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Could I build a lightning detector?

A while ago, we had a ton of lightning. As a bonus, it always happened in the middle of the night. I love sleeping where it sounds like I am on the front line in WWI – no, I don’t. But, while lying awake waiting for the next BOOM I thought of something. Instead of…

Book Review: Made by Hand

I am not normally a book-review-kind-of-guy. However, in this post I will make an exception. My wife (who clearly knows me very well) bought me this book – Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World (amazon link) The basic idea of the book is to look at how the author (Mark Frauenfelder)…

Arduino Physics

This is so awesome – an arduino controlled fan cart. If you are not familiar with the arduino, basically it is just a very simple and cheap programmable chip. I have been meaning to play around with one of these, but really I am afraid. Afraid I will like it just a little too much.…

Diver in a bottle

I am surprised at how many people (chemistry faculty included) have never seen this demo. (oh, technically it is called a cartesian diver demo) Basically, you put some floating object that has an air space in a closed bottle of water. When you squeeze it, the diver goes down. For my setup, I used a…

Accelerometer Version-2

So, I built a new accelerometer. Why? The jelly-jar one was just not doing it for me. Plus, the cork was starting to make the water all yellowy. It was a good start, but I can do better. What was wrong with the jelly-jar one? First, it didn’t let the cork move very far before…

This has been on my list for quite some time. Really, it must be since i posted about measuring acceleration in free fall with an iphone. So, this post will be all about accelerometers. How does an accelerometer work? Really, an accelerometer measures force some way on a known mass. Let me show an extremely…

iPhone in a rocket

My brother found this, but he is too afraid of the internet to post something in the comments on my previous post about acceleration and the iphone. It turns out that this too awesome to just be in a comment. It deserves its own note. Anyway, I was looking for acceleration data from the iPhone…

Maybe you have seen this trick. Basically, you hold by supporting it with two fingers from the bottom. You then move your hand around to keep it balanced while the stick is vertical. It is really not as hard as it looks. Also, there are two things that can make your job easier. Use a…

Some time ago I was looking for materials to possibly build a foucault pendulum. Of course the first step is google. There was a site that suggested two old issues of Scientific American, and it happens that we have tons of old Scientific Americans in the store room. I found the two that I needed.…

Better technology sometimes causes problems. In this case, technology has made video cameras really small. Small? That’s a problem? Well, the problem (as I discussed previously) is that small cameras are not stable and make “shaky” videos. Well, then increase the mass of the camera – simple. I wanted to test this idea and make…