One weird holiday on February 4 is Create a Vacuum Day. Check out the other weird February holidays!
History of Create a Vacuum Day
This weird holiday invites people to learn more about vacuums and the science behind them (because that’s what you really want to do once you’ve vacuumed the house, amiright?).
The word vacuum comes from the Latin word “vacuus,” which means unoccupied, vacant, devoid of, or empty.
In modern science, we use the term vacuum to describe any amount of space that doesn’t have any matter in it, which makes the pressure in that area lower than the surrounding atmospheric pressure.
We’ve all heard the saying “nature abhors a vacuum.” When a vacuum is created, the surrounding atmosphere rushes in to try to bring the empty space back into equilibrium.
This saying is actually why the ancient Greeks (like Aristotle) didn’t htink a vacuum could ever be created because nature wouldn’t allow a void. But Democritus, a Greek philosopher born in 460 BC, suggested that it could be possible.
The idea of a vacuum wouldn’t be proved, however, until the 1600s when the Italian scientist and inventor Galileo Galilei proved it scientifically. Pump makers told Galileo they could use pumps to get water 30 feet high, but they couldn’t pull it from a well that deep.
Evangelista Torricelli, one of Galileo’s students, suggested in 1644 they try it with mercury, which is thirteen times denser. With a tube and mercury, they were able to prove a vacuum was created.
Another scientist at that same time named Blaise Pascal also experimented with vacuums, as well as hydrodynamics. Those principles are used today for all of the inventions we have that use vacuums.
The idea that nature abhors a vacuum is actually how your vacuum cleaner works – an empty space is created, and dirt and other things are sucked in.
Vacuums also exist in outer space, and it’s as close to a perfect vacuum as we can make. This is because on earth, photons and quarks can move in and out of vacuums. In outer space, however, the only matter is stray atoms of gases, some radiation, and space debris.
Vacuums aren’t only used to clean our house. Incandescent lightbulbs use vacuums to create light (a process which was discovered by Thomas Alva Edison in 1879), and we can store food through vacuum packing food. Even car brakes function because a vacuum is created! Syringes work by a vacuum, and just putting your finger over a straw in water creates a slight vacuum so the liquid stays in.
Ideas for Create a Vacuum Day
Share this post about making vacuums on Pinterest!