Measurement and Kinematics

Shoot the Monkey

Monkey released from platform is shot by simultaneously fired cannon.

What it shows:

This is a demonstration of the independence of the horizontal and vertical components of velocity of a projectile. Often referred to as "the monkey and hunter," the problem is the following. A hunter (at ground level) aims a gun at a monkey hanging from a branch high in a tree. The monkey, being very intelligent, does not want to be shot. It knows that light travels faster than bullets and reasons that, if it lets go of the branch the instant it sees the flash of the gun,...

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High Road, Low Road

Which road is faster? A kinematics concept Puzzler.

high low road

What it shows:

Horizontal and vertical motions are independent of each other.

How it works:

Two balls, starting with the same initial horizontal velocity, take two different paths: the...

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Ball shot up from PASCO cart is caught by same; a puzzler to ponder if track is tilted and cart accelerates down (or decelerates up).



Ball shot horizontally, one dropped vertically; both hit the ground at the same time.

What it shows:

The horizontal and vertical motions of a projectile are independent of each other. So two objects falling under the influence of gravity from the same height will reach the ground simultaneously, regardless of their horizontal velocities.

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Uniform Acceleration

Glider acceleration by an inclined air track or by a falling weight/string attachment; large ballbearing rolling on PASCO track (with strings).

uniform acceleration


Aluminum/Uranium and SF6/Air/Helium comparisons.

What It Shows 

The concept of mass per unit volume is punctuated by having several different substances on hand for comparison. In solid materials, we have equal size chunks1 of aluminum (2.7 g/mL) and uranium (18.7 g/mL) for comparison. For gases, we typically use balloons filled with helium (0.18 g/L), air (1.29 g/L), and sulfur hexafluoride (6.50 g/L). Being 5 times heavier that air, the SF6balloon noticeably feels like it weighs more than the air-filled one and...

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Galileo's Chandelier

galileo's chandelierBowling ball pendulum with burning candles stuck in holes, used as prop only.

What It Shows

Rumor has it that one day at the cathedral, Galileo watched the swinging of a chandelier after it had been displaced and lit. By using his own pulse as...

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Time Measurement

Time signals from U.S. Naval Observatory.

What It Shows

There are several services to help the scientist keep time. Some of these can be brought into the lecture hall. Students can listen to the time signals from WWVB (60 kHz signal from Colorado) on a radio receiver or the U.S. Naval Observatory's time service over a telephone line. A publication giving detailed descriptions of the technical services provided by the National Bureau of Standards radio stations is available in the Prep Room. These services are: standard radio frequencies, standard audio frequencies...

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Length Measurement

[M | t | ★] 
Standard meter sticks and selection of cubic volumes. 

What It Shows

No temperature-controlled platinum rods here – just some sticks that are very close to a meter in length. Standard meter sticks as well as cubic centimeters and decimeters are available for reference and/or comparison. Other volumes include a 22.4 liter cube (to get the sense of the size of a mole of gas). Sets of calibrated weights include both metric and English standards from milligrams to several kilograms. Various types of analytical balances and scales are also available:...

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