questions concerning measurements, experiments, and activities that demonstrate physics and are safe to do at home, require at most one tool or ingredient not readily available, and can be interpreted or analyzed on one sheet of paper with accessible math.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

9
votes
6answers
2k views

Simple Experiment to Demonstrate Special Relativity

I am trying to think of a good experiment that can be done for under $250 or so that would demonstrate some aspect of Special Relativity. Ideally this will be done in a few years with my kids when ...
0
votes
1answer
57 views

Does water in the drain follow the distance-squared rule of force?

When I shower I notice that the soapy water spinning around the drain often takes the form of a spinning galaxy, complete with spiral arms. Does this indicate that the water's speed around the drain ...
6
votes
3answers
201 views

What's the most efficient strategy to shake a bottle to create a global flow?

Consider a bottle of orange juice with pieces of the fruit gathered at the bottom of the bottle. You need to shake the bottle to evenly distribute the pieces in the bottle. The first part of the ...
1
vote
3answers
224 views

Quantum experiments in the pre-industrial era

Could an 18th century or earlier scientist have come across phenomena which require quantum theories to explain them, given the apparatus available at the time? I'll choose 1805 as the cut-off date, ...
3
votes
3answers
232 views

What are some creative illustrations of the nature of dissipative forces?

I'm teaching a conceptual introduction to physics for American 13-15 year old students this summer. One of the main ideas I want to hit on is the relationship between energy conservation, ...
3
votes
1answer
412 views

Enhance a home build spectrometer

I would like to build a home made spectrometer like it's describing here: http://coolcosmos.ipac.caltech.edu/cosmic_games/spectra/makeGrating.htm How can I improve this spectrometer? A prism from an ...
0
votes
1answer
200 views

What could I test for in a guillotine? [closed]

I'm doing a school assignment project and I need to investigate something of my choice. I was thinking of doing something about how the height and angle the blade of a guillotine is dropped from ...
3
votes
3answers
5k views

Solar Eclipse Viewing

I know it is not safe when viewing a solar eclipse to look directly at the sun. I know you can purchase solar eclipse glasses online but how do you make your own solar eclipse glasses that are safe to ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Conservation of angular momentum in helicopter

I have a small RC-controlled toy helicopter with removable tail rotor. Suppose I remove the tail rotor, hold the tail with my hand, start the rotor until it moves with constant angular velocity and ...
2
votes
0answers
484 views

Why does a coin falls faster when it's flipping as well?

From my experiments with measuring how fast a coin falls, I have consistently measured a faster falling rate for a coin that flips as it falls. As an example, a coin dropping on its edge from height ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Why is the lid of the cookware kept on induction cooker not hot?

Induction cookware cooks food by inducing an electro magnetic field in the ferro-magnetic cookware. Since iron offers a lot of resistance to the current, the current is converted into heat in the ...
1
vote
1answer
317 views

Per unit area, is there more heat transfer through the open top of a mug or the side walls?

I had a mug of hot coffee cool too rapidly for my liking the other day, which made me wonder what was the greater contributor to heat loss for a typical open-top ceramic mug: the open top, the walls, ...
18
votes
3answers
3k views

Why does the sound pitch increase on every consecutive tick at the bottom of a filled cup of coffee?

Since I don't know the proper physical terms for this, I describe it in everyday English. The following has kept me wondering for quite some time and so far I haven't found a reasonable explanation. ...
7
votes
4answers
885 views

Astronomy Experiments for Amateurs

Are there any resources online for astronomy experiments that I can perform myself? I am looking if anyone knows any measurements to take while looking for various objects during the evening ...
1
vote
1answer
327 views

Are there good home experiments to get a feel for the behavior of yield-stress liquids?

What common household liquids / foodstuffs show Herschel-Bulkley fluid behavior? I assume tomato soup to be one, since when sloshing it around lightly on a spoon the visible surface moves as one (as ...
1
vote
1answer
601 views

Heat absorbed by a room

How can one calculate the amount of heat absorbed inside a room in a single day using the temperature readings of the day? If the temperature has to be reduced from 30C to 20C how much heat should be ...
2
votes
2answers
3k views

Microwaves vs Gas or Electric Coil heating of a water boiler in a typical household

Wouldn't it be more energy efficient and or safe to use microwaves to heat our home's water boiler instead of using dangerous gas or hot electric coils that could catch other things on fire? I'm kinda ...
0
votes
2answers
121 views

static shock=thermocouple?

I used to live in Boston. Near my complex, there was an apartment complex with lots of our friends. Anyways, that place had faulty heating most of the time; mainly in the corridors. They were pretty ...
1
vote
0answers
92 views

Is putting a charged balloon up to a neutral wall polarization AND temporary induction, or just polarization?

Is putting a balloon that is charged up against a wall and having it stick polarization AND charging by temporary induction, or just polarization?
5
votes
5answers
6k views

Why does hot oil explode when pouring water on it?

I am puzzled to know, What is the reason of hot oil make sound and explode when we pouring water on it?
5
votes
1answer
156 views

Why does separating plastic from a cough drop create flashes?

I was tearing open individually-wrapped cough drops in the dark, and noticed that when I pulled apart two adhesive-joined pieces of silvery plastic film, small flashes of light were produced. It was ...
2
votes
3answers
529 views

Simple home pressure experiment: how to understand the dependence on the glass opening?

Suppose you put a drinking glass under water such that it is completely filled with water. Then hold it upside down and slowly raise the drinking glass out of the water. The water in the drinking ...
1
vote
4answers
167 views

Is a macroscopic pair where I observe one of them quantum entanglement?

Of what little I know/understand about quantum entanglement can somebody confirm if the following experiment is a good analogy to quantum entanglement of pair of particles? PS: please don't laugh as ...
4
votes
2answers
171 views

What are the lines visible between two cards held edge-to-edge?

Hold two cards (say credit cards) edge to edge, anything from a very slight touch to about 1/3 mm separation, in front of any ordinary light source. When I do this I see several fine dark parallel ...
1
vote
3answers
854 views

Long-Life High Altitude Balloon

Normally high-altitude balloon experiments end with the balloon popping and the payload falling back down to be reclaimed. But if a second balloon was attached to the payload, one which was only ...
2
votes
1answer
931 views

What tests can I do at home to identify a metal?

Regarding a question on another Stack Exchange site which identifies a weighted Lego brick to be some kind of metal, I wanted to know how to identify a metal, perhaps limited to household objects like ...
4
votes
1answer
136 views

How can there be a path to ground with thick shoes and a carpet?

I'm connecting a test light to one pin of an halogen lamp. When I touch the metallic part on the back of the test light, the light glows, as it is supposed to. However, I have thick shoes and I am ...
19
votes
3answers
11k views

Why does the water rise?

It's a very popular experiment (eg), from elementary school : put a burning candle on a dish filled with water, cover the candle with an inverted glass: after a little while, the candle flame goes ...
3
votes
1answer
279 views

How does a piece of paper manage to pump out the water from a bowl

When we go to bed at home, we started to put a bowl of water on the radiator (the air gets a bit dry). By instinct I put a soaked piece of paper (e.g. toilet paper) into the bowl and let it touch the ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

What are the specific requirements for a do-it-yourself quantum double-slit experiment?

I was shocked to recently learn that the double-slit experiment is not only possible to do with completely ordinary equipment (with photons of course), but it actually looks rather easy. This is from ...
4
votes
4answers
312 views

Applications of recoil principle in classical physics

Are there any interesting, important or (for the non physicist) astonishing examples where the recoil principle (as special case of conservation of linear momentum) is applied beside rockets and guns? ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Is a given volume of sparkling water lighter or heavier than the same volume of still water?

I can see it two ways - if all the $CO_2$ has turned into bubbles I would imagine it is lighter. However dissolved $CO_2$ atoms are probably heaver than the $H_2O$ atoms they replace, or fit in ...
8
votes
1answer
108 views

Where can I find information for how to create amateur radio telescope?

Where can I find good source of information for how to create amateur radio telescope. Particularly interested in creating Fresnel Zone Plate Antennas (aka flat dish). design, diagrams, ...
3
votes
1answer
471 views

How to set up a very simple experiment in optics?

This might come across as a very rudimentary question. My fundamentals of Optics are weak. In the optics chapter of my physics text book I saw diagrams each depicting an object on the left and a lens ...
13
votes
1answer
3k views

Home experiments to measure the RPM of a pedestal fan without special equipment?

Is it possible to determine to an approximate degree, the revolutions per minute of a fan, for example a pedesal fan pictured below, without using some electronic/mechanical measuring device? One ...
8
votes
2answers
5k views

Does tea stay hotter with the milk in it?

A little thought experiment, similar to this one: Imagine you are making a cup of tea when the door bell rings. You've poured the boiling water into a cup with a teabag in it. As you're just about to ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

How does paper make sound when it is torn?

We know that from our experience when we tear up a piece of paper, we can hear a characteristic sound. What is the underlying mechanism behind it? What do the dominant frequencies (edit: I don't mean ...
2
votes
3answers
354 views

Partially polarized light in laboratory

Does anybody know a way to create (in laboratory, but with no super-sophisticated equipement) a beam of light with partial linear polarization whose degree of polarization can be adjusted (at least ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

How to make a small tokamak?

$\require{mhchem}$I made a fusor once, like the easy science project: deuterium-deuterium ones, but they're really inefficient. I was wondering if it would be possible to make a small tokamak; not one ...
2
votes
1answer
261 views

How can I calculate how long to keep my beverage chilled?

The problem is simple, I suppose... I have a beverage at room temperature (let's say 23°C) in an aluminum can (it's a Barq's root beer.) I want to put it in a freezer (let's say it's at -17°C). How ...
3
votes
2answers
8k views

How do you magnetize an object?

How can I go about magnetizing something? Specifically, a whole bunch of BB's. I want to try this so that I could make a cheaper version of the Bucky Balls product. Even if I can't replicate Bucky ...
2
votes
2answers
335 views

How does my air-cooling unit work?

During the winter, my office gets a little cold. I have a unit (essentially a space heater) that heats the area around it to help keep me warm. Now that it's summer, I realize the unit also has a ...
8
votes
1answer
671 views

Why does the water in the toilet move around so much on stormy days?

On calm days, the water in the toilet looks completely still. But when it's rainy and windy out, the water looks like it moves and pulsates. Why is this?
9
votes
2answers
976 views

The Galileo thermometer: why do the bubbles float in the middle of the tube?

If the water were uniform temperature, it would have uniform density, so a bubble should either be all the way at the top (if it's lighter than water) or all the way at the bottom (if heavier). But in ...
340
votes
19answers
128k views

Cooling a cup of coffee with help of a spoon

During the breakfast with my colleagues, a question popped into my head: What is the fastest method to cool a cup of coffee, if your only available instrument is a spoon? A qualitative answer would ...
5
votes
8answers
631 views

Example of a time varying function which can be easily measured

My sister is in 10th grade. She doesn't seem to understand the concept of time varying functions (current, light, sound wave forms etc). I explained her in easiest possible terms. She got it but not ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

How to count photons

How are photons counted? What is the experimental setup used to count photons from a laser or even a lamp? Of course, in the case of the lamp, I would be able to count only the photons that pass ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Black hole analog experiment?

This question is directed mostly at people giving lectures on black holes, but input by other physicists or students is very much appreciated. Do you know a good (home)-experiment with a black hole ...
9
votes
7answers
5k views

Why is a 1mW laser dangerous?

In our Physics lab we have a 1 milliwatt (0.001W) helium neon laser. Despite the low power, we were cautioned not to even look at reflections of the beam as it could cause permanent eye damage - why ...
5
votes
4answers
430 views

How would you design an experiment to grok optical phenomena?

I've been toying with the idea of making a 3D scanner that uses an IR distance sensor to find position vectors of an object in space and then translates that into a 3D computer model. One of the ...