Presentations

Conductivity of Glass

Insulating glass becomes a conductor of electricity when heated red-hot with a blowtorch. (m) (T+)

What it Shows

At room temerature, glass is almost as good an insulator as hard rubber. When heated to 1000 K, however, glass has a resistivity of less than 107 ohm-meters (Purcell1 fig. 4.8 pp 140). As glass becomes molten the once immobile ions are able to drift further between collisions under the influence of an applied electric field (Purcell pp 139). We can dramatically observe this decreased resistance using a blowtorch and a few incandescent...

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Hand Cranked AC Generator

Observe the induced current in a gimbaled coil as it rotates in Earth's magnetic field.

What it Shows

A changing magnetic flux through a circular coil of wire induces a current in the wire. By spinning a circular coil of wire at constant frequency and measuring the induced voltage across its ends we can find the local direction and magnitude of the Earth's magnetic field as it passes through the coil. The commutators of the coil are configured to produce an alternating current.

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The Barkhausen Effect

What it shows:

The magnetization of a ferromagnetic substance occurs in little jumps as the magnetic moments of small bunches of atoms, called domains, align themselves with the external field. We can actually "hear" the switching of these domains by amplifying the currents induced in a coil that surround the ferromagnetic material.

How it works:

We use two 10mH coils mounted back-to-back to cut out AC noise. The samples, listed in Fig.1 are in wire form, about 3-5cm in length and pushed through corks so they can sit...

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Infra-Red Projector

What it shows:

Like visible light, invisible infra-red radiation can be refracted by lenses to produce an image on a screen. Indeed, a slide projector designed for visible light is used as the imaging device; a heat- sensitive screen makes the invisible IR image visible.

How it works:

Our IR source is a 1000 watt "lantern slide" projector 1 from which we have removed the special heat-absorbing glass in the condenser assembly. The slide to be imaged is some kind of lettering, like the name of the course (Science A-29...

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Hotplate Mirage

What it shows:

A beam of light is distorted due to turbulent convection currents in air. This is a model of atmospheric distortion that affects seeing conditions in ground based optical and infrared astronomy.

How it works:

Turbulent air is provided by an electric stove ring, that heats the air above it as the warm earth dues to air sitting above it. The turbulent currents set up alter the refractive index of the air in a disordered and rapidly changing way. Light from a point source passing through these conditions is blurred...

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Poisson's Spot

Diffraction produces a bright spot where Poisson believed there would be darkness.

Poisson's Spot

What It Shows

Edge diffraction around a 1/8" diameter steel ball bearing results in a visible spot in the center of its shadow. In 1818 this result—to the chagrin of Siméon D. Poisson—...

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Tether-ball Catastrophe

What it shows:

An accelerated electric charge radiates energy. So according to classical physics, an electron in orbit about an atomic nucleus should emit electromagnetic radiation by virtue of its orbital motion. As it radiates energy, the radius of its orbit decreases. The electron should spiral into the nucleus amidst a burst of radiation in about 10-16 seconds.

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Rutherford Scattering

What it shows:

A qualitative demonstration of Rutherford's α-particle scattering experiment using magnetic pucks on an air table.

How it works:

In its simplest form, we use an Ealing air table, 1 1m square, with a fixed magnetic puck at the center. A second puck with the same polarity is repelled and scattered by the first; the scattering angle being dependant upon the impact parameter b (see figure 1). A more complex setup is described in the Comments.

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Uranium Block

What it shows:

This block of uranium is of great historical significance -- it is a remnant of the WWII German Atomic Bomb Project. It was brought to Harvard by Prof. Edwin C. Kemble, Physics Dept. Chairman and also Deputy Science Director of the ALSOS mission in 1945. The American ALSOS mission was an intelligence effort to discover the extent of German progress toward atomic weapon development and its ultimate purpose was to secure all the uranium ore the Germans had confiscated during the war and finally close the books on the German program to build an atom...

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