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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Cloud Chamber

What It Shows

The path of a single charged particle can be made visible in cooled supersaturated air/alcohol vapor.

How It Works

The cloud chamber was developed by C.T.R. Wilson at the turn of the...

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Vortex Shedding in Air

A thin wire, moving through the air, is made to vibrate in the audio range at the vortex shedding frequency.

What it Shows

When air flows around an object, there is a range of flow velocities for which a von Karman vortex street is formed. The shedding of these vortices imparts a periodic force on the object. The force is quite small and not enough to accelerate the object to any significant amount, especially if the object is relatively massive. If the situation is such that the object can vibrate about a fixed position, we have the possibility of simple...

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Molecular Size

Also known as the Ben Franklin pond experiment, after a story in B.F's autobiography.

Olive oil with a known volume is dropped onto water. The water has been dusted with lycopodium powder, which floats on the surface. The oil drop expands, pushing the powder aside to form a clear circle, until the oil forms a monolayer. Measuring the area of the monolayer, dividing the volume of the drop by that area, gives the thickness of the monolayer, which is the height of the oil molecule on water.

From our demonstration movie, we found these values. The size of the patch was 62 cm...

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Ball shot up from PASCO cart is caught by same; a puzzler to ponder if track is tilted and cart accelerates down (or decelerates up).


Big Chladni Plate

What it shows:

A large square metal plate, supported and harmonically driven at its center, is made to vibrate in any one of its numerous normal modes of vibration. As with the regular Chladni Plates, the two-dimensional standing wave patterns are made visible by sand accumulating along the nodal lines. What is different in this demonstration is that a multitude of resonances (across the entire audio range and lower ultrasonic frequencies) can easily be excited. Being a two-dimensional oscillator, the various resonance frequencies are not simply multiples of the...

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