier says:

    Interesting, I never saw these, although I’m a physicist myself. When teaching, we indeed tell them about the refraction index, but a clear demonstration tell so much more.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  2. Jean-Marc (France)
    Jean-Marc (France) says:

    also check out: Criminal minds episode with popping camera film box
    another Numb3ers episode where the students are messing with corn starch in a bath tub -last scene of the episode after a glimpse of setting up earlier(also a good version of the starch trick on Myth Busters)
    see also Bones episode where father plays with mentos geyser at the Smithsonian in front of kids

    the fun science experiments are part of the hard science in these programmes ! And give them an extra twist if you’ve recognised the trick from Spangler’s…

    Reply

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