Carbon fibre

29 08 2014

This is the second post in a series examining live science presentations done on TV.

In this program the presenter is demonstrating the strength of a tube of carbon fibre. What I really like is the way he shows us its strength and its weight.

He could say it weighs xg and has a tensile strength of y. Instead he chooses to show us rather than just tell us.

This is the tube, we’ve seen him make it himself. So how strong is it?

Strong enough to hold his weight!

But how light are these carbon fibre structures? We are told a modern carbon fibre bike frame weighs just 800g. What does that mean?

It’s the same weight as a bunch of bananas!

Well done the BBC and the presenter, Mark Miodownik, for taking the time to show us, and not just tell us, how strong and light the carbon fibre is.

I think this is an example of two very simple but very effective pieces of science presenting.

It reminded me of a video where Richard Feynman speaks about his father.

Search YouTube for ‘Feynman the importance of a father’ or click here to watch it.

Feynman’s father was telling him about T-Rex 25 feet tall with a head 6 feet across. But he didn’t leave it at that. His father always put things into context.

Instead of just relying on abstract figures he told the young boy that meant whilst the dinosaur might be tall enough to look in the second story window his head would be too wide to fit through.

Feynman describes the process beautifully:

Everything we read was translated into some kind of reality.

That is something we should all strive to do.

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