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Aerogels: The materials science of empty space

Published on October 14th, 2010 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

This is a great introductory 54-minute video of a lecture presented early in 2010 by Alex Gash and Dean Reese as part of Lawrence Livermore National Lab’s excellent Science on Saturday

program. The SOS series is aimed at bringing “cutting-edge” science
topics to middle and high school students. Each of the talks are
presented by a leading LLNL science researchers supported by a master
high school science teacher.

 

Gash may be familiar to some people because he also starred in a shorter video
on aerogel for the KQED/Discovery Channel’s Quest Lab series. Gash is a
materials chemist in the advanced Materials Synthesis Group at LLNL
where he focuses on low-density porous materials for possible optical
and energy storage applications.

 

Reese is a high school physics and biology teacher at Tracy High School.

 

If you want to skip the intros, you can directly go to around the
5:00 mark. Gash does a nice job of briefly explaining career
opportunities in chemistry and then jumps right in to explaining
sol-gels, and actually demonstrating some of the initial steps of making
aerogel. Gash and Reese also walk the audience through the concepts of
density, mass and volume; heat transfer; optical properties; and
emerging commercial and space-based aerogel products. They even get into
the use of aerogel in art.

 

(There are several SOS lecture videos available online, and LLNL/SOS
provides DVDs and slides of lectures to teachers, in some cases free of
charge.)

 


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