Hot and Cold Gas in Balloons

A balloon is dropped in boiling water, and another balloon is cooled with liquid nitrogen to demonstrate the effect of temperature on volume of gas in a balloon.

A 4 liter beaker on a hot plate, with a liter of water boiling within. A prepared balloon, filled with air and tied so that it just fits in the beaker, is dropped into the beaker. The balloon expands to seal the beaker and is forced up by the vapor pressure, ending up on top of the beaker, too large to fit inside.

NMR model

What it shows:  Using the classical description of the motion of a spin in an external magnetic field, the demonstration helps visualize NMR in the time domain. The nuclear magnet and its classical vector model are represented by a spinning ball with magnets attached. A rotating mass is characterized by its angular momentum L, which is the analog of the magnetic moment mu, which characterizes a rotating charge distribution. The spinning ball mimics protons in that it has both angular momentum as well as an "intrinsic" magnetic moment.

Jaw Models

Cardboard animal jaws as examples of levers.

What it shows:

The biting force of an animal depends upon the magnitude, direction and point of application of forces exerted by the jaw muscles. A mammalian jaw exerts a greater force than does a reptilian jaw despite a more delicate joint structure, because evolution has improved the physics of eating.

Collapsible Cow

What it shows:

A small crude spindly model of a cow is able to support five times its own weight. Another model, scaled up exactly six times in all dimensions, collapses under its own weight! Assuming that strength is proportional to cross-sectional area (∝ dimension 2) and weight is proportional to volume (∝ dimension 3), simply scaling the model up geometrically leads to the situation where the weight is too great for its strength.

Triboelectric Effects

What it shows:

As long ago as 600 B.C., the Greek philosopher Thales knew that amber, when rubbed, would attract bits of paper and other light objects. Many other substances have this same property and can be electrified by rubbing. The kind of electrification (positive or negative) depends on the substances used.

Hand Cranked AC Generator

Observe the induced current in a gimbaled coil as it rotates in Earth's magnetic field.

What it Shows

A changing magnetic flux through a circular coil of wire induces a current in the wire. By spinning a circular coil of wire at constant frequency and measuring the induced voltage across its ends we can find the local direction and magnitude of the Earth's magnetic field as it passes through the coil. The commutators of the coil are configured to produce an alternating current.