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.

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491
votes
19answers
184k 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 ...
22
votes
4answers
4k views

Why does a cork float to the side of a glass?

What is this physical phenomenon and when it's happen ? Please take a look at this picture: Notice: This is a cork ball attracted to sides of a glass of water
295
votes
4answers
44k views

Can I compute the mass of a coin based on the sound of its fall?

Other day, I bumped my bookshelf and a coin fell down. This gave me an idea. Is it possible to compute the mass of a coin, based on the sound emitted when it falls? I think that there should be a ...
7
votes
2answers
556 views

Patterns in laminar flow of tap water

This is a simple experiment that anyone can do at home. Open your tap so that the water maintains a laminar flow, and the cross section of flow is considerably thin. Place your finger 3-4 cm below the ...
44
votes
12answers
11k views

Home experiments to derive the speed of light?

Are there any experiments I can do to derive the speed of light with only common household tools?
7
votes
1answer
281 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 ...
102
votes
24answers
15k views

How can you weigh your own head in an accurate way?

I read some methods but they're not accurate. They use the Archimedes principle and they assume uniform body density which of course is far from true. Others are silly like this one: Take a knife ...
11
votes
2answers
831 views

The secret behind the spinning, asymmetrically weighted, 2D disk-shaped top?

When you spin an asymmetrically weighted, 2D disk-shaped top, the heavy part actually rises to the top. Why is this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0SZZTBQmEs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=...
28
votes
6answers
10k views

Is this kids experiment a legitimate way to show that air has mass?

Consider the experiment in this link. The experiment includes using a ruler as a lever, with an inflated balloon on one side and a balloon which is not inflated on the other. The aim of the ...
10
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
11k views

Is coherent light required for interference in Young's double slit experiment?

In this Veritasium video, a home experiment is presented which appears to produce a very good double-slit interference pattern with normal sunlight. The experiment is an empty cardboard box with a ...
-2
votes
3answers
442 views

Can you lift a basket up while standing inside it? [closed]

Suppose you stand in a basket and you try to pull the handles of the basket. Will you be able to lift the basket from ground? Similarly, Baron M√ľnchhausen allegedly pulled himself and the horse on ...
6
votes
3answers
10k views

Atmospheric pressure experiment using a cup with a fluid to hold a glass plate

When I was in high school, my teacher did an experiment to show the power of atmospheric pressure. Experiment: Prepare a glass bottle, fill with water, put a glass plate on the bottle, make sure ...
10
votes
2answers
9k 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 ...
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 ...
15
votes
3answers
15k views

Is it possible to reproduce Double-slit experiment by myself at home?

I want to reproduce this experiment by myself. What I need for this. What parameters of slits and laser/another light source it needs? Is it possible to make DIY-detector?
21
votes
3answers
5k 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. ...
17
votes
4answers
3k views

How can I measure the mass of the Earth at home?

How can I measure the mass of the Earth at home? How was the mass of the Earth first measured?
16
votes
4answers
7k views

Tried to do the double slit experiment, failed. Why?

I tried, and failed, to do the double-slit experiment. I thought I had a good experiment setup, but obviously I was wrong. Can anyone offer some insight in what I might have done wrong? Most of ...
2
votes
3answers
6k views

1 Tesla electromagnet?

Is it possible to create a powerful electromagnet at home? With use of a ferromagnet it seems so... Using the following formula: $B(Tesla)= k\mu_0nI$. I understand some ferromagnet's like iron could ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Apparent paradox in equation of continuity

Equation of continuity says us that if we insert some fluid in a tube, the same amount of fluid will come out from the other end. If we make a small hole in a hose pipe, water will come out with a ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Should a Faraday cage block a radio's signal?

Today, I tried creating a very basic Faraday cage by surrounding a radio with two baking trays made out of iron. It didn't seem to affect the radio's signal (AM was being used, not FM). In theory, ...
3
votes
3answers
19k views

About an upside down cup of water against atmosphere pressure

There is an experiment we learned from high school that demonstrated how atmosphere pressure worked. Fill a cup of water and put a cardboard on top of it, then turn it upside-down, the water will not ...
1
vote
1answer
200 views

Motion in insulating fluid under high voltage

I observed the following phenomenon in an experiment (I'm not a student of physics, just an amateur) and was hoping for an explanation. A metal pan is electrically grounded and a layer of ...
50
votes
5answers
18k views

Why does a candle blow out when we blow on it? Our breath is 16% oxygen and only 4% CO2

Don't say that a layer of carbon dioxide covers the flame, because our breath has more oxygen than carbon dioxide. Also, our breath does not cool the flame as it is itself warm. So what is happening ...
56
votes
3answers
7k views

How to measure the wavelength of a laser pointer?

I'm working on something and I need to know the wavelength of the laser pointer that I'm using. Can you suggest me a way, using some optics formulae, or anything else to calculate the wavelength?
26
votes
6answers
13k views

How do whisky stones keep your drink cold?

From a discussion in the DMZ (security stack exchange's chat room - a place where food and drink are important topics) we began to question the difference between how ice and whisky stones work to ...
19
votes
2answers
2k views

Why does blowing on a candle put it out but sucking doesn't?

Alternatively, why does the force created by blowing out air feel so much stronger than the force created by sucking in air? Ok, so forget the human factor involved in blowing out candles. Consider a ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

How accurately can I expect to measure the gravitational constant with a club of college students?

I am a math instructor with almost no experimental physics background, but I run a math and engineering club that is interested in doing some experiments. I have read up a bit and see some obvious ...
10
votes
3answers
935 views

How hot is the water in the pot?

Question: How hot is the water in the pot? More precisely speaking, how can I get a temperature of the water as a function of time a priori? Background & My attempt: Recently I started spend ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

How can I weigh liquid in a sealed container?

How do you measure the mass and volume of alcohol if it is in a sealed container? Are there clever ways of achieving this? The weight of the container is not known. I can't open the container, I can'...
15
votes
9answers
2k views

What are good mechanics experiments for 10 year olds? [closed]

I'm trying to explain elementary mechanics - without the benefits of calculus or even algebra - and struggling. I'd like to find reasonable ways to demonstrate Newton's laws, minimally, and possibly ...
9
votes
8answers
23k views

Why does hot oil explode when pouring water on it?

What is the reason that hot oil makes sound and explodes when water is poured on it?
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Can you tell just from its gravity whether the Moon is above or below you?

If you are on a place of Earth where the Moon is currently directly above or directly below you, you experience a slightly reduced gravitational acceleration because of Moon's gravity. This is what ...
7
votes
1answer
649 views

Practical method to weigh human limbs with common household items?

What methods could be used to determine (or estimate within a reasonable margin of error) the mass of a living human's limbs, short of cutting them off? And more interestingly, how can this be done ...
5
votes
4answers
189 views

Possibility of making an experiment in a classroom to simulate DNA diffraction

I am a TA in a structural chemistry class. The professor want me to show students how Watson and Crick determined the structure of DNA from X-ray diffraction results of DNA crystals. The professor ...
11
votes
6answers
22k views

How to measure resistance of a piece of wire?

My son is doing a science experiment on how varying temperature and diameter of wire impacts the resistance. We are assuming we can accomplish this by using different gauge wires, a home thermometer, ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Are coffee's properties different enough from water's to cause increased spillage while walking?

I recently found this article, which describes how... It just so happens that the human stride has almost exactly the right frequency to drive the natural oscillations of coffee, when the fluid is ...
3
votes
1answer
3k views

Magnetic field strength in a solenoid

I'm pretty new to physics. I've been conducting some experiments with electromagnets. My practical results don't match up with the theory. The magnetic field in a solenoid of length $L$ around an ...
3
votes
3answers
158 views

Why didn't the glass break?

In the figure below, a needle has been placed in each end of a broomstick, the tips of the needles resting on the edges of filled wine glasses. The experimenter strikes the broomstick a swift and ...
2
votes
2answers
280 views

Can we have light through out the house with out light being switched on for all the time?

Optical fibres are used to transmit light from one place to the other along curved path in a more effective manner. The optical fibres consist of thousands of strands of a very fine quality glass or ...
0
votes
2answers
726 views

Net work done for rubber bands

I know that work is done on a rubber band to extend it, and then the rubber band does work to contract. However, then what is the net work done? If it returns to its original length, is the area ...
11
votes
3answers
19k views

Why do lightbulbs continue to glow after the light is turned off?

I've noticed that whenever I turn the lamp off in my room at night, the lightbulb seems to continue to glow for a minute or so after that. It's not bright though; the only way I even notice it is if ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Best way to chill a cup of coffee with cold water and 5 minutes [duplicate]

Initial data 1 x 3/4 full cup of hot coffee / tea / your favorite morning beverage cold water 5 minutes Considering that it's starting to get hot outside, and we all want to drink reasonably cold ...
7
votes
1answer
268 views

Is it possible to remove the last block from a the lowest layer of a Jenga tower?

A while back, my brother and I had a discussion about the possibility of removing the last block from the lowest layer of a Jenga tower with the layer immediately above it having only one block in it ...
5
votes
1answer
199 views

Why does a stream of water behave like this when aimed against a spoon or into a glass?

I noticed while doing everything except the dishes that water behaves quite strange. These two things might be two different phenomenon, but the water acts in a similar way in both cases. Spoon and ...
4
votes
4answers
145 views

reproducing double-slit experiment with sunlight

Is it possible to reproduce Double-slit experiment at home with sunlight probably in a larger scale? Thanks for all the answers (and special thanks to Chris for the effort),so i understand that it ...
3
votes
1answer
495 views

What is the simplest way to perform a Cavendish experiment?

The Cavendish experiment is cool, but seems complicated to experimentally perform. What is a simple way to recreate the experiment?
3
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
4k views

Why does glass absorb infrared light?

I was under the impression that glass was transparent to light with a wavelength above ultraviolet, but when playing with my latest toy, an infrared thermometer which brought up a question I asked ...