Fun Physics (???)
    By Robert H Olley | December 30th 2008 08:40 AM | 1 comment | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Robert H

    Until recently, I worked in the Polymer Physics Group of the Physics Department at the University of Reading.

    I would describe myself


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    I have received this request from a friend roughly 5,000 miles away:
    My maternal cousin has to prepare a write up for her school.  She needs to write something on 'fun physics'.
    Alas, I am stumped.  I could write something on "fun chemistry", perhaps, but I would be better placed to write an article on non-fun physics.  This may seem bizarre, since I work in a physics department, but like an immigrant who finds it hard to learn the language, I'm still basically a chemist with an interest in mathematics.  My own experience (from schooldays) and that of my son (who did physics at a different university) have been somewhat of the "Murphy's Law" variety.  (I feel a "woolly-monkey" moment coming on: "Oh, I could a tail unfold".)  Nevertheless, I can still see that it is a wonderful subject, as our own third-year students' year book would gladly tell you, but alas that is not for general release.

    So, any help or inspiration on this topic would be greatly welcomed.

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    Chemistry is just plain more fun for kid experiments.   Back in the day, before we decided kids were so dumb they needed to be shielded and protected from everything we were smart enough as kids not to die doing, you could buy a cool chemistry set and do awesome things.   

    Dancing raisins???   What kid doesn't enjoy that?  Chemistry rules .

    But physics is tougher.   Georg von Hippel did a quantum mechanics - home edition article but it may be a little much depending on the age, light being somewhat obscure.

    Maybe the 'egg in the bottle', where you boil the egg, peel it, find a fruit drink bottle slightly smaller than the egg and throw a piece of burning paper in there and watch as the egg gets sucked through the mouth of the bottle?

    If the child's parents aren't the kind afraid to let them use some dry ice, they could do a cosmic ray detector.

    There are actually quite a few that come to mind but they all involve being interesting and therefore slightly dangerous.   :)