Physics Demo Videos

I have been filming many physics demo videos to use in my gen-ed physics lecture videos to support the remote learning environment. I have decided to make these videos available for other instructors to use.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The suggested attribution is provided with each video download.

About Science

Newton’s First Law

Inertia – a ping-pong ball is launched from a ballistic cart. The horizontal motion of the ping-pong ball comes from the cart and does not change, even when the two objects physically separate from each other. The ball is caught by the cart after it comes back down to its initial height. Suggested attribution: “Ballistic cart in motion” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Inertia – this video is of the classic “tablecloth trick.” The tablecloth is abruptly removed from under a table setting. The video shows a side view of the demo. The two photos show a top-down view of before and after. (The two images were taken from slightly different perspectives.) The less massive objects (silverware) have moved a little, while the more massive objects (plate, bowl) haven’t moved as much. Suggested attribution: “Tablecloth trick” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Linear Motion

Path and speed vs. displacement and velocity – a BB is sent through a long winding piece of plastic tubing. The total distance of the plastic tubing (path) is 1.5 meters. The straight-line distance between the start end end of the plastic tubing (displacement) is 0.73 meters. It takes 1.7 seconds for the BB to travel the distance. Suggested attribution: “BB in winding clear tubing” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Accelerated motion (gravity) – a ping-pong ball is launched vertically from a ballistic cart. The ball moves upwards as it slows down, stops and changes direction, and then moves downward as it speeds up and is caught by the ballistic cart. Suggested attribution: “Vertical launch” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Newton’s Second Law

Motion of a BB – a BB is placed in a section of rolled-up plastic tubing. It travels along in a circle until it leaves the tubing, when it then travels in a straight line. The normal force from the tubing keeps the BB traveling in the circular path. Once it leaves the tubing, it no longer has a force acting on it to change its direction, so it will continue its motion in a straight line. Suggested attribution: “BB in coiled up clear tubing” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Newton’s Third Law

Action-reaction pairs in motion – two force probes are connected and moved around at different speeds in different directions. The force data is collected on a laptop screen in the background. The data readout shows equal and opposite forces from both force probes at all times. One of the videos shows the scenario where both force probes are moving. The other video shows the scenario where one force probe is fixed and the other is moving. Suggested attribution: “Action-reaction pairs in motion” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Momentum

Collisions in 2-D – watch as two magnetic air pucks collide with each other on an air table. Both pucks have equal masses. Suggested attribution: “Air pucks” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Impulse and force in bouncing vs. non-bouncing collisions – watch as two otherwise identical balls, one that bounces and one that does not, impact with an object. This demo is presented in two ways. (1) Both balls are released from the same height and launched into a piece of wood. The piece of wood knocks over when the bouncing ball collides, but not when the non-bouncing ball collides. (2) Both balls are released from the same height onto a force plate. The data then shows up on a laptop screen running LoggerPro. The LoggerPro screenshot is also included here. (The first data spike is from the non-bouncing ball and the second and subsequent data spikes are from the bouncing ball.) Suggested attribution: “Bouncing and non-bouncing collisions” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Safe and unsafe collisions – a raw egg is thrown at a sheet. Because the time duration of the collision is sufficiently long, the force on the egg is small and it doesn’t break. In the other video, the same raw egg is thrown at a wall (white board). Now the time duration of the collision is short, and the force on the egg is large enough to crack the shell. (Special thanks to my colleagues Dave Fazzini and Bob Carrington for helping me out on this one!) Suggested attribution: “Safe and unsafe collisions” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Work & Energy

Conservation of energy – this is a qualitative demo. A mass is extended on a spring and let go, after which time the mass oscillates up and down. The mass has elastic PE, gravitational PE, and KE (ignoring heat generation). Suggested attribution: “Mass on a spring” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Conservation of energy – this is another qualitative demo. Two steel balls are struck together rapidly with a sheet of paper in between. They initially have KE. That energy converts to sound energy and heat, which burns a hole through the sheet of paper. Suggested attribution: “Steel energy balls” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Conservation of mechanical energy – tracks that have the same starting and ending height are used to release four (nominally identical) marbles simultaneously. All of the marbles hit the ground at the same spot, showing that they have the same final velocity. Each marble ejects at a different time, indicating that the marble that moves the fastest for the longest period of time will reach the end first. Audio has been kept in this video to make it more clear where the marbles hit the ground. A photograph of the tracks shows a side view to see how each track differs. Suggested attribution: “Kinetic and potential energy tracks” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Conservation of mechanical energy (with friction and air drag) – a pendulum hanging from the ceiling of a classroom is brought up to touch my nose. I let go of the pendulum and it swings back and forth, never reaching the same height again. In the absence of friction and air drag, the pendulum may touch my nose on subsequent oscillations but never collide with my face. In the presence of friction and air drag, the pendulum does not oscillate back to the same height again. Suggested attribution: “Pendulum to nose” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Work-energy theorem – a cart is rolled down an inclined track. A motion detector measures the motion of the cart. The cart has a mass of 349 grams. The angle between the table and the track is 5 degrees. The video shows the cart rolling down the hill. A CSV file contains position, velocity, and acceleration data that was collected in LoggerPro during this time. This data can be used to show evidence of the work-energy theorem. Suggested attribution: “Work-energy theorem” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Simple machine: lever – a meter stick is used as a lever to lift a 1 kg mass. The mass is lifted a height of 2 cm. The force exerted to lift the mass is 2.6 Newtons (measured by a force probe in LoggerPro), and that force is exerted over a distance of 9 cm. This demo can be used to demonstrate mechanical advantage and efficiency. The efficiency is 83.8%, limited by the bending of the meter stick during the lift. Suggested attribution: “Lever simple machine” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Rotational Motion

Rotational and tangential velocity – a bicycle wheel is rotated to spin a few revolutions. Two pieces of tape are placed at different distances from the center. The first rotation takes 3.07 seconds. The white tape is at a radius of 26.5 cm from the center. The purple tape is at a radius of 9 cm from the center. Suggested attribution: “Bicycle wheel” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Rotational inertia – watch a hoop (508.5 g) and disk (505.5 g) of equal radius roll down an incline. Suggested attribution: “Hoop and Disk” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Stability – a configurable tower with a rotating top is stable in one configuration and topples over when the top section is rotated 180 degrees. Suggested attribution: “Leaning tower” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Stability – after drinking just the right amount of liquid from an aluminum soda can, the center of mass changes such that there is a 2nd support base (that is less stable than the bottom of the can, because it’s small). The two videos below show a full soda can and a soda can that has the “just right” amount of liquid inside. Suggested attribution: “Soda can” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Inertia in rotational motion – Dr. Pasquale spins a cup of red-colored water around in circles above her head without any of the water splashing down. Suggested attribution: “Inertia in rotational motion” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Conservation of angular momentum – Dr. Pasquale spins on a chair while holding onto dumbbells. When the dumbbells are held away from her body, her angular speed decreases. When the dumbbells are pulled in closer to her center of mass, her angular speed increases. Suggested attribution: “Rotating chair” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Centripetal force – a BB is placed in a section of rolled-up plastic tubing. It travels along in a circle until it leaves the tubing, when it then travels in a straight line. The normal force from the tubing creates a centripetal force that keeps the BB traveling in the circular path. Once it leaves the tubing, it no longer has a centripetal force, so it will continue its motion in a straight line. Suggested attribution: “BB in clear tubing” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Gravity

Apparent weight – Dr. Pasquale jumps up and down on a force plate. Her weight changes based on whether or not she is jumping. The readout demonstrates that weight is not constant. (It is measured with LoggerPro using the force plate.) The LoggerPro screenshot is also included here. Suggested attribution: “Jumping on a force table” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Projectile & Satellite Motion

Velocity in the vertical direction doesn’t depend on velocity in the horizontal direction – Two steel balls are launched from an apparatus at equal heights at the same time. One of the balls drops straight down (no horizontal velocity). The other ball is kicked out with a slight horizontal velocity. Both balls have starting vertical velocities of 0 m/s. Both balls hit the table at exactly the same time, showing that the horizontal and vertical components of motion can be analyzed independently. Suggested attribution: “Vertical and horizontal drop” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Projectile motion – a ping-pong ball is launched from a ballistic cart. The ball traces the path of a parabola as it moves from start to finish. Suggested attribution: “Ballistic cart in motion” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

The Atomic Nature of Matter

Solids

Archimedes’ principle in solids – A brass ball is placed on top of a jar filled with beans. The jar is shaken, and the brass ball moves downward through the “fluid.” A ping-pong ball, initially buried in the beans, pops out of the top. The approximate density of each solid is: brass ball (8.20 g/cm3), beans (0.77 g/cm3), ping-pong ball (0.06 g/cm3). Suggested attribution: “Archimedes principle in solids” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Liquids

Gases

Temperature, Heat & Expansion

Kinetic energy of hot vs. cold fluids – A drop of blue food dye is dropped into cold water (left) and hot water (right). The kinetic energy of the fluids can be visualized by watching the motion of the food dye. It moves much more readily in the hot water than it does in the cold water. Suggested attribution: “Food dye in hot and cold water” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Calculating heat using Q = mcΔT – 347.6 grams of water in a beaker is placed onto a pre-heated hot plate. The initial temperature of the water is 21.2 degrees Celsius. After 3 minutes, 22 seconds, the final temperature of the water is 44.9 degrees Celsius. This can be used to calculate the amount of heat that enters the water. Suggested attribution: “Heat entering water” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Calculating heat using Q = mcΔT with two materials – 364.3 grams of water and 173.9 g of copper, both in a beaker, are placed onto a pre-heated hot plate. The initial temperature of both materials is 22.3 degrees Celsius. After 2 minutes, 40 seconds, the final temperature of both materials is 45.2 degrees Celsius. This can be used to calculate the amount of heat that enters the water as well as the heat that enters the copper. Suggested attribution: “Heat entering water and copper” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Thermal expansion – At room temperature, a ball metal ball can easily pass through a hoop. When the ball is heated with a blowtorch, the metal expands and it can no longer fit through the hoop. When the hoop is heated, the hoop expands and the hot ball can once again pass through it. Suggested attribution: “Ball and hoop” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Thermal expansion mismatch – A bimetallic strip is heated up over a blowtorch. One material expands more than the other, causing the bimetallic strip to curve. One metal experiences tension and the other experiences compression. Suggested attribution: “Bimetallic strip” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Heat Transfer

Phase Change

Evaporation as a cooling process – a drinking bird is capable of motion due to the difference in temperature of generated by the evaporation of water on the beak and head, cooling the solvent (methylene chloride) inside the bird’s head and causing it to condense. Pressure changes cause the liquid to rise through the neck and change the CG of the bird, causing it to tilt over. Note that this drinking bird demo can be used to explain center of gravity and stability (rotational motion), phase change (evaporation as a cooling process), and thermodynamics (heat engine). Suggested attribution: “Drinking bird” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Thermodynamics

Heat engine – a drinking bird is capable of motion due to the difference in temperature of generated by the evaporation of water on the beak and head, cooling the solvent (methylene chloride) inside the bird’s head and causing it to condense. Pressure changes cause the liquid to rise through the neck and change the CG of the bird, causing it to tilt over. Note that this drinking bird demo can be used to explain center of gravity and stability (rotational motion), phase change (evaporation as a cooling process), and thermodynamics (heat engine). Suggested attribution: “Drinking bird” by Alyssa J. Pasquale, Ph.D., College of DuPage, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Vibrations & Waves

Sound

Musical Sounds

Electrostatics

Electric Current

Magnetism

Electromagnetic Induction

Properties of Light

Color

Reflection & Refraction

Light Waves

Light Emission

Light Quanta

The Atom & the Quantum

The Atomic Nucleus & Radioactivity

Nuclear Fission & Fusion