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Physics Project Ideas

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by lamborghini98, May 11, 2006.

  1. lamborghini98

    lamborghini98 The Aristocrats

    May 1, 2005
    NYC; Portland, OR
    So, the AP test for Physics C is soon (Im not taking the test... dont have any intention of skipping any physics classes in college), and that means that theres pretty much no more work. I mean, we're going to be doing some relativity and (crosses fingers) some quantum, but the big thing is projects! Now this my teacher's first year teaching this class, so she doesnt have too many suggestions. Basically, we need to build something, or do some sort of project, related to E&M. Im thinking an E&M version of a Rube-Goldberg device. Or maybe a Gauss rifle (yes, she'd actually let us build one). Of course, I could just go the ol' bass pickup route, but that seems like it might more engineering than physics. Any ideas? It has to relate to E&M. Complicated projects are no good, considering we only have a month to do them.
  2. Huge trebuchet?
  3. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    something to do with circuits?

    ...you can ask people over at www.physicsforums.com (or do a search there).
  4. lamborghini98

    lamborghini98 The Aristocrats

    May 1, 2005
    NYC; Portland, OR
    No mechanics! Unless you mean an E&M based trebuchet...

    Theres already a kid in my school who builds those quite seriously, and I think hes going out with my ex. Yeah. nothing to do with physics, but the perfect reason why I can't build one.
  5. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    I was thinking of Rube Goldberg too. Do a E&M Rube!
    Or maybe build a mini Mag-Lev train on a mini track. That would be cool.
  6. lamborghini98

    lamborghini98 The Aristocrats

    May 1, 2005
    NYC; Portland, OR
    Im flattered you think I can do that! :D
    And in a month, no less...
    :ninja: :ninja: :ninja:
  7. pierce

    pierce freethinker

    May 25, 2000
    San Francisco, Ca

    actually, that doesnt sound very hard. current carrying track, - current carrying "train" (by discharging capacitor). F=IlxB. no problem

    or maybe a tesla coil :bag:
  8. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    there are flashlights that are powered by EM induction; i think they're called "faraday flashlights." saw'em at wal-mart. there's a chamber with a magnet firmly in place and a surrounding movable coil of wires. you shake the flashlight, and voila! electricity.

    that might be a fun project.
  9. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Potato battery!
  10. fookgub


    Jun 5, 2005
    Houston, TX
    I like the tesla coil idea. Maybe a jacob's ladder? Really anything with HV is bound to produce exciting results (though maybe not the exact results you want ;)).

    Seriously, if you do a HV project, make sure to take all possible safety precautions. Good luck!
  11. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    How about something with Eddy currents. You can drop a magnet down a conducting tube (copper, aluminum, etc.) and then compare it with a non magnetic object. The magnet induces a current in the conductor which creates a magnetic field opposing the field of the magnet and slows the magnet down. You can dramatically increase the fall time of the magnet compared with a non-magnetic object.

    The hard part of the magnetic levitation would be the feedback system. You could buy that part if you wanted (if it would be permitted for the project).
  12. pierce

    pierce freethinker

    May 25, 2000
    San Francisco, Ca
    this is cool.

    not really science project material, but still


    i like the rail gun he built

    here is another site with lots of science toys that may help you with an idea.


    (by the way, columbine still hasnt been forgotten. even if your teacher i "willing", using terms like rifle or gun or even bomb (like em bomb), may get you suspended.) use common sense.

    i am assuming that you are in high school. i apologize if this is incorrect.
  13. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    The rail gun looks cool, but very dangerous (electrically speaking).
  14. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Man, if I had a dollar for every time one of my classmates in engineering wanted to build a rail gun I wouldn't have had to pay a thing for my tuition. I think your teacher is leaving it as an option because the chances of anyone actually doing it are pretty darn slim.

    As for mag lev, what you should really do is track down some high temperature superconductors and a bit of liquid nitrogen (both should be avaliable if you put your mind to it and get your teacher to help). Basically you set up a track of magnets and build a "train" out of some kind of container to hold the liquid nitrogen and superconductors. Superconductors follow a magnetic field, so if you can get them cold enough (77 K I think was the magic number for the ones I've played with) they should follow your magnetic track. It's wicked cool to see, and as they heat up the train will settle down onto the track once the superconductors no longer superconduct. A Google search should yield some information if you're into that.

    Plus you get to play with liquid nitrogen, which is always fun.


    PS: All standard disclaimers about personal safety still apply, no matter how much fun liquid nitrogen is.
  15. pierce

    pierce freethinker

    May 25, 2000
    San Francisco, Ca


    put a longtube that curved up at the "firing" end, and a short tube that curved up at the launching end, i bet you could not only demonstrate e-m, kinetics with and without gravity, and thermodynamics (as heat loss due to collision) and friction.

    im thinking the projectile would be propelled way up the firing tube, but the TKE would be damped in reverse, and the initial ball wouldnt even pop back out of the lauching tube. the energy loss (by the toatlk system) could be measured by letting the device perpetually run until the Energy was absorbed completely. you could then calculate its efficiency.

    i think it would be fun for the participant too.

    if you REALLY wanted to get crazy, you could attempt to integrate a "faraday" light system into the long tube. but im not sure that would work real well.
  16. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    There are a lot of induction effects that can be demonstrated by winding your own iron core solenoid. This year we loaned a local high school kid a variac for a project like this. I think that he demonstrated induction heating and levitation of an aluminum ring and he might have fired the ring off of the solenoid as well.

    For Nateo's idea, there's a superconductor kit here:

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