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Education Portal is a place where you find articles and videos related to science education from IISER Tirupati. We welcome you to write short articles/notes about important results published by you or other scientists in a style comprehensible to a broad audience including students.

Rapid formation of water molecules in diffuse interstellar medium

Dr Sunil Kumar

Water is undoubtedly one of the most important molecules of life. What do you think about where the first water molecule was formed? It is in the space between the stellar systems, the so called the interstellar medium (ISM), where the temperatures are 263 degree Celsius less than the freezing point of water and the number of particles in a cubic centimeter of volume (imagine a typical sugar cube!) is a million billion times smaller than the number found in our earth atmosphere! In fact, even the molecules of water that you drink every day may have been formed in the interstellar medium several millions of years ago!

A Mistake Based Approach Probing Students' Understanding of PV-Type Work in Thermodynamics

Raghunath O Ramabhadran
Resonance, 22, 2017, pp 961-970.

There are several concepts in molecular thermodynamics which easily befuddle students. PV-type work done, presents one such example. Classifying the systematic mistakes made by students in response to a concept-based question on work done in thermodynamics, and sharing them across a public forum results in a paradigm of learning called the ‘mistake based approach’. This approach is a subset of a popular genre in science education known as ‘student conception studies’. It extends beyond thermodynamics itself, is particularly amenable to undergraduate education and applies to multiple disciplines of science and beyond.

GTR Component of Planetary Precession

P C Deshmukh, Kaushal Jaikumar Pillay, Thokala Solomon Raju, Sudipta Dutta, and Tanima Banerjee
Resonance, 22, 2017, pp 577-596.

Even as the theory of relativity is more than a hundred years old, it is not within easy reach of undergraduate students. These students have an insatiable urge to learn more about it even if the full machinery of the tools required to study the same is not within their comfortable reach. The recent detection of gravitational waves has only augmented their enthusiasm about the General Theory of Relativity (GTR), developed just over a hundred years now, encapsulated in Einstein’s Field Equations. The GTR provided a consistent formulation of the theory of gravity, removed the anomalies in the Newtonian model, and predicted spectacular natural phenomena which eventual experiments have testified to. This pedagogical article retraces some of the major milestones that led to the GTR and presents a simple numerical simulation of the GTR advance of the perihelion of planetary motion about the sun.

The Brachistochrone

P C Deshmukh, Parth Rajauria, Abiya Rajans, B R Vyshakh, Sudipta Dutta
Resonance, 22, 2017, pp 847-866.

The brachistochrone problem posed by Bernoulli and its solution highlights one of the most famous experiments in physics which illustrates the variational principle. This pedagogical study is designed to ignite a classroom discussion on the variational problem. We overview the Euler-Lagrange formalism of the variational principle and obtain the solution to the brachistochrone problem. We demonstrate the success of the variational method using brachistochrone models which were fabricated specially for this purpose.

Some physics inside drying droplets

Dileep Mampallil
Resonance, 19, 2014, pp 123-134.

Droplets are of great scientific interest because studying their formation and dynamics is important in many technologies such as in microfluidics. Evaporation of droplets is another interesting aspect that has caught much scientific attention. An example of an evaporating droplet is a coffee droplet spilled on a table. After evaporation the coffee droplet leaves a ring-like stain called a coffee ring or coffee stain. This phenomenon, known as the ‘coffee ring effect’, occurs not only with coffee droplets but also with all droplets containing non-volatile solutes. There are a number of interesting physical processes going on within the droplets during evaporation to form the ‘coffee stains’. In this article, we will see what they are.

Microfluidics - a lab in your palm

Dileep Mampallil, Sajan D. George
Resonance, 17, 2012, pp 682-690.

A few decades ago electronics evolved from huge circuits based on vacuum tubes into small scale semiconducting integrated circuits. In simple words, a calculator that was as huge as a room, now fits into a wrist watch. Nowadays, a similar trend is observed in bio and chemical engineering. Analysis and synthesis involving fluids, which originally could be done only on large scales, are more and more integrated into small devices called microfluidic chips. Such microsacle or even nanoscale devices, in general called lab-on-a-chip devices, offer a higher accuracy and better efficiency compared to bulk devices. In this article we describe some important aspects about microfluidics.