Today electricity comes out of the socket and makes all kinds of machines work. Electric charges make our hair stand on end and can discharge themselves in glaring lightning.
But what does electricity consist of? And how can we generate it?
Why can water striders walk across water, but humans can’t?
Water surrounds us everywhere. We ourselves consist of water for the most part. It is time to understand some of the mysterious properties of the material that covers two-thirds of the Earth’s surface.
We make metal float on water and explore why and which things sink, float or swim in water.
How were people able to eat ice cream in summer before fridges were invented?
Before the invention of cooling circuits the best way of keeping things cool was ice. But in warm rooms ice only has a temperature of about 0°C.
We cool ice below freezing point without a fridge. We look into how and why ice can be melted quickly and kept frozen for a long time.
The evening sun shines red, crystals glitter colourfully. The world is full of colours and colourful lights, but how does which colour come into being?
This is what we want to find out by means of experiments. We also build our own kaleidoscope.
Fire was an important and essential discovery for humans – as a source of heat, for the preparation of food, as a weapon, as a source of energy.
Why not play with fire? We raise fire tornadoes. We want to understand how fire works, what it consists of, and what fire can tell us about other materials.
Excursion to the Haus der Astronomie
The Center for Astronomy Education and Outreach was founded in 2008. It is located on the area of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy on top of the Königstuhl, right next to the Federal Observatory, where still today the sky is being watched in search of exoplanets.
More than 100 astronomers work here to better understand the developmental history of planets, stars, and galaxies, to find and understand exoplanets, and to develop telescopes as well as instruments for telescopes and space observatories.
Force and Motion
"May the force be with you!"
Every day, every moment we experience the force – such as the force that keeps us on the ground, or the forces that holds us together. These elemental forces make our life possible in the first place. They keep the Earth in its orbit and bring molecules together. Force sets our world in motion. So the force really is with us.
We want to understand how force and motion are connected with one another and how forces work together.
Water and air
Where ever we go on the surface of the earth, something is always surrounding us: air.
The Earth is wrapped up in a gaseous layer kilometres deep called the atmosphere. It is stronger, than we might think. It makes weather and wind possible by means of differences in air pressure and temperature.
We enquire into the strength of air pressure and its effects – and we make water float.
Following the rainbow
Fata Morganas, rainbows, reflecting streets in summer, halos in winter, and white walls of fog – air, clouds, and sun play tricks on us again and again.
How does this come about?
We follow light rays on their path towards producing optical illusions and see if we can find the end of the rainbow.
The Earth is just one of eight planets that circle the sun. Each of the planets and moons is a completely new environment.
-Thick icy fogs made up of ammonia and methane, scalding hot clouds of sulphuric acid, barren rocky wastelands under a sky coloured red by carbon dioxide-
Understanding the structure of our system not only helps us better understand the Earth and the Moon, but it also teaches us things about planets and stars light years away from us.
Sun and stars
The sun is a source of energy which has enabled the creation of life on Earth out of chaos. It provides us with light and heat so that the Earth doesn’t freeze.
At daytime, it outshines thousands of other stars which at night shine to us from a great distance and eventually burn up in bright explosions.
But how do stars do this? We want to understand how the sun and other stars produce their energy and how stars develop.
Tour at the Institute of Environmental Physics
Environmental physics deals with questions about our environment; with volcanoes and glaciers, oceans and the atmosphere, the climate and groundwater, and with how all these relate to one another and determine our living environment.
At the Heidelberg Institute of Environmental Physics atmospheric gases are measured, which only make up a thousandth part of the air but which are nevertheless crucial for human life, such as ozone or carbon dioxide.
The Institute also studies the mixing of air and water above the ocean to understand how the climate also changes oceans.
Milky way and galaxies
The sun is a tiny star in a large spiral made up of gas and stars, the Milky Way, our galaxy. But our galaxy is not the only one. There are countless galaxies millions to billions of light years away from us. Most of them are moving away from us.
We look at how they come into being, how they are structured, and what their speed relative to the Milky Way tells us about our universe.