Hey, do you know whose birthday it is? It is the one, the only, Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss! He was born 241years ago today! Since Gauss' Law helps us solve problems with cylindrical, spherical, and planar symmetry, I thought it would only be right to wish him a happy birthday! Thanks Gauss!
I'd like to dedicate this blog post to the person who has gotten me through this year. You know who you are. Do you annoy me sometimes? Absolutely. Do I annoy you sometimes? I sure hope so. All jokes aside, we do make a good team. We work well together because neither one of us is a follower. We are both independent, which is helpful when one of us is missing something. If you miss something, there's a good chance I caught it, and I'll point it out. If I miss something, there's a good chance you caught it and you'll point it out. We don't leave each other in the dark. If one of us doesn't understand something, we explain it to each other until it makes sense. If one of us is having a rough day or week, the other steps it up and does what they can to help make something more manageable. Do we get of topic? Let's not lie to ourselves, of course we do. However, we also know when we really need to crack down and get a lot done. It may have taken us awhile to get there, but we did. We are close enough that we aren't afraid to tell each other to shut up and work when we need to. We also aren't afraid to be wrong. We know that no one is perfect, especially in this class. We don't judge each other for making a mistake, we know we'll make more and more, and that's okay. Overall, you make things more enjoyable, even when I say you don't. It was great to take on such a challenge with you and support each other along the way, while of course making lots of jokes. I couldn't have asked for a better lab partner. We're partners in crime (I mean physics). Thanks for a great year.
I think I've done enough violin blogs, so how about my other instrument? That's right, ukulele. And yes, I actually play it, I don't carry it around like an accessory and pretend like I know how to play. Like the violin, the ukulele is a string instrument, so the sound comes from vibrating strings. Unlike a guitar or violin, the strings of a ukulele are made of nylon, which gives it that distinct ukulele sound. Both the length and the tension of the string determine what note it plays. When tuning, if the string is flat, you tighten it to tune it. This increases the tension and frequency. If it's sharp, loosen the string. How loud the ukulele is depends on how hard you strum. The harder you strum, the higher the amplitude of the vibrating strings, resulting in higher volume. The noise also comes from the sound of the vibrating strings echoing in the hollow chamber in the body of the ukulele. If there were no chamber, the ukulele would not produce much sound.
Enjoy this picture of my ukulele with my violins on top of a piano. I'm bad at piano by the way.
At this point, we have finished mechanics, and we are starting to finish up electricity and magnetism. Each of these courses had it's own set of challenges. However, with mechanics, even when I didn't fully understand something, I could still sort of visualize it and try to make sense out of it. Mechanics definitely felt more straight forward and understandable than electricity and magnetism, except dealing with drag forces is still very difficult. With electricity and magnetism, my main struggle has been not being able to just see how everything works. Things don't really click with me like they often did in mechanics. This is why I would say I've had more trouble with this course than mechanics. I can't see things the same way. When it comes time to review for both exams, I'll have to keep this in mind, and maybe dedicate a little more time to electricity and magnetism just to make sure I understand what I need to in order to be successful.
This spring break, I traveled to London with some other students. Over the week, I took tons of beautiful pictures of the city and surrounding area. However, that's not what I'm going to share with you. Sorry. (Not really)
Here's a story instead. I went into a bookstore with a few of my friends while visiting Windsor. I was looking for something specific, and once I found it, I wandered around the store waiting for the others to finish up. I should have known that I couldn't even escape physics while on vacation in another country. I looked at this one shelf of books, and a bunch of them were physics books! No, I did not buy any of them. However, sometimes I do feel like reading something like this would not be a bad idea. I felt like it was a sign like "hey Erika! It's physics, remember me? Yeah you still need to finish your blog posts, so you should probably do that soon. K bye."
During my vacation in Florida, I also visited the Kennedy Space Center. While I was there, I got to take a bus tour, see a spaceship, see the space shuttle Atlantis up close, and try a launch simulation. Throughout the day, I kept thinking to myself, "hmm. I should really write a blog post about this visit. But what exactly do I write about?". Well, I think I found something. While we were there, my mom asked me, "so, does this get you?". Yes, it does. My visit to Kennedy reminded me of what people are capable of when they put their brains to the test. It also reminded me why I'm in this class and why I'm going to college as a physics major next year. I want to be able to apply my knowledge in my life. I want to help us continue to explore what we don't know and make new discoveries. Who knows what the future may hold?
I could call myself a roller coaster enthusiast. I recently visited Disney World, and one of my absolute favorite rides is the Aerosmith Rock 'n Roller Coaster. This roller coaster ride is very unique. In order to see why, I'll first talk about how most other roller coasters work. Most roller coasters start by slowly going up one big hill (which is always the tallest). As it goes up to the top, it gains potential energy, which is converted to kinetic energy as it goes down the hill. This gives it its speed and momentum for the whole ride.
However, the Rock 'n Roller Coaster works differently. Instead of a slow start filled with anticipation going up a hill, the roller coaster goes from 0 to 57mph in less than 2.8 seconds; that's an acceleration of about 25.48m/s^2! This gives the Rock 'n Roller Coaster the momentum it needs for the ride full of hills, loops, and music! And by the way, the ride takes a picture in those initial 2.8 seconds!
Last weekend at an honors interview at Roberts, I got to take a look in some of their physics labs. they had some fun things set up for us to check out. One thing was in a section called "physics and music". Sounds perfect for me, right? They had a bunch of wine glasses filled with different amounts of water. When you dipped your finger in some water and rubbed it around the edge of the glass, a specific note could be heard. However, if your finger isn't wet, it doesn't work. Why? Turns out, it is because there is too much friction between the finger and the glass when the finger is dry. When the finger is wet, there is minimal friction, which allows the glass to vibrate, which produces the note. The amount of water in the glass determines how high or low pitched the note is. If you try this experiment, try placing a ping pong ball in the glass. The ping pong ball will make the vibrations visible because it will move on top of the water as the glass vibrates.
Good job guys! We made it through half of our senior year! Not only that, but we also made it through mechanics, and now it's time for electricity and magnetism. For me, this quarter is when I started to figure things out, but I also had added challenges. I started to get the hang of the time management involved with this class. I was able to start planning better what I would get done when, as well as figuring things out with my partner in class. Of course, I am not perfect yet, as we can see from the fact that I have done most of my blogs this week. Next quarter, I will definitely try to stay on top of doing one a week, and I mean it this time! Honestly, these are fun for me because I also enjoy writing. I'm hoping the rest of the year will be a little easier for me because some of the added stresses are going away. This quarter was also all about applying to colleges. I applied to 8 schools and have gotten acceptance letters from 5 of them. I'm just waiting for 3 that I will hear from in March because I could not apply early action. I've also been invited to participate in multiple honors programs, and a couple of them required me to miss a day of school or a couple rehearsals to come interview. At this point, these things are finishing up, and this semester I will be able to focus more on high school!
I have always wanted to see the northern lights, or Aurora Borealis. I've dreamed of travelling somewhere like Alaska or Finland to see them. In fact, there is a hotel in Finland with glass igloos so the vacationers can see the northern lights from their room. How cool is that?! Aurora Borealis mainly occur in high longitudes, but what exactly causes them? Turns out, it's from charged particles from the sun being expelled into space. The particles then come in contact with Earth's magnetic field. Then the Earth directs the charge to the poles and they collide with gas particles.
Here's the hotel with glass igloos too...
And more northern lights pictures because I love them!
Here's a riddle for you guys: what's at the end of a rainbow? I'll get back to that at the end.
So, rainbows. As we all probably know, rainbows are not objects that can be approached. They are an optical illusion caused by water droplets viewed a certain angle from a source of light, most likely the sun. There may appear to be a person under a rainbow from where you are observing it, but that person just sees the rainbow from a different distance. A rainbow is caused by light being refracted in a droplet of water like rain or mist. It is reflected inside in the back of the droplet, then refracted again. In a primary rainbow, the color red is on the outside, and violet is on the inside, but in a double rainbow, the colors are reversed in the second rainbow. There really aren't any distinct bands in a rainbow, they are a continuous spectrum of color. Any bands we see are a result of human color vision.
Anyway, back to my first question. What's at the end of a rainbow? And the answer is... a W.
I'll let you in on a little secret: I am a terrible dancer. Dancing has always been my weakness when it comes to doing shows, and I typically try to make up for it with singing and acting. When I see good dancers do it so effortlessly, I am extremely jealous. This crossed my mind because I actually have to go to dance rehearsal soon (and this is where I say everyone please come to IHS's production of The Music Man March 15-18). Anyway, time for the physics. As you have probably guessed, there is a lot of physics involved with dancing. When dancing and moving in a constant direction, you are creating momentum. The momentum is determined by your mass and how fast you're moving. If you develop more strength and can move more quickly, you will increase your momentum. When it comes to dance turns, torque is very important. For example, in some turns, you extend and retract your leg, which changes your rotational inertia. When the leg is extended, rotational inertia increases and you slow down in your spin. When the leg is retracted, rotational inertia decreases and your spin gets faster. Unfortunately, understanding the physics does not make me any more graceful or a better dancer.
Woah! Erika's doing a blog post that's not music related, crazy! Fun fact, I used to take archery, and I want to start again. With my favorite part of the year in gym approaching, I'd like to talk about some of the physics involved in archery, specifically the bow. The most important part is the force and energy exerted when pulling back the arrow and letting it go. Unlike what some may think, when pulling the arrow back, you are not stretching the string. What you are actually doing is changing the shape of the bow, giving it potential energy. This allows the bow to act as a spring. If you do more work pulling back the arrow, more energy can be transferred to the arrow in motion. This is why many people prefer compound bows. The pulleys allow for the person to do more work with less physical effort.
I know you guys are probably wondering how many music related blog posts I could possibly come up with, and the answer is... a lot. For those of you who do not know yet, I am planning on going to college as a physics major and music minor, so anytime I can bring these two subjects together is a great time for me! On that note (hehe, music pun), as a musician and physics student, I thought I would share with you some physicists who are also musicians!
Albert Einstein played violin! (just like me woah!)
Diane de Kerckhove: jazz singer and songwriter
Brian May: lead guitar for Queen
Brian Cox played keyboard
Woody Paul: vocalist and fiddler
Werner Heisenberg played piano
Also, Jonny Buckland, the guitarist of Coldplay (my favorite band!), studied astronomy and math in college!
So hey, I guess physics and music aren't such different fields after all!
What distinguishes music from noise is actually mathematical form. I find this funny because most musicians I know are afraid of math and claim to be terrible at it. Noise and music are a mixture of sound waves, but music is considered "ordered sound" while noise is considered "disordered sound". Music can be separated into different frequencies, some having a more dominant sound, which makes music sound more pleasant. This is not the case for noise. However, not all music sounds pleasant. In order to convey certain emotions in music, dissonance, a disruption of harmonic sounds, is used. This can be heard often in movies, as it is used to create suspense or uneasiness. Dissonance does not have that pretty musical sound, but when used strategically, it really adds to music.
I'm guessing all of us in this class have seen at least one movie with Thor in it, right? (And if you haven't, don't talk to me) As anyone who is familiar with Thor would know, he carries a hammer (until the latest movie, but we won't talk about that) that only the worthy can lift. Other members of the Avengers like Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Captain America have tried, but all have failed. How is this possible? Well, according to Marvel, the hammer weighs about 42 pounds. That's certainly something The Incredible Hulk could lift. However, when a force greater than 42 pounds is applied upward, the hammer still remains at rest. Well, friends, apparently this very special hammer has the ability to change mass by emitting graviton particles. This changes the gravitational field around it so it can be light enough for Thor to pick up, but too heavy for others. So, now what I want to know is... where can I get one?
Since we just started electrostatics, I thought I'd do a blog post about something related to that. So we all remember the demonstration with a balloon and someone's hair, right? I know we did it in physics last year, but it's probably something most of us did as kids. Well, my brother and I used to do something a little different. Notice, I said used to, so I tooooootally wasn't doing this last week. Instead of a balloon and our hair, we used a couch. I know that sounds really weird, and I honestly have no idea how we came up with that idea. But when we rubbed our heads on the back of the couch, our hair would stick up like crazy when near the couch. Sometimes, you could even see sparks between our head and the couch. Like with the balloon, when the hair is rubbed on the couch, electrons moved from the hair to the couch, giving that part of the couch a negative charge and the hair a positive charge. This is why the hair is then attracted to the couch. It looks really funny with my long thick hair. I know you guys are all dying to try it now, so go find a couch and rub your head on it!
On Monday we were given a problem: Make a spinning top. We had two paper plates, six pennies, a sharpened pencil, and some tape. With no further instructions given, we were left to our own devices to solve the problem. Though I cannot speak for my partner, I can say that I was not thinking of the engineering design process at the time. However, the engineering design process was precisely how we were going about our task. We had a problem to solve and we began by constructing our solution. We taped the six evenly spaced pennies to the outside of one plate, then put the other plate on top. We poked the pencil through (roughly) the center of the plates. Then, we tried testing our results. When it didn't work perfectly the first time, we made adjustments. We would try placing our mass at different heights on the pencil. We found that it worked the best when it was lower. However, we did not pick up that we should have snapped the pencil in half to make the top more stable. We learned this after. Moment of inertia was crucial in this lab because a higher moment of inertia would mean the top would have greater angular momentum. Increased angular momentum would mean that the top would be more resistant to change in its rotational motion and stay spinning longer. We tried to maximize the moment of inertia of the top by placing the mass (the pennies) by the edge of the plate. This way, the radius was greater.
On Friday, we had a little discussion in English regarding terminal velocity. Thank goodness honestly, otherwise I probably would have fallen asleep. That's what happens when you put a bunch of physics students together in an English class. We will take over. Anyway, it began by talking about the terminal velocity of cats and how they can survive very high jumps. We then had to explain this concept of terminal velocity to our English teacher. We told him that eventually, due to air resistance, an object will stop accelerating and will continue to fall at a constant velocity. We also explained to him that the terminal velocity of a human is much greater than that of a cat, which is why we don't survive long falls when they do. This led him to think about the show he's currently directing, The Triangle Factory Fire Project (inserts self promotion where I tell you that I am in the show and you all should come see it!). He said, "oh yes, like in the play, and the actual event, all those girls jumped from the eighth and ninth floors and not one of them survived". Sorry for making this so sad. Though he was on the right track with his thinking, they would not yet have reached terminal velocity from that height, but it would have only been worse if they did. However, the point of this was not to make everyone sad by reminding them of this tragedy, but to show you how we can even talk about physics in English and tie it into theater and history. And of course it was also to give our show a little shout out!
One of my favorite things about this class is how it can lead to some of the most entertaining sort-of-on-topic-but-not-entirely conversations. One recent conversation in class stands out in my mind as the spirit our group seems to have when we work together. I wish I had done this post sooner so I could remember what exactly we were working on or how we got to this topic. I believe we were working on the Work, Energy, and Power unit. We were working through a problem when one of us said, "what would happen if all of the people on earth all stood in one place? Like if all that mass were just in one spot?" Naturally, that sparked an ongoing conversation about gravity and Newton's laws. I can't remember exactly how long it went on, probably too long. Eventually, after talking to Mr. Fullerton, we did the math assuming the average mass of a person and multiplying it by 8 billion. We then realized that even all of that mass was still negligible compared to the mass of the earth. So our grand conclusion? Absolutely nothing would happen. But it was a good talk. The follow up to this was wondering what would happen if the moon were placed on top of the earth (besides like everything being destroyed). That also made me think back to other physics conversations from last year, like my friend asking "how many fire extinguishers would it take to put out the sun?"
Only the most important questions in physics.
On a violin, there are two types of tuners. There are the large black tuning pegs that anyone can easily see, and there are also fine tuners. These are very tiny and are located on the ends of the string that are closer to the chin of the player. The job of both sets of tuners is to adjust the tension in the string in order to produce a specific note. On a violin, these notes are G, D, A, and E. When the string is tighter, it produces a higher pitched sound. when it's looser, the sound is lower. Most often when tuning, strings need to be tightened a little because colder temperatures cause the wood in a violin to contract, leading the strings to loosen slightly.
More often than not, the small, fine tuners are what is being used to tune the instrument. This is because since they are so small, they only can tighten or loosen a string a little bit, making it easier to tune to an exact pitch. The large tuners are only used when the strings are so out of tune that the fine tuners won't do anything. These are much harder to use because it often gets worse before it gets better. These tuners are only held in place by the string wrapped around it and the wood it is inside of. They will stay in place if you don't move them, but there is a lot of tension in the string. If you try to tighten a string with one of these tuners, sometimes it will end up falling even more flat because there is not enough friction to oppose the motion of the tuner rotating as the string tries to loosen. This is why I have a tendency to ask Ms. Murrell to help me tune if it's that bad.
Another violin post, yay! I'm sure many of you already understood what I was talking about in my previous post, but this topic will likely be new to those of you who do not play a string instrument. Did you know that if you buy a new violin and just take it out and try to play it right away, it will make no sound? Now that's just crazy, right? It may sound like it; but if this were to happen, it's because you missed one very important step. You forgot to put rosin on your bow.
A bow is made of horse hairs that are connected on each end to a stick that is typically made of wood or a synthetic material. On their own, the hairs on a bow are very smooth; so if you were to rub them across the strings of a violin without putting on rosin, the bow would simply slide across the string without causing the strings to vibrate, which means no sound.
When rosin is applied, it gives the bow some stickiness. This will increase the friction between the hairs on the bow and the string. Because of this friction, the bow will try to stick a little to the strings. It will grab the strings, causing them to vibrate as you drag your bow across. This is part of what makes a violin have such a clear sound. You have to reapply rosin every now and then. You start to notice that your violin isn't making much sound, especially when playing higher notes, when it is in need of more rosin.
This is one of what will likely be a few violin blog posts because, well, I just love playing the violin. One of the most important parts of a violin (or any string instrument for that matter) is the body. The body of a violin is made of wood that is curved on the top and bottom and is very thin. A violin is very light, but the body is still strong enough to handle the tension of the strings. The body creates a sound box for the vibrating strings, making the notes you play audible.
I also have an electric violin. Electric violins come in a variety of shapes and colors, unlike acoustic violins which are standard for the most part. These violins can have such variety because the body is not so important. In fact, some of the most expensive electric violins don't even have a body! Mine has a bit of a frame and is blue (which is much cooler than one with no body at all in my opinion), but no hollow sound box. The violin needs to be plugged into an amp to make sound. When I try to play my electric violin without plugging it in, it's almost silent. This is why a good body is so important in acoustic violins.
And here's a picture of my violin, electric violin, and my ukulele as an added bonus!
Whenever I go camping, a Frisbee is a must. My brother and I can spend a significant amount of time throwing one around (and a significant amount of time running after it when one of us makes a bad throw). The last time we went camping, my brother tried to throw the Frisbee without spin. When he did this, it fell to the ground almost immediately. Why? I thought. Well, spinning the Frisbee provides angular momentum. Angular momentum is what keeps it stable. The more spin you put on a Frisbee, the more stable it is. You may have noticed that if you put a very little amount of spin on a Frisbee, it wobbles and does not go as far. To get a Frisbee to go farther on a more accurate path, put as much spin on it as possible.
Last week in physics, we completed what was called the Newton's second Law Lab in groups, in which we were to determine the mass of a cart without using any scales or balances. The procedure was only meant to take us one, maybe two, class periods. However, our group went into a third period. We kept trying to collect new data because we had a larger percent error than we would have liked and assumed we were doing something wrong. We ended up spending a lot more time trying to get better results than we should have, and then learned that our results were fine to begin with and that we had done nothing wrong except waste time trying to get better ones. Because of this, we have now lost some class time to get other things done. We now know that sometimes results may not look exactly the way you want them to in a lab, even when you're doing everything right. In the future, we won't let results that aren't perfect hold us back when we know what we did was correct.
The pages of APlusPhysics.com, Physics in Action podcasts, and other online media at this site are made available as a service to physics students, instructors, and others. Their use is encouraged and is free of charge. Teachers who wish to use materials either in a classroom demonstration format or as part of an interactive activity/lesson are granted permission (and encouraged) to do so. Linking to information on this site is allowed and encouraged, but content from APlusPhysics may not be made available elsewhere on the Internet without the author's written permission.
APlusPhysics.com, Silly Beagle Productions and Physics In Action materials are copyright protected and the author restricts their use to online usage through a live internet connection. Any downloading of files to other storage devices (hard drives, web servers, school servers, CDs, etc.) with the exception of Physics In Action podcast episodes is prohibited. The use of images, text and animations in other projects (including non-profit endeavors) is also prohibited. Requests for permission to use such material on other projects may be submitted in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. Licensing of the content of APlusPhysics.com for other uses may be considered in the future.