I was challenged to do some science communication with a candle. I wanted to try a simple citizen science project, so that everyone else can be a part of the experiment too! So I thought of how I can learn something about candles and citizen science, and now you can learn with me!The aims of this experiment are:
1. To find how accurately we can measure time with drops of wax from a birthday candle.
2. To try a collaborative citizen science and science communication project using online tools and mobile devices.
The thing I hope to learn, is if it is possible to run an experiment in this way. The thing I hope you learn, is something about candles, something about the scientific process, the fact that you can do a unique science experiment with everyday objects and a phone (seriously, as far as I can tell, no-one has done this before, perhaps there's a reason for that)! I also hope that you engage in the scientific process a little bit.
Once enough data has been collected, the results will be published and advertised here: http://blogs.usyd.edu.au/kickstart/ There is a good amount of data we're collecting here, so hopefully we'll be able to find out something interesting together!
Candles have been used for timers in the past, but they were custom calibrated candles. The historical candle timers were designed to show a rough passage of time.
What are we looking for in this experiment? Certainly not a new timing device, we have extremely accurate timing devices available. We will not discover a new accurate timing device to rival caesium clocks.
What we will do, is participate in an online science experiment. You can do this entire experiment on one device (phone, tablet etc), the measurement, the data entry and analysis! This shows off the simplicity of this experiment, and also the complexity of our mobile devices. We can do an entire science experiment on a phone!
This experiment is for everyone, but has been designed for simplicity as well as with some obvious links to the "Working Scientifically" syllabus requirement in primary and high school science. Please feel free ot send it along to anyone you think might be interested.
If this works, I'll be trying it again for sure!
Contact me if you have any questions or issues with the experiment
Also, feel free to take a picture of your setup and tag me on instagram @kickstartphysics, or twitter @Gordeauz