How would one set about measuring the width of a human hair using a laser? Why, with Omni’s Hair Diffraction Calculator, of course!
As I’m sure you will recall, the folks at Omni Calculator provide an amazing collection of free online calculators. In fact, they currently have 1452 such calculators and counting (no pun intended).
These calculators range from math, physics, and chemistry to food, finance, and ecology. I use these little rascals all the time and I often reference them in my columns. For example, in my blog — What the FAQ are Kelvin, Rankine et al? — I provided a link to Omni’s Crickets Chirping Thermometer calculator, which allows you to determine the current temperature based on the rate at which field crickets are chirping.
In addition to the fact that they are free, and also that you can embed them in your own webpages, I love these calculators because each one comes equipped with a vast amount of associated educational material. In the case of the Crickets Chirping Thermometer, for example, the calculator is augmented with a wealth of ancillary topics on such things as “Dolbear’s law,” “The cricket chirps temperature formula,” “Why Dolbear’s formula works,” “Why do crickets chirp?” “How do crickets chirp?” “How to calibrate your crickets!” “How to stop your crickets from chirping,” and more.
The reason I’m waffling on about this here is that I just heard from my chum Álvaro Díez González-Pardo at Omni Calculators who tells me that the little scamps have decided to record videos for YouTube in order to explain how calculators and experiments can work together to teach people science. He also shared the first video on the Omni Calculator YouTube channel, which explains how to measure the diameter of a human hair using a laser.
I just watched the video. Without wishing to give the game away, Álvaro makes use of Omni’s Hair Diffraction Calculator, which isn’t something I ever expected to hear myself say, but which I will be dropping into the conversation at every chance I get in the future.
Álvaro says that this is the first video of many and that they plan to keep a consistent publishing schedule. In their next video, for example, they plan on lifting toys using helium balloons, which may bring new meaning to the old saying “When pigs fly!”
Last but certainly not least, Álvaro says that he and the rest of the Omni Calculator team would love to hear comments, questions, and suggestions from members of the Cool Beans Blog community, so please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below with gusto and abandon.