Vortex Shedding in Air

A thin wire, moving through the air, is made to vibrate in the audio range at the vortex shedding frequency.

What it Shows

When air flows around an object, there is a range of flow velocities for which a von Karman vortex street is formed. The shedding of these vortices imparts a periodic force on the object. The force is quite small and not enough to accelerate the object to any significant amount, especially if the object is relatively massive. If the situation is such that the object can vibrate about a fixed position, we have the possibility of simple...

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Reversible Fluid Mixing

What it shows:

Ink is squirted into a fluid and mixed in until it disappears. By precisely undoing the motions in the reverse direction, the ink becomes unmixed! The demonstration seems to defy thermodynamics in that it appears that entropy decreases, but in actuality the reversible mixing is made possible by ensuring that the mixing/unmixing is done without turbulence.

How it works:

The space between two transparent and concentric cylinders is filled with a viscous fluid (glycerine or Karo™ syrup). One or more lines of...

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Pendulum Waves

What it shows:

Fifteen uncoupled simple pendulums of monotonically increasing lengths dance together to produce visual traveling waves, standing waves, beating, and random motion. One might call this kinetic art and the choreography of the dance of the pendulums is stunning! Aliasing and quantum revival can also be shown.

How it works:

The period of one complete cycle of the dance is 60 seconds. The length of the longest pendulum has been adjusted so that it executes 51 oscillations in this 60 second period. The length of each...

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Thoron Decay

What it shows:

The very first determination of a half-life for a radioactive decay was made by Rutherford. 1 In a study of the properties of thorium emanation, he found that the intensity of the radiations fell off with time in a geometric progression. That historically important result is reproduced in this demonstration experiment. The gas thoron, or thorium emanation, is an isotope of radon (86Rn220) which decays by α emission and has a half life of 55.6 seconds. 2 Using an emanation electroscope, we observe the...

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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. The torque...

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Ring Flinger Lenz's Law

What it shows:

A changing magnetic flux induces a current in a metal ring; the magnetic field due to this current opposes the primary field, repelling the ring and flinging it into the air. That's the simple "hand waving" explanation for the beginner student—a more accurate explanation follows.

How it really works:

The jumping ring is a vivid and popular demonstration of electromagnetic induction and is used to illustrate Faraday's and Lenz's laws. A conducting ring, placed over the ferromagnetic core of a solenoid, may levitate or...

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