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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Poisson's Spot

Diffraction produces a bright spot where Poisson believed there would be darkness.

Poisson's Spot

What It Shows

Edge diffraction around a 1/8" diameter steel ball bearing results in a visible spot in the center of its shadow. In 1818 this result—to the chagrin of Siméon D. Poisson—...

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Copper and Bulb

Copper has positive temperature coefficient; light bulb gets brighter when copper leads are dipped in liquid N2.

What it shows: 

Copper has a positive temperature coefficient (≈ 3.9×10-3 per ˚C), which means that its resistance drops with temperature. Here copper wire is immersed in liquid nitrogen (77˚K = -196˚C), decreasing its resistance (from room temperature) by almost a factor of 2, thus increasing the current flow though a circuit.

How it works: 

We have a coil of 30AWG copper wire...

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Limiting Reagent, Vinegar or Baking Soda?

Vinegar and two different amounts of baking soda in plastic soda bottles with balloons.

Two 500ml PETN soda bottles of the same make, split a bottle of vinegar between them.

11" balloons are pre-inflated with dry air, with care taken not to stretch the neck of the balloon. Into the balloons with a funnel go one, two teaspoons of baking soday. With 250 ml of vinegar, that's like six liters of gas potential if one carbon dioxide comes from one acid hydrogen ion.

Tap the baking soda powder down away from the neck of the balloon. Stretch the neck and place it over the top...

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Feather and Dime

Falling in an evacuated tube at the same rate.

What it shows:

In the absence of air resistance all bodies, regardless of size or weight, fall with the same acceleration at the same point above the Earth. Here a feather and a dime (see Comments) fall under the influence of gravity in an environment where there is no air to mess things up.


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Capillary Action

What it shows:

capillary actionDue to surface tension effects water rises up a narrow bored tube; the rise in height being inversely proportional to the bore's radius.

How it works:

The setup shows the direct comparison between four...

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Back EMF

What it shows:

A sudden change in current in an inductor - resistor circuit produces a very large back EMF. If that resistance is a bulb, it will shine much brighter during the change than during DC flow.

E = -LdI/dt

How it works:

The circuit consists of a 6V bulb connected in parallel with a 10.5mH inductor coil as in figure 1. With the battery connected, the bulb burns at its rated 6V. Disconnecting the battery sends the applied voltage and hence the current to zero. The rapidly collapsing...

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Rayleigh's Criterion

What it shows:

The criterion for the resolution of two sources is that the central maximum of the single slit interference pattern of one source falls on the first minimum of the pattern of the second source.

How it works:

Each laser beam passing through the slit will form a diffraction pattern on the screen. With the aperture closed down, the pattern will be spread out and the central maxima of both sources will overlap giving a blurry image. Opening up the aperture and the diffraction patterns will get narrower, until the point...

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Crystal Growth & Recession

What it shows:

By providing a cold boundary, you can get water to crystalize as advancing needles of ice.

How it works:

This cold boundary can be provided by a petri dish of alcohol. Adding dry ice to this produces an endothermic reaction that lowers the temperature below 0°C. By placing a smaller petri dish containing distilled water within the alcohol dish (figure 1), the water freezes from the outer edge inwards. In front of a "thick" wall of ice shoots a monolayer of needles. The advance or recession can be...

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Specific Heats of Oil and Water

A volunteer puts her hands in oil and water in large beakers on thermostated hot plates, at about 60°C. The water beaker hand is removed almost instantly. The oil beaker hand can remain indefinitely.

The heat capacity of oil is about half that of water. Oil is thought of as hotter because it can be heated to higher temperatures than boiling water, but at the same temperature, water moves more heat into your hand than oil does.