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Five amazing physics facts to celebrate the launch of Norwich Science Festival 2017

PUBLISHED: 17:21 14 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:54 17 October 2017

Build your own time machine. Picture: Norwich Science Festival

Build your own time machine. Picture: Norwich Science Festival

Norwich Science Festival

Physics allows us to understand some of the amazing forces in the world and the way the world works. This year’s Physics Fest at Norwich Science Festival is sponsored by the Institute of Physics, and is a world of wonder.

Build your own time machine, Brian Clegg. Picture: Norwich Science Festival Build your own time machine, Brian Clegg. Picture: Norwich Science Festival

•Frogs levitate in a strong enough magnetic fields.

This is because, like everything, frogs are made up of millions and billions of atoms, each of which has electrons whizzing around them. But when put into a magnetic field the electrons’ orbit slightly shifts, making them magnetic. This causes the frog to be made up of billions of tiny magnets, making it float. But frogs are not special, as all materials including strawberries, water and gold will levitate, just at different rates.

•If you hold up a grain of sand, the patch of sky it covers contains 10,000 galaxies.

A grain of sand may be tiny but when you hold it up to the night sky, at arms length, it actually reaches many light years in diameter.

Now, with observations, like ones from the Hubble Telescope, scientists are able to estimate that there are one hundred billion galaxies in our universe. Combined with the amount of sky the grain of sand is covering we can estimate the amount of galaxies covered.

•There is one tonne of air pressing down on you, the same weight as a small car.

They may be tiny, but air molecules above your head really do weigh something. The combined weight of these molecules causes a pressure which presses down on your body of 1,000kg, one tonne, per 0.1 square metre.

•Your car has more computing power than the system that guided the Apollo astronauts to the moon.

We may not be talking about your granddad’s old banger, but modern cars have more computing power than the Apollo guidance system. Cars have up to 50 separate computers controlling the radio, ABS, air bags, air conditioning and the locks. This is before you look at any of the new amazing extras some cars feature like sat-nav, electric seats or televisions.

When man first walked on the moon in 1969, the guidance system was the first computer able to provide real-time flight information and automatically navigate the spacecraft.

• A bolt of lightning has enough energy to toast 100,000 slices of bread.

Now that is a lot of toast. The average lightning bolt contains more than five billion Joules. This means one strike could power a 1,000 Watt, two slice toaster for nearly 60 days, churning out 100,000 slices of toast. Only question now is - who wants a slice?

There are several events at the festival that will delve deep into the fascinating world of physics and give people an understanding of some of our favourite sci-fi ideas. Build your Own Time machine will look into if it really is possible to time travel and the affects that it would have on our time line with award winning science writer Brian Clegg.

Doctor Who always appears to be breaking the laws of physics but how much is actually based in fact? The Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who explores how much of the series could actually be true with authors Simon Guerrier and Dr Marek Kukula.

Build Your Own Time Machine, Sunday, 22 October, 4pm-5pm, The Forum’s Auditorium, tickets £6, £4 concessions.

The Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who, Sunday, 22 October, 11am-12pm, The Forum’s Auditorium, £6, £4 concessions.

The Institute of Physics is supporting Physics Fest to help make physics accessible to all and also as much fun as possible.

A spokesman for the institute said: “The Norwich Science Festival is an opportunity to spread this message, inspire and create fantastic memories of physics fun. Our involvement in the festival allows us the opportunity to engage with the public at all ages and increase the accessibility of our science.”

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