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Capillary Action

What it shows:

capillary actionDue to surface tension effects water rises up a narrow bored tube; the rise in height being inversely proportional to the bore's radius.

How it works:

The setup shows the direct comparison between four...

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Reversible Fluid Mixing

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 ensuring that the mixing/unmixing is done without turbulence.

How it works:

The space between two transparent and concentric cylinders is filled with a viscous fluid (glycerine or Karo™ syrup). One or more lines of...

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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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55 Gallon Drum

What it Shows

With an air pressure of 105 Nm-2 at sea level, even a heavy duty oil drum will be crushed if it has nothing inside to balance the pressure.

How it Works

The screw cap on the drum is fitted with a vacuum pump connector. Simply turn on the Varian SD-200 pump and wait—it usually takes a few minutes to pump down, so you can carry on with what you were doing interrupted by various creaks and bangs as the drum's side walls begin to give. Because drums of this size are ribbed for strength, they can hold up under the strain, but when it...

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Siphon

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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Double Bubble

What it shows

When two different size soap bubbles are connected together, the smaller diameter bubble will shrink and collapse to blow up the larger diameter bubble. One can use this to demonstrate Laplace's law or the phenomenon of minimizing the surface area of a soap film.

How it works

Laplace's law tells us that the gauge pressure of a spherical membrane is given by 2γ/r, where γ is the surface tension and r is the radius of the sphere.1 For soap bubbles (which have an inside as well as outside surface), the gauge pressure is twice...

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Collapsible Cow

What it shows:

A small crude spindly model of a cow is able to support five times its own weight. Another model, scaled up exactly six times in all dimensions, collapses under its own weight! Assuming that strength is proportional to cross-sectional area (∝ dimension 2) and weight is proportional to volume (∝ dimension 3), simply scaling the model up geometrically leads to the situation where the weight is too great for its strength.

How it works:

This demonstration was inspired by R.H. Stinson's apparatus note in the AJP (see References...

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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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Coriolis Force

What it shows:

The Coriolis force is a pseudo force existing in a frame that rotates with constant angular velocity to a reference frame. It acts on a body moving in the rotating frame to deflect its motion sideways. Here the audience sits in the reference frame, while two volunteers on a rotating platform experience the coriolis force by trying to basket a volleyball.

...
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Barrel of Fun

What it shows:

An object finds itself heavier and pinned against the wall of a spinning cylinder; the principle behind fairground Barrel of Fun rides and centrifuges.

How it works:

The object in such a ride experiences two forces, that of its weight and the centripetal force exerted by the barrel wall; the vector addition of these forces giving the apparent increase in weight (figure 1 ) The reaction force of the object also presses it against the wall; the increased friction force preventing it from sliding down.

The barrel in our demo is a 45cm...

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