Monday, May 7, 2012

Matt Kuchta's science in slow motion

This is the first in a series of posts in which we'll feature some of our many interesting and impressive colleagues.  Stay tuned for more.

"To me, good science looks cool," Matt Kuchta, professor of geology at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, says.

When Kuchta has anything to do with it, science looks awesome.

In the past few months, he's been using a high-speed video camera to show events in super slow motion.

Like this one, which shows stress and strain in gelation during a collision.


Or this one, showing bank collapse in an Emriver Em2 model at 1,000 frames per second.

Or a slow-motion view of what happens when you pop a balloon filled with gelatin and water.


"Gelatin-filled water balloons look gorgeous at high speed, but take about three to four times as long to clean up," Kuchta says.

He can spend up to two hours setting up and tearing down for a video showing only one second of real-time action.  But the results are stunning.

Kuchta has been making videos and science visualizations since he was in high school.  And in the six years he's been writing his blog, he's demonstrated tons of geophysical phenomena, from the 2011 Sendai Earthquake in Japan to volcano eruptions.

Visit Research at a Snail's Pace, Matt Kuchta's blog, for all the amazing videos I couldn't include here (and so much more).

Settle in and stay a while.  And stay tuned: Kuchta tells me slow-mo footage of liquid nitrogen volcanoes might be in the works.

Update: The liquid nitrogen volcano footage has arrived, and it's been picked up by Boing Boing.  Read the article and see the video here.  See more from Kuchta about the eruption demonstration here.

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