Video of the week – Aerogels: The materials science of empty space | The American Ceramic Society

Video of the week – Aerogels: The materials science of empty space

This is a great introductory 54-minute video of a lecture presented earlier this year 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.)