Did someone say ‘vacuum’?

Hey, Science Students!

Today is Create a Vacuum Day. This task is extremely involved and challenging. And, despite the fact that I wouldn’t expect or even encourage anyone to try creating their own homemade vacuum chamber, I DO believe it’s a subject that, at least, warrants a Blog post’s worth of discussion. With the proper know-how and hook ups, you can turn any glass jar into a vacuum chamber.

However, before we move on to what a vacuum chamber is, I want to quickly define what ‘space’ is. I’m not talking about space as in the final frontier, but more so, space, like the stuff that you take up (which isn’t really any different than outer space). Space is something that stuff inhabits—or DOESN’T inhabit.

I inhabit space. You inhabit space. My sister’s Chihuahua inhabits a considerably smaller amount of space. And when you travel from point A to point B, you’re traveling THROUGH space.

Okay, now let’s ask, what is a vacuum chamber?

No, it’s not some accessory on your Hoover or Dirt Devil (though this is where ‘vacuum’ cleaners get their name). A vacuum chamber is typically a jar of some sort that has been sealed up with nothing inside of it. And when I say ‘nothing’ I mean NOT a THING!
An empty jar of pickles can quickly become a vacuum chamber.
If I ask you to imagine a jar of nothing, what do you think of? A jar that’s been emptied of all the pickles and pickle juice (or whatever else) that was previously stored inside the jar? Yeah, some people might consider this an empty jar. But a vacuum chamber takes it one step further and empties the jar of AIR! It may seems excessive, but air, while invisible and virtually weightless, certainly is SOMEthing.

A vacuum chamber holds truly EMPTY space. Now that I’ve explained what a vacuum chamber is, you might ask what’s the point in creating one? Well, the fact is things behave differently in a vacuum than they do in the atmospheric world that we know and love. Among other strange phenomena, sound doesn’t exist!

In the video below, Bill Nye doesn’t create a perfect vacuum, but demonstrates what happens when you play around with the atmospheric pressures inside a sealed chamber. Check it out! Happy Create a Vacuum Day and, as always, thanks for reading.

- John

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWZJY9XFcQo

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