Precipitation of Silver Chloride

Sodium chloride solution is added to silver nitrate solution and a white precipitate of silver chloride is instantly formed.

The silver nitrate solution is around 0.1M, and the sodium chloride solution around 0.5M. Pour the sodium chloride sol'n into the silver nitrate to avoid leaving traces of silver nitrate in the empty beaker.

Wear safety glasses and gloves to prepare and perform this demonstration.

Vacuum Cannon

If you're feeling pressure to do something fun, consider the vacuum cannon...

See slow-motion footage of the Vacuum Cannon in action (https://youtu.be/gex5Fq5oUtc)

What it Shows

Air rushing into an evacuated...

Read more about Vacuum Cannon
Inertia of Rest

Concrete block smashed on lecturer's chest with sledge hammer.

What it shows:

The lecturer (or someone else) lies on a bed-of-nails without discomfort, thus demonstrating the concept of pressure, which is the force per unit area. For added drama the person is sandwiched between two beds of nails with the added weight of a cinder block on top. The cinder block can be broken with a sledge hammer.

How it works:

The forces (weight of the body, cinder block, etc.) are distributed over the total area of all the nail...

Read more about Inertia of Rest
Coffee Mug on a String

What it shows:

Conservation of angular momentum and the exponential increase in friction are what save the coffee mug from smashing into the floor. Use this entertaining demonstration to introduce either of those physics concepts.

How it works:

You need a pencil, a pen, a china cup (we use a china cup to add suspense and a threat of disaster), and about 1 meter of string. Tie one end of the string to the cup and the other to the pen. Hold the pencil in one hand and drape the string over it so the cup hangs down a few centimeters. Hold the pen with your other hand (arm...

Read more about Coffee Mug on a String
Physical Pendulum

A rigid rod executes simple harmonic motion about an adjustable pivot point.

What It Shows

The period of a physical pendulum is measured and compared to theory. The pivot point, and thus the period, is adjustable along the length of the pendulum making it possible to demonstrate that there is a pivot point where the period is a minimum (stationary point).

How It Works

The physical pendulum is a 1/2" diameter × 100cm long brass rod. A collar with a "knife edge" can be fixed anywhere along the length of the pendulum and serves as the pivot point. The period...

Read more about Physical Pendulum
Doppler Whirler

A high-pitched alarm on the end of a rope is whirled about the head.

What it shows:

Doppler shift of sound emitted by an object moving in a circular orbit, with the pitch clearly changing as the object move towards, away or perpendicular to the line of the observer. Useful as an analogy to the redshift and blueshift of spectral lines from a rotating astronomical source such as a planet or binary star system.

How it works:

We have a Powerhorn™ Security System buzzer attached to a 1.5m length of nylon cord. Swing it in a...

Read more about Doppler Whirler
Optics Disk

What it shows:

All of the concepts summarized by the above keywords can be clearly and quantitatively demonstrated with this piece of apparatus.

How it works:

A light source 1 rotates around the circumference of a large white disk 2 with degree graduations around the entire perimeter. The collimated beam of light grazes the surface of the disk, creating a highly visible pencil of light, so that ray tracing is easily accomplished. A horizontal mirror, positioned at the center of the disk, is used for the law of...

Read more about Optics Disk
Periodic Potential

What it shows:

Ball bearings simulate atoms in a lattice sitting at local potential minimums. Giving them energy excites the atoms and they oscillate about their equilibrium positions in these wells; only with large amounts of energy can they be truly dislocated.

How it works:

A piece of wood 100 × 25 × 2cm acts as the ‘potential’ structure of the lattice. The atoms, 3cm diameter ball bearings sit at the bottom of a cosine varying potential cut to about 10cm depth in the wood by a jig saw.The balls are held in the 2-dimensional...

Read more about Periodic Potential