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Learning bathroom science

mumbai Updated: Jun 21, 2010 02:03 IST
Sharanya Misra Sharma
Sharanya Misra Sharma
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Soap bubbles have always fascinated Nirad Kochchar (11). On Sunday, the bespectacled boy’s bubble of wonderment only grew bigger.

Sitting through the two-hour ‘Science in the Bathroom’ session of Chai and Why?, that aims to decode science in everyday phenomena, Kochchar was raised a query about bubbles.

As Arnab Bhattacharya, associate professor at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, explained that the outer film of the bubble comprises water, Kochchar listened in rapt attention. He learned how the principle of light interference lends the rainbow colours to bubbles that are composed of water-phobic and water-philic molecules.

About 60 children and parents gathered at Ruia College learnt that bleaching products make our clothes appear whiter by inducing chlorine compounds that absorb and reflect certain amount of Ultra Violet rays.

Bhattacharya explained how both Harpic, which is acidic in nature, and Sani Fresh, which has an alkaline base, react with dirt molecules to allow them to be washed off by water.

Next, came a video demonstration on the ‘self siphoning effect’, a queer phenomenon in dense liquids such as honey and shampoos.

For instance, if a shampoo bottle is tilted slightly, some shampoo spills out. However, some of it would continues to flow out even after the shampoo bottle is kept straight due to the self-siphoning effect

“Our textbooks have taken away children’s keenness to observe. Everything around us, including the bathroom has simple and fascinating science behind it,” said Bhattacharya.

‘Chai and Why?’ sessions, which aim to deconstruct science concepts, are held on the first and third Sundays of every month at Juhu’s Prithvi theatre and Ruia College, Matunga, respectively.