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Energy and future vehicles
Will we have enough energy available in the future for our industries, homes and automobiles, or will it soon be "lights out"? Every day the sun provides far more energy than we consume, but how can we make better use of this resource? One possibility would be to generate hydrogen in desert regions with the help of electrolysis. This gas could then be transported in pipelines where fuel cells convert it into electrical energy and heat at places where this energy is required. Join us in finding out just how this might work!
Most drivers are unaware of the fact that they are transporting on the roads dozens of mini-calculators equipped with many megabytes of software. Modern automobiles are "distributed embedded computer systems on wheels"! In this experiment you can yourselves program vehicle components like a xenon headlight or a state-of-the-art gear selector. Special software shows what happens in an "automotive computer network" while driving.
Will it hold? How strong does the support cable of an elevator have to be in order to transport people and goods safety? Which materials are suitable for constructing bridges which are economical and at the same time as safe as possible? How hard is some particular material, and what does hardness mean anyway? In the DLR_School_Lab we will use a testing machine to determine the characteristics values of hardness and tensile strength for a material. In the process we will compare different material samples and how they behave under various physical conditions.
Robotics and virtual worlds
A robot as a gardener? Service robots are supposed to help people in their natural environments by taking over simple activities like fetching and bringing, vacuuming a room, or mowing a lawn. But can a mobile robot, which is actually blind, get to its goal safely without damaging anything? Here you can learn the basic principles of mobile navigation. And then you yourselves can teach small, mobile robots to explore a world which is unknown to them.
Can you feel something that isn't really there? Every day we touch thousands of objects and decide whether they are soft or hard, cold or warm. When we touch something, we institute a complicated sequence involving perception, stimulus processing and reaction. In this experiment you can try out a "haptic device". That's a piece of hardware which "represents" contact information. Virtual objects can in the literal sense of the word be "grasped" at the computer and their characteristics "felt".
Stereoscopic 3D representation
Seeing something in three dimensions is a matter of course for us in daily life. Also engineers, architects and scientists cannot manage without realistic, three-dimensional representations. But how can we see anything in three dimensions? And how is it possible to have objects appear three dimensionally on a flat computer monitor? Try it out yourself! Astonishing effects show how our brain can be deceived and what 3D representations hold for the future.
Image source: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)
Structure of materials
How does color get into selfcopy paper or aroma into a cake? In this experiment you manufacture little capsules made of alginate which can contain all sorts of materials, even medicine, for example. And if magnetic particles are put into the capsules you can even "remotely control" them by subjecting them to a magnetic field!
How can we know which chemical elements exist in distant galaxies or in the sun? In this experiment you get acquainted with an analytic method known as flame spectroscopy, which we can use to investigate the composition of salts. Afterward you'll know how atoms are structured, how to manufactur colorful fireworks, and what information is contained in starlight.
Waves and interference
We are all familiar with water waves. And most people have seen how squash balls bounce back from a wall. What do these two phenomena have to do with each other? In the double-slit experiment we'll have a look at the quantum world and see that light sometimes behaves like water waves and sometimes like little spheres. The story is told that even Niels Bohr sometime got dizzy when thinking about these dual characteristics of light.
What actually is weightlessness? With our tiny drop tower we can conduct experiments during a period of 0.6 seconds in which microgravity conditions exist. With the help of computer-supported video technology that's enough time to observe the effects of microgravity on capillary forces, surface tension, or flames. And what conclusions can we draw about the construction of equipment which is supposed to function in the microgravity of space?
Image source: NASA
Chaos in the solar system
If you kick a soccer ball in a particular way it will fly into the goal, at least in Dortmund. If you investigate the spheres of our pendulum you can get acquainted with chaos. If you think about the difference between the soccer ball and the pendulum then you'll soon be on the track of the mystery of chaos and then understand why it is that the Saturn moon Hyperion wobbles irregularly on its orbit, but that you are able to score a goal.
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