Conduction, Convection, and Radiation

Convection Cell (Thymol Blue Cell)

What it shows:

Here we set up a convection cycle, where we heat part of a fluid; it expands, rises, then cools and sinks. A two dimensional model for real convection cycles in the atmosphere, oceans or stellar interiors.

How it works:

The convection cell is made from two sheets of 0.5cm plexiglass (front clear, rear translucent), separated by a 0.5cm gap for the liquid, the indicator thymol blue. The sides are plexi and the top left open, but the bottom is sealed with a hollowed brass rod. The brass serves two purposes. Firstly...

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Convection Cell

What it shows:

Hot fluid rises, cool fluid sinks. Here is a desktop convection cell modeling the processes in the atmosphere, oceans or stellar interiors.

How it works:

The currents are set up in rheoscopic fluid 1 (basically minute aluminum flakes in water) in a small 10×10×15cm glass tank. Half the base of the tank rests on a heater, the other on an aluminum block that acts as a heat sink. The rheoscopic fluid has a weird metallic sheen such that the bulk motion of fluid is clearly seen from the changing reflectivity....

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Black Body Radiation Oven

What it shows:

Black body radiators in thermal equilibrium should emit the same spectrum of radiation, so inside a kiln at high temperature objects should appear the same color whatever their material.

How it works:

Place a piece of brick and an iron ball into a kiln (ours is a Blue M Electric Co. kiln with 25cm × 12cm × 10cm oven) that has a temperature range up to around 1000°C. Close the door and crank up the temperature to maximum. Depending on the type of kiln, it will take around 20 minutes to reach equilibrium (a good length...

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Radiometer

Detection of IR radiation from hair dryer and/or special IR source.

What it Shows:

Detection of infra-red radiation by the rotation of a paddle-wheel vane inside a low pressure flask.

How it Works:

A radiometer consists of a partially evacuated flask containing a four bladed vane (see figure 1). One side of each blade is a matt black, the other silver. The black surface, being a better absorber and radiator of heat, warms the air above its surface more than the silver. The resulting higher kinetic energy of these air...

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