Fun With Physics: Finding The Speed Of Light With Peeps
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
From time to time, NPR's science desk creates videos that help us understand how the world works. Adam Cole is the mad genius and science reporter behind them.
ADAM COLE, BYLINE: These are the marshmallow landscapes. This is the countryside. And this is the Parisian skyline (laughter), the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. How do you say that? Is that right?
INSKEEP: Sounds good to me. The skyline is part of an entire marshmallow world, a set Adam built for his latest project. MORNING EDITION producer Rachel Ward went to watch him film it. And she reports that using candy to explore physics can get sticky.
RACHEL WARD, BYLINE: Adam Cole and producer Ryan Kellman are up to their ears in Peeps.
COLE: These are half-off Peeps because they were post-Easter purchases. We've got blue, purple, green and some yellow bunny rabbits - and the very rare white Peep - the albino Peep.
WARD: A glass baking dish packed full of these sugarcoated marshmallow candies - sometimes little chicks, sometimes rabbits - is the star of this show. And here's what Adam and Ryan are up to.
COLE: We are trying to find the speed of light.
WARD: Don't we already know the speed of light?
COLE: Well, we know what it is. But what's fun about this is you can find it just within your own home, like...
WARD: Yep, what we're doing here is using a tray of leftover Easter candy and a microwave to calculate the speed of light. And we can do that because microwaves, it turns out, travel at the speed of light.
(SOUNDBITE OF MICROWAVE DOOR CLOSING)
WARD: But first, Adam sets a Peep on fire.
COLE: This is a completely disintegrated and then on fire pink bunny.
WARD: Then, we get down to the science. To figure out the speed of light, all you need is its frequency and wavelength. And your regular old microwave probably came with its frequency written on it. So the video, that'll show you how to get the wavelength.
COLE: So 5.17 inches is the wavelength of a microwave. Multiply that by...
WARD: OK, yeah, no, no, no, no. We're not going to do any math on the radio here. But let me implore you. If you watch only one video on the Internet today, please let it be this one.
COLE: All right, so let's see what happens.
(SOUNDBITE OF MICROWAVE RUNNING)
WARD: Rachel Ward, NPR News.
INSKEEP: The video is on YouTube. Skunk Bear is the name of the channel.
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