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Watch a Powerful Electromagnet Shrink a Quarter to Half Its Size

Shrinking a quarter down to half its size sounds like a magic trick, but there’s nothing magic about this experiment highlighted by Physics Girl Dianna Cowern. In the video above spotted by Nerdist, she explains the remarkable physics at play when a coin is at the center of a powerful electromagnet.

The rig featured in the demonstration is powered by a 160-pound capacitor capable of charging up to 8000 volts. For a little perspective, that’s similar to the amount of power delivered by some electric fences

As the machine sends its current through a copper coil, a magnetic field is created inside it. The effects of this field can be seen when there’s a quarter at the coil’s center. The magnetic field grows stronger as the current increases, and a field forms inside the quarter itself that reaches an intensity of nearly 26.5 million watts—equivalent to about 22,080 toasters.

The pressure of the electric and magnetic fields pushes the coin evenly into itself from all sides. The result is a shrunken coin and a coil that’s been blown to smithereens—which is one of the many reasons why this is an experiment you should not try at home. If you’re looking for a DIY magnet project that’s more appropriate for home tinkerers, Cowern has also demonstrated how magnetic fields can be used to build an electric train.

[h/t Nerdist]

All images courtesy of YouTube

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26 Facts About LEGO Bricks

Since it first added plastic, interlocking bricks to its lineup, the Danish toy company LEGO (from the words Leg Godt for “play well”) has inspired builders of all ages to bring their most imaginative designs to life. Sets have ranged in size from scenes that can be assembled in a few minutes to 5000-piece behemoths depicting famous landmarks. And tinkerers aren’t limited to the sets they find in stores. One of the largest LEGO creations was a life-sized home in the UK that required 3.2 million tiny bricks to construct.

In this episode of the List Show, John Green lays out 26 playful facts about one of the world’s most beloved toy brands. To hear about the LEGO black market, the vault containing every LEGO set ever released, and more, check out the video above then subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date with the latest flossy content.

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Of Buckeyes and Butternuts: 29 States With Weird Nicknames for Their Residents
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Tracing a word’s origin and evolution can yield fascinating historical insights—and the weird nicknames used in some states to describe their residents are no exception. In the Mental Floss video above, host John Green explains the probable etymologies of 29 monikers that describe inhabitants of certain states across the country.

Some of these nicknames, like “Hoosiers” and “Arkies” (which denote residents of Indiana and Arkansas, respectively) may have slightly offensive connotations, while others—including "Buckeyes," "Jayhawks," "Butternuts," and "Tar Heels"—evoke the military histories of Ohio, Kansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. And a few, like “Muskrats” and “Sourdoughs,” are even inspired by early foods eaten in Delaware and Alaska. ("Goober-grabber" sounds goofier, but it at least refers to peanuts, which are a common crop in Georgia, as well as North Carolina and Arkansas.)

Learn more fascinating facts about states' nicknames for their residents by watching the video above.

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