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Case-lesson “Black holes”
Case-lesson “Black holes”

Category: Science, nature and human

Level (grade): 8 - 11

Subject: The unknown and new science

Objective: Take a look into the future and uncover the mysteries of “technologies of tomorrow”

What information is waiting for me here?

  • What modern science ideas, discoveries and hypotheses help mankind make a step into the future?
  • How can we “hear” a black hole?
  • Do people still discover new chemical elements and materials?
  • Is it possible to grow a forest in a desert?
  • What fundamental and practical knowledge will I need?
  • What the art of future will look like?
6 scans of the subjects, phenomena and practices:

Is it possible to take a look into the future not only via fantastic films or books? Yes it is, though it requires taking an interest in the modern technology and discoveries. They are the flagships that lead the fleet of our life to the harbor of the future.

By studying them we can see how science and technology will be evolving.


So let’s not bind our time in the “today” and go ahead right now – to the future!

In 2015 scientists observed ripples in the fabric of space-time for the first time. These ripples are called gravitational waves. At that moment they reached Earth but they had been formed in a far away universe as a result of a cataclysm – the merger of two black holes. This merger that had been lasting for a split second had led to the creation of another black hole that was spinning:

Such collision of black holes was predicted theoretically but had never been observed before. The basis of the predictions is the assumption derived from the Einstein’s theory of relativity, formulated in 1915.

What is a black hole? It is a body with enormous weight concentrated in small volume. The size of such body is smaller than the gravitational radius. The gravitational radius is proportional to body mass m and equals:


Thus no signal can be spread from it, even photons. Indeed, the space is distorted and “locked” around the black hole.

Scientist have recorded signal using two detectors located in two states of the USA – Louisiana and Washington, at the distance of approximately 3 thousand kilometers.

They have managed to evaluate from where and what distance this signal had travelled. Estimates show that this distance is more than 410 Megaparsecs. Megaparsec (Mpc) is the distance that light travels in 3 million years:


When two black holes are approaching each other the frequency of their waves increases. If we convert it into a rate acceptable to the human ear, the sounds will resemble birdsong. Scientists call these sounds trills because of it:

Scientists from the international project LIGO managed to detect the gravitational wave on 14th September, 2015; it became the most significant event in physics in the last 100 years. LIGO (Laser Interferometry Gravitation Observatory) is the international project in which several countries that have contributed in financial and scientific way participate. These are the USA, Italy and Japan in particular – the progressive in this area of study countries.

The gravitational wave is distributed through the space-time, deforming all axes of objects that they encounter. However, these strains are very minor: about 10-21. To measure these quantities scientists use special gravitational detectors – gravitational antenna:


The antenna that recorded the gravitational waves is constructed in the following way: two pipes, each one’s length is of about 4 km, are placed in L shape but with the same shoulders and at the right angle.

When the gravitational wave falls onto the mechanism it deforms the antenna’s shoulders. Depending on its orientation, it deforms one shoulder more than the other, and therefore the difference in their motion occurs. The interference pattern of the signal changes – the total positive or negative amplitude appears. And only extremely precise technology allows to estimate such a microscopic displacement of the shoulders, caused by gravitational waves.

It is impossible in the today’s world to manipulate artificial gravity field. Though, in future in can become a reality. This is discussed in an article, published in Physical Review D magazine by Andre Fuzfa, the professor of Namur University, Belgium.

The article presents mathematical and theoretical justification of the method of gravitational fields through magnetic fields creation. And the creation and management of this type of fields is mastered very well by humanity. The basis of mathematical apparatus of this theory is the observations, which show that strong magnetic fields distort space-time continuum almost as well as the gravitational fields.

Theoretically, the device – the artificial gravitational field generator can be powered by electromagnets with superconducting windings (technology used in the Large Hadron Collider). A similar device will be applied in the fusion reactor ITER, which is currently under construction in southern France.

Using this generator it will become possible to realize some of the technologies that are now only subjects of science fiction: gravitational engines and communication devices based on gravitational waves. With the help of such communication technology people will be able to maintain the direct connection between two points located in different parts of the world or on different planets, at any distance, despite any obstacles in between.


Try to make up your own variant of gravity fields application. What for humankind could need the distortion of space-time by the gravitational wave?

Are new chemical elements still being discovered in the contemporary world? Yes, they are! In 2016 four new chemical elements were added to the periodic table, hereby completing its 7th row:


The elements were officially verified by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).

The discoverers of the 113th element are scientists of Japanese Designated National Research and Development Institute (RIKEN). Because of that the element received the title of nihonium. The right to create titles for newly discovered elements belongs to their discoverers for what they have five months. After that they are officially approve by the IUPAC Council:


IUPAC has awarded the honor of discovery of the 115th, 117th and 118th elements the team of Russian and American scientists from the United Institute of Nuclear Research (Dubna, Russia) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Livermore, CA, the USA).

All four elements were synthesized artificially. In the natural state elements with the atomic number (the number of protons in the nucleus) lower than 92 (uranium) are observed. Elements with the number of protons in the nucleus from 93 to 100 can be derived in reactors, higher than 100 — using particle accelerators.

The last time the periodic table was expanded in 2011, when the 114th and 116th elements were added. They received the titles of Flerovium and Livermorium respectively:


And what country is the leader of worldwide discovery of new chemical elements? The statistic appears to look like this:


How many chemical elements is it possible to derive? Theoretically, the predictable possibilities meet the border of synthesis of elements with 121-126 atomic numbers. The problem of the lower limit of the periodic table remains on the most vital ones in theoretical physics.

Among the elements from the periodic table that exist on Earth, only 75 have defined and admitted authors (detection or identification).

In the discovery (detection only) of these chemical elements participated the representatives of several countries: Sweden (22 elements), England (19 elements), France (15 elements), Germany (12 elements). Austria, Denmark, Russia, Switzerland and Hungary have discovered the latest 7 elements.

Sometimes Spain (platinum) and Finland are noticed (yttrium: in 1794 Finnish chemist Johan Gadolin found an oxide of an unknown element in one Swedish mineral from the Ytterby Mine). But platinum, as noble metal, has been known in its native form since the ancient times. Pure platinum from ore was obtained by the British chemist William Wollaston in 1803. And metallic yttrium was first obtained by the German scientist Friedrich Wöhler in 1828.

The record-breaker among the “chemical elements hunters” is a Swedish chemist Carl Scheele – he has discovered 6 elements: fluorine, chlorine, manganese, molybdenum, barium, tungsten. To the scientist findings the seventh element – oxygen – can be added, though he officially shares the honor of discovering it with Joseph Priestley (England).

The second place in new elements discovery chart belongs to the Scottish scientist William Ramsay: argon, helium, krypton, neon, xenon.

But are new materials still being discovered these days? Yes, they are! The confirmation of this is graphene.

Graphene is the material created from carbon sheets one atom thick that overlap each other and have a hexagonal structure. Though sheets sectioning makes carbon atoms become unstable at the edges of these sheets:


Where and how it is planned to apply graphene (or where it is already applied)? For creation of thermal imagers. Thermal imaging technology can often be found in special devices that help police, search and rescue teams or the military to monitor criminals or their victims through walls or in the complete darkness.

Improvement of these devices requires usage of cryogenic cooling, which makes them very heavy, expensive and totally impractical. By using graphene, researchers at MIT have created a chip that can once for all solve all these problems:


One of the useful properties of graphene is its sensitivity to infrared radiation. So the team of scientists has created a microscopic sensor chip and a small prototype of the device on its basis. Herewith the cooling of the chip doesn’t require the usage of special cooling systems. Instead, the scientists have isolated the chip from other parts of the device.

According to Thomas Palacios, one of the creators of the chip, it can be used to build very compact sensors that will be able to fit in any smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Graphene solar sail. Scientists have come to this discovery accidentally while doing research on so-called graphene sponges — crumpled together layers of graphene one carbon atom thick. Scientists have placed the graphene sponge in a vacuum environment and directed lasers with different wavelengths and intensities at it.

As a result of these manipulations lasers moved the sponge pieces to a distance of 40 cm. To consolidate the results of the experiment, researchers have tried to do the same trick, but using the ordinary sunlight directed at the sponge through lenses. The experiment was a success.

According to one of the proposed theories, graphene can be used to build something like a solar sail. Photons of light are known to have a driving force. And they transmit this power to any object they collide with. Given the results of the graphene sponges experiment, this force is sufficient to move a spaceship forward (with the appropriate size of the sail):


Interfaces based on graphene. Researchers at Manchester University have announced the creation of flexible LED-display based on graphene, thus proving that two-dimensional materials are also quite suitable for the creation of flexible transparent displays. Such displays are applied in more power efficient electronic devices:


Chemists from South Korea and Japan have developed the technology that allowed them to get a rectangular sheet of graphene with a diagonal of 75 cm for the first time.

The scientists have been growing graphene on large sheets of copper foil via chemical vapor deposition (one of the two standard methods of obtaining graphene), and then rolled the copper-graphene sheets with a roller on a special highly adhesive layer (which “sticks” good) of polymer:


On the next stage of the process copper has been etched, and graphene with the “sticky” polymer, also by using a roller, has been applied to the final substrate. Researchers have removed the adhesive polymer by heating and, as a result, received large sheets of graphene.


Find some information and think about where the new material – graphene can be applied. Are there other similar “materials of the future”? Use the gathered data to prepare a presentation or message on these topics.

Is it possible to grow organs for transplantation? “Of course, it is!” the modern biotechnology replied. By using three-dimensional cell cultures (3D cell culture), scientists have learned to grow “germs” of organs named organoids (not to be confused with cell organelles!).

Organoids are used by scientists for studying and modeling of organogenesis; modeling of various diseases and tumors, characteristic for certain organs; testing and screening of various drugs and toxic substances; experimenting with replacement or treatment of damaged organs with grafts:


Stem cells or their modification – pluripotent cells can be used for this purpose. You can “print” organs:

Organs can even be grown inside the body. The American researchers have found an alternative to transplantation of donor organs, which should solve the problem of their shortage. For example, it is possible to grow a new kidney into a mouse. This experiment was conducted in the USA, at the St. Louis University, where the researcher Marc Hammerman transplanted kidney cells into the abdominal cavity of several mice and as a result got greatly working organs.

According to Hammerman at the American Congress of Transplantation in Boston, organogenesis, i.e. the development of organs inside of a living organism, in future can become the alternative to transplantation of donor organs and solve the problem of their deficit.


According to the scientific legends and theories vast desert places of the planet will once become fertile land. Human agricultural activity, inadequate ancient technologies, the inability to forecast long-term results of this activity have led to the desertification of once green and benign places.

We know Sahara only as a desert, the kingdom of endless sand drifts and dunes. The combination of the adverse climate change and consequences of farming methods, that hadn’t allowed the soil to recover, led to its formation. The ancient settlements that were prospering there in IV century BC are now buried under the layer of sand.

But does technology that can return the green cover and life to deserts exist? After all, deforestation critically affects the ecological balance in the biosphere, self-purification processes of the atmosphere, water balance of the planet. Is it possible to grow new forests in deserts in order to solve these problems?


Dutch inventor Peter Hoff has developed an innovative device Groasis Waterboxx, which allows plants to grow under the most extreme conditions. Even in Sahara the survival rate of the planted plants is 90%.

Over the past 5 years there have been 55 thousand trees planted in the dead areas with this device.

The planted trees can become the new source of “green” energy.

According to the most up-to-date research of the Ohio Laboratory of Sound & Vibration engineers (the USA), the movement of trees because of wind produces vibrations that are successfully converted into clean energy:


Currently, the model of piezoelectric beams, wrapped in polyvinylidene fluoride (piezoelectric material, which produces electric current during deformation), is being tested.

The model simulates the slight oscillation as if it is windy. The laboratory installation has managed to give out a voltage of about 2 volts. There are field research and experiments in real forests ahead. Perhaps in those planted in deserts, where the winds blow permanently.


Science fiction has long been exploiting the subject of merging of a human and computer. The mean to achieve this is neuro interfaces.

More or less neuro interfaces already exist. People suffering from paralysis for many years use them to speak via a computer. The technology is still not as good as it could be, but it is steadily improving.

This means that at some point you will no longer need a mouse or keyboard. You will just think of something – and it will be displayed on the screen. This is a very promising technology for the disabled, people who want to improve their performance, and gamers.

The researcher Philip Kennedy first implanted BCI (brain–computer interface) into a patient Johnny Ray, paralyzed after the apoplexy in 1998. As a result of the implantation Ray learned to move a cursor.

25-year-old Matthew Nagl via an implanted device in 2004 received the ability to control the cursor on the screen to read e-mail, play simple video games and even draw something. He also learned to change channels and volume of the TV and move electromechanical arm:

Already in 2008 the first commercial neuro interface went on sale.

And the next step is BioRadio. It’s a device that can be applied in neuroscience, marketing, economy, ethics, multidisciplinary laboratories; to control robots (or other devices), for medical research and diagnostics. The price of the device is comparable to the price of 3D-printers and its size – to the size of the archaic cassette players.

This device is a complete psychophysiological laboratory, which allows to control the robotic arm (myogram as well as EEG signals), monitor the heart rate, plethysmogram (change in lung volume), skin resistance and many other parameters:


But this technology is gaining competition. For example, neuro dust. The group of scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, has suggested a method to minimize the sizes of the implanted elements to few micrometers and literally fill the vascular membrane of the brain with them.

Extra miniature electronic sensors developed by them consist of a chip, created by the CMOS technology, piezocrystal, electrodes and insulating polymer shells:


According to the authors’ plan, the particles of neural dust are freely circulating in the bloodstream. In practice it is difficult to achieve because of the complex composition of blood, biological mechanisms of its purification and structure of the endothelium, but scientists are working on it.

Then the simultaneous number of microsensors in the vessels of the brain can reach thousands at any moment of time.

Each of these “smart particles” will be able to measure the electrical activity of the nearest neurons. During the first phase the piezoelectric crystal will convert the ultrasonic waves from the intermediate module into electrical signals.

During the second phase it works conversely — it vibrates under the influence of action potentials of the nearest group of neurons and transmits the signal.

Another ultra-modern variant is neuro tattoo. These tattoos have been invented by the scientists of University of California, San Diego.

The neuro tattoo components are located on the square of just 1x2 cm: transistors, antennae, coils, temperature sensors, photodetectors, sensors EEG, ECG and EMG. Joining contacts are made of silicon and gallium arsenide:


This high-tech “sandwich” has thickness of 40 micron; a polyester lining is used for fastening. The same ones are applied in temporary tattoos for kids.

Currently the tattoo sensor is able to receive data continuously during six hours and be present on the body up to one day. The main gain of the researchers now is to increase these parameters.

The first ones interested in neuro tattoos have been hackers and gamers.


Think of some variants of neuro interfaces application in the modern world. Think whether you yourself would like to use one and for what purpose. The answers can be designed in a form of message, presentation or essay.


The incredible art, high-tech, born of the interaction of science, technology and human imagination! The ability to see beauty not only in routine but in things that are hidden from ordinary human vision. Art where instead of a brush artists use an electron microscope, instead of models – physical, chemical and biological processes occurring in the environment. This is the art of the future.

NanoАrt is the new direction of art, connected with the creation of nanoscale sculptures (compositions) (from 10-6 to 10-9) under the influence of chemical or physical processing of materials, photography of the nano images, obtained with an electron microscope, and processing black-and-white photos (colored in bizarre colors) in a photo editor.

For instance, the painting “Eye of Science” by Teresa Majerus:


Unlike microphotographs, Nanoart is 3D art that conveys the atmosphere of the painting through color and volume.

Since 2007 an online contest of nanoart – nanoart21.org – is held.

The most famous representative of this genre is Romanian artist Cris Orfescu:

Shards by Cris Orfescu

And the painting of Renata Spiazzi “Nanoart” was created through application of overlapping fractals via the program Apophysis:



Would you like to attend the exhibition of the pictures of this genre? What other modern art directions do you know? In your opinion, can they be considered as the art of the future?

Lesson summary:


The contents


The results of the case-lesson can be complemented with findings of students



What three websites have helped find important information









To help student and couch:











Where can you get information for the case?





<a href="http://liga.net/">Источник</a>
























Location of the lesson:

The case-lesson takes place in the classroom. It is possible to conduct the lesson at museum or library.



Teams of boys and girls.

The score was:….

Tasks for them:

Choose one of the directions of the contemporary science and technology development that are presented in the scans. Try to present your own “concept of view” on how this technology will be applied practically.

Prepare a presentation, based on the results of your work, and conduct a “science-practical mini-conference” and present your concepts. Creativity and daring are welcomed!



 Gather information about one of the latest technology of the modern world or prospectiveline of research. What are their practical importance and scientific value?

Think whether the scientific value and practical importance always coexist in research? Prepare a “scientific message” based on the results of your studies. The examples of how it should be done can be found in science magazines or scientific online journals, portals.



90 min (double lesson) 



The possibility to conduct the lesson with a student-understudy:  



The acquired knowledge and developed competence:

•          To expand and systematize knowledge about the modern ideas about the world and the universe, the nature of space-time and the latest technology.

•          Ability to find information on the topic quickly.

•          Acquiring the complex vision of natural phenomena and regularities.

•          Understanding the applied aspects of the most up-to-date studies, directions and methods of implementation of new discoveries into life.

•          Gaining knowledge in chemistry, physics, biology and other branches.



Black hole, gravitational wave, chemical element, graphene, biotechnology, nano interface, nanoart.



 Hrabowska Larysa Leonidivna


Participated in the case upgrading:



The End

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