Reaction of Hydrogen and Oxygen

Blue balloon with hydrogen, green balloon with helium, red balloon in back with hydrogen and oxygen mixture, and, on a cart, a red water balloon on large watch glass. Candle on a stick with matches, and a needle in the end to prick the water balloon.

Safety glasses and hearing protection is required for the demonstrator and anyone else who can't cover their ears for the red balloon.

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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Foucault Pendulum

Plane of pendulum oscillation appears to change due to rotation of Earth.

What it shows:

Due to the rotation of the Earth, the plane of oscillation of a pendulum will rotate with respect to the surface beneath it. We expect a rotation of about 10˚/hr at our latitude of 42.˚

How it works:

Here the observer standing on the Earth resides in the reference frame, with the swinging pendulum oscillating in a rotating frame. From the pendulum's point of view, it keeps oscillating in the same plane, but the Earth spins below it. The deflection from its original plane...

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Radio Wave Properties

What it shows:

The following is a sequence of experiments that can accompany a standard lecture on electromagnetic waves. The entire sequence is quite long and you may not want to do it all in one lecture.

1) The voltage variation along the length of a dipole transmitting antenna can be made evident. The intensity variation of a fluorescent light bulb, held near the antenna, shows the voltage to be maximum at the ends and minimum in the middle of the dipole.

(2) The radio waves that radiate from the transmitting antenna are detected by...

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Schlieren Optics

Optical technique that allows us to see small changes in the refractivity of air and other transparent media.

What it Shows

Refraction due to inhomogeneity in air is made visible by our single-mirror schlieren optics setup. The refraction can be caused by changes in the density, temperature, or pressure of the air immediately...

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Street Lamp Spectra

What it shows:

Unlike the continuous spectrum emitted by blackbody radiators, the light given off by atoms in a gaseous discharge is characterized by its discreet nature. Using street lamps for the light sources, bright atomic spectra of mercury or sodium are projected onto a screen.


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Reaction of Sodium and Water

Sodium undergoes a reaction with water.

A liter of warm water in large pyrex vessel, covered with fine mesh stainless steel screen, is on a stool close by in-floor vent hood.  Add a few drops from the phenolphthalein indicator bottle.

Using the long forceps, pick out a pea size lump of sodium metal from the mineral oil in the small beaker. Wipe off the lump on the dry paper towels. With the vent fan running, lift the edge of the screen and drop in the sodium metal. Replace the screen and get back.

The sodium will from a hissing ball of molten metal, which bounces...

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