accessibility_new Kinesthetic

10 min.

Acting Out Charge Densities
Static Fields 2022 (5 years)

density charge density mass density linear density uniform idealization

Ring Cycle Sequence

Integration Sequence

Students, pretending they are point charges, move around the room acting out various prompts from the instructor regarding charge densities, including linear \(\lambda\), surface \(\sigma\), and volume \(\rho\) charge densities, both uniform and non-uniform. The instructor demonstrates what it means to measure these quantities. In a remote setting, we have students manipulate 10 coins to model the prompts in this activity and the we demonstrate the answers with coins under a doc cam.

group Small Group Activity

60 min.

Ice Calorimetry Lab

heat entropy water ice

The students will set up a Styrofoam cup with heating element and a thermometer in it. They will measure the temperature as a function of time, and thus the energy transferred from the power supply, from which they compute changes in entropy.

face Lecture

5 min.

Central Forces Introduction: Lecture Notes
Central Forces 2023 (2 years)

assignment Homework

Gravitational Field and Mass
Static Fields 2022 (4 years)

The gravitational field due to a spherical shell of matter (or equivalently, the electric field due to a spherical shell of charge) is given by: \begin{equation} \vec g = \begin{cases} 0&\textrm{for } r<a\\ -G \,\frac{M}{b^3-a^3}\, \left( r-\frac{a^3}{r^2}\right)\, \hat r & \textrm{for } a<r<b\\ -G\,\frac{M}{r^2}\, \hat r & \textrm{for } r>b \\ \end{cases} \end{equation}

This problem explores the consequences of the divergence theorem for this shell.

  1. Using the given description of the gravitational field, find the divergence of the gravitational field everywhere in space. You will need to divide this question up into three parts: \(r<a\), \(a<r<b\), and \(r>b\).
  2. Briefly discuss the physical meaning of the divergence in this particular example.
  3. For this gravitational field, verify the divergence theorem on a sphere, concentric with the shell, with radius \(Q\), where \(a<Q<b\). ("Verify" the divergence theorem means calculate the integrals from both sides of the divergence theorem and show that they give the same answer.)
  4. Briefly discuss how this example would change if you were discussing the electric field of a uniformly charged spherical shell.

assignment Homework

Spin Fermi Estimate
Quantum Fundamentals 2022 The following two problems ask you to make Fermi estimates. In a good Fermi estimate, you start from basic scientific facts you already know or quantities that you can reasonably estimate based on your life experiences and then reason your way to estimate a quantity that you would not be able guess. You may look up useful conversion factors or constants. Use words, pictures, and equations to explain your reasoning:
  1. Imagine that you send a pea-sized bead of silver through a Stern-Gerlach device oriented to measure the z-component of intrinsic spin. Estimate the total z-component of the intrinsic spin of the ball you would measure in the HIGHLY improbable case that every atom is spin up.
  2. Protons, neutrons, and electrons are all spin-1/2 particles. Give a (very crude) order of magnitude estimate of the number of these particles in your body.

biotech Experiment

60 min.

Microwave oven Ice Calorimetry Lab
Energy and Entropy 2021 (2 years)

heat entropy water ice thermodynamics

In this remote-friendly activity, students use a microwave oven (and optionally a thermometer) to measure the latent heat of melting for water (and optionally the heat capacity). From these they compute changes in entropy. See also Ice Calorimetry Lab.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

de Broglie wavelength after freefall
Contemporary Challenges 2022 (4 years)

de Broglie wavelength gravity

In this activity students combine energy conservation with the relationship between the de Broglie wavelength and momentum to find the wavelength of atoms that have been dropped a given distance.

assignment Homework

Hockey
Central Forces 2023 (3 years)

Consider the frictionless motion of a hockey puck of mass \(m\) on a perfectly circular bowl-shaped ice rink with radius \(a\). The central region of the bowl (\(r < 0.8a\)) is perfectly flat and the sides of the ice bowl smoothly rise to a height \(h\) at \(r = a\).

  1. Draw a sketch of the potential energy for this system. Set the zero of potential energy at the top of the sides of the bowl.
  2. Situation 1: the puck is initially moving radially outward from the exact center of the rink. What minimum velocity does the puck need to escape the rink?
  3. Situation 2: a stationary puck, at a distance \(\frac{a}{2}\) from the center of the rink, is hit in such a way that it's initial velocity \(\vec v_0\) is perpendicular to its position vector as measured from the center of the rink. What is the total energy of the puck immediately after it is struck?
  4. In situation 2, what is the angular momentum of the puck immediately after it is struck?
  5. Draw a sketch of the effective potential for situation 2.
  6. In situation 2, for what minimum value of \(\vec v_0\) does the puck just escape the rink?

accessibility_new Kinesthetic

10 min.

Acting Out Current Density
Static Fields 2022 (5 years)

Steady current current density magnetic field idealization

Ring Cycle Sequence

Integration Sequence

Students, pretending they are point charges, move around the room so as to make an imaginary magnetic field meter register a constant magnetic field, introducing the concept of steady current. Students act out linear \(\vec{I}\), surface \(\vec{K}\), and volume \(\vec{J}\) current densities. The instructor demonstrates what it means to measure these quantities by counting how many students pass through a gate.

assignment Homework

Centrifuge
Centrifugal potential Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020 A circular cylinder of radius \(R\) rotates about the long axis with angular velocity \(\omega\). The cylinder contains an ideal gas of atoms of mass \(M\) at temperature \(T\). Find an expression for the dependence of the concentration \(n(r)\) on the radial distance \(r\) from the axis, in terms of \(n(0)\) on the axis. Take \(\mu\) as for an ideal gas.

face Lecture

30 min.

Energy and heat and entropy
Energy and Entropy 2021 (2 years)

latent heat heat capacity internal energy entropy

This short lecture introduces the ideas required for Ice Calorimetry Lab or Microwave oven Ice Calorimetry Lab.

assignment Homework

Potential energy of gas in gravitational field
Potential energy Heat capacity Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020 Consider a column of atoms each of mass \(M\) at temperature \(T\) in a uniform gravitational field \(g\). Find the thermal average potential energy per atom. The thermal average kinetic energy is independent of height. Find the total heat capacity per atom. The total heat capacity is the sum of contributions from the kinetic energy and from the potential energy. Take the zero of the gravitational energy at the bottom \(h=0\) of the column. Integrate from \(h=0\) to \(h=\infty\). You may assume the gas is ideal.

assignment Homework

Scattering
Central Forces 2023 (3 years)

Consider a very light particle of mass \(\mu\) scattering from a very heavy, stationary particle of mass \(M\). The force between the two particles is a repulsive Coulomb force \(\frac{k}{r^2}\). The impact parameter \(b\) in a scattering problem is defined to be the distance which would be the closest approach if there were no interaction (See Figure). The initial velocity (far from the scattering event) of the mass \(\mu\) is \(\vec v_0\). Answer the following questions about this situation in terms of \(k\), \(M\), \(\mu\), \(\vec v_0\), and \(b\). ()It is not necessarily wise to answer these questions in order.)

  1. What is the initial angular momentum of the system?
  2. What is the initial total energy of the system?
  3. What is the distance of closest approach \(r_{\rm{min}}\) with the interaction?
  4. Sketch the effective potential.
  5. What is the angular momentum at \(r_{\rm{min}}\)?
  6. What is the total energy of the system at \(r_{\rm{min}}\)?
  7. What is the radial component of the velocity at \(r_{\rm{min}}\)?
  8. What is the tangential component of the velocity at \(r_{\rm{min}}\)?
  9. What is the value of the effective potential at \(r_{\rm{min}}\)?
  10. For what values of the initial total energy are there bound orbits?
  11. Using your results above, write a short essay describing this type of scattering problem, at a level appropriate to share with another Paradigm student.

assignment Homework

Energy of a relativistic Fermi gas
Fermi gas Relativity Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

For electrons with an energy \(\varepsilon\gg mc^2\), where \(m\) is the mass of the electron, the energy is given by \(\varepsilon\approx pc\) where \(p\) is the momentum. For electrons in a cube of volume \(V=L^3\) the momentum takes the same values as for a non-relativistic particle in a box.

  1. Show that in this extreme relativistic limit the Fermi energy of a gas of \(N\) electrons is given by \begin{align} \varepsilon_F &= \hbar\pi c\left(\frac{3n}{\pi}\right)^{\frac13} \end{align} where \(n\equiv \frac{N}{V}\) is the number density.

  2. Show that the total energy of the ground state of the gas is \begin{align} U_0 &= \frac34 N\varepsilon_F \end{align}

group Small Group Activity

120 min.

Projectile with Linear Drag
Theoretical Mechanics (4 years)

Projectile Motion Drag Forces Newton's 2nd Law Separable Differential Equations

Students consider projectile motion of an object that experiences drag force that in linear with the velocity. Students consider the horizontal motion and the vertical motion separately. Students solve Newton's 2nd law as a differential equation.

assignment Homework

Ring Function
Central Forces 2023 (3 years) Consider the normalized wavefunction \(\Phi\left(\phi\right)\) for a quantum mechanical particle of mass \(\mu\) constrained to move on a circle of radius \(r_0\), given by: \begin{equation} \Phi\left(\phi\right)= \frac{N}{2+\cos(3\phi)} \end{equation} where \(N\) is the normalization constant.
  1. Find \(N\).

  2. Plot this wave function.
  3. Plot the probability density.
  4. Find the probability that if you measured \(L_z\) you would get \(3\hbar\).
  5. What is the expectation value of \(L_z\) in this state?

assignment Homework

Entropy of mixing
Entropy Equilibrium Sackur-Tetrode Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

Suppose that a system of \(N\) atoms of type \(A\) is placed in diffusive contact with a system of \(N\) atoms of type \(B\) at the same temperature and volume.

  1. Show that after diffusive equilibrium is reached the total entropy is increased by \(2Nk\ln 2\). The entropy increase \(2Nk\ln 2\) is known as the entropy of mixing.

  2. If the atoms are identical (\(A=B\)), show that there is no increase in entropy when diffusive contact is established. The difference has been called the Gibbs paradox.

  3. Since the Helmholtz free energy is lower for the mixed \(AB\) than for the separated \(A\) and \(B\), it should be possible to extract work from the mixing process. Construct a process that could extract work as the two gasses are mixed at fixed temperature. You will probably need to use walls that are permeable to one gas but not the other.

Note

This course has not yet covered work, but it was covered in Energy and Entropy, so you may need to stretch your memory to finish part (c).

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Heat capacity of N2
Contemporary Challenges 2022 (4 years)

equipartition quantum energy levels

Students sketch the temperature-dependent heat capacity of molecular nitrogen. They apply the equipartition theorem and compute the temperatures at which degrees of freedom “freeze out.”

assignment Homework

One-dimensional gas
Ideal gas Entropy Tempurature Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020 Consider an ideal gas of \(N\) particles, each of mass \(M\), confined to a one-dimensional line of length \(L\). The particles have spin zero (so you can ignore spin) and do not interact with one another. Find the entropy at temperature \(T\). You may assume that the temperature is high enough that \(k_B T\) is much greater than the ground state energy of one particle.

group Small Group Activity

120 min.

Box Sliding Down Frictionless Wedge
Theoretical Mechanics (4 years)

Lagrangian Mechanics Generalized Coordinates Special Cases

Students solve for the equations of motion of a box sliding down (frictionlessly) a wedge, which itself slides on a horizontal surface, in order to answer the question "how much time does it take for the box to slide a distance \(d\) down the wedge?". This activities highlights finding kinetic energies when the coordinate system is not orthonormal and checking special cases, functional behavior, and dimensions.