Physics Lecture Demonstrations

Demonstrations suggested for the text
Physics, 5th ed., by
Resnick, Halliday, and Krane

First Semester
Chapters 1-24

Revised Fri Oct 3 14:29:00 2003


M-a6a Powers of Ten "Powers of Ten" is a 9 minute film spanning scales from the edge of the universe to the sub-atomic
M-a1a Meter Standard A replica of the platinum-iridium bar in Paris that was the international standard for length before 1960.
M-a3a 3-D XYZ axes A simple 3-D XYZ Coordinate System

Chapter2--Motion in One Dimension

M-a4a Magnetic Blackboard Vectors A set of magnet-backed vectors of lengths 3, 4, and 5 used to show vector addition on the blackboard.
M-c1a Tank on moving sheet A battery powered tank runs at constant speed on a moving paper to show how velocities add and subtract.
M-c2a Dime and Feather Tube A penny and a feather fall freely inside a glass cylinder that can be evacuated.
M-c3b Timed Free Fall -- Classroom A metal ball is dropped from 0.5m and then from 2m; a precise digital timer records the time of flight for each fall.

Chapter3--Force and Newton's Laws

M-f3a Glider on Level Air Track A glider on a level air track persists in gliding.
M-f2a Inertia Masses A 100 g mass is suspended from a 1 kg mass which is suspended from a crossbar. A sharp downward pull breaks the lower thread; a slow pull the upper thread.
M-f2b Hammered Blocks The bottommost of a stack of blocks, when struck sharply, will slide to the side while the upper blocks remain in place.
M-g1d Fan Propelled Cart Measure the final speed of a fan-propelled (constant acceleration) cart whose mass can be varied.
M-h1c 3rd Law with Scales Pull on two coupled spring scales with springs of equal or unequal strength.
M-h1a Push Me Pull Me Carts Two people stand on roller carts and both pull on a rope or push with a long stick.

Chapter4--Motion in Two and Three Dimensions

M-d6f Balls Shot and Dropped -- Classroom version A ball is dropped and simultaneously another is projected horizontally; they hit the floor at the same time.
M-d6i Shoot the Monkey -- Classroom version A shoot-the-monkey demo suitable for a normal size classroom
M-d6g Range of a Gun Shoot at 45, then calculate 30 or 60 and place the target
F-c3a Ball Drop in Oil A steel ball is dropped into a tall cylinder filled with water and then with corn syrup.
F-c3b terminal velocity--coffee filters Drop a coffee filter and it descends at a low terminal velocity. Crumble it and it free falls.
F-c3c Coffee Filter Drop One coffee filter dropped from one meter and four coffee filters dropped from 2 meters hit the ground at the same time, demonstrating that the drag force is proportional to the square of the velocity
F-c4a Unmixing Two concentric cylinders, separated by corn syrup and with a line of dye in the syrup parallel to the axis, can be rotated and "unrotated" to restore the line of dye.
M-d1f Balls on Rotating Disk A disc with two balls mounted at different radii rotates at varying speeds. A third ball may be placed in the center if disk is horizontally mounted. Both orbital and spin rotations may be seen.
M-d5a Orbit Ball This consists of a large and a small ball attached to opposite ends of a string which passes through a metal handle. The light ball is twirled and the centripetal force is provided by the weight of the heavy ball.
M-d5n Ball and Hoop A hoop that confines a ball to a circular orbit is suddenly removed
M-d5m Tangential Velocity This demo uses an apparatus that rotates a ball on a string and that provides a means to cut the string while the ball is in flight.
M-d6c Vertically Launched Ball on Cart A ball projected vertically upward from a wheeled cart falls back into the muzzle.
M-e1a Crossing the River A battery powered tank runs at constant speed on a sheet of paper that is pulled in a direction perpendicular to the tank's velocity.

Chapter5--Applications of Newton's Laws

M-g1c Atwood's Machine Two equal masses are hung from a pulley. A small amount of mass is transferred from one side to the other.
M-j3a Suspended Block A 1 kg mass rests on a 3-4-5 incline (e.g. incline angle = arctan(3/4)). Forces parallel and perpendicular to the incline will support the mass in mid-air when the incline is removed.
M-j3d Four scales in a row A mass is hung at the end of a series of spring scales
M-j3c Rope and three students Two large strong students pull on the ends of a rope and a small student pushes down in the middle.
M-m2b Compound Pulley Weights of a proportion of 5-to-1 are the equilibrium conditions for this compound pulley.
M-m2a Simple Pulley Show a simple pulley in equilibrium
M-k2a Friction Cars on Inclined Plane The static and dynamic forces required to move teflon-coated, rubber-coated, and wooden surfaced carts on an inclined plane are displayed on a spring scale.
M-d5b Conical Pendulum Three balls, suspended by differing lengths of string from the same height on a rotating shaft, rotate in the same horizontal plane.
M-d5c Swing the Bucket Swing a bucket of water in a vertical circle and then in a horizontal circle over your head.
M-d5e Chain Wheel A loop of chain is rotated very fast and then released onto the demo table, where it runs over obstacles while retaining its circular form.
M-e3a Deflecting Water Stream Watch a horizontally-ejected stream of water falling into a pan, all mounted on a rotating platform, when the whole starts to rotate.


M-n1b Egg in sheet Throw an egg into a sheet held by two people.
M-n2c Spring apart Pasco carts Tripping the spring between two Pasco carts launches them in opposite directions; the cart masses may be varied.
M-n3a Newton's Cradle Five adjacent metal balls on a bifilar suspension illustrate momentum conservation properties.
M-n3d Inelastic Collisions on Air Track Inelastic collisions between air track gliders of equal and/or unequal mass.
M-n3c Elastic Collisions on Air Track Elastic collisions between air track gliders of equal and/or unequal mass.
M-n3e Supernova A tennis ball is placed on top of a basketball and both are released from rest.
M-n3f Astroblaster Four balls of progressively smaller diameter resting on top of one another are dropped to the floor.

Chapter7--Systems of Particles

M-d4b Motion of an Extended Object A slab of foam has its center of mass marked with a black dot; this dot follows a parabolic path when the slab is thrown.
M-d4c Pendulum Air Cart This air track glider has a heavy pendulum; when the pendulum is set swinging the glider moves in the opposite sense.
M-d4e Air Track Inchworm Two air track gliders coupled by a spring will oscillate about the center of mass that is marked by a flag.
M-j1a Determining Center of Mass Suspend a 2-dimensional shape from holes drilled near the edges, and use a plumb bob to find the center of gravity.
M-j1d Meter Stick on Fingers Slide fingers together under a meter stick to come together at center of mass. Repeat with mass attached to one end of stick.
M-n2a Fire extinguisher wagon Mount a fire extinguisher on a cart and take a ride.
M-n2b Water Rocket A toy rocket is launched twice, once when pumped up with air and once when pumped up with water.

Chapter8--Rotational Kinematics

Chapter9--Rotational Dynamics

M-j4a Torque Bar A long thin rid mounted perpendicular to a bar handle holds a 2 kg mass on a sliding collar.
M-j4b Equal Arm Balance Combinations of weights and distances on either side of the fulcrum of the equal arm balance may be selected to produce equilibrium. An oblique arm is used to show that the effective length of the lever arm is set by the component of the force.
M-q1a Inertia Wands Students twirl equal mass wands, one with the mass concentrated in the middle, the other with the mass concentrated at the ends.
M-j1c Center of Gravity Blocks Stack blocks stairstep fashion at the edge of the table until the topmost block sticks out beyond the table edge.
M-j2a Stable and Unstable Equilibria Two large rings each with two masses that have radially adjustable positions. By positioning both at same end, stable and unstable equilibrium can be shown.
M-j2b Tight Rope Walker The Tight Rope Walker consists of a pulley with four heavy lead weights on long semi-stiff wires symmetrically mounted around it. When placed on the "rope" (Cord), the weights hang down well under the rope, leaving the center of the Walker's mass below the rope and thus making it easy for the Walker to keep its balance.
M-j1b Photo: Pisa's Leaning Tower Digital image of the photo from Bloomberg's sixth floor of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. May be projected in the auditorium.
M-j4c Mass on Bar between Scales A horizontal beam with a sliding 1 kg mass is hung between two spring scales.
M-k1b Ladder against a Wall Set a ladder against the wall and walk up the rungs until the ladder begins to slide.
M-q2a Whirlybird Two equal masses with adjustable positions are mounted on a radial bar fixed to a horizontal axis with a pulley. A weight on a string rotates the assembly.
M-q2c Toppling Chimney A column of two sticks, one on top of the other, is pushed until it topples
M-q1b Ring versus Disk Race The Matched Disk and Ring are identical in diameter and mass. When rolled down the inclined plane, the disk wins the race due to its lower moment of inertia.
M-q1c Racing Disks Two disks of identical mass, one weighted in the center and the othe weighted at the rum, are rolled down an incline.
M-q1d Racing cylinders 3 Cylinders of identical mass and appearance accelerate down an incline at different rates.

Chapter10--Angular Momentum

M-q4a Rotating Platform and Weights Spin on a rotating platform with a dumbbell in each hand.
M-q4b Swinging Bat on Rotating Platform Stand on a rotating platform initially at rest, and swing a bat or a mallet.
M-q4c Bike wheel on rotating platform Invert a spinning bicycle wheel while standing on a rotating platform.
M-q4d Rotating Platform and Mallet Rotate yourself one full revolution using a mallet.
M-m4g Rattleback A commercially built rattleback.
M-q4f Collapsing Star Collapse a spinning suspended Hoberman Sphere into a small ball.
M-q5c Bicycle Wheel Gyro The bike wheel is hung from its axle by a wire attached to the ceiling; when spun the bike wheel illustrates gyroscope motion nicely.
M-q5d MITAC Gyroscope This motorized gyroscope, used in the teaching labs, is good for showing a gyroscope's directional constancy; can also show precession due to applied torques.

Chapter11--Energy 1:   Work and Kinetic Energy

M-m2c Spring Launched Cart on Level Track A spring (of measurable spring constant) launches a cart (with measurable final veloctiy) on a level air track. Mass of cart can be varied.
M-m1a Pile Driver Drive a nail into a block of wood with a pile driver.

Chapter12--Energy 2:   Potential Energy

M-m4f Spring-Launched Rolling Cart Predict the height to which a spring-compressed cart will rise on an inclined plane given the mass, spring constant, and amount of spring compression. Do the experiment.
M-m4b Galileo's Pendulum and Nail A pendulum started at the height of a reference line reaches the same height when its swing is intercepted by a post that effectively shortens the length of the pendulum.
M-d1e High road low road Two balls race, one down a slight incline and the other down an identical incline containing a valley.
M-m4c Loop the Loop A rolling ball must be released from a height equal to 2.7 times the radius of the loop.

Chapter13--Energy 3:   Conservation of Energy


M-L2a Gravitational Well A large fiberglass vortex-shaped cone is used to show circular and elliptical orbits and conservation of angular momentum.
M-L2b Styrofoam cup -- conic sections A cone is cut in circular, elliptical, parabolic, and hyperbolic cross sections.

Chapter15--Fluid Statics

F-b3a Crush the Can A vacuum pump evacuates a 1 gallon can; atmospheric pressure crushs the can.
F-b3b Magdeburg Disks Evacuate Magdeburg hemispheres and try to separate them.
F-b4c water and oil "U" tube Water and oil rise to different heights in a "u" tube.
F-b2a Pascal's Vases Tubes of different geometries rise vertically out of a common reservoir of colored water.
F-b2f Hydraulic Press Break a piece of wood in a hydraulic press.
F-b4a Weigh Submerged Block A 2 kg Al cylinder, suspended from the 20 N spring scale, is lowered into water and the new weight is observed. Can also lower into oil for comparison
F-b4d Coke and Diet Coke An unopened diet soda can floats in water, and a regular soda can sinks.
M-k2d Bed of Nails Lie down on a bed of nails.
F-a1a Floating Metals Float a razor blade, a paperclip, and a needle on the surface of water.
F-a1b Ring and Thread A loop of thread inside a soap film forms a circle when the film interior to the loop is popped.

Chapter16--Fluid Dynamics

F-c2a Venturi Flowmeter Air flows through a restricted glass tube to the atmosphere; the pressure at different points of the tube is shown by manometers.
F-c2b Floating Ping Pong Ball A ping pong ball floats in an upward stream of air.
F-c2c Funnel and Ball A ping-pong ball is supported by air streaming out of an upside down funnel.
F-c2d Windbag Blow up an 8-foot long bag with one breath.
F-c2e Ping Pong Ball and Racket Use a ping pong racket to hit a curve ball using a 2-3" diameter styrofoam ball or a ping pong ball.


W-a2c Air track glider and Spring Two identical air track carts are attached to (opposite) ends of an air track by means of two different springs. A mass may be added to either cart, and the dependence of the oscillation frequency on mass and on spring constant may be explored.
W-a2a Spring and Weight A mass hangs on the end of a spring. Using two springs of different k and a variety of masses, show the effect of varying k and m.
W-a1a Simple Pendulum A bob on a string hanging from a stand exhibits simple harmonic motion for small angles.
W-a1b 4-to-1 Pendula One pendulum four times longer than a second oscillates with twice the period of the second.
W-a1c Different mass pendula Three pendula of different masses but the same length all oscillate with the same period.
W-a1d Torsion Pendulum A steel cylinder is suspended by a steel music wire along its right axis. When the cylinder is displaced by rotation and released it will oscillate in simple harmonic motion.
W-a4a Projected SHM Shadow project a ball mounted on a rotating disk.
W-a6a Tacoma Narrows Film A 4.40 minute video of the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Very impressive and memorable.
W-a6c Damped Driven Hanging Mass A mass, supported by a spring whose support is driven, vibrates against a solid screen; the drive amplitude, frequency and the screen angle can be varied.

Chapter18--Wave Motion

W-b2b Slinky Two students stretch a slinky and send longitudinal waves down the slinky.
W-b1a Pulse on 1.9m spring Give the 1.9 m spring a quick pulse. The length and/or tension in the spring can be varied. Better than rope!
W-b1b Pulse Propagation (Inertia) Excite each of the three torsional transverse wave machines by hand to show how the wave speed varies as the inertia of the medium (the rod lenght) varies.
W-c5a Pasco Fourier Synthesizer Construct, hear, and see waveforms built from the 440 Hz fundamental and up to eight harmonics.
W-b2r Wave Superposition -- Torsional wave machine Send pulses simultaneously from both ends of one section of the torsional wave machine.
W-b2q Wave Superposition -- on scope Electronically add two 440 Hz sine waves of different phases together on the scope and audibly.
W-b1c Shive's Reflection at a barrier Send pulses down a Shive wave model machine with the other end free, then fixed.

Chapter19--Sound Waves

W-b3a Bell in a Vacuum An alarm buzzer is suspended inside an evaculated bell jar, turned on, and the bell jar is evaculated. When air is let back into the jar, the sound returns.
W-b5c Two Points in Ripple Tank Two point source generators of ripples show interference patterns in the ripple tank on the overhead projector.
W-b5b Moire Pattern Transparancies Transparancies with identical concentric circular patterns are placed on top of each other with a slight offset.
W-b5e Two-Speaker Bar A 2 meter long bar with a speaker at each end produces auditory interference patterns.
W-b5f Baffle and Speaker Listen to a single bare speaker, then surround it by a baffle.
W-d3a Resonant Tube A long tube is rolled in front of a speaker driven by a sine wave generator to show resonance. A microphone probe shows pressure variations on the o-scope.
W-d2a Guitar Hanging weights on the end of a "guitar" can be varied to "tune" the guitar to a desired pitch.
W-d3b Organ Pipe A closed-end, square wood organ pipe of adjustable length.
W-d3c Trombone A student-class trombone illustrates the effect of pipe length on resonant frequencies.
W-d4c Chladni Plates A driven Chladni plate covered with sand shows standing wave patterns.
W-d4d Stroked Aluminum Rod An aluminum rod sings when stroked with rosin-covered fingers.
W-b6a Beats with Tuning Forks Two tuning forks of identical frequency are mounted on resonant enclosures; when a small piece of wax is attached to one, beats can be heard.
W-b6b Beats on Scope Two audio signals are fed through a summing amplifier and the result is presented on the oscilloscope and a speaker.
W-b4a Doppler Buzzer Swing a small battery powered buzzer on the end of a string in a circle over your head.
W-b4b Doppler in Ripple Tank Move the wave generator back and forth in the ripple tank.

Chapter20--The Special Theory of Relativity


Chapter22--Molecular Properties of Gases

Chapter23--The First Law of Thermodynamics

Chapter24--Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics

Physics Lecture Demonstrations at the Department of Physics and Astronomy
The Johns Hopkins University