Geophysics

Greenhouse Bottles

Simulation of the greenhouse effect with silvered and unsilvered glass bottles.

What it shows:

Heat energy readily escapes from a clear glass flask, but is trapped inside a silvered flask which rapidly heats up.

How it works:

Two 2L flat bottom Florence flasks, one clear and one silvered (see reference), have identical 10Ω, 25W resistors placed inside them connected in series to a DC supply 1 These resistors act as good sources of infrared radiation. The clear flask readily transmits the IR, but the silvered...

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Smog in a Bottle

Nitrogen dioxide is produced by an electric discharge in air and, when sprayed with a water mist, produces acid rain.

What it shows:

Some of the most irritating and dangerous pollutants in our atmosphere are gases such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. Nitrogen dioxide is a deep orange-red gas that, together with smokelike particles, is responsible for the color of smog. In this demonstration, nitrogen dioxide is produced by an electric discharge in air and, when sprayed with a water mist, produces acid rain.

How it works:...

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Coriolis Effect

As demonstrated by two people throwing a volleyball to each other while sitting on rotating platform.

What it shows: 

The Coriolis force is a pseudo force existing in a frame that rotates with constant angular velocity to a reference frame. It acts on a body moving in the rotating frame to deflect its motion sideways. Here the audience sits in the reference frame, while two volunteers on a rotating platform experience the coriolis force by trying to basket a volleyball.

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Earth's Magnetic Field

OHP representation of lines of force using bar magnet and iron filings.

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...

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Seismic Wave Refraction

Total internal refraction of laser beam through sugar solution with refractive index gradient; representative of seismic waves through Earth's mantle.

What it shows:

As a simulation of atmospheric refraction, this demonstration shows the gradual and continuous bending of light due to a gradient in the optical density of the medium. In this case the variable refracting medium is a tank of sugar water with a vertical gradient in the concentration of sugar and a HeNe laser provides the light beam. It can be used as a model of mirage formation (except that the...

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Rock Samples

Selection of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.

What it shows:

A selection of rocks and minerals available for lecture demonstrations

How it works:

The following samples are available for show-and-tell in lecture. The samples vary in size, and only those marked with a 4 are big enough to be seen.

1. A selection of elements in their natural (unrefined) states:
native copper Cu 4
diamond C iso
gold Au
realgar (silver ore) 4
graphite C hex 4
Silver...

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Mercator Projection

What It Shows

As shown in the drawing, the Mercator projection is a cylindrical map projection of the spherical globe. The meridians and parallels of latitude on the globe end up appearing as lines crossing at right angles in the projection. Areas on the globe far from the equator appear to be much larger on the projection. It's not trivial to visualize this projection and the intention of this demonstration is to shed some light on it (literally).

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Centrifugal Eggbeater

Spinning frame that demonstrates equatorial bulge (oblateness).

What it shows:

The rotation of a planet about its axis causes its equator to bulge due to the "centrifugal force" acting on its mass. Here a spinning wire frame simulates the effect.

How it works:

Planets are actually oblate spheroids rather than spheres due to their rotation. This device consists of two spring metal rings mounted on a metal axis. The north pole is free to slide so that, as the frame spins, the hoops flatten and the equator bulges. The axis is...

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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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Polarization by Scattering

Simulation of atmospheric scattering and polarization of sunlight using slide projector and aquarium containing milky water.

What it shows:

Unpolarized light passing through a fluid is scattered; the scattered light being partially or completely plane polarized. For scattering by particles of comparable size to the wavelength of the light, this process is called Rayleigh scattering. The wavelength dependence of this type of scattering is responsible for blue skies and red sunsets.

How it works:

Unpolarized white light from a...

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55 Gallon Drum

What it Shows

With an air pressure of 105 Nm-2 at sea level, even a heavy duty oil drum will be crushed if it has nothing inside to balance the pressure.

How it Works

The screw cap on the drum is fitted with a vacuum pump connector. Simply turn on the Varian SD-200 pump and wait—it usually takes a few minutes to pump down, so you can carry on with what you were doing interrupted by various creaks and bangs as the drum's side walls begin to give. Because drums of this size are ribbed for strength, they can hold up under the strain, but when it...

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Golf Ball Atmosphere

A model of molecular motion and pressure using practice golf balls.

What it shows:

The kinetic energy of gas molecules bouncing off a surface causes pressure.

Increasing the molecules' speeds increases the pressure and the volume of the gas.

 

How it works:

Plastic practice golf balls represent...

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