Showing posts with label groovy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label groovy. Show all posts

Friday, July 04, 2014

I was bound to do this

So there I was at Victoria Falls, on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. The Victoria Falls Bridge spans a gorge through which the Zambezi river runs, post falls. We are told the deck of the bridge is 135 meters above the water.

At the midpoint of the bridge there is a low-slung hut through which bungee jumpers are fitted with harnesses and pushed over a precipice. We are told the bungee jumpers plummet 111 meters, though it seems the mileage would vary from one jumper to the next, depending on weight.

I'm much too bashful to reveal my weight, but the bungee operators wrote 111 on my arm after having me stand on a scale. Oh yeah, I signed up for this jump. I teach physics! I was bound to do this.

They harness you quite thoroughly, and cinch your lower calves to each other and attach them to the bungee cord with five carabiners. I was bound to do this.

They help you waddle out over the lip of the diving platform. Then it's "5-4-3-2-1-BUNGEE!" and off you go, into the gorge. But enough jibber-jabber. Let's roll the film.

Victoria Phyz Falls


Was I ever really in danger? As it turns out, yes I was. This very jump dropped an Australian woman into the Zambezi a few years back.

Aussie Tourist's Bungee Cord Snaps


I really only put myself at risk like this so that Dan Burns could generate some nice, personalized physics problems, if he is so inclined. If you think of some, leave them in the comments or email them to me.

Did I mention that I jumped off a bridge?

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Dark Side of the Earth - mini-lesson revision

If you haven't seen this 5-minute Vimeo gem, I first talked about it here. Go there and watch it.

I developed a mini-lesson to accompany the video so as to create what would now be called a flipped-classroom lesson. Of course, I shared!

But I wasn't happy with how that turned out. So I reworked it a little bit. The rework makes things the student work aspect more visual-spatial.

YouTube Geophysics: Amazing Views of Earth on Vimeo

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Twenty-eight years at Rio

Rio Americano is 50 years old this year. We're trying to celebrate it. So there is cause for thoughts of nostalgia. Faculty and staff get a portrait taken every year. Sometimes, those portraits get included in the school's yearbook.

As far as I know, I never missed a portrait and I've never thrown the resulting photos out. But 28 years is a long time, and it turns out I was only able to lay hands on images from half the years of my tenure.
The rest were cobbled together from the yearbook, for the most part.

In any case, here it is: portrait shots (mostly official) or yearbook shots from each year, 1986-2013. Nostalgia? Narcissism? Entropy? Vanity? Garfunkelization? Decide for yourself. Traveling downward along a column, each photo moves you seven years forward. Click to embiggen... if you dare.

Twenty-Eight_Years_at_Rio.001

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Capella Science: Bohemian Gravity

Last time we saw Tim Blais, he was "Rolling in the Higgs", repurposing Adele's smash hit "Rolling in the Deep" with particle physics-based lyrics and a one-man, a capella orchestra. At the very end of that video, he teased "Bohemian Gravity".

It's now a year later, and Blais is back with the fully-realized version.

Blais' "Bohemian Gravity" repurposes Queen's iconic "Bohemian Rhapsody" with String Theory-based lyrics. The content is unapologetically high-level. Blais was in the midst of writing his master's thesis while developing this track, so the video shows us where his mind was during the process.

And he got a haircut. No doubt his parents will be pleased.

If you haven't seen his work, stop punishing yourself and watch. Do it now!



When the lyrics make sense to you, you will be ready for your MS in physics, too.

As I post this, the video has fewer than 100,000 views. That won't last.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bead chain dynamics

Fun stuff from Earth Unplugged via NPR's Science Friday's Facebook page.

Amazing bead chain experiment in slow motion - Slo Mo #19 - Earth Unplugged


I'm not sure what meaningful high school physics pedagogy is here. For now it's mainly "gee whiz" cool.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

UPDATE: Bead chain seems to be more commonly referred to as ball chain. If you look for it, it will be listed with a size. The sizing regimen is one of direct proportionalities (unlike wire gauge). Here's a handy guide page: Ball Chain Sizes. The chain in the video looks to be about size 10, but that's a mere guess on my part. And I'm not always the best guesser.

UPDATE 2: Further research shows my size guess was correct. More ball chain goodness can be found at The Kids Should See This. Empirical Zeal's robust analysis merits a link!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Standing. Water. Waves.

My students, Andrew Stephens, Joey Cozza, and Jeric Rocamora are highly accomplished musicians. They were inspired to blend physics, music, waves, and optics by something they saw on the Internet.

Here's the video record of their inspired work.

Physics - Waves Water Experiment


Pretty groovy, right?

Of course, you don't see these structures when watching with the naked eye. You only see them when they are captured in frame-rate-specific video.

The iPhone app they were using is the free FreqGen.

Here is the video that inspired them.

Amazing Water & Sound Experiment #2


I think this one benefits from brighter ambient light. This allows a faster shutter speed. Filming at 24 fps doesn't mean the shutter is set to 1/24th of a second. And a faster shutter (1/500 s) allows for a sharper capture.

When I first saw this, it wasn't clear to me what was going on. And it's not unhealthy to assume anything that looks supernaturally groovy on YouTube is likely a fake. Captain Disillusion debunks video fakery all the time.

But what we're seeing in these videos is artfully captured stroboscopic effect. The classic example is the wagon-wheel effect. Here's a nice video of an "impossible helicopter." The wagon wheel effect is not the same thing as the rolling shutter artifact.

Here's a thorough explanation of the difference between the classic wagon wheel effect and the newer rolling shutter artifact.

I'm pretty sure I promised them a post on The Blog of Phyz. Consider yourselves famous, guys! You even scored the highly-coveted "groovy" tag.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Motors cardboard balls motion noise light space ART

The Festival of the Arts opens in my home town of Grand Rapids today. With a hat tip to College of Curiosity's Jeff Wagg, I share this in the spirit of physics and art. The lens work is also praise-worthy. To me, it brings to mind Koyaanisqatsi and Baraka.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Rio Phyz Pinhole Camera: As big as a classroom

Apologies for being so long away. Due to a pre-Prop 30 budget scare, we scheduled our graduation ceremony three weeks early. The dominos that cascaded from that decision landed squarely on my blog time. But now I'm back with a doozie!

With three weeks of time to kill in a post-AP Exam, post-graduation situation, what to do with the handful of non-seniors in AP Physics? Robust, rigorous academic instruction? No. It's ad lib time.

We enjoyed a bit of cinema with some of my personal faves, Atomic Café and For All Mankind. I'll keep my Koyaanisqatsi powder dry for the moment, but I make no promises.

Thursday and Friday, we turned the classroom into a camera obscura: a giant pinhole camera! Here's the crew blacking out the room with 6 mil black plastic sheeting. These are Rio's best and brightest, and they work fast!



Otherwise jaded high school students distracted by the approach of summer vacation are genuinely wowed by the resulting image creation. The giant camera obscura is best experienced live and in person. From the dark of the classroom, the wall opposite the pinhole is illuminated with moving ghostly images of whatever is going on in the courtyard outside our classroom, made even eerier by the imagery's reversal about the origin.

But just for fun, I shot a couple of stills.

1. The celebration of entropy that is my classroom. Careful observers will see the devastating earthquake damage visited upon the room from the previous night's temblor.



2. Lights Out: the pinhole is on the windows to the right. Our Dark Side of the Moon mural gets a full measure of sunshine in the afternoon. It's full-color image lands on my front boards.



3. Ectoplasmic filter. I've been teaching in room B-8 longer than my students have been alive. Although I'm not even dead yet, my spirit haunts the room. Spooky!



Thanks to Dr. Rick Michaels (Bella Vista High School, retired) for the idea. All images shot on my Lumix DMC-FZ200 digicam, processed with Apple's Aperture 3. A wired remote was employed to execute the intervalometer function; time lapse stills sequenced into a video file by Apple QuickTime Pro 7.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

ExploratoRio 2013 in time lapse

1. Room Setup: Watch as we transform the classroom into a stage for a miniature Exploratorium.



2. Exhibit Setup: With the room prepared, the exhibition is installed.



3. A Groovy, Hands-On Experience: ExploratoRio in action.



4. ExploratoRio Night and Take-Down. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gangnam Style In Space!

NA, NA, NA, NA... NASA Johnson Style...



Special thanks to astronauts Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Mike Massimino and Clay Anderson
Special thanks to Mr. Mike Coats, Dr. Ellen Ochoa, and all supporting senior staff members

"NASA Johnson Style" Lyrics
NASA Johnson Style
Johnson Style

Welcome to NASA's Johnson Space Center
We are coming in hot so don't burn up as we enter
We do science everyday that affects your daily life
Throw them up for manned space flight

Science everywhere
As we engineer the marvels
That fly though the air
And take us way beyond earth's levels

Science everywhere
Because we engineer the marvels
That fly though the air
Flies us through the air

Control the mission out of Johnson
This is ground, hey!
And this is space, hey!
Tell me Houston what's the problem
It's okay!
It's okay!
Because there's flight controllers on the job today

NASA Johnson STYLE!
Johnson STYLE! ...

Orbiting earth, international space station
Where we work and live in space with a crew from several nations
Got Japanese, and Russians, that European charm
Throw them up, like the Canada Arm

Kicking out research
29k cubic feet, revolves around the earth
Science microgravity, revolves around the earth
Columbus, JEM, and Destiny
Kicking out research
Kicking out research

Train the astronauts at Johnson
To go to space, hey!
To go to space, hey!
Cause the missions of tomorrow
Start today, hey!
Start today, hey!
As we engineer the future day by day

NASA Johnson STYLE!
Johnson STYLE! ...

Orion or SLS, MPCV
We cannot feel the floor, cause the lack gravity
The destinations are an asteroid, Mars, or moon
We are blasting off start the countdown soon
[Sound clip: launch countdown]

... NASA Johnson Style

In case you're either of the people who haven't seen the original PSY video (viewed over 1,000,000,000 times), you're welcome.

Hat tip to Menlo School's Marc Allard.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Puzzler: ynapmoC & seldooN

Upon returning to my truck after enjoying a tasty repast at Noodles & Company, I noticed the restaurant's illuminated signage reflected in my side view mirror.


Wait a minute! The reflected message was not "reversed" in typical mirror fashion. I turned to see the signage as it appears on the building.


Once suitably ensconced in the driver's seat, all was again right with the world. The letters were reversed as they should be.



What is your explanation?

[A few years ago, I sent this optical oddity in to Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers (NPR's Car Talk personalities, Tom and Ray Magliozzi). But it was apparently too lousy for them to use, despite being quasi-automotive! Oh well.]

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Zero-g double/bubble lens

We've all heard of gravitational lensing. How about this for "anti-gravitational lensing?"


Copyright All rights reserved by André Kuipers
Copyright All rights reserved by André Kuipers
Copyright All rights reserved by André Kuipers
© All rights reserved by André Kuipers

From my friend, Phil Plait's, Bad Astronomy blog:

A light bending exercise... in space!

He does a nice job explaining the optics. This is a water blob floating in the zero-g environment of the International Space Station. But to spice things up, the blob was injected with air.

I'll pose a few more challenging questions for my physics-ly brawny readers.

1. Is a spherical water blob a converging or diverging lens?
2. Is an air bubble immersed in water a converging or diverging lens?
3. Ray diagrams?
4. Characterize both images: real or virtual?

But don't forget to take a moment to appreciate the grooviness!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rolling in the Higgs



Go ahead: click "Play." It's better than you think it's going to be. Better, in my humble opinion, than a certain well-received LHC Rap, though scholars may disagree.

Rolling in the Higgs
There's a collider under Geneva
Reaching new energies that we've never achieved before
Finally we can see with this machine
A brand new data peak at 125 GeV

See how gluons and vector bosons fuse
Muons and gamma rays emerge from something new
There's a collider under Geneva
Making one particle that we've never seen before

The complex scalar
Elusive boson
Escaped detection by the LEP and Tevatron
The complex scalar
What is its purpose?
It's got me thinking

Chorus:
We could have had a model (Particle breakthrough, at the LHC)
Without a scalar field (5-sigma result, could it be the Higgs)
But symmetry requires no mass (Particle breakthrough, at the LHC)
So we break it, with the Higgs (5-sigma result, could it be the Higgs)

Baby I have a theory to be told
The standard model used to discover our quantum world
SU(3), U(1), SU(2)'s our gauge
Make a transform and the equations shouldn't change

The particles then must all be massless
Cause mass terms vary under gauge transformation
The one solution is spontaneous
Symmetry breaking

Roll your vacuum to minimum potential
Break your SU(2) down to massless modes
Into mass terms of gauge bosons they go
Fermions sink in like skiers into snow

Lyrics and arrangement by Tim Blais and A Capella Science
Original music by Adele

See/hear Adele's original here.

Hat tip: Boo's FB feed.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Boiling without bubbles?

There was a bit of a flurry of articles, notes, Facebook shares and the like this week surrounding a new application of the Leidenfrost effect. We loves us some Leidenfrost effect here at The Blog of Phyz, so a post is required.

When a very hot metal ball is placed in near-boiling water, an enveloping layer of water vapor surrounds the ball. This insulates the ball, preventing it from cooling down by conduction to the cooler water. The heat transfer is relatively slow. Bubbles peel off from the submerged ball (single file) while the ball cools. Eventually, the ball cools to a point at which it can no longer maintain its vapor "atmosphere."

The new research shows that if the metal ball is coated with nanoparticles, the bubble production from the submerged ball eventually drops to zero.

Here's the video from researchers at Northwestern.


Boiling Water Without Bubbles from Northwestern News on Vimeo.

Full articles are here:
Nature: Stabilization of Leidenfrost vapour layer by textured superhydrophobic surfaces

Scientific American: How to Boil Water without Bubbles

Northwestern: Boiling Water Without Bubbles

Popularizers did their best to popularize this mildly esoteric finding.
New Scientist: Water-repellent balls make liquid boil with no bubbles

Geekosystem seems to have taken things too far.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bitter blueberry beats butterfly and beetle

And that's how we alliterate here at The Blog of Phyz. But I digress.

The Blue Morpho butterfly and the scarab beetle derive iridescent color from the manner in which light interacts with their structure on a microscopic scale. The beetle even circularly polarizes reflected light.

But the Pollia condensata blueberry outshines them both. Literally. This poison fruit is so shiny it looks like it's made of metal.

The Smithsonian has a nice story about it.

As does NPR.

As does Huffington Post.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

All the color of the rainbow

And no, I don't mean "all the colors of the rainbow."

Some Saturday morning serendipity started with a Phil Plait tweet about a stunning image of clouds lit from beneath by a sinking sun and ended at an image of a red rainbow.

I had never seen a monochromatic rainbow, and the idea of it seems oxymoronic on its face. But it makes good enough sense if you understand the optics of the rainbow.

Normally a rainbow consists of dispersed full-spectrum sunlight. Sunlight includes all the colors of the...uhm...rainbow (***circumlocution alert***).

But what if the sunlight that makes it to the raindrops has already undergone significant Rayleigh scattering by passing through a great thickness of atmosphere typical of a sunset or sunrise? WIth the shorter wavelengths scattered, only the redder colors get through. And if red is the only color to hit the raindrops, red is the only color that will show up in the rainbow.

Still, I had never seen an image of a red rainbow until today. Once again, I need to get out more.

Earth Science Picture of the Day: Monsoon Sunset and Red Rainbow.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Eclipse portraiture

The results are trickling in. I'll post my pics to a Flickr album.

My eclipse self-portraits and Rio Americano Campus shots at Flickr.
Submitted student eclipse portraits.
My iPhone eclipse pics (coming soon).

Here's my side-by-side before and during.



Where are yours?

UPDATE: Changed the first link to the geotagged set (including GPS info from EXIF files).

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Eclipse sunball portraiture: Do it!

Better yet, have your students do it!

An annular eclipse will be passing through Northern California this Sunday. The more populated areas will get a partial eclipse, but that's fun, too.

And a nice opportunity to get photos like this one from Hewitt's Conceptual Physics 11th edition.



So I made it an extra credit opportunity for students who can pull off the photographic feat.

Details on the extra credit opportunity here. That's the student handout I'll give to my students.

UPDATE: Having scoped out potential locations, it struck me that the best places for the tree shadows/sunballs to hit might be a vertical surface (wall) rather than the ground (as depicted in the Hewitt shots). The eclipse peaks late in the afternoon. Shadows are long; the sunballs/crescents may be very distorted on the ground. Just a thought.