Want to know how your earbuds make music, how telephones squeeze sounds down wires, what graphene is, or how windows can clean themselves? You've come to the right place! Here you'll find simple explanations you can really understand—hurrah!—
Hard stuff... made simple!
Explain that Stuff is an online book written by British science writer Chris Woodford (author of many popular science books for adults and children, including Atoms Under the Floorboards: The Surprising Science Hidden in Your Home). It includes 450 easy-to-understand articles, richly illustrated with easy-to-understand artworks and animations, covering how things work, cutting-edge science, cool gadgets, and computers. We take the "pain" from explain and the "tough" out of stuff! There's more information on this website than in your average expensive science book, it's continually updated, and it's completely free to use! Explain that Stuff also helps to support curriculum learning (conventional STEM education and home-schooling).
What's hot in February 2020?
In the news now...
- Climate change: As devastating bush fires continue to rage in Australia, more people are asking themselves whether extreme weather events are signs of a growing climate emergency. A new scientific study has found that computer models have been accurately predicting what we're now seeing for several decades, so the grave future predictions of these models should give us real pause for thought as "global heating" gathers pace. Find out more in our simple introduction to global warming and climate change.
- Fireworks: If you're celebrating the Chinese/Lunar New Year with fireworks, maybe you'd care to know a bit about how they make their colors and fly through the sky? All's revealed in our simple introduction to fireworks!
- Space rockets: India has recently announced its third mission to the Moon, currently scheduled for later this year or 2021. Refresh your memory of space and how rockets work.
- Plastic: Most of us have heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (a vast mass of trash in the middle of the ocean where human waste continues to accumulate). The latest human disgrace is plastic rain and snow. New studies have revealed alarming quantities of tiny "microplastic" falling from the sky as air pollution. Despite their terrible recent press, plastics aren't all bad, as you'll quickly realize if you find yourself in hospital.
- Quantum computing: Late last year, Google claimed a major breakthrough: the achievement of "quantum supremacy," which means doing some sort of "number crunching" task much faster than a conventional computer ever could. How far off are practical quantum computers? Find out more in our article about quantum computing.
- Wind power: The world's biggest farm of offshore wind turbines is set to be built off the coast of Yorkshire, England. With blades over 100m long, each turbine can make power for 220 homes. Altogether, the farm will make enough clean wind energy to keen 4.5 million homes ticking over!
- Air pollution: New research shows that when the outdoor air is really dirty, there's a big increase in heart attacks and strokes. But, 300 years on from the invention of the steam engine, why is air pollution still such a problem?
These are some more of our classic, ever-popular articles:
- Water pollution: Rivers and seas take a long time to recover from the effects of careless human treatment. What causes pollution and what can we do to stop it?
- Electricity: The most versatile and useful form of energy in our world, electricity is going to become a whole lot more important in future.
- Nanotechnology: Can we build a brave new world just by shuffling atoms and molecules under a microscope?
- Magnetism: One of the first bits of science people studied, magnetism is still just as relevant today in everything from electric cars to body scans at the hospital.
- Gears: Wheels with teeth carved around them can make you go faster or bump up your power—and here's how!
- Batteries: We all need electricity, wherever we happen to be, so thank goodness for batteries—miniature power plants you can carry in your pocket!
- Electric motors: These amazing machines turn electricity and magnetism into movement, powering everything from handheld toothbrushes to bikes, cars, and trains.
- Cloud computing: Why buy yourself an expensive computer or programs to go with it when you can get access to something just as good over the Internet?
What else is on our site?
The hundreds of detailed articles on our site are divided up into a number of broad topical areas, which we've listed below. We've also given you a rough idea of the kind of questions you're going to find answers to in each section!
- Communications: Why do we bounce telephone calls off satellites? How do cellphones work? What's the difference between digital radio and ordinary radio?
- Computers: How can you make a computer think like a human brain or cause climate change inside your PC? Who invented the computer—and why on Earth did it take them so long?
- Electricity and electronics: How can you make coffee with a stream of electrons? How can magnets detect burglars in your home?
- Energy: How does wind energy come from the Sun? Is nuclear power safe or not?
- Engineering: What stops a bridge falling over? How come a person can lift more stuff with a crane than with their bare hands?
- Environment: Can we still stop dangerous climate change? What causes air and water pollution and how can the world clean up its act?
- Gadgets: How does a flash memory card store your holiday snaps? Why can a synthesizer mimic any musical instrument that's ever been invented (and even ones that haven't been)?
- Home life: How can you make windows turn dark at the flick of a switch? How does an artificial leg work? If an energy-saving lamp saves energy, how come it still makes exactly the same amount of light?
- Materials: If you had a piece of platinum as big as a man, how much would it be worth? Why doesn't a dry-stone wall fall over? Is it true that glass is a kind of liquid?
- Science: Which part of a candle flame is the hottest? Why does chocolate actually taste good? Where's the best place to sit on a rollercoaster if you want to scare yourself to death?
- Tools, instruments, and measurement: How does an iris scanner recognize your eyes? Why don't fireproof clothes catch fire? Can a robot really learn to play drums?
- Transportation: If a man can't fly, how can a plane fly if it weighs as much as 5000 men? How come we say a wheel reduces friction if it's got a tire that grips the road?
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