Physics Project 2007
Investigation of experiments and demonstrations in physics for incorporation into the
middle and high school curricula
Faculty Mentor - Thomas Meyer, Vladimir Gasparayan
Acoustics. This is similar to the program we ran last year. It focuses on a subject typically
not covered in high school or college curricula. All experiments are exploratory, i.e. no specific
instructions were given. Participants had to study the underlying physics, had to develop the
experimental techniques and then designed the experiments. Three experiments are proposed: Measure
the speed of sound in various gases and under varying conditions (temperature and pressure)
Make a quantitative measurement of the Doppler effect by measuring and analyzing the wave spectrum
generated by a rotating sound source and that produced by a moving car.
Design an experiment to break a wine glass using sound waves.
Optics and Lasers. The Physics, i.e. wave physics, is similar to that of acoustics. This will allow
a comprehensive treatment of the theoretical physics required for both programs. Again, all experiments
are exploratory, with no instructions given. Participants will have to study the underlying physics and
then develop the experimental techniques appropriate for each experiment. We propose three general areas
for experimental study:
Make a high precision measurement of the speed of light using several methods. One will use Fizeau's
rotating mirror experiment and the other will use electronic techniques to measure the speed of light
pulses in a coaxial cable and in a plastic light guide.
Use interferometry (Michelson, Fabry-Perot, Twyman-Green) to measure the index of refraction of air
as a function of gas pressure and temperature, the index of refraction of glass, and to study distortion
in optical components such as lenses.
Use lasers in a variety of applications, such as light scattering from ordered and disordered systems,
measurement of refractive indices, or measurement of fluorescence in biochemical substances.
Physics Group Poster
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for the respective projects. Please feel free to contact either of the program directors with any
questions you might have.