Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Sunscreens and Quantum Mechanics

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine, History of Science

Ed Hessler

You may never have thought about, perhaps even cared about knowing, how sunscreen works at the atomic level. I certainly hadn't thought about it so didn't conceive of atomic level chemistry..

Claire Malone explains and it is not as complicated as you think in her essay for Symmetry Magazine, Applications of Quantum Mechanics at the Beach. "It all comes down to how photons from the sun interact with our skin."

Malone, a wonderful "uncomplicator," explains the details very well, e.g., photons, sunscreen's ingredients and how they work by "absorbing UV radiation like a sponge and then dissipating it safely into the environment. How does this work? It all has to do with electrons and quantum mechanics." She continues by explaining quantum and reviewing basic chemistry. Quantum ideas are a part of the  high school chemistry curriculum and you may remember being introduced to electron orbitals.

If you get stuck on a term, Google and Wiki are of immense help. Google is especially useful in finding discussions on how quantum ideas are used in high school chemistry, both non-AP and AP, including links to syllabuses, curricula and You Tube discussions, many of which include tips for teaching.

To be enjoyed and along the way informed.

No comments:

Post a Comment