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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.

Image result for singing glasses


Quarter 2

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.

Image result for northern lights

Here's the hotel with glass igloos too...

Image result for glass igloo northern lights

Image result for glass igloo northern lights

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. :D 



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?

Image result for thor


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!


Spinning Top

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.


Physics in English

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.  


Violin Blog 3: Tuning

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! :)



Frisbee Fysics

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.


Catching Up Time

I think this title is suitable for this post considering the date (I'm posting this about a week later than I should have).  The last two weeks have been interesting.  To start, there was that kinematics test on the 21st, and I did not exactly get an ideal grade on it.  However, I know why.  I did not plan well enough what exactly I should be doing each day in school and at home, which kept me from using my time as effectively as I could have been.  I think it's safe to say I fell slightly behind, leading me to scramble a bit in the end.  On top of this, I had other things on my mind.  The day of the test, my German exchange partner, Gina, was coming to live with me for a week.  This also meant that I would be missing out on a significant amount of class time that week in addition to time at home that I would be spending with her.  Naturally, I was a little panicked when I came to school Tuesday having to start a unit that everyone else had already been working on in class and at home.  However, I got right down to business and began working through some problems in class and during my free period.  It only took two days for me to feel better about where I was.  On Friday, I woke up to get Gina to the airport by 3:30 a.m. and got home around 4:45.  I decided it was no use going back to sleep (and then learned that if you want to stay awake at 5 in the morning, DO NOT read about supply curves) so I was half dead in school that day.  Then I went to physics.  To my own surprise, I actually got a lot done, and it may have been one of my most productive and successful days in this class so far.  (Side note: Even though it worked out pretty well for me yesterday, I am not going to start getting next to no sleep on a consistent basis.  Health is important too!) At that point, I was feeling great and I knew I only had a little more catching up to do, as I am doing now, until I would be right on track again.  With support from you guys, I think I will be doing pretty well now.  Thanks for putting up with my rambling, I realized this is a pretty long one!


How To Study Effectively


Video 1:



1: Learning is fast

2: Knowledge is composed of isolated facts

3: Being good at a subject is a matter of inborn talent

4: I’m really good at multitasking



The one that resonates with me is about multitasking.  I don’t really have an issue with being distracted by things around me, like my phone, but I often find it difficult to focus on one thing at a time and I have a tendency to jump from one thing to another and back very quickly.



Metacognition is how well one thinks they really understand a subject.  Typically those with more accurate metacognition have a better understanding.


Video 2:



The most important thing when studying is what you think about while doing it.



Deep processing, rather than shallow processing, is when a person thinks about the meaning of information and makes connections between pieces of information when learning.  On the other hand, shallow processing is learning isolated facts and is not beneficial to learning.



1: Minimizing distractions and maximizing focus- I’ll study in my room, phone across the room, where it is quiet.

2: Developing accurate metacognition- I can “quiz” myself and see how well I’m doing on a regular basis through practice problems and webassigns.

3: Deep, accurate processing of critical concepts- I will focus on how various topics are interrelated.

4: Practicing retrieval and application- I will consistently work on practice problems where I can apply what I am learning.


Video 3:



1: Elaboration- I will make connections between topics as we learn them to increase my understanding.

2: Distinctiveness-  I’ll keep in mind what important details stand out in each topic to set them apart from others to avoid confusion.

3: Personal-  Blog posts should keep me relating classwork to my daily life.

4: Appropriate retrieval and application- I’ll quiz myself as I work through topics so I know which ones I need to spend more time on.

5: Automaticity-  Hopefully my good skills will become a routine that I will not have to try to force myself to do.

6: Overlearning-  the most important topics for me to understand I will study so that I can recall the information quickly.


Video 4:



1: What does a good question look like?

2: What kinds of questions are the most beneficial?

3: How will asking questions help me learn?

4: What should I consider when asking questions?

5: How should I organize my notes?

6: What should I be thinking about as I take notes?



The note taking tips for in class lectures apply to videos because, like in lectures, you shouldn’t try to mindlessly copy everything you hear.  You should try to consider the key concepts when listening to a lecture or watching a video and get those down on the paper.  They should also be organized so that they can be understood later, otherwise they won’t be any help.


C.) I’ll form a study group that will have clear goals of what we plan to accomplish each time we meet.


Video 5:




1: Panic

2: Go into denial

3: Do nothing

4: Wait to ask for help

5: Skip some classes to focus on others

6: Fall further behind while waiting to catch up

7: Ignore small assignments

8: Give up




1: Examine how you prepared, be honest

2: Review the exam, focus on mistakes.

3: Talk with your teacher to make sure you are taking the right steps

4: Examine your study habits

5: Create a plan to help improve



1: Commit time and effort

2: Minimize distractions

3: Attend class

4: Set realistic goals

5: Don’t begin to slide

6: Don’t give away points


First Blog

Most of my time is spent either doing homework or playing violin and ukulele.  Depending on the season, I am often at rehearsals for musicals and sometimes black box shows.  As you can probably tell, music is one of my strongest interests, both playing and listening.  I'm not exactly sure what I want to do with my life, but I know no matter what music will always be a part of it.  Last year, I took AP Physics 1 and really enjoyed my experience and learned a lot.  However, I originally signed up to take AP Chemistry this year.  When I got my schedule, I knew that was not really what I wanted to do.  There was a lot more I wanted to learn about physics before going off to college, and I knew I was up for the challenge.  I'm very excited to expand my knowledge of physics and learn to apply it to my life.  I am a little nervous about this flipped classroom setting, but I know I'll adjust to it.  I have a good feeling about this year.

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