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Center of Mass

Irregular lamina with marked center-of-mass tossed in air.

What it shows:

The center of gravity fixed in (or outside) the object always orients itself with minimum potential energy on a vertical line below the support point. When an irregular shape is thrown into the air, it is seen to rotate about its marked center of gravity or center of mass (COM).

How it works:

We have several irregular lamina to suspend and/or throw in the air. They are (1) an amoeba shaped piece of masonite pegboard, (2) a cut-out map of the U.S. glued...

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Shoot-n-Drop

Ball shot horizontally, one dropped vertically; both hit the ground at the same time.

What it shows:

The horizontal and vertical motions of a projectile are independent of each other. So two objects falling under the influence of gravity from the same height will reach the ground simultaneously, regardless of their horizontal velocities.

...
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Density

Aluminum/Uranium and SF6/Air/Helium comparisons.

What It Shows 

The concept of mass per unit volume is punctuated by having several different substances on hand for comparison. In solid materials, we have equal size chunks1 of aluminum (2.7 g/mL) and uranium (18.7 g/mL) for comparison. For gases, we typically use balloons filled with helium (0.18 g/L), air (1.29 g/L), and sulfur hexafluoride (6.50 g/L). Being 5 times heavier that air, the SF6balloon noticeably feels like it weighs more than the air-filled one and...

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Time Measurement

Time signals from U.S. Naval Observatory.

What It Shows

There are several services to help the scientist keep time. Some of these can be brought into the lecture hall. Students can listen to the time signals from WWVB (60 kHz signal from Colorado) on a radio receiver or the U.S. Naval Observatory's time service over a telephone line. A publication giving detailed descriptions of the technical services provided by the National Bureau of Standards radio stations is available in the Prep Room. These services are: standard radio frequencies, standard audio frequencies...

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Length Measurement

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Standard meter sticks and selection of cubic volumes. 

What It Shows

No temperature-controlled platinum rods here – just some sticks that are very close to a meter in length. Standard meter sticks as well as cubic centimeters and decimeters are available for reference and/or comparison. Other volumes include a 22.4 liter cube (to get the sense of the size of a mole of gas). Sets of calibrated weights include both metric and English standards from milligrams to several kilograms. Various types of analytical balances and scales are also available:...

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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 tube pushes a ping-...

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