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Stonehenge

Static model of site; can be used with light source to simulate a mid-summer's morning.

What it shows:

1:50 scale model of the Stonehenge site with the positions of Sun and Moon on important dates marked. It can be used with a light show to reproduce Sunrise on Midsummer's morning, June 21.

How it works:

The Stonehenge site consists of the sarsen circle of 30 megaliths capped with 30 lintels. Within this circle is a horseshoe pattern of five trilithons. 80m north-east of the circle's center is the Heel Stone; it is the...

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Equatorial Ring

Model of Ptolemy's ring used to measure the length of the year.

What it shows:

This is a model of the ring and method used by Claudius Ptolemy (2nd century A.D., Alexandrian astronomer) to determine the length of a year.

ring

How it works:

The ring is...

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Moon Orbit Model

Mechanical model of Earth-Moon orbit around Sun.

What it shows:

A model to demonstrate the precession of the Moon's orbit relative to the ecliptic. It is useful for discussing the conditions necessary for the occurrence of an eclipse.

How it works:

A large aluminum disk represents the plane of the Moon's orbit about the Earth. The disk lies flush with the box surface it sits in; the plane of the box representing the Ecliptic. The Moon's own orbit is inclined at 5° to the ecliptic, and precesses with an 18 year period. You...

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Precession Globe

Globe pivoted so north pole can precess.

What it shows:

Due to the oblateness of the Earth, the gravitational force between the Earth and the Sun sets up a couple which causes the Earth's axis of rotation to precess. An adapted globe shows what is meant by precession.

How it works:

An old 8" (19cm) globe has been modified 1 to allow it to precess on its axis. A 23° cone is cut into the south pole, and a cone of metal supported by a metal equatorial ring has been inserted. This makes the globe bottom heavy (and...

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Elastic Light

What it shows: 

The redshifted spectrum of galaxies and quasars is due to an expanding universe and can be expressed as the ratio of the scale factor of the present Universe to that of the Universe when the light was emitted. You can think of this as the light being s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d as the Universe expands so it arrives with a longer wavelength.

How it works: 

A 50cm × 10cm strip of dental dam with a wave drawn on it, attached at one end to a post and the other end free to pull. A wooden dowel at the pulling end ensures...

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Giant Vibrating Crystal

What it shows:

A simplified model crystal with non-rigid inter-atomic bonds. You can show that solids really do vibrate, distort and expand.

How it works:

A cubic lattice of 3×3×3 15cm diameter Styrofoam™ spheres linked by 3cm steel springs. The springs are epoxied to corks embedded in the Styrofoam.

...

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Copper and Bulb

Copper has positive temperature coefficient; light bulb gets brighter when copper leads are dipped in liquid N2.

What it shows: 

Copper has a positive temperature coefficient (≈ 3.9×10-3 per ˚C), which means that its resistance drops with temperature. Here copper wire is immersed in liquid nitrogen (77˚K = -196˚C), decreasing its resistance (from room temperature) by almost a factor of 2, thus increasing the current flow though a circuit.

How it works: 

We have a coil of 30AWG copper wire...

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Jumping Ring

Shoot the ring through the roof after dipping it in liquid N2; Lenz's law induced EMF in metal ring.

What it shows: 

The induced current in a metal ring is dramatically increased by lowering the ring's temperature.

How it works: 

Here is an extension of the ...

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Lead Bell

Dull at room temperature, rings clearly after immersion in liquid nitrogen.

What it shows: 

A lead bell, dull sounding at room temperature, rings brightly when cooled to liquid nitrogen temperatures.

How it works: 

A lead bell at room temperature is dull in more ways than one. But its elasticity is temperature dependant, with an increase in elasticity as its temperature decreases. This increase in elastic modulus narrows the resonance response with frequency and increases the quality Q of the lead as...

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Everyday objects at low temperature

What it shows:

Mechanical properties of some materials change dramatically with temperature. These changes have entertaining effects on everyday objects by taking them from room temperature 300K to the temperature of liquid nitrogen 77K.

How it works:

Place your everyday objects in a dewar of liquid nitrogen for several minutes (at least until the LN2 stops boiling). Some examples to use:

1. Rubber gloves freeze solid and shatter on impact with floor.
2. Use a banana to hammer a nail into wood
3. Frozen...

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OHP Kinetic Theory Model

Simulation of molecular motion (Brownian, diffusion, etc.) with ball bearings on shaking table.

What it shows:

Two dimensional simulations of molecular dynamics and crystal structure using ball bearings. It can be used to show qualitatively the dynamics of liquids and gases, and illustrate crystalline forms and dislocations.

How it works:

The molecular dynamics simulator is more commonly known as a shaking table. It consists primarily of a circular shallow walled glass table that is oscillated vertically so as to vibrate and...

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Mixing and Unmixing

Food coloring in glycerine is mixed by turning a drum, then unmixed by reversing. Has entropy decreased?

What it shows:

Ink is squirted into a fluid and mixed in until it disappears. By precisely undoing the motions in the reverse direction, the ink becomes unmixed! The demonstration seems to defy thermodynamics in that it appears that entropy decreases, but in actuality the reversible mixing is made possible by insuring that the mixing/unmixing is done without turbulence.

How it works:

The space between two, transparent and concentric...

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Adiabatic Heating

Compression of gas within bicycle pump heats gas; alternatively, syringe PV=nRT (w/ Mac TC read-out).

What it shows:

An adiabatic process is one where no heat enters or leaves a system. Here we compress a gas adiabatically inside a bicycle pump. The work done on the gas increases its internal energy, so increasing its temperature in accordance with the first law of thermodynamics.

Increase in internal energy dU = dW the work done on the system

How it works:

Instead of allowing the air out of a bicycle pump we've...

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Bag of Lead Shot

Dropping bag containing lead turns gravitational potential energy to heat.

What it shows: 

A demonstration of the conversion of gravitational potential energy to heat energy. A bag of lead shot, repeatedly dropped to the ground, will heat up.

How it works: 

Lead has a sufficiently low specific heat capacity (128 J/kg/K) that a 5kg bag dropped five times from a height of 1.0m onto a rigid floor should increase in temperature by about 2K. The shot is contained in a bank deposit bag with reinforced...

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Convection Cell

What it shows:

Hot fluid rises, cool fluid sinks. Here is a desktop convection cell modeling the processes in the atmosphere, oceans or stellar interiors.

How it works:

The currents are set up in rheoscopic fluid 1 (basically minute aluminum flakes in water) in a small 10×10×15cm glass tank. Half the base of the tank rests on a heater, the other on an aluminum block that acts as a heat sink. The rheoscopic fluid has a weird metallic sheen such that the bulk motion of fluid is clearly seen from the changing reflectivity....

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