Physics Phriday: Singing Tesla Coils

These tesla coils are amazing!  The music is made by the sparks you see.

This video is of a band named Arc Attack (with a robot drummer) who build and use these tesla coils as their instruments.

Here’s a similar setup (looks like it’s in someone’s driveway) playing Sweet Home Alabama.

Here’s an excellent interview with Arc Attack explaining how these tesla coils work, and how the band makes them.  It’s worth watching the whole thing, particularly for some electromagnetic destruction at the end.

Physics Phriday: The Tiny Scope of Earth’s Influence

Radio waves travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles/second).  We’ve been using radio since 1895.  Here’s a picture showing how much of the galaxy could have heard our radio waves by now.  Ready to feel a bit small? (click the picture to read the article)


Physics Phriday: Nuclear Fusion Milestone Passed

Inside a fusion reactor.

Nuclear fusion is the process that powers the sun.  It can release a tremendous amount of energy from a small amount of fuel.  Many people see it as the energy source of the future.  However, no one has had a reactor good enough that they get more energy out of the fusion reaction than they put into the reaction.  It’s not a very good energy source if you have to put more energy into it than you can get out of it.  That’s like having a battery in your phone that has to stay connected to the charger, but the level of charge keeps going down.  Not very useful.

For the first time, researchers at Lawrence Livermore Labs have created a fusion reaction that gives them more energy than they put into it.  This is a huge milestone in fusion research!  We’re on our way to having a Mr. Fusion on every time machine!

Read the full article.

An uncontrolled fusion reaction.  "Tsar Bomba" was the largest hydrogen bomb ever exploded.

An uncontrolled fusion reaction. “Tsar Bomba” was the largest hydrogen bomb ever exploded.


Physics Phriday: The Double Slit Experiment

We have talked in class about how light behaves as a wave and as a particle (a photon), and we talked about how electrons behave the same way.  It’s one of those things that is pretty mind blowing to think about.  Here’s a video that shows what’s going on.


Physics Phriday: What If a Meteorite Hit Houston?

With the recent meteor seen over Russia, you might have wondered “What would happen if a meteorite hit Houston?”  Fortunately for you, you’re not the only one who has wondered.  The SciGuy at the Houston Chronicle wrote an article about just such a scenario.  It turns out that if a rock 45 meters across hit downtown, our school would probably be ok.

Here are a couple of calculators you can use to figure out what would happen if different sized meteors hit different places on the earth.

Meteor Crater in Arizona