Monday, July 21, 2008

Magnetic Movie

Here is something for Matt's Physics 2 students studying magnetism ...

There is a question below the fold; only look at the question after you watch the video. [BTW, the list of what YouTube considers "related" to this video is a really mixed bag!]

I spotted this 'featured video' when I went looking to see if "Physicists Gone Wild!" from tonight's rerun of The Big Bang Theory was actually on YouTube. Of course it is, but the network people didn't put it there. Stupid network people. They just don't get this new inter-tube stuff.

The question: Did you try to figure out whether those were real fields and how they were being produced? Then you might be a physicist. Looks like a lot of the comments came from people who thought it was all real after watching the whole thing!

(To me they appear to be computer simulations of fields like those found in stars or galaxies, superimposed on various lab settings by very clever film makers. The one they started with, which looks like it might be the sun, almost looks like a huge bit of ball lightning you might try to make in the lab. See side note below.)

A very nice movie, aesthetically interesting with some good physics here and there if you look closely. I really liked the realization of helical motion of charged particles around magnetic field lines, like what is responsible for the aurora and trapping charged particles in the Van Allen Belt. I should take a few minutes this fall to emphasize this connection between physics and astrophysics.

Side note 1: Ball Lightning
Making ball lightning on a small scale, here and here, looks like a lot of fun. So do the ones made in a microwave, but I don't have a microwave I feel like toasting. Having microwaved a few CDs, I can almost smell the burning case and Li-ion battery of the iPhone someone microwaved in a related video. BTW, I don't think a claw hammer is the Apple-approved way of opening up an iPhone. Clearly a future physicist. An engineer would use a screwdriver as a chisel.)

Side note 2: Unrelated time-wasting discovery
How could I not know about skeet fishing? [Why you want to look: The guy is 'shooting' down clay pigeons with a fishing rod. That is hard enough with a shotgun! Another video makes it clear he has a casting plug on the line, so it makes sense that it has enough energy to break a clay pigeon. He has no trouble breaking an egg.]

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