Electronic Pinhole Camera

What it shows:

The simplest method of controlling light to form an image is to use an opaque mask with a pinhole in it. Rectilinear propagation of light explains all (nearly). A video camera is substituted for the old prototypal shoe box so that an entire audience can see the pinhole image "live."

How it works:

An extremely light-sensitive video camera 1 sans lens substitutes for the pinhole camera box and film. The front of the Newvicon is the image plane and, as this sits right behind the faceplate of the camera...

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Brewster's Angle

What it shows:

When unpolarized light is reflected from a non-metallic surface, the reflected ray is plane polarized parallel to the reflecting surface if

θi + θr = 90°


tanθi = n

where θi = incident ray (Brewster's angle), θr = refracted ray, n = refractive index

How it works:

We use a black vinyl sheet 1m×4m as the reflecting surface, which has a Brewster angle of 57°. A theatrical spot lamp 1 is used to give a 50cm circle...

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α, β, γ, n Sources and Detection

What it shows:

Radiations originating from atomic and nuclear processes are classified into four types:

charged particulate radiation consisting of
1. heavy charged particles (α)
2. fast electrons (β)
uncharged radiation consisting of
3. electromagnetic radiation (γ, x-ray)
4. neutrons (n)

The interaction processes of each type of radiation explain their penetrability through matter, their difficulty or ease of detection, and their danger to biological organisms. The interactions of these radiations with matter are unique and the...

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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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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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Chaotic Waterwheel

What it Shows

We start with a vertical wheel—like a Ferris Wheel, but with a diameter just under 1 meter—in neutral equilibrium and free to rotate in either direction. From the ends of each of the eight spokes hang small buckets with drainage holes cut out of the bottom. Fixed directly above the center of the wheel is a faucet connected to a pump.

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Tension Puzzler

What It Shows

The two ends of a dial-type spring balance are each connected to strings which run over pulleys. With equal weights attached to the ends of the strings, the spring balance indicates the value of one of the weights.

How It Works

The demonstration is presented to the class as a puzzler: the spring balance is turned around so that the class can't see the dial. Students are invited to guess what it is reading. Invariably they guess the sum of the two weights. The lecturer then turns the face of the dial gauge around showing them the error of...

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Elastic and Inelastic Collision Model

What it shows:

Two cars have the same mass and same spring bumper. When given a push and allowed to collide with a wall, one car bounces off with only a small reduction in speed ("elastic" collison) whereas the other car comes nearly to a complere stop ("inelastic" collision).

How it works:

There are two impulse cars made of identical materials and have the same mass. The car that models an elastic collision has all its lead sinkers securely attached to the frame so that they can't move. In contrast, the car that models an inelastic collision has the lead sinkers...

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Double Bubble

What it shows

When two different size soap bubbles are connected together, the smaller diameter bubble will shrink and collapse to blow up the larger diameter bubble. One can use this to demonstrate Laplace's law or the phenomenon of minimizing the surface area of a soap film.

How it works

Laplace's law tells us that the gauge pressure of a spherical membrane is given by 2γ/r, where γ is the surface tension and r is the radius of the sphere.1 For soap bubbles (which have an inside as well as outside surface), the gauge pressure is twice...

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Resonant Fountain Tube

Standing sound waves in a glass pipe are made evident by the fountains of kerosene inside the pipe.

What it shows:

The air inside a very large glass pipe (partially filled with a fluid) is acoustically excited into a standing wave. Once resonating, the locations of the velocity antinodes inside the pipe are dramatically made evident by the vigorous agitation of the fluid, resulting in fabulous foaming frothing fountains of fluid. The velocity of sound can also be determined by noting the resonance frequency and measuring the distance between antinodes....

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