Electricity and Magnetism

Oersted's Experiment

What it shows:

Oersted showed that an electric current produces a magnetic field. His experiment is repeated here on a suitable grand scale.

Oersted's Experiment

How it works:

The current carrying wire in this case is a tubular 22mm diameter copper...

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OHP Magnetic Lines of Force

What it shows:

The magnetic field lines of the Earth can be represented by the field lines of a bar magnet.

How it works:

The Earth's magnetic field is basically a magnetic dipole. It can therefore be represented to first approximation by the field of a bar magnet. The shape of the field lines can be highlighted by the sprinkling of iron filings, or by the use of plotting compasses. The latter method has the advantage of showing the variation of dip angle with latitude, with the lines of force running parallel to the surface of...

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Jumping Wire

What it shows:

A current carrying wire in a magnetic field experiences a force at right angles to both the field and current directions. The wire will jump up or down, depending upon the current direction.

How it works:

On a microscopic scale, the electrons in the wire experience a Lorentz force due to the magnetic field,

the force perpendicular to both field and velocity vector. On the...

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TV Image Deflection

Image on black and white television is deflected by a magnet, not unlike the Maltese Cross.

What it shows:
The television is basically a sophisticated cathode ray tube. The electron beam in the TV is influenced by magnetic fields in the same way as in Crookes tubes.

How it works:
The image on a black & white TV is formed by a single electron gun scanning the screen. Holding a strong magnet to the side or in front of the screen deflects the beam from its regular sweep pattern, distorting the image.


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RC Time Constant

Charging and discharging of a 10µF capacitor with variable time constant.

What it shows:

The growth and decay of current in an RC circuit with a time constant chosen so that the charge and discharge is visible in real time.

How it works:

By choosing the values of resistance and capacitance, a time constant can be selected with a value in seconds. The time constant τ is given by

τ = RC

To obtain useful values, we chose three resistors 100K, 200K and 400K in series with a 10µF capacitor, giving time constants of...

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RL Time Constant

What it shows:

The growth and decay of current in an RL circuit with a time constant visible in real time.

How it works:

By choosing the values of resistance and inductance, a time constant can be selected with a value in seconds. The time constant τ is given by

τ = L/R

We chose two resistance values, 4.7K and 10K coupled with a 45kH UNILAB 1 induction coil giving time constants of 9.5sec and 4.5sec respectively.

The circuit is set out on a 1.0 × 0.5m plywood board. The actual...

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DC Circuit Puzzlers to Ponder

The circuits are built into large wood boards that mount easily onto an easel. The boards are labeled using conventional symbolism. Bulbs and batteries are easily removable--just be careful not to burn your fingers on the hot bulbs!

Parallel vs Series Circuit

Which bulb will be brightest in each circuit?


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OHP Circuit Board

What it shows:

This demo allows a lecturer to play around with various DC circuits on the overhead projector.

How it works:

A removable template of 26cm × 17cm plexiglass has a set of 6mm diameter tightly wound springs of length 1cm fixed at 5cm intervals (reminiscent of those Radio Shack® n1000-in-1 electronics kits). Standard resistors and 5cm lengths of 22AWG wire clip into these springs to form a circuit, and the template is then rested on a parent board consisting of two transparent meters (figure 1). These are...

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Bird on a High-Voltage Transmission Line

What it shows:

Why doesn't a bird sitting on a high-voltage wire get electrocuted? This demonstration addresses that question and serves as a model of the situation.

How it works:

The important concept conveyed is that there needs to be a voltage difference across a conducting medium for current to flow through the medium. In this situation the conducting medium is a bird sitting on a high-voltage wire. The voltage on the wire is the voltage of the whole length of wire with respect to the ground. Although the bird on the...

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Lead Acid Battery

Homemade chemistry-lab style battery in a beaker.

This is actually just show and tell, lead plate and lead/lead oxide plate in a battery jar.

Use a gel cell battery to show electrical current at an integer multiple of the cell voltage between lead and lead oxide in sulfuric acid. Two volts is not as useful as six volts, or twelve and more.

Hand Battery

Copper and zinc plates connected by micro-ammeter; your hand completes the circuit.

Clean copper and zinc sheet metal stock is cut into strips or pads. Alligator clip a zinc strip and a copper strip and plug the leads into a modern multimeter. DC 2V scale should cover the 1.09V that we expect from a zinc/copper battery at standard conditions of 1 Molar electrolyte and room temperature.

Our fingers are a network of electrolytic conductors, with more or less conductance (depending on moisture and salt). Pressed to the metal strips, adjacent fingers complete the circuit and...

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Conductivity of Glass

Insulating glass becomes a conductor of electricity when heated red-hot with a blowtorch. (m) (T+)

What it Shows

At room temerature, glass is almost as good an insulator as hard rubber. When heated to 1000 K, however, glass has a resistivity of less than 107 ohm-meters (Purcell1 fig. 4.8 pp 140). As glass becomes molten the once immobile ions are able to drift further between collisions under the influence of an applied electric field (Purcell pp 139). We can dramatically observe this decreased resistance using a blowtorch and a few incandescent...

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