Ping, Pong, KAPOW!

Geek Culture

A bucketload of bonus points for Mr. Girard’s A.P. Chemistry Class and the Super Awesome Video Production Club at the Horizon Science Academy in Cleveland for this great video illustrating how fission of Uranium 235 causes a chain reaction:

GeekDad contributor Brian McLaughlin also noted that this demonstration can make for a simple way to explain aspects of how these reactions are harnessed: “Control rods absorb neutrons and slow the reaction, as if you had all of the ping-pong balls coated with the hook side of Velcro and a few scattered pieces of Velcro in the walls and ceiling to remove some of the ping-pong balls from the reaction. Similarly, in developing atomic weapons, the goal was to reflect as many neutrons back into the reaction as possible in order for it to be a faster reaction. Put a clear plastic wall up at the front where ping pong balls were spilling out and force those back into the reaction and it would have been even faster.”

Physics and chemistry were never my strong suits, so I find visuals like these extremely helpful. And a ton of fun: I was pleased to read beneath the original YouTube posting that “There are only about 300 traps with 600 balls in this video. We plan on going bigger soon.”

Tip o’ the hat and a split o’ the atom to CBS News’ The Feed.

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