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Inside Out

Inside Out

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Published by tapas kundu
popular science
popular science

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Published by: tapas kundu on May 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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(And 174 other simple Physics Demonstrations)Robert EhrlichForeword
 Here is a treasure chest of ideas that demonstrate aspects of physics and physical science in simple, playful ways. Whether you are a teacher, student,or just someone who enjoys science, dipping into this collection is much likeopening a holiday gift and discovering a marvelous little toy that then holdsyour attention by some curious performance. Here are, in effect, nearly twohundred such toys.This book precisely reflects the way science education should be,especially at the introductory level. The primary reason scientists becomescientist’s is that science is a thoughtful form of play. It is fun to see anarrangement of common items behave in a surprising way and to try tofig-ure out why it acts that way. We learn science because it reveals theotherwise hidden simplicity of how the world works, and often thatrevelation is so surprising that we might even laugh.That is the way science should be taught, but too often it is demonstratedwith large, noisy, foreboding apparatus, things that students or other onlookers find alien and removed from everyday life. Sometimes theelement of strangeness is so strong that even a simple principle may beobscured by it. Such apparatus may be impressive but may not beeducational, because they and the principles they demonstrate may bequickly forgotten. The demonstrations that are long remembered (and retoldto others) are the simple ones that are fashioned from everyday objects.Ehrlich has gathered together here simple demonstrations, each tested andtagged with a concise and accessible explanation. If you are a teacher, youwill find them especially valuable because they have been chosen for aminimum of expense and setup time. If you are not a teacher, you will findthem just as valuable because they open up the world of science withoutneeding costly or intimidating equipment.Once read, this book serves another purpose—you will begin to think likeEhrlich and discover other, similarly simple demonstrations that can bemade from common objects.
 Anyone curious about the physical universe cannot help but be intrigued by simple demonstrations of physical principles at work. Albert Einsteinwrote that as a small boy he first became aware of a hidden order in theuniverse by witnessing the behavior of a compass. We may speculate that hislifelong search for order, even though couched in esoteric mathematics, hadits roots in simple observations and in simple “thought experiments.” Eventhose of us lacking Einstein’s deep insight and mathematical abilities canstill find our understanding of the physical universe deepened, or our curiosity aroused, by witnessing a range of simple demonstrations.This book is a collection of physics demonstrations for teachers, students,and laypersons who have a curiosity about the physical world. Many aresuitable for use in a variety of educational settings, ranging from middle-school physical science classes to university level physics courses, but because of their simplicity most can be performed by students outside of class—indeed, by anyone.As a university physics teacher I have noticed that most of my colleagueslove to watch a good demonstration, but rarely do demonstrations in their own classes. The problem seems to be that, except for those fortunateenough to teach at a university with a staffed demonstration facility, settingup demonstrations for classes is too much effort. There is an enormousamount of work involved in designing, constructing, physically locating, andsetting up a demonstration that works reliably. Accordingly, I have writtenthis book with the intention of compiling a list of demonstrations whosesimplicity and convenience will, I hope, stimulate increased use of demonstrations, both in and out of class, and perhaps even turn the attentionof some future Einstein toward the mysteries of the physical world.The primary characteristic shared by most of the demonstrations in this book is transparency. The experiments are transparent in two senses: (1)they reveal the underlying physics in as simple a way as possible, and (2)they are literally transparent—many can be done on an overhead projector, particularly important for classroom use. Very few of the demonstrations,however, require the use of an overhead projector, so general readers or  physics students wishing to perform a variety of physics demonstrations ontheir own can easily disregard references to the overhead projector and theuse of transparent materials. In choosing demonstrations to include in the book, I have also applied a number of additional criteria:
 Low cost  
Wherever possible, inexpensive items are used (under $20.00 inalmost all cases, and usually much less).
Simplicity of design 
In all cases, designs have been perfected to make useof readily obtainable materials, and a minimum of skill is required toimplement the design. A good example of this philosophy is the designrecommended for a homemade ripple tank (demonstration Q.3) that givesresults as good as any commercially available ripple tank.
In assembling this collection, I have avoided dramatic buttemperamental demonstrations, which can be a great source of frustration(and a deterrent to doing demonstrations!). All the demonstrations includedactually work as advertised. Please contact me if you find this not to be thecase.
Wherever possible, unsafe materials and high voltages have beenavoided. A number of somewhat hazardous and dramatic demonstrationshave been omitted on this basis, and safety tips have been listed for alldemonstrations that present some degree of hazard.
Having personally been frustrated by demonstrations thatwere very large and not portable (and unusable if your class is not in alecture hall next to a demonstration facility), I have learned the virtue of compact items that can be easily carried to class.
Setup time 
All the demonstrations in this book require almost no time toset up, and the large majority can be performed in under one minute— important when one is pressed for time.
Quantitative results 
Although many demonstrations present a phenomenon only qualitatively, many others permit measurements andcalculations to be made that allow a quantitative check on various physical principles. In discussing such demonstrations, I have focused primarily ontheir quantitative aspect in order to show how far the demonstrations could be carried. It should be clear, however that all demonstrations capable of quantitative results can also be done qualitatively. For example, instead of directly verifying the exponential decay law for a capacitor dischargingthrough a voltmeter by measuring the voltage at a series of times, you could just convey the sense of an exponential decay by showing how the voltmeter needle swings toward zero with a gradually decreasing speed and yet never quite gets there.Because the demonstrations are simple, compact, and inexpensive, it isfeasible for instructors to have their own dedicated collection stored in acabinet in their office. Moreover, the same properties that make the

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