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Some Python notes

Yes, I love python. However, I am no expert. Most of the stuff I write in python is dirty and ugly code. Sometimes I figure out new things (things that programmers already know) and sometimes I forget these things. So, here are a few tips and tricks that I use from time to time. Really,…

Potentiometer for angle measurements

There is something I am working on that will need some type of angle sensor. I am going to use a potentiometer. First, who came up with that name? Isn’t this name the same as a voltmeter? Something is wrong with that name. How about we just call it a variable resistor or something like…

(alternate title: how to make pretty graphs in vpython) I am happy. Finally, I can use the visual module in python (vPython.org) and plotting with Matplotlib. Maybe this isn’t such a big deal for many of you, but for me, it never worked until now. In the past, I blogged about plotting in vpython vs.…

Experimental Rope Logarithms

Sue from Math Mama Writes… sent me an email about wrapping a rope around a pole. In that post, Sue thinks about rope looped around a post. When you wrap a rope around a post, the friction between the rope and the post can help you hold something (like a horse) that is much stronger…

Debris field for a broken meteor

I happened to catch two parts of two different episodes of Meteorite Men – a show about two guys that look for meteorites. In both of the snippets I saw, they were talking about a debris field for a meteor that breaks up. In these fields, the larger chunks of the meteorite are further down…

Science Fair for Mere Mortals

After judging the science fair last week, I would like to revisit my tips for you the science fair participant. Warning number 1 Some of the things I say here might go against what your teacher has told you. I am not sure what you should do in this case. Your teacher gives you a…

AutoTracker and a landing plane

If you know me, you know I love Tracker Video Analysis. Basically, it is a free-java program that allows you to get position-time data of a moving object from a video. In Tracker version 3.10, there is now the autotracker feature. This will automagically mark the location of an object moving in a video. How…

xkcd and Gravity Wells

Wow. In xkcd 681 comic, there is an impressive illustration of the common term “gravity well”. Here is a small part of that large image: I can’t resist. I must talk about this awesome illustration. My goal for this post is to help someone understand that comic (although the comic itself does a pretty good…

RP 8: The price of a piece of LEGO

This idea comes from my friend Thomas. His son is like mine in that they both think LEGO are awesome, and they are correct. For some reason, Thomas decided to calculate the price per piece of LEGO in each set. To promote repeatability, I decided to do this also. Looking at the catalog at LEGO.com,…

LEGO plus Slinky = Physics

What happens when your kids won’t give you a turn on the Wii? Simple. You take their LEGO bricks and their slinky and do some physics. I will keep this simple. Basically, I created a slinky holder out of LEGO pieces and added LEGO bricks to the end to stretch it. Here is the video.…