virtual labs – PraxiLabs https://blog.praxilabs.com A virtual world of science Sun, 08 Nov 2020 09:42:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.4 History of Electricity, and Main Electricity Experiments Provided By PraxiLabs https://blog.praxilabs.com/2020/11/08/history-of-electricity-and-main-electricity-experiments-provided-by-praxilabs/ Sun, 08 Nov 2020 09:35:50 +0000 https://blog.praxilabs.com/?p=604 Imagine your daily life without lamps, working fans, and domestic appliances like electric stoves, A/C, and more. Also, modern means of transportation and communication.

If there is no electricity in our world, what about factories? large machines? essential items like food, cloth, paper, and many other things that are produced based on electricity? 

Actually, electricity is one of the most important blessings that science has given to mankind. It has also become a part of modern life and one cannot think of a world without it.

The discovery of electricity changed lives drastically, starting from domestic use to industrial activities. It is one of the most important innovations of all time.

In your house, electricity is important for operating all appliances, entertainment, lighting and of course, all technology.

When it comes to travelling, electricity is important for the use of electric trains, airplanes and even some cars.

If you think about facilities such as schools, medical facilities such as hospitals, and retail facilities, all need electricity to run efficiently.

When it comes to the medical field, electricity allows for the availability of X-Rays, ECG’s and instant results regarding blood tests, as well as anything else. It allows for a more efficient medical practice in these facilities.

Electricity is also important for the purpose and operation of machines such as computers or monitors that display data to enhance medicine. Without electricity, hospitals and medicine would not be able to be advanced and cure illnesses, which would also result in more casualties.

Through this article, we will try to cover the history of electricity, the main physical concepts about it, and the virtual electricity experiments that are provided by the PraxiLabs virtual lab.

History of Electricity

Beginning of Electricity

Electricity Experiments

The first observation of electricity phenomenon in history dates all the way back to 500 B.C. when Thales of Miletus discovered static electricity by rubbing fur on amber.

Two thousand years later, in the 1600s, the English physician and physicist William Gilbert published the first theories about electricity in his book, De Magnete.

The next major text about electricity experiments and notes about the Mechanical Origin or Production of Electricity was published in 1675 by English chemist and physicist Robert William Boyle.

In the early 1700s – decades before Franklin’s kite – English scientist Francis Hauksbee made a glass ball that glowed when rubbed while experimenting with electrical attraction and repulsion. The glow was bright enough to read by, and this discovery would eventually lead to neon lighting a few centuries later.

Fast forward to September 1882, when a house in Appleton, Wisconsin became the first American home to be powered by hydroelectricity. The station that powered the home used the direct current (DC) system developed by Thomas Edison. Over the next several years, “the direct current versus alternating current (AC)” debate captured attention, as Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse (who championed AC), competed for contracts.

AC was not yet known to the world until the early nineteenth century, when the experiments of Michael Faraday began to appear, which greatly assisted in the evolution of our perception of electromagnetism, and transferred it to practical and commercial life.

After Michael Faraday’s experiments, the curiosity of knowledge moved to the United States of America, where a special scientific conflict we call today (Currents War) began.

In 1882, Thomas Edison founded the world’s first electrical power station in New York City to illuminate the Manhattan area using DC. However, after William Stanley invented the electrical transformer in 1885, the world began to move to a new stage that would irritate Mr. Edison and hurt his investments in DC, and this is what really happened with the discovery of AC by Nicola Tesla when inventing the engine that relies on AC current.

Then the United States divided into two teams, the first team calling for the use of AC power developed by Tesla and the Westin House, which started building its stations and ensured lower cost in the transmission and distribution operations, and the second team led by the inventor Edison, who illuminated New York for the first time and who promotes his direct current. He tried to prove that AC is dangerous, by shocking the animals with alternating current.

Read our blog about The Current War.

Video showing Edison’s electrocution of an elephant using AC.

At the end of this battle, AC prevailed, because of the limited distance from which DC can be transferred, unlike AC which is easy to transport to remote places.

AC and DC Currents:

AC:

AC is an electric current that periodically reverses direction, in contrast to direct current (DC) which flows only in one direction.

Alternating current is the form in which electric power is delivered to businesses and residences, and it is the form of electrical energy that consumers typically use when they plug kitchen appliances, televisions, fans, and electric lamps into a wall socket.

Advantages of AC:

1- Electrical power can be transmitted to very far distances, something DC cannot do economically or practically. It can be transported too far between countries or even across continents.

2- Alternating currents are characterized by their ability to transmit information. A loudspeaker, for example, converts the information contained in a word into alternating current.

3- AC is easy to be generated from the turbine.

4- Electrochemical cells produce direct current but are impractical to meet the needs of high population areas, while the enormous energy of water stored behind dams can be used on rivers, the exploitation of ocean tidal power, wind, and fossil fuels, and safe nuclear reactions to rotate turbines that in turn operate the AC alternators.

DC:

DC is the unidirectional flow of electric charge. A battery is a prime example of DC power.

Direct current may flow through a conductor such as a wire but can also flow through semiconductors, insulators, or even through a vacuum as in electron or ion beams.

The electric current flows in a constant direction, distinguishing it from alternating current (AC). A term formerly used for this type of current was galvanic current.

DC Applications:

High voltage DC is used to transmit electrical energy over long distances and in case of cables that need to be passed underwater. It is also used in many low-voltage applications such as batteries that generate constant current. Also, solar cells rely on DC, as they cannot generate alternating current and are used in photovoltaics.

DC Advantages:

1- The direct current does not reverse the polarity, so when we connect an electrical circuit to a direct current, the electrodes must be taken into account well.

2- Alternating current can be converted into DC through the use of a “Wave Bridge Rectifier.”

3- The reason for the flow of electrons in it is the magnetic stability along the wire.

4- DC is characterized by its constant value with time.

5- The power factor is always one.

6- Its wave is in the form of continuous pulses.

The Evolution of Wiring and Electrical Components

In the earliest days of home electrification, electricity was often carried place to place by bare copper wires with minimal cotton insulation. Sockets, switch handles, and fuse blocks were made of wood.

There were no voltage regulators and lights would dim and brighten in response to demand placed on the electrical grid.

From about 1890 to 1910, knob and tube wiring was used for electric installation. In this early set-up, hot wires and neutral wires were run separately and were insulated using rubberized cloth, which degraded over time.

From the 1920s to the 1940s, flexible armored cable, which offered some protection from wire damage, became commonplace. During the 1940s, electricians began using metal conduit, in which several insulated wires were enclosed in rigid metal tubes.

During these years, the potential for danger was much higher than it is today because wires weren’t grounded. If one of the “hot” wires became damaged or some other mishap caused the electrical current to escape the wiring pathways, fire or severe electrical shock was often the result.

After 1965, grounded wires, which direct stray electrical current back into the ground, created a safer environment for homeowners. (If your house was built before 1965, ground circuit fault interrupters [GFCI] are a great upgrade option. Check with a licensed electrician for more information).

Most modern homes also have circuit breakers that immediately shut off power if they sense an overload, providing additional safeguards.

Electricity in the Modern Era

Well into the 20th century, most Americans continued to illuminate their homes using gas lamps. In 1925, only half of American houses had electrical power. Thanks in great part to FDR’s Rural Electrification Act of 1936, by 1945, 85 percent of American homes were powered by electricity, with virtually all homes having electricity by 1960.

Initially, electricity was used primarily for lighting. But as appliances like vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, and washing machines became more popular starting in the 1950s, demand for electricity grew by leaps and bounds.

With today’s myriad appliances and electronic devices, it’s essential to have wiring and components that can handle the heavy load required to power our modern lives.

As we settle into the 21st century, electricity continues to evolve, yet innovations – at least when it comes to our sources of power – have come more slowly. Coal, petroleum, and natural gas have been our primary sources of electrical production since the early 20th century, and alternating current still reigns.

But, there are changes underway.

Main Electrical Concepts:

Electrical Voltage

Electrical voltage is defined as electric potential difference between two points of an electric field.

Electric Current

Electrical current is the flow rate of electric charge in electric field, usually in electrical circuit.

Resistance

Resistance is an electrical quantity that measures how the device or material reduces the electric current flow through it.

The resistance is measured in units of ohms (Ω).

Electric Power

Electric power is the rate of energy consumption in an electrical circuit. The electric power is measured in units of watts.

Electric Charge

Electric charge generates an electric field. The electric charge influences other electric charges with electric force and influenced by the other charges with the same force in the opposite direction.

Resistor

Resistor is an electrical component that reduces the electric current.

Capacitor

Capacitor is an electronic component that stores electric charge. The capacitor is made of 2 close conductors (usually plates) that are separated by a dielectric material. The plates accumulate electric charge when connected to a power source. One plate accumulates a positive charge and the other plate accumulates a negative charge.

The capacitance is the amount of electric charge that is stored in the capacitor at a voltage of 1 Volt.

The capacitance is measured in units of Farad (F).

Electricity Experiments By PraxiLabs

Measurement of a Resistance Using Ammeter and Voltmeter 

Aim: Verify Ohm’s law. 

Learning Objective:

After this experiment, student should be able to:

• Understand the relation between current and voltage in a circuit with Ohmic resistance.

• Learn how to find the equivalent resistance when many resistors are connected in series or in parallel.

Theory of Experiment

OHM’S Law states that when two points are taken on linear conductor, the ratio of the difference of potential, E, between those points to the current, I, flowing through the conductor is a constant.

This constant ratio is termed the resistance, R, of the conductors. The reciprocal of R is the conductance. A resistor is a piece of apparatus used on account of its possessing resistance.

The most direct method of measuring resistance is to measure the potential difference, and the current. If a voltmeter measures the difference of potential in volts and the strength of the current is in amperes, is measured by an ammeter, the resistance is in ohms.

Note carefully that the ammeter is connected in series with the resistance to be measured, while the voltmeter is connected across the ends of the resistance, so that, with a moving-coil instrument, the coil of the voltmeter is in parallel with the resistance. The terminals marked + on the ammeter and the voltmeter must be connected to the + pole of the battery or the power supply. In this method, the resistance of the conductor is measured while a current is flowing through it. The method is therefore applicable in cases where other methods fail; for instance, we can measure in this way the resistance of an incandescent electric lamp while it is glowing. This is a rough method only, though very convenient in many cases. It depends on the observed deflections of the ammeter and voltmeter and is thus not as accurate as a null method of measuring resistance. If the ammeter and voltmeter have not been calibrated, the result may be erroneous owing to errors of graduation. 

Characteristic of a on-Ohmic Resistance

Aim: Verify the nonlinear relation between current and voltage in a non-Ohmic resistor. 

Learning Objective:

After this experiment, student should be able to:

• Understand how resistance changes with temperature.

• Understand the reciprocal relation between heat dissipated and current flow.

• Understand why Tungsten is used in heating application and lamps.

• Appreciate the intricacy of electric conductivity phenomena.

Theory of Experiment: 

Let us select a particular sample of conducting material, apply a uniform potential difference across it, and measure the resulting current. If we plot the results, the experimental points clearly fall along straight line, which indicates that the ratio V/I is constant. In this case, we say that the material obeys ohm’s law, which states that: A conducting device obeys ohm’s law if the resistance between any pair of points is independent of the magnitude and polarity of the applied potential difference.

A material that obeys ohm’s law is called Ohmic. There are some elements that do not obey ohm’s law, where the current does not increase linearly with the voltage. Also, note that these elements behave very differently for negative potential differences than it does for positive ones. 

If a current flows through a conductor, it will be heated, the greater the current, the higher becomes the temperature of the conductor. The rise in temperature is necessarily associated with an increase in electrical resistance. In these cases, ohm’s law cannot be satisfied.

Magnetic Moment of a Bar Magnet 

Aims: To determine the magnetic dipole moment of a bar magnet and its pole strength. 

Learning Objectives:

By the end of this experiment, the student should be able to:

• Explain the operation of the tangent galvanometer.

• Setup an experiment to study the magnetic properties of a bar magnet.

• Determine the value of the pole strength of a bar magnet. 

Kirchhoff’s laws 

Aim: Verification of Kirchhoff’s laws. 

Learning Objectives:

By the end of the experiment, the student should be able to:

• State Kirchhoff’s laws for electric circuits.

• Apply Kirchhoff’s current law at node (or junction) points in an electric circuit.

• Apply Kirchhoff’s voltage law around closed loops within electric circuits.

• Deduce the value of the current in different branches of an electric circuit

Theoretical background: 

Analyzing electric circuits depends on two basic laws that were developed by the Russian scientist Justaff Kkirchhoff in 1845. They can be stated as follows:

Kirchhoff’s first Law, It is based on the principle of conservation of charge.

It states that: The sum of current that entering the junction equal the sum of current that leaves the junction.

Or The sum of all currents at a junction point in a circuit is zero, with the current entering the junction considered positive, and those leaving the junction are considered negative.

Kirchhoff’s Second Law, It is based on the principle of conservation of charge.

It states that: Around any closed path, the sum of all voltage drops on all branches within the loop is equal to the sum of the emf’s of the batteries within the loop.

Or Around any closed loop or path in a circuit, the algebraic sum of all the voltage drops must equal zero.

Try Electricity Expermints Lab for Free

PraxiLabs provides the electricity experiments lab for students, teachers, and researchers. Create your free account and enjoy conducting the many physics electricity experiments online.

You can access the virtual lab using the internet anywhere and anytime you want.

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4 Technologies That Can Make Science Learning Easier and Funny https://blog.praxilabs.com/2020/09/06/4-technologies-science-learning/ Sun, 06 Sep 2020 16:37:47 +0000 https://blog.praxilabs.com/?p=582 Science learning or science education is the teaching of science to non-scientists, such as school children, college students, and also adults within the general public. 

The science learning field can include work in science content, science process (the scientific method), social and citizen science, and some teaching pedagogy.

In the last decades, science learning was based on traditional teaching methods. But through the last few years, we have noticed a significant change due to the revolution of the “information age.” 

Now we can see various applications for the internet and electronic devices in the world of science learning and teaching. Advances in computer and network technologies may facilitate and provide constructivist and cooperative learning environments, thus paving the way for cooperative activities and constructivist learning.

Now let’s take a look at the main emergent technologies that are applied in science learning. Here you can find four effective technologies that have a breakthrough in science learning.

Virtual labs, Simulations, and Dynamic Visualizations

Science Learning

Unlike computational thinking, the amount of research about using virtual labs and simulation in science learning is large. There are a large number of recent studies that discuss the efficiency of tools designed to simulate science labs, field trips, and scientific phenomena with relatively high fidelity.

These studies include varied simulations that varied in terms of functionalities (i.e., simulation of a phenomenon, and virtual lab), disciplines (chemistry, biology, and life sciences), and purpose for integration (i.e., assessment, teaching, or both). 

There are 14 papers that have been published in the Journal of Research in Science learning which is the top journal in the field. These papers include 2 studies on video games, 10 on integrated simulations, and 2 on interactive dynamic visualizations. 

The authors employed different types of simulations, games, and visualizations in these papers for assessment, learning, and problem-solving.They used different metrics to measure the effectiveness of the tools used in these studies, and an overall benefit was observed for conditions where these tools were employed. 

For example, Scalise et al. (2011) published a synthesis of 79 studies integrating science simulations (73) and virtual labs (24). 53% of these studies found observed learning gains as a result of use of simulations, 18% gains only under the right conditions, and 4% no gains reported.

Example for Virtual Labs

 

PraxiLabs is considered as one of the most interactive virtual labs. It aims to make scientific virtual labs easy to reach, easy to use, and affordable for educational institutions and schools. It not only provides scientific virtual labs but also integrates a rich content that helps students understand the steps of the experiment and provide them with additional information.

The structure of PraxiLabs consists of a team that is always keen to communicate with the educational institutions and science learning experts to learn the proposals for modernization and development and to ensure that the modern trends in the fields of laboratory experiments are kept up to date.

It helps students and teachers to enter a  3D virtual world, which helps students understand the curriculum more accurately and in detail. The labs are available in both English and Arabic and help students interact more with multiple interactive options and responsive responses, giving students experience and practical training in science curricula.

PraxiLabs is compatible with the educational platforms known and modern and can be accessed from anywhere. So your personal virtual lab goes with you wherever you go and it is one of the most important features of E-learning. In addition, it saves a lot of money spent on expensive equipment, as it dispenses with using chemicals in the laboratory, thus giving you a safer and less expensive alternative.

Computational Thinking

In education, computational thinking (CT) is a set of problem-solving methods that involve expressing problems and their solutions in ways that a computer could also execute. The amount of research about computational thinking in science learning is limited. So we will focus on three papers published in the Journal of Science Education and Technology, one of the best journals in the field of science learning and education.

Man with laptop thinking

According to Weintrop et al. (2016), computational thinking can be defined in the form of a taxonomy consisting of four main classes: 

1- data practices (collecting, creating, manipulating, analyzing, and visualizing data).

2- modeling and simulation practices (using computational models to understand a concept, find and test solutions, assessing, designing, and constructing computational models).

3- problem solving practices (preparing problems for computational solutions, programming, choosing effective computational tools, assessing different approaches/solutions to a problem, developing modular computational solutions, creating computational abstractions, troubleshooting, and debugging).

4- systems thinking practices (investigating a complex system as a whole, understanding the relationships within a system, thinking in levels, communicating information about a system, and defining systems and managing complexity). 

The author added some examples in order to illustrate these practices. For example he added a lesson that explains how students can investigate the laws of physics that govern video games. 

Berland and Wilensky (2015) compared the effectiveness of curricular units in supporting students’ complex systems and computational thinking in four urban middle school classrooms. The first unit was based on a physical robotics participatory simulation and the other unit had a virtual robotics participatory simulation. 

The results showed that the students outcomes have been improved using both units with the same amount. But there were some differences in their perspectives on the content. The students with the physical system were more likely to interpret situations from a bottom‐up perspective, and students using the virtual system were more likely to employ a top‐down perspective. 

The outcomes from this study suggest that the medium of students’ interactions with systems can lead to differences in their learning from and about those systems.

In another study, Leonard et al. (2016) tested the potential of using robotics and game design to engage youth in computational thinking. He tried to explain how the use of LEGO EV3 robotics and Scalable Game Design software influenced rural and indigenous students. 

He found that student attitudes toward and interest in STEM careers did not change significantly. Students were able to infuse some elements of culture and place into game design. Students’ self‐efficacy scores on the construct of computer use declined significantly, while the constructs of video gaming and computer gaming remained unchanged. Self‐efficacy in video gaming increased significantly in the combined robotics/gaming environment compared with the gaming‐only context.

Gaming and Technology‐Mediated Play

There are various studies that showed the growing number of science educators who use educational computer games. Simulations are the most popular type of games that are used in the educational process. For example C.‐Y. Hsu, Chin‐Chung Tsai, and Liang (2011) simulated the phenomenon of shadow formation in daylight using a computer game to teach a group of preschoolers. Also Anderson and Barnett (2013) taught the electrostatic phenomena to the middle‐school students using the 3D computer game Supercharged, which explains how charged particles interact with electric and magnetic fields. Using Code Fred: Survival Mode, Price et al. (2016) simulated the human body systems. 

Considerably less common in science learning is the use of educational games that do more than merely simulate natural processes. Also relatively uncommon is the use of video games for science learning at the elementary school level. This is a sharp contrast to middle‐ and high‐school, where science educators have more commonly favored the use of video games as a means to engage students in inquiry‐based science learning. To do so, these educators have typically resorted to “computer‐based narrative discovery learning games” in an online collaborative environment accessible to K‐12 students.

Technology of Online Science Learning

Online science courses are a virtual workplace that gives you advantages of time and place flexibility. As long as you meet your deadlines and communicate with your instructor and peers, it doesn’t matter where or when you fulfill the requirements.

That’s besides taking into consideration that online study requires just as much work as an offline study. And the amount of time you dedicate is also about the same. However, the online format—just as a virtual workplace—makes you afford more flexibility. Often, you are required to do the same tasks every week (e.g., review the learning objectives, complete the assigned readings, go through the lecture materials, participate in the discussion boards, and submit assignments).

Adjusting to an online learning model could be a challenge at first. But once you adapt to the format, there are numerous benefits to be realized. No matter the reason you choose to pursue online education, earning an online degree can help prepare you for career advancement and demonstrate key skills to potential employers.

Here you can find some features for online courses.

Flexibility 

Not many people have the ability to take time off from work to commit to a full-time graduate program, and others often travel for work. For those who still need to juggle working and going back to school, the flexibility of an online program provides individuals with the opportunity to learn while still working and growing professionally.

Additionally, students don’t always feel comfortable asking professors to repeat a point they made in their last lecture or dive into deeper detail on a specific topic. When learning online, you can revisit past material or stop the lecture to perform additional research or organize your notes.

ImproveTechnical Skills

Your online degree also equates to strong technical skills, a definite plus for any job seeker. As part of your coursework, you will likely need to utilize digital learning materials, get familiar with new tools and software, and troubleshoot common issues. After a program’s worth of technical hurdles, big and small, an employer could trust that you are versed in common collaboration tools, content management systems, and basic troubleshooting.

Time Management

Juggling work, family, and school isn’t an easy thing to do. Employers recognize this and admire the time management skills it takes to balance all three. Because there are no set classroom times within an online degree program and students have the flexibility to create their own schedules, it’s up to the student to proactively reach out to faculty, complete assignments on time, and plan ahead.

Self-Motivation

By successfully earning your master’s degree online, you’re demonstrating that you can practice time management and are self-motivated, which are among the top 10 employability skills employers want to see in new hires. By succeeding in earning an online degree, you prove that you can tackle multiple tasks, set priorities, and adapt to changing work conditions.  

Critical Thinking Skills

Online learning facilitates the ability to think critically about what you do every day. The goal in the classroom is to challenge you to think differently, and employers want you to do that, too–to think critically in your role at work. Mastering this skill is what will set you apart as a student and as an employee.

Critical thinking plays a role in any type of education; however, online learning forces you to develop your critical thinking skills in ways that you might not have practiced in an in-person classroom setting. This sort of self-paced and self-motivated learning demonstrates to future employers that you have the ability to think critically and overcome any obstacles that might stand in your way.

Broader, Global Perspective

Students in online programs come from all over the world. Because of the ability to log on from any location, class discussions feature a broader range of perspectives, helping you enhance your own cross-cultural understanding. Students then not only have the opportunity to network with people from around the globe but can also broaden their perspective and become more culturally aware.

Businesses are looking for employees who can innovate, and innovation often comes from outside your immediate world. If you’re interested in entrepreneurship, for example, hearing how other countries adopt certain technologies or approach specific industries can inspire new ideas or improve an existing concept you’ve been developing. 

Being exposed to new ideas from professionals in other countries may spark the creativity of your own—creativity that can turn out to be valuable for your organization.

Virtual Communication and Collaboration

Learning to work with others in a virtual environment can make you a more effective leader. You’ll develop critical leadership skills by utilizing specialized knowledge, creating efficient processes, and making decisions about best communication practices, such as what should be discussed in-person or electronically. 

In an online program, you’ll also participate in discussion boards with your classmates, communicate with professors via email, and collaborate through various software programs. As the program progresses, you’ll get better at pitching your ideas and making strong, succinct, professional arguments through text.

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Virtual Labs’ Features and Benefits https://blog.praxilabs.com/2018/02/08/virtual-labs-features-benefits/ Thu, 08 Feb 2018 13:33:01 +0000 http://blog.praxilabs.com/?p=17 The world is now witnessing what can be described as the technological invasion of all fields of life. It is the result of the unprecedented advances in scientific and technological fields throughout history.

This new age of technology has helped us use digital devices in many fields, including education, which also helped spread e-learning platforms and distance education. 

One way technology has benefited education is the emergence of virtual labs. Virtual labs are virtual environments designed for various experiments, through them the real science lab is simulated to link the practical side with the theoretical side.

All students have the freedom to do the experiments without a supervisor and without exposure to any kind of danger. This is done through computer applications that cover all fields of science. This saves a lot of effort and time for students and teachers. Teachers can prepare experiments at any time. Students are protected from directly handling dangerous chemicals and devices.

Many universities and schools have started to use virtual labs because of their benefits.

Which Institutions and Individuals Need Virtual Labs:

Virtual labs

Virtual lab users only need computers with suitable capabilities, and need to be connected to the Internet so the user can work on all the experiments. This is one of the advantages of virtual labs as computers and digital devices have become available and spread in schools, universities, and homes.

15 Advantage of Virtual Labs:

1- Help solve the problem of limited resources and funding for experiments.

2- Protect students from the dangers they face during while conducting some dangerous laboratory experiments. It eliminates the need to deal with toxic or radioactive chemicals and other hazards such as electrical connections, etc. Subsequently, it is an effective way to avoid laboratory accidents

3- Ability to display very accurate phenomena and results that may not be measurable using simple laboratory tools and that require complex and expensive equipment.

4- Help the teacher cover all aspects of the course curriculum with practical applications and help the student understand all the points of the course curriculum; which is difficult to provide in the case of limited equipment and funding.

5- Provide the synchronization between the process of explaining the theoretical ideas and practical application, just as real laboratory experiments are linked to theoretical lectures.

6- Help students and teachers study and prepare laboratory experiments at any time and place.

7- The student is able to conduct the same experiment several times according his/her ability to absorb the information. This is generally difficult to provide in a real laboratory in the case of limited material and and the lack of equipment in proportion to the numbers of students.

8- The student is given the opportunity to control the inputs of the experiment, change the different transactions, and observe the changes in the results without the existence of a supervisor and without being exposed to any risks.

Virtual labs

Virtual biology lab9- Provide cooperation and interaction between the students and between the teachers and students.

10- The ability to record all the results electronically, which helps in analyzing them using the latest software programs and sharing the results and analysis with others.

11- Help the teacher to evaluate students electronically and easily to guide them and follow their progress in conducting experiments.

12- Save time and effort for researchers by eliminating the need to move between different laboratories.

13- Provide a comprehensive overview for the learner about the hazardous experiments which are not safe in the real world, thus providing him/her with a greater absorption of the course.

14- Help educational institutions save money.

15- Add entertainment while conducting the experiment, which helps attract the students’ attention.



 

9 Benefits of Using Virtual Labs:

1- Virtual labs motivate students to conduct laboratory experiments.

2- They satisfy the scientific passion of students, allowing them to access the various experiments easily regardless of time or place.

3- Increase the understanding of scientific courses in physics, chemistry and biology; and Increase student achievement.

4- Eliminate boredom, as it provides fun during the experiments.

5- The virtual labs will increase the scientific research rates because it saves time and effort and enables researchers to use their time more effectively.

6- The virtual labs will enable students to use modern technology and enable them to follow the tremendous progress of the information revolution.

7- Students will be able to use the scientific method of problem-solving.

8- Developing teaching and learning methods that will lead to the effectiveness of the educational process.

9- Increased communication between students and each other on the Internet, which helps with the exchange of ideas and experiences.

The Importance of Using Virtual Labs to Keep Up with Digital age

As the world undergoes a radical transformation in techniques and methods of education and the use of digital devices in education, it is essential that educational institutions keep up with that transformation in order to help their students compete in the labor market and fields of research.

It is clear to us that the digital age will only open the way for those who can keep up with it and have technological skills that enable them to adapt to the technological applications in all aspects of life.

Try Your Virtual Lab for Free

PraxiLabs provides a virtual science lab for students, teachers, and researchers. Create your free account and enjoy conducting scientific experiments online.

You can access the virtual lab using the internet anywhere and anytime you want.

 

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Modern Physics: Its History, Theories, And The Practical Experience of Its Virtual Labs https://blog.praxilabs.com/2020/07/30/modern-physics-history-theories/ Thu, 30 Jul 2020 02:08:54 +0000 https://blog.praxilabs.com/?p=533 Introduction

The emergence and development of modern physics was a giant leap in the history of mankind. This is because the main theories of modern physics reshaped our perception of the universe and caused an incredible scientific revolution.

Modern physics is a branch of physics that includes the post-Newtonian concepts in the world of physics. It is based on the two major breakthroughs of the twentieth century: relativity and quantum theory. 

The term modern physics means up-to-date physics. This term refers to the breakthrough that happened after Newton’s laws, Maxwell’s equations, and thermodynamics, these laws which are known as “classical” physics. 

Modern Physics

So modern physics can be considered the most recent step in the history of physics. This history has roots back to ancient Greece, old India, old china, the Islamic world, and medieval Europe. Then came the scientific revolution which is based on the ideas of Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, René Descartes, Isaac Newton, and others. 

In this article, we are going to take a look at the history of physics in these ages and the evolution of the main theories of modern physics. Also, we will discuss some of the most popular principles of modern physics using the practical experience that is provided by the modern physics virtual lab from PraxiLabs.

This article will also include brief notes on the two major breakthroughs of modern physics in the early twentieth century: relativity and quantum physics.

Classical Physics And Before That

Physics is a branch of science whose primary objects of study are matter and energy. And it is branching today to classical physics and modern physics.

But what about its history? How did physics start?

Physics of Ancient Greece:

Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece

Before the archaic period in Greece’s history, people were explaining every natural phenomenon by supernatural, religious, or mythological explanations. This was the prevailing mindset until it was changed by Thales of Miletus.

Thales of Miletus was a Greek mathematician and astronomer who was called “the father of science,” who first said that every event had a natural cause. And he suggested that the water is the building block of all matter. Then Anaximander argued Thales’s Theory and suggested that another substance called Apeiron is the basic element. 

These philosophers were followed by others such as Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Zeno of Elea, and Democritus. They founded the Pre-Socratic philosophy,  an ancient Greek philosophy that existed before Socrates and was not influenced by him

And one of the most important achievements of this period was the development of the theory of atomism that was first suggested by Leucippus and his student Democritus. They discussed the idea that all the universe matter is composed entirely of various imperishable, indivisible elements called atoms.

In the classical period in Greece, a genius philosopher left his mark on history. He was called Aristotle, the one who revealed the importance of observation and considered it the key to discovering the laws that control natural phenomena.  

Aristotle
Aristotle

Aristotle wrote the first work which refers to that line of study as “Physics,” in the 4th century BCE. And he formed the theory of four elements and tried to explain the laws of motion and gravity.

After a long time  the great mathematician Archemids developed the principles of equilibrium states and the centers of gravity. These ideas would influence the great scholars: Galileo and Newton in the future.

Islamic World

Arabic scholars
Arabic scholars

In the middle ages in the Islamic world between the 7th and the 15th centuries, a great scientific revolution was in action.

With the great translation movement of the greek and Indian scientists’ books into Arabic, science became available to the Islamic geniuses to leave their marks on the scientific heritage of humankind. 

One of the most important Arabic scholars in this period was Ibn al-Haytham. He made great contributions to scientific progress. Ibn al-Haytham was considered “the father of the modern scientific method” due to his method that was based on the experimental data and reproducibility of its results. 

Ibn al-Haytham
Ibn al-Haytham

In regards to physics, Ibn al-Haytham is “the father of optics.” As he suggested that light travels to the eye in rays from different points on an object. 

And there was another well-known genius called Ibn Sina, who contributed to science with his book “Book of Healing.” He discussed the theory of motion and he suggested that any projectile in a vacuum would not stop unless it is acted upon by opposite force, which is consistent with Newton’s first law of motion inertia that states that an object in motion will stay in motion unless it is acted on by an external force.

Another Islamic scholar Abu’l-Barakat discussed the acceleration of a falling body as a result of its increasing impetus. And Ibn Bajjah who is known as “Avempace” in Europe explained that there is always a reaction force for any opposite force. But he did not note that these forces are equal. This was a forerunner to Newton’s third law of motion which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The Scientific Revolution

Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei

The story of the scientific revolution starts with Copernicanism and the battle of mechanics and astronomy. Removing Earth from the center destroyed the doctrine of natural motion and place, and circular motion of Earth was incompatible with Aristotelian physics. He gave strong arguments for the heliocentric model of the Solar system, ostensibly as a means to render tables charting planetary motion more accurate and to simplify their production.

The second round of the battle started with Galileo Galilei,  the Italian philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician. He is the one who made fundamental contributions to the sciences of motion, astronomy, and to the development of the scientific method. He discovered four of Jupiter’s moons almost four hundred years ago. Also the law of free fall and the parabolic path of projectile motion were derived by him.

In sequence another star started to shine in the world of physics. He came with the three laws of motion. These three laws described the relation between the motion and the objects. Also he initiated the formula of the universal gravitation. This star was the famous scholar Newton.

The law of universal gravitation applications for describing the motion of planets required the invention of a completely new branch in math, which is calculus. The invention of calculus was one of the greatest scientific contributions of Newton. 

Newton
Newton

In addition to these great contributions, Newton also built the first functioning reflecting telescope  and developed a theory of color, based on the observation that a prism decomposes white light into the many colours forming the visible spectrum

He studied the speed of sound and demonstrated the generalised binomial theorem and developed a method for approximating the roots of a function. His work on infinite series was inspired by Simon Stevin‘s decimals. And by demonstrating the consistency between Kepler’s laws of planetary motion and his own theory of gravitation, Newton also removed the last doubts about heliocentrism.

With these contributions of Newton, the scientific community was ready to start a new era of physics: the modern physics is here.

The Birth of Modern Physics

Despite the achievements of classical physics at the end of the nineteenth century, it faced a lot of limitations and serious crises that couldn’t be solved using the physics laws of that time. 

Some examples for these limitations were the inability of classical physics to explain certain physical phenomena, such as the energy distribution in blackbody radiation and the photoelectric effect.

Radiation Experiments

By the 19th century, scientists started to detect unknown forms of radiation such as X-rays that had been detected by Wilhelm Rontgen, the electron that had been discovered by J. J. Thomson and the radioactive elements found by Marie and Pierre Curie. 

These discoveries made scientists doubt the supposedly indestructible atom and the nature of matter.

The classical theory had also failed to explain Michelson–Morley experiment which showed that there did not seem to be a preferred frame of reference, at least with respect to the hypothetical luminiferous ether, for describing electromagnetic phenomena. And it also failed to explain the radiation and the radioactive decay until  Lise Meitner and Otto Frisch discovered the nuclear fission which led to the practical exploitation of what came to be called “atomic” energy.

Albert Einstein and Relativity

It is 1905, and a major breakthrough in the history of physics is about to happen, the emergence of relativity theory by a 26-year old German physicist named Albert Einstein. He argued that the measurements of time and space are affected by motion between an observer and what is being observed. 

Einstein
Einstein

Although the theory of relativity was one of the greatest intellectual achievements of all time, he came up with more. Einstein also recognized that the speed of light in a vacuum is constant, i.e., the same for all observers, and an absolute physical boundary for motion. 

He also derived the famous equation, E = mc2, which expresses the equivalence of mass and energy.

Special Relativity

In the theory of special relativity, Einstein explained that the speed of light was a constant in all inertial reference frames and that electromagnetic laws should remain valid independent of reference frames.

The special theory of relativity describes the relationship between physical observations and the concepts of space and time. This theory emerged from the contradictions between electromagnetism and Newtonian mechanics and it caused great development in both those areas. 

The original historical issue was whether it was meaningful to discuss how electromagnetic waves propagate in the assumed medium “ether” and its relative motion to other objects.  Einstein destroyed the “ether” concept in his special theory of relativity. 

However, his basic formulation does not involve detailed electromagnetic theory. 

Special relativity tried to answer the mystery question “What is time?” Newton’s answer, in the Principia (1686), was “Absolute, true, and mathematical time, of itself, and from its own nature, flows equably without relation to anything external, and by another name is called duration.” This definition is a base to all classical physics.

Special Relativity

Einstein found that this answer was incomplete. He added his relative view.

According to Einstein, each “observer” necessarily makes use of his or her own scale of time, and for two observers in relative motion, their time-scales will differ. This induces a related effect on position measurements. Space and time become intertwined concepts, fundamentally dependent on the observer. Each observer presides over his or her own space-time framework or coordinate system. 

General relativity

General relativity
space-time

In 1916, Einstein went further into the nature of motion in our universe. He introduced the concept of the curvature of space-time, which became the general theory of relativity. 

In the theory of general relativity, Einstein explained the gravitational effect at every point in space. According to Einstein, gravitational force in the normal sense is a kind of illusion caused by the geometry of space.

The object’s mass causes a curvature of space-time around this mass, and this curvature dictates the space-time path that all freely-moving objects must follow. This new perception of how gravity works completely replaced Newton’s universal law of gravitation.

Quantum Physics

Quantum Physics
Quantum Physics

Another modern physics breakthrough tried to look at another world, the world of atoms and subatomic particles

The problem of black body radiation experiment ـــthis experiment that showed that at shorter wavelengths, toward the ultraviolet end of the spectrum, the energy approached zero, but classical theory predicted it should become infiniteـــ was solved by the new theory of quantum mechanics.

Quantum mechanics is the theory of atoms and subatomic systems. Approximately the first 30 years of the 20th century represent the time of the conception and evolution of the theory. The basic ideas of quantum theory were introduced in 1900 by Max Planck.

The quantum theory was accepted when the Compton Effect established that light carries momentum and can scatter off particles, and when Louis de Broglie asserted that matter can be seen as behaving as a wave in much the same way as electromagnetic waves behave like particles (wave–particle duality).

Main Modern Physics Experiments Provided by PraxiLabs Virtual Lab

Black Body Radiation

The aim of this experiment is to study the black body radiation and to verify Wien’s law and the inverse square law using the Heated Filament Method.

The intensity of radiation from a black body varies with the wavelength of the emitted radiation, which depends on the temperature of the blackbody. Also, the radiation emitted depends inversely on the square of the distance from the black body.

By measuring the emitted radiation from a heated filament, as a function of the temperature of the filament, wavelength of the emitted radiation and the distance from the black body, we can verify the fourth law of radiation, generates Planck’s curves at a different temperature, and the inverse square law for EM radiation.

Laser Beam Divergence

Laser Beam
Laser Beam

The aim of this experiment is to verify that the profile for a laser beam is Gaussian and determine its characteristics using laser photodiode method

Most low-intensity laser sources emit laser beam with gaussian distribution I(r)=Ioer2/z2 in the transverse direction. where 2 zis the beam diameter at which the beam intensity falls to Io/e 2

Also, due to the coherent property of the laser, it shouldn’t obey the inverse square law obeyed by ordinary light.

By measuring the laser beam intensity using a photodiode sensor, as a function of the distance from the center of the beam in the transverse direction,  we obtain the profile for the laser beam which should be Gaussian. Hence, the beam diameter could be found. plotting the beam profile at different distances from the source could be done and determine the beam divergence which proves that the laser does not obey the inverse square law.

Laser Electro-Optic Effect

The aim of the experiment is to Study the electro-optic effect in some crystals using the Kerr Cell Procedure method.

Monochromatic polarized light (laser) is incident on Lithium niobate crystal that is placed at 45owith the vertical. Applying an electric field to the crystal, causes it to become birefringent. The phase shift between the ordinary and the extraordinary light is found to depend on the square of the electric field.

Lithium niobate crystal is illuminated with a laser beam that is polarized to45owith the vertical. An electric field is applied to the crystal, which allows some light to come out of the crystal and is detected by photo-sensor. The amount of light passing through the crystal is recorded as a function of the electric field using a photosensor, and the half voltage value is determined.

Michelson’ interferometer

The aim of the experiment is To determine the refractive index of a thin transparent plate using Michelson’s interferometer procedure.

Monochromatic light beam from a laser source is splitted into two beams. the two beams are reflected back from two mirrors to a screen, where interference pattern is observed. By moving one of the two mirrors or both, the phase  difference between the two beams changes and the fringes crossing the field of vision changes in number accordingly.

The number of fringes crossing the field of vision is counted as one (or both) of the two mirrors is moved or by rotating the glass plate stage through angle . hence the wavelength of laser and the refractive index of the glass plate could be determined.

Millikan Oil Drop

The aim of the experiment is to verify the quantization of the electric charge using the Oil Drop Method.

Oil drops are sprayed into a region between two plates where an electric field is applied. The oil drops acquire some charge from an ionizing source. Thus the oil drop’s motion between the plates is affected by its mass and the amount of charge it has acquired from the ionizing radiation. The motion of the charge is controlled by the value of the applied electric field and its polarity, thus it may fall, rise, or even remain stationary between the plates.

By measuring the fall and rise speed of the oil drops in the presence of the electric field for oil drops, we can determine the amount of charge it has acquired. Hence, it can be proved that the amount of charge carried by each drop is an integer multiple of the electron charge.

I-V Characteristics of Solar Cell (I)

Solar Cells
Solar Cells

The aim of the experiment is to study the I-V characteristics of a solar cell (or PV cell) in dark and under illumination conditions using Simple circuit to study I-V with a lamp. 

Solar cells are generally made from semiconducting materials, which are sensitive to structural and environmental factors, e.g, the light intensity, which depends on the power delivered by the solar cell.

The solar cell is connected in a series circuit consisting of variable resistance, dc battery, ammeter and voltmeter that is connected in parallel to the cell. By continuously varying the value of the load resistance, we can obtain the I-V characteristics at different bias voltage and light intensity.

I-V Characteristics of Solar Cell (II)

The aim of the experiment is to study the illumination dependence and the exposed area dependence of the I-V characteristics of the solar cell using a simple dc circuit with bias voltage, solar cell, variable resistance, ammeter, voltmeter, lamp and ac power supply to operate the lamp, variable area chopper plate.

solar cells are generally made from semiconducting materials, which are sensitive to structural and environmental factors, e.g, the light intensity, which depends on the power delivered by the solar cell.

By varying the ac voltage applied to the cell and measuring the short circuit current as a function of the lamp’ voltage, we can study the effect of the light intensity on the short circuit current obtained from the cell. In the second part, a chopper plate of controllable area limits the exposed area of the cell to the light intensity, allowing us to study the dependence of the I-V characteristics and the cell parameters maybe also studied.

I-V Characteristics of Solar Cell (III)

The aim of the experiment is to study the spectral dependence of the incident light and the effect of parallel and series wiring of few cells using Optical Filters to study dependence of I-V of a solar cell. Also, connecting two cells in series and in parallel.

Solar cells are generally made from semiconducting materials, which are sensitive to structural and environmental factors, e.g, the light intensity, which depends on the power delivered by the solar cell.

Different optical filters can be attached to the opening of the lamp box to study the effect dependence of the I-V charcateristics of a solar cell. In the second part, two solar cells can be connected in series or in parallel, to study the effect of the connection method and I-V characteristics and the cell’ parameters.

Try Modern Physics Virtual Lab for Free

PraxiLabs provides the modern physics virtual lab for students, teachers, and researchers. Create your free account and enjoy conducting modern physics experiments online.

You can access the modern physics virtual lab using the internet anywhere and anytime you want.

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PCR Analysis: COVID-19 Infection Detection Method… PraxiLabs Initiative Experiments https://blog.praxilabs.com/2020/04/12/pcr-analysis-covid-19-infection-detection-method-praxilabs-initiative-experiments/ Sun, 12 Apr 2020 13:39:28 +0000 https://blog.praxilabs.com/?p=363 Recently, with the emergence of COVID-19 virus, we often hear the term “PCR analysis.” Polymerase Chain Reaction “PCR” is the basic analysis currently used to detect Infected people with COVID-19.

Through the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR analysis), scientists can detect the presence of viruses that cause infection, even when they are present in small quantities in the body. This method contributes to the diagnosis of transmissible viral diseases, as well as to the identification of mutations in various genetic disorders.

PraxiLabs 3D virtual biology laboratory provides the PCR experiment within its initiative to support practical colleges, where you can conduct the experiment in the virtual biology lab, which provides science students and professors with a more accurate understanding of PCR meaning.

These experiments are completely free for a whole month for practical college professors and students. You can create your PraxiLabs account to conduct these experiments from here.

What is Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)?

Polymerase Chain Reaction is one of the important techniques used to amplify a portion of the DNA chain using very small amounts of materials, where the DNA chain can be multiplied more than a million times.

After the amplification process, a sample of the body fluids or one of its tissues is examined to study DNA, where the DNA contains the genetic code, which is the basis for the process of building body tissues and enzymes responsible for chemical processes, and it is a characteristic of each organism separately. This enables scientists to confirm the presence of strange creatures inside the human body, such as viruses, and determine what type that virus is.

PCR Analysis Experiment Objectives:

The PCR analysis experiment aims to amplify a targeted part of the DNA to a size that may reach up to 10,000 nucleotides, which will allow getting millions of copies of the targeted DNA strand in a short time. Thus, doctors can examine the DNA accurately and make sure that there are extraneous bodies, their type and the amounts of their presence in the patient’s body.

PCR Analysis Experiment Steps:

The experiment of the Polymerase Chain Reaction is divided into three main steps and begins from the preparation of the master mix, where in the first step you will prepare an amount of the master mix sufficient to 6 samples of DNA by adding the special reagents for the experiment in the master mix tube.

PCR Analysis

Then, the laboratory moves to the DNA extraction room, where you will add 49 μl of the master mix that you prepared in the previous step to 1 μl of each DNA sample.

Then you will move to the PCR device. At this stage, we will place the Eppendorf tubes in the thermal cycler and then adjust the device settings for three stages until the separation process is completed.

Other Applications of PCR Analysis:

Because of this great sensitivity, PCR has found popularity in a wide range of applications. Molecular biologists use PCR in gene cloning and DNA sequencing. Forensic scientists use PCR to connect blood, saliva, or tissue left at the scene of a crime to a suspect or victim. Clinical geneticists use PCR to determine whether or not potential parents might carry a genetic disease that could be passed along to their children. 

Thus, the PCR analysis experiment is one of the most important experiments that students of biology and medicine should understand, and therefore PraxiLabs provides it as part of its initiative to support practical colleges during the period of study interruption due to the current circumstances.

These experiments are completely free for a whole month for practical college professors and students. You can create your PraxiLabs account to conduct these experiments from here.

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DNA Extraction Virtual Lab Experiment from PraxiLabs https://blog.praxilabs.com/2020/06/30/dna-extraction-virtual-lab/ Tue, 30 Jun 2020 21:55:10 +0000 https://blog.praxilabs.com/?p=492 The DNA extraction virtual lab is the most affordable method to simulate an equipped laboratory that offers a realistic lab experience for the DNA extraction process. 

DNA extraction virtual lab helps universities to provide their students with an immersive learning experience using the technology of virtual labs to improve the quality of science education.

But why do universities need to improve the quality of science education?

Actually, the world is growing incredibly fast, which increases the list of growing challenges that will need to be solved by the current and future students.

This is because those students will be the scientists of the future who will deal with the world’s great challenges including, but not limited to, global warming, solving starvation and water shortages, and of course curing diseases. 

DNA extraction scientist
Scientist

Curing diseases need biological experts with a great passion for science and enthusiastic about studying dangerous submicroscopic infectious agents such as viruses and bacteria. 

And they must be brilliant in conducting biological lab experiments such as DNA extraction. This is because DNA extraction is one of the essential experiments that must be done to define, classify, and study the infection agents.

DNA extraction virtual lab
scientist studying virus

So universities around the world must improve their science teaching quality. That can be done by providing a well-training, interactive, and interesting environment in the scientific lab equipped with cutting-edge equipment.

Probably, the provision of these factors for all students in the real lab will be a challenging task because of its high cost,  time and space constraints, number of students, and safety risks. But can the biology virtual lab provide the solution?

DNA extraction virtual lab provided by PraxiLabs as an example:

The realistic lab experience of the DNA extraction virtual lab will help the biological students to be ready to do their role after graduation.

They will become more proficient in lab procedures and tools, which leads to better performance and understanding of the DNA extraction process.

Also, it will help students become more engaged and motivated through high levels of interactivity in a game-like environment, which can not be provided in the real DNA extraction lab.

Through the DNA extraction virtual lab, students will be able to extract cellular DNA using the phenol-chloroform method, try out cutting edge lab equipment, and learn from their mistakes in a safe and affordable environment.

 
And in order to assess the students’ progress by themselves or by teachers, they will get access to the help of theory pages and quiz questions that is provided inside the DNA extraction virtual lab.

In addition to these features, DNA extraction virtual lab will give them a real-world understanding of the concepts and procedures of DNA extraction experiment without jeopardizing their safety.

So conducting experiments now can be done in a fun and risk-free learning environment using the virtual lab. That lets the students perform experiments and practice their skills in realistic lab experience.

In this article, we will take a quick look at an example for biology virtual labs which is the DNA extraction virtual lab from PraxiLabs.

But in the beginning, we need to know more about DNA by answering some questions.

What is the DNA? How did the scientists discover it? What is the structure of the DNA? Why is DNA extraction important? And how did science benefit from studying it?

And then you can start trying your DNA extraction virtual lab.

Introduction to DNA

What is DNA?

Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, is the hereditary material in humans and almost all living organisms. It is the chemical name for a complex molecule that contains the genetic material of a cell that carries the information an organism needs to develop, live, and reproduce.

This information exists inside every individual cell and is transmitted across generations from parents to their children. 

DNA

Almost all cells in the human body have the same DNA. The nuclear DNA is the DNA that can be found inside the cell nucleus, and the mitochondrial DNA is the small amount of DNA that exists inside the mitochondria. Mitochondria is a semi autonomous double-membrane-bound organelle found in most eukaryotic organisms. 

DNA Discovery

In 1953 American biologist James Watson and English physicist Francis Crick discovered DNA when they reached their groundbreaking conclusion: the DNA molecule exists in the form of a three-dimensional double helix.

But it is important to mention that there was previous work done first by Swiss chemist Friedrich Miescher, who identified the DNA. He could isolate the DNA for the first time in 1869 while working in the laboratory of the biochemist Felix Hoppe-Seyler.

He was participating in a project that aims to detect the chemical composition of cells. In the beginning, he started his work using lymphocytes drawn from lymph nodes but he couldn’t get acceptable quantities for analysis. So he decided to gather leucocytes, white blood cells from pus found on fresh surgical bandages collected from a nearby surgical clinic. 

In the course of his work on leucocytes, he noticed the precipitation of a new substance that he called ‘nuclein’ as it exists in the nuclei of the cell. 

After more analysis, Miescher discovered that the chemical composition of the nuclein is different from proteins and other known molecules. He guessed that it has a different and critical role within the cells. After that, Miescher found a way to isolate the new substance from salmon sperm.

 
Since Miescher’s time, there have been many developments made to the methods for extracting and isolating DNA. 

Then, within decades following Miescher’s work, Phoebus Levene and Erwin Chargaff carried out a series of research efforts that provided more details about primary chemical components of the DNA molecule and the ways in which they joined one another.

Consequently, Watson and Crick’s achievement was possible only with the scientific foundation provided by these pioneers.

In the 1950s, Watson and Crick started a fierce competition with many scientific teams to discover the form and structure of the DNA. Then they were joined by Wilkins, who was part of the Manhattan Project that produced the first nuclear bomb.

That made Wilkins feel guilty, as he was one of the makers of death. Therefore, he decided to participate in the making of life to atone for his sin. Therefore, he became a member in a project of discovering the form and structure of the DNA. 

DNA scientists

Wilkins introduced X-ray reflections that he used to photograph the genetic material to Francis Crick and James Watson after they began their studies on the DNA in 1953. Watsons quickly showed Crick these images. Thus, Crick was able to reach the form of the DNA that is currently adopted: a helical duplex.

Watson also discovered the chemical composition of DNA. Francis Crick, James Watson, and Morris Wilkins won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1963.

Read our blog about The Top Greatest Scientists in History.

And from the 1950s until very recently the techniques of extracting DNA was very complex, labor-intensive, and time-consuming.

But now the methods are different and effective. And with the development of commercial kits and the automation of the process, the extraction of the DNA becomes much easier. 

What is DNA Structure?

DNA Molecule consists of two long polynucleotide Complementary Chains composed of four types of nucleotide sub-units.

These two chains are held together by the Hydrogen bonds between the base portions of the nucleotides, the chains wind around one another to form a shape known as a double helix.

DNA structure
DNA structure

Each one of these chains is known as a DNA chain or a DNA strand. The information in DNA is stored as a code made up of four chemical bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T).

The number of bases in Human DNA is about 3 billion bases, all people sharing the same 99% of those bases.

What determines the information available for building and maintaining an organism is the order, or sequence, of these bases, such as the words and sentences that built up from a certain order of letters of the alphabet.

DNA has an important property that it can replicate or make copies of itself. Each strand of DNA in the double helix can serve as a pattern for duplicating the sequence of bases.

This is critical when cells divide because each new cell needs to have an exact copy of the DNA present in the old cell.

DNA Extraction

Importance of DNA Extraction

We can define DNA extraction as “Isolation of DNA by breaking the cell membrane and nuclear membrane with the help of chemicals, enzymes or physical disruptions,” and it has been the target of a lot of research. 

The extraction of DNA is critical to biotechnology. It is the first step of different applications, varying from fundamental research to routine diagnostic and therapeutic decision-making.

The importance of DNA extraction and purification is that they are essential to defining the unique characteristics of DNA, such as its size, shape, and function.

Investigation of the DNA structure and sequence in relation to diseases helped in finding out the molecular basis and cure for various diseases.

DNA study also allowed the production of many vaccines, hormones, and enzymes. as well as it was also very beneficial in the forensic/medico legal entities.

To study DNA it must be extracted out of the cell, Hence; DNA extraction technique is widely used in research labs.

Phenol Chloroform Extraction Method

The DNA extraction experiment in PraxiLabs virtual biology lab is based on the phenol chloroform extraction methods. As it is a well known and widely accepted DNA extraction method for long. 

The three main chemicals that are used in extracting DNA are phenol, chloroform, and isoamyl alcohol.

The property of solubility is a very critical property that you can separate any biological molecule based on it, as every molecule has its own solubility in water or specific solution.

So, we can separate the DNA based on the DNA molecules solubility in immiscible solutions, and that is called the liquid-liquid DNA extraction methods. And the phenol chloroform DNA extraction method is one of these methods. 

 

What is The Principle of DNA Extraction?

As we mentioned before, the main idea of phenol chloroform DNA extraction method is built on the liquid-liquid extraction of biomolecules.

The solubility of the biomolecules is considered as the base of the entire mechanism. So it is used to denature and remove the protein portion of the cell.

Walkthrough the DNA extraction virtual lab from PraxiLabs.

Chemicals That are Used in The Separation Process

Sometimes the phenol-chloroform DNA extraction method is called PCI or phenol-chloroform isoamyl alcohol method of DNA extraction. That is because this method is more effective along with isoamyl alcohol.

Phenol

Because the phenol is a non-polar solution, the DNA is insoluble in it. But protein has both polar and non-polar group present in it because of the long chain of different amino acids. Different amino acids have different groups present on their side chain. 

And adding phenol makes the protein unfolded, as the folding of the protein into the secondary, tertiary, and quaternary structures depends on the polarity of the amino acids.

Chloroform

We can conclude the role of chloroform in the following points:

1- The use of chloroform mixed with phenol is more efficient at denaturing proteins than either reagent alone.

2- Chloroform allows suitable separation of the organic phase and aqueous phase that keeps the DNA protected into the aqueous phase. 

Application of DNA Extraction

The extraction of DNA is very important to study genetics and diseases and to develop diagnostics and drugs. 

Also, it is a critical thing to carry out forensic science, sequencing genomes, detecting bacteria, and viruses in the environment and to determine paternity.

Genetic Engineering of Plants

DNA extraction is essential in the process of genetic modification of plants. There are a lot of agricultural companies that use genetic extraction to isolate DNA from organisms with desirable traits to transplant into the plant’s genome.

Altering Animals

The genetic engineering of animals is a very broad field that starts from editing a single gene to transplanting genes between animals. DNA extraction is also the first step in these processes.

Pharmaceutical Products

DNA extraction is an important and essential step to manufacture a number of pharmaceuticals. These pharmaceuticals include the Hepatitis B vaccine and human growth hormone (hGh) which are made via recombinant genetics. And there are some hormones created using DNA extraction; the most common between them is insulin.

Medical Diagnosis

There are some conditions that can be diagnosed by genetic testing such as sickle-cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, fragile x syndrome, hemophilia A, Down’s syndrome, Huntington’s disease, and Tay-Sachs disease. It also help geneticists to test 

Identity Verification

Genetic fingerprinting is one of the most important applications for DNA extraction, where we can match genetic material from an individual with other genetic materials available. Genetic material from an individual can be compared to genetic material at a crime scene, such as blood, for example. 

Try DNA Extraction Virtual Lab for Free

PraxiLabs provides the DNA extraction virtual lab for students, teachers, and researchers. Create your free account and enjoy conducting the DNA extraction experiment online.

You can access the DNA extraction virtual lab using the internet anywhere and anytime you want.

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Virtual Reality: It’s Past, Present and Future https://blog.praxilabs.com/2018/01/31/past-present-future-virtual-reality/ Wed, 31 Jan 2018 17:13:01 +0000 http://blog.praxilabs.com/?p=6 Virtual Reality (VR) is defined as a 3D interactive environment designed by computer programs and it is linked to virtual reality glasses. The VR surrounds the user and transports him into a virtual world that seems real.

VR may be a fantasy or an embodiment of the real world, and we can deal with this VR through the interactions between the virtual environment and the user’s senses and responses.

The technique of VR is divided into two different forms:

The first is through the use of self-operated glasses without using the smartphone, and the other form is the glasses that need a smartphone to work, which is the most widespread form today.

The emergence of virtual reality:

In 1936, Gernsback designed, TV goggles, or Tele iGlass, a pocket-sized portable battery-operated TV with a separate screen for each eye; much like the 3D virtual reality glasses now. At that time, the device presented an experiment described by ‘Life’ Magazine as “one of the new Mars experiments.” Those glasses, weighing just 140 grams (less than a third of a pound), contained small tubes of cathode rays and a pair of antennas (such as those found on the surface of old traditional television sets) protruding from its upper surface.

Virtual Reality

Despite the simplicity of this invention compared with the VR techniques at the present, it was a wonderful invention in the thirties and has been considered to be the basis of today’s virtual reality technology.

Virtual reality at the present

The HTC Vive glasses now allow access to the virtual world without the need to connect directly to platforms, making it easy to move. It is also equipped with a battery that operates for 90 minutes continuously.

Oculus also designed the “Oculus Rift,” a high-resolution and wide-angle device. The device contains a group of sensors and lights and operates through the computer on the Microsoft system.

As an attempt by Google to provide virtual reality glasses at discounted prices, they designed Google Cardboard, which is manufactured from the cardboard and is not considered a sophisticated device. It works with both Android or iOS devices, provided that the screen is less than 6 inches.

Virtual Reality

The interest in virtual reality technologies is increasing and the rate of its development is increasing significantly as well. This will obviously make it more widely available in the future.

 

Google Trends

Through Google Trends, we can deduce the level of online interest in the term ‘virtual reality’ in previous years.

Virtual Reality

The graph shows that the interest in the term ‘virtual labs’ reached its highest level in December of 2016.

According to the Gartner Institute, virtual reality has surpassed the peak of inflated expectations. The previous chart indicates that virtual reality technology is approaching the rise of the “enlightenment curve,” or general acceptance, and it will go towards a Plateau of productivity, since the previous curve reflects the path of all or most of the emerging techniques from the launch of the idea to its actual presence in the hands of users.

 

The future of virtual reality

Games and entertainment are the most common uses of VR technology, while there are aspirations that it can be used in more professional areas such as healthcare, architecture, product design, manufacturing, retailing, transportation, logistics, exploration, military, and education.

Virtual labs are one of the most important ways in which VR is used in the field of E-learning. You can know more about virtual lab technology and its advantages in the field of education by clicking here.

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The Importance of Virtual Labs and Simulation Systems for Educational Institutions https://blog.praxilabs.com/2018/03/15/importance-virtual-labs-simulation-systems-educational-institutions/ Thu, 15 Mar 2018 15:57:09 +0000 http://blog.praxilabs.com/?p=38 The virtual labs use a teaching method called simulation. The simulation, as defined by Dr. Ali Abdul Samia Quora, is an educational method that the teacher usually uses to bring students closer to the real world. The simulation method is believed to be closer to what is happening in areas that do not accept the lowest percentage of error, such as nuclear industries and some military industries.

Simulation is one of the most important methods of education and training that trainers rely on to rationalize financial costs and also to rationalize time and effort. The simulation serves many educational objectives such as “goal of acquiring skills” in an environment similar to reality, and also serves the “cognitive goal” as it helps the learner to gain a lot of knowledge about the real work environment and its requirements.

Simulation in Education

After the spread of computers in the mid-nineties of the twentieth century, interest in simulation as an appropriate and effective in the process of education has increased. Simulation has become more effective and exciting in teaching. Simulation languages have varied and the material losses reduced adding flavor of fun to the educational process. This made the process of laying the foundations for learning some of the difficult topics that can’t be dealt with in real world more effective.

Digital Age and Educational Systems

The tremendous technological growth we witness in various fields, including the field of e-learning, is the most important feature of the information revolution, which created a rapid information network that lead to the calibration of educational systems and study systems. These systems should help students keep up with these developments by providing them with new knowledge and skills. The best way to do this is not only to communicate knowledge to the students, but to teach them how to become creators and innovators, and how to use new technologies to activate their ideas effectively.

Virtual labs and their benefits in e-learning

As a follow-up to the digital age, educational forms and methods have developed. One of these forms is “E-LEARNING.” E-learning represents a revolution in traditional educational systems, a revolution that has created new goals in the management of education systems, the nature of learning, the role of teachers, and all aspects of the educational process.

Among the tools used in e-learning is the simulation of real labs, or virtual labs. The student is exposed to a virtual environment similar to a real physical lab. The virtual lab allows the student to enjoy performing experiments safely and getting results using the computer.

In physical labs, many experiments usually can’t be performed in real labs due to time, complexity, difficulty or hazards. In virtual labs, these experiments are simulated. Using the computer we can conduct, study and analyze these experiments under different conditions and variables to know the results of all the conditions of the experiment without fearing material or moral cost.

Classification of simulation programs used in virtual labs

Simulation programs are classified into two types in learning:

1-    Decision making simulation:

One program is “What if?” This program is constructed to allow the student to choose the variable. It explains what happens to these variables in different circumstances. The student experiments with the different variables to see their impact on the results without serious risk.

2-    Process simulation:

This type shows how any process that requires a set of steps to operate a device is completed. This type of program is highly suited to teach practical skills, especially when it is difficult to perform these skills in the first stages directly, for fear that the operating errors might cause damage to the device.

The study of Joseph P. Akpan (2002) is a case study on using simulations in education, which emerged as a result of the US animal rights associations’ demand for the removal of anatomy from the biology curriculum in higher schools, prompting teachers to seek alternative methods of anatomy that could serve the purpose.

The study aimed to measure the effectiveness of simulation using a computer as an alternative to the process of anatomy. Simulation has the ability to teach experiments. However, prior to the study, simulation was used in rare and very serious cases only. The repeated calls by animal rights organizations paid off, pressuring organizations to use simulation in less serious cases such as anatomy. This study encouraged several project funding organizations to provide schools with such programs to prevent animal cruelty under the name of anatomy.

Simulations are also useful in training in various fields of experimental science with the use of 3D models to meet the needs of students and researchers in various fields of science. The simulation program represents the absolute safety of users where errors are detected and processed without the risk of electronic, mechanical, or toxic substances.

Hence, virtual labs that use simulation systems in the design of the ideal reality provide the maximum benefit to the student with minimal effort and less cost to the educational institution to which the student belongs and in a completely secure and high degree of flexibility.

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The Most Important Advantages and Impediments to the Use of Virtual Lab https://blog.praxilabs.com/2018/03/01/important-advantages-impediments-use-virtual-lab/ Thu, 01 Mar 2018 15:12:42 +0000 http://blog.praxilabs.com/?p=32 Virtual lab is defined as a virtual teaching and learning environment aimed at developing students’ laboratory skills. They are one of the most important e-learning tools. They are located on the Internet, where the student can conduct many experiments without any constraints to place or time, in contrast to the constraints of real labs.

It also provides many advantages to the teacher. With virtual labs, teachers don’t have to go to the lab at certain times and move from place to place to prepare the experiment. This saves plenty of effort and time; one of the most important goals of e-learning.

It has been used in many universities and schools around the world to keep up with the technological development we are witnessing in the digital age, which is reflected in various forms in the fields of distance learning and e-learning.

As for the applications of technology in the field of education, there are many benefits that can be mentioned. There are also many obstacles facing the spread of these technological applications.

In this article, we will talk about the benefits and constraints of using virtual labs in the educational process.

13 Benefits of using virtual labs in education:

1- Virtual labs enable students to perform many experiments that are difficult to perform in real laboratories because of the risks.

2- Virtual labs help teachers and students save time and effort because they don’t need to adhere to certain times to enter the lab, or to move from one place to another.

3- Virtual labs enable students and teachers to use the latest technologies.

4- Virtual Labs help users keep up with the technological development of the digital age.

5- Virtual labs allow students to perform the practical experiments related to the theoretical courses, which helps them absorb the courses.

6- The virtual lab provides enjoyment during experiments.

7- Virtual labs help students perform the experiment more than once.

8- Virtual labs protect students and teachers from hazards, given there is no direct contact with toxic or radioactive chemicals and there is no handling of explosive devices or electricity.

9- Virtual labs provide the convenience of changing the inputs and transactions used in the experiment without worrying about any dangerous effects of these changes.

10- Virtual labs allow students to stay in touch with the Internet, which helps them search and gather information during the experiment.

11- Virtual Labs enable students to record results electronically and share them with others to exchange experiences.

12- Virtual Labs provide teachers with the opportunity to follow up and evaluate students electronically.

13- Virtual labs provide flexibility in performing experiments.

Praxilabs-Physics Lab

3 impediments to use virtual labs:

1- They require computer devices with high specifications in order to simulate the exact phenomena with full details and create a three-dimensional virtual lab.

2- They require professional programmers with strong skills in different programming languages. They also require a team of experts in the scientific material, teachers, and experts in psychology.

3- One of the negative effects of Virtual Labs is that it reduces the direct interaction between students and each other, and between students and teachers, given that the communication between them is electronically most of the time.

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