Here are some fun science experiments that I've done over the years.
Rainbow Rose - 11/1/14
Here is a fun technique to create rainbow colored roses by slicing the stem into different cups with food-colored water. This rose did not come out looking as pretty as the professional ones, but it still was fun.|
Mentos Train - 3/30/13
Here's a video from my son's 4th birthday party. He wanted his birthday party theme to be "Thomas the Train", and I wanted to incorportate a science experiment, so I cut out a cardboard box to look like Thomas the Train, and then my son helped me paint it. Then I put a soda bottle where the smoke stack goes, and my son helped me drop Mentos into it to make a big splash at his birthday party.|
Link: Classic Experiment and Domino Effect - impressive movies by EepyBird
Holography - 12/30/02
This was my first attempt to make a three dimensional reflection hologram using a laser diode. The vibration isolation table (left photo) was a 150 lb. granite block sitting on top of four Sorbothane Vibration Isolators (NT55-244, $16). My friend machined the stainless steel mounts (right photo) for the laser diode and Double-Concave (DCV) lens (NT32-988, $18.50).|
New Laser diode stand - 1/26/04
The left photo shows the holographic recording plate (PFG-03) with a Lego man behind it. The right photo shows the finished hologram but this photo doesn’t quite do it justice because it was hard to take a good picture with the camera I was using.|
Solar Furnace - 12/25/02
This 38" x 50" Fresnel lens can focus sunlight like a giant magnifying glass. I think these are used for TV magnifiers. The focal point is blindingly bright and it burns quickly. I imagine this is what it must be like on the surface of Mercury (temperature: 662° F.) Boy, I’m just glad I don’t live on Mercury!|
Single Slit Diffraction - 4/17/03
Here is a picture of some nice single slit diffraction from my 3 mW green laser pointer. This pattern was made by shining the laser through a tiny adjustable gap in a pair of calipers. One can easily calculate the light’s wavelength from this pattern: l = d x / L where d is the gap, x is the distance between each bright spot, and L is the distance from the wall.|
Single slit diffraction of light - Java applet
350 mW green laser pointer - world’s most powerful, pops balloons, lights matches, cuts tape, burns trash bags, range of 100 miles, hand-held and battery-powered!
blue laser pointer - very cool but very expensive, I’ll wait until the price goes down
Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser (MTHEL) - infrared laser that can intercept missiles and shells
Plasma Experiment - 1/14/04
In this experiment, we used a Langmuir probe to measure plasma electron density and temperature. In the left photo, you can see the purple plasma glowing inside the observation window. The drawing on the right summarizes what the overall crazy setup looked like. Click here to go to my high voltage page.|
how to create plasma in a microwave from a grape - YouTube video
Cryogenics - 3/9/04
Here is a picture of me working with liquid helium which has a boiling temperature of 4.2 K (-452.1° F.). This was a fun experiment to study the lambda point of liquid helium and the superconducting properties of tin. The lowest temperature we reached was about 1.2 K (-457.2° F.).|
Piezoelectric Motor Tester - 2003-2004
This was my undergraduate research project for my school’s experimental gravity program. Our goal was to test the equivalence principle, which states that the ratio of inertial to gravitational mass is the same for all types of matter. We sought to test this hypothesis by using an extremely sensitive cryogenic torsion pendulum composed of masses with differing neutron to proton ratios. This pendulum is located in an abandoned missile bunker in Washington.
My responsibility was to build a motor to rotate this pendulum. This was to be a very precise motor, composed of stacks of piezoelectric sheering plates. The above photos show a stack being tested at low temperature inside a vacuum can in a liquid nitrogen bath (-320° F.). The picture on the left shows some of my blueprints for this project.
Physics Experiments Links
Sulfur Hexafluoride - amazing heavy gas that can make objects levitate and makes your voice deep. Here is another video and another video.
Schlieren Images - heat visualizations by Gary Settles
Aerogel - world’s lightest solid, invented by NASA
Super-Kamiokande - Cherenkov detector
Sound Levitation - Sounds wave cause a piece of paper to levitate.
Nanoscale Demonstrations - interesting physics movies
fun and simple homemade devices - by David Williamson
Physics Demonstrations - University of Maryland