Supercooling of Water

Pure water cooled to below 273K without freezing; seeded to spontaneously crystallize.

What it shows:

A liquid can be taken to a temperature below its freezing point if it is cooled slowly and there are no nucleation sites for crystallization to begin. In this demonstration you can create a flask of liquid water at below 0°C that, when 'seeded' by the introduction of a nucleation site (in this case dry ice) will be instantaneously frozen.

How it works:

This is pretty much described in Setting it Up.


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Giant Vibrating Crystal

What it shows:

A simplified model crystal with non-rigid inter-atomic bonds. You can show that solids really do vibrate, distort and expand.

How it works:

A cubic lattice of 3×3×3 15cm diameter Styrofoam™ spheres linked by 3cm steel springs. The springs are epoxied to corks embedded in the Styrofoam.


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Samples of Elements

First day of Gen Chem: Metals and non-metals; solids, liquid and gas elements; compound of elements.

Copper, sulfur, lead, iron, antimony, iodine, carbon as powder and graphite sample, mercury, copper iodate, oxygen balloon.

Archimedes' Principle

What it shows

Archimedes' principle states that the buoyant force or upthrust is equal to the weight of fluid displaced. An object with equal mass but a lower density occupies more volume so displaces more water; it therefore experiences a greater upthrust.

How it works

This demo compares the buoyant force acting on two 1kg masses, one of aluminum and one of brass. Each in turn is lowered into a beaker of water using a spring balance (figure 1). The aluminum, having the lower density, experiences the greater upthrust and a reduction in weight from 10N to about...

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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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Jaw Models

Cardboard animal jaws as examples of levers.

What it shows:

The biting force of an animal depends upon the magnitude, direction and point of application of forces exerted by the jaw muscles. A mammalian jaw exerts a greater force than does a reptilian jaw despite a more delicate joint structure, because evolution has improved the physics of eating.

How it works:

The demonstration consists of two dimensional cardboard models of reptilian and mammalian lower jaws (see figure 1). Both are about 30cm in length. They are pivoted...

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Vortex Tube

What it shows:

James Clerk Maxwell postulated that since heat involves the movement of molecules, it might be possible to separate hot and cold air in a device with the help of a "friendly demon" who would sort out and separate the fast and slow moving molecules of air. The vortex tube is such a device and does exactly that — using compressed air as a power source, it has no mechanical moving parts and produces hot air at one end and cold air at the other.

How it works:

Room temperature compressed air is supplied to the vortex tube...

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Refraction of Sound

Balloons filled with helium, CO2, or SF6 act as diverging and converging lenses, respectively.

What it shows:

A balloon, filled with a gas different from air, will refract sound waves. A gas denser than air turns the balloon into a converging lens and a lighter gas makes it a diverging lens. An air-filled balloon has little effect.

How it works:

The refraction phenomenon occurs whenever waves travel from one medium to another in which the velocity of the wave changes. The amount of refraction at...

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