My Personal Site






Coil gun



Like most guys, when I get thirsty, I just stick my head under the faucet and drink. So one day, while gulping and looking at the water, I wondered what basic mathematical curve best describes the shape of that falling stream.

This thought probably occurred because I had recently spent time with high school students as they learned the "regression" function on the TI calculators.  

So.. what else can I say to use up all this space? I guess I could change the layout of this page, but that's a hassle, and I probably wouldn't like it anyway. In fact, I tried that last week. I made the pictures bigger and the text column smaller. I had to make changes to the *.css page and to the *aspx page, but I never did find how to change the background shading in the picture column. I put that off because I wanted to get something working here at least. But I'll return to it later - I will prevail. But for now.. I'll just ramble on so that it's clear that more will follow.. like more pictures below this one. I mean.. nobody will really *read* this, I'm sure. 

Click here for an experiment, followed by some theory.

Back in 1997, when I was at GVSU to getting credentialed for a teaching certificate, I put together a project concerning parabolic reflectors. I reported on books I found at the library. (the internet was no good for researching just that short while ago!) I also wrote two programs in Maple V, ver. 4, and presented some hand's on experiments with actual reflectors.

For some of that work, Click Here. (These are HTML pages I put together from the command line, using unix - preLinux!)

Here is a lab I came up with that studies pendulum motion. It demonstrated the familiar concepts, described by Galelio, but goes a bit farther.

My main point was to show that the period is independant of mass and displacement, but only for small angles. The aparatus I built allowed for large angles of swing. I also wanted to demonstrate chaotic motion. I think it's important to acknowledge uncertainty as a part of physics.

This lab has the students make a speaker from a few ordinary items.

What's really incredible is the full fidelity of the audio that this speaker generates. Try listening to an orchestra with it. Although the volume is low, you can clearly hear every instrument.

This lab has the students making a coil gun from simple parts.

The high voltage required is provided for by a surprising and freely available resource. Another surprise is how much energy can be stored in a large capacitor.

In this lab, we investigate the affect geometry plays in the function of a flywheel. 

We study the characteristics of two flywheels of equal mass but different shapes. One of them has the mass concentrated near the axis of rotation. The other has the mass located some distance from the axis.  

This lab is an attempt to generate and detect radio waves in the way that Hertz did.

There is some discussion of the theory that led to Maxwell's discovery, and the theory of near field radiation that challenged the first antenna designers.

More will follow...