Pascal's Paradox

What it shows:

Three containers are filled with water to the same depth, and each has the same base surface area (see figure 1). Since the pressure and area are the same in each container, the force should be the same (pressure = force/area). pascalSo how come the scales...

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Magdeburg Hemispheres

When evacuated, held together by bombardment of atmospheric molecules.

What it shows:

Two brass hemispheres are brought together and evacuated, and are held together by the pressure of the atmosphere.

How it works:

Two brass hemispheres fit together to form an air-tight seal. One has a vacuum pump attachment and stop cock; the completed sphere can evacuated using a vacuum pump under a minute. As atmospheric pressure is 105Nm-2, the 11cm diameter hemispheres are held together by a force of 15000N. Invite members of your...

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What it shows:

A siphon is a device that allows the transfer of a fluid from one reservoir to a second at a lower level even though the first part of the journey is up-hill.

How it works:

A siphon is effectively an inverted U-tube with unequal length tubes. The asymmetry means that there is a pressure difference between the ends;

at the upper reservoir: p1 = P - ρgh1
at the lower reservoir: p2 = P - ρgh2
(where P = atmospheric pressure)

so p1 > p2 if h2 > h...

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Creep of Lead

What it shows:

A metal under stress will not fracture straight away, but will deform plastically due to the dislocation of crystal boundaries; this is called creep.

How it works:

Here we use lead as the test sample because there is significant creep compared to other metals. The lead is loaded (see fig.1) to a value that is just below the breaking stress of the sample. When creep occurs, the lead is drawn thinner at its weakest point (called 'necking', see fig.2) until its reduced cross-sectional area causes the sample to exceed its breaking...

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Fracture Strength of Chalk

What it shows:

This demonstration allows you to compare chalk’s compressive strength with its tensile strength.

How it works:

We use railroad chalk, which although being softer and harder to work, is nice and big and easy to see. A sample is placed in each of the two types of testing assembly (details in Setting it Up), and loads carefully applied. Railroad chalk has a tensile strength of 195kNm-2 ± 30kNm-2 (a load of 2.5 to 3.5kg) and a compressive strength of 500kNm-2 ± 65kNm-2 ( a load of 7 to 9kg).


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Spiral Fracture

What it shows:

A spiral fracture is incurred when a torque is directed along the axis of a limb or shaft. Planes perpendicular to the axis are unaffected, but those parallel are twisted, which causes pure tensile forces in one part of the limb, pure compressive forces in another. Fracture occurs when either the compressive or tensile limit of the material is exceeded. This demo shows a spiral fracture in a simulated skiing accident.

How it works:

An old ski boot has a wooden plug placed snugly inside it acting as a foot. A 3 × 4cm square hole accommodates a 0.5m...

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Foucault Pendulum Model

What it shows:

A "working model" of a Foucault pendulum to show how its oscillations appear to change due to the rotation of "Earth" below it.

How it works:

The pendulum consists of 9-cm diameter brass ball suspended from a sturdy tripod which, in turn, sits on a heavy 3-ft diameter wooden disk. The disk represents the Earth with a projection of the northern hemisphere drawn on it. The suspension point of the pendulum is positioned over the North Pole. The entire apparatus sits on a ring bearing and the disk (Earth) can be rotated slowly by hand. While the plane of...

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Center of Percussion

The motion (or lack of motion) of the suspension point of an object is observed when the object is struck a blow.

What it shows

The center of percussion (COP) is the place on a bat or racket where it may be struck without causing reaction at the point of support. When a ball is hit at this spot, the contact feels good and the ball seems to spring away with its greatest speed and therefore this is often referred to as the sweet spot. At points other than this spot, the bat or racket may vibrate or even sting your hands. This experiment shows the effect by demonstrating what...

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