Color Mixing

What it shows:

All colors can be created from a combination of the three primary colors of red, green and blue. The secondary colors of cyan, magenta and yellow are created from a combination of two primaries, and white light is perceived from the combination of all three.


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Collapse of 55 Gallon Drum

Drum evacuated by vacuum pump; crushed by atmospheric bombardment.

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 pump and wait; it takes about 8 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....

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Bernoulli's Principle

What it shows

The relative velocities of two sides of a spinning ball to an oncoming wind creates a pressure difference and therefore a net force on the ball perpendicular to the air flow.

figure 1. Direction of motion of ball due to pressure difference

diagram of air flow and spinning ball

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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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Bungee Jumping Barney

What it shows:

Using conservation of energy, calculate the height from which Barney must jump so that his head just barely kisses the floor at the bottom of his bungee cord jump. Then verify by experiment. Oops ... hate when that happens! It turns out that it's not so simple and there are important details that must be taken into account.

How it works:

Barney (the friendly pink dinosaur) is "sandbagged" (with a 5 kg weight, duct-taped around his waist) and suspended from the sky-hook by a 3.1 meter-long (unstretched) spring. The spring constant has been measured...

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Shattering Wineglass

Large speaker with signal generator/amplifier destroys a wineglass; stroboscopic illumination shows vibration mode.

What it shows:

Sound waves of the right frequency are used to excite a wineglass in one or two of its normal modes of vibration. Stroboscopic illumination makes it possible to actually see the vibrations in apparent slow motion. When the intensity of the sound is increased, the large undulations of the glass exceed its elastic limit and cause it to shatter. This can be done in the fundamental or next higher normal mode of vibration ... a beautiful and dramatic...

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TV Image Deflection

Image on black and white television is deflected by a magnet, not unlike the Maltese Cross.

What it shows:
The television is basically a sophisticated cathode ray tube. The electron beam in the TV is influenced by magnetic fields in the same way as in Crookes tubes.

How it works:
The image on a black & white TV is formed by a single electron gun scanning the screen. Holding a strong magnet to the side or in front of the screen deflects the beam from its regular sweep pattern, distorting the image.


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TV Color Perception

What it shows:

The full spectrum of colors (including white) in a television picture is produced by the additive mixing of only three colors: red, green, and blue.

How it works:

In a color television tube, three separate electron beams are focused so as to strike the appropriate phosphor dot on the screen. By looking at the television screen under considerable magnification, one can clearly see that there are only three phosphors which are stimulated by the electron beam(s). The apparatus is diagrammed below.


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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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