group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Mass is not Conserved
Theoretical Mechanics 2021 (2 years)

energy conservation mass conservation collision

Groups are asked to analyze the following standard problem:

Two identical lumps of clay of (rest) mass m collide head on, with each moving at 3/5 the speed of light. What is the mass of the resulting lump of clay?

face Lecture

5 min.

Central Forces Introduction: Lecture Notes
Central Forces 2022

face Lecture

30 min.

A coarse-grained model for transportation
Contemporary Challenges 2022 (3 years)

energy flow diagram energy car

A short lecture introducing the idea that most of the energy loss when driving is going into the kinetic energy of the air.

assignment Homework

Hockey
Central Forces 2022 (2 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?

assignment Homework

Coffees and Bagels and Net Worth
Energy and Entropy 2021 (2 years)

In economics, the term utility is roughly related to overall happiness. Many things affect your happiness, including the amount of money you have and the amount of coffee you drink. We cannot directly measure your happiness, but we can measure how much money you are willing to give up in order to obtain coffee or bagels. If we assume you choose wisely, we can thus determine that your happiness increases when you decrease your amount of money by that amount in exchange for increasing your coffee consumption. Thus money is a (poor) measure of happiness or utility.

Money is also a nice quantity because it is conserved---just like energy! You may gain or lose money, but you always do so by a transaction. (There are some exceptions to the conservation of money, but they involve either the Fed, counterfeiters, or destruction of cash money, and we will ignore those issues.)

In this problem, we will assume that you have bought all the coffee and bagels you want (and no more), so that your happiness has been maximized. Thus you are in equilibrium with the coffee shop. We will assume further that you remain in equilibrium with the coffee shop at all times, and that you can sell coffee and bagels back to the coffee shop at cost.*

Thus your savings \(S\) can be considered to be a function of your bagels \(B\) and coffee \(C\). In this problem we will also discuss the prices \(P_B\) and \(P_C\), which you may not assume are independent of \(B\) and \(C\). It may help to imagine that you could possibly buy out the local supply of coffee, and have to import it at higher costs.

  1. The prices of bagels and coffee \(P_B\) and \(P_C\) have derivative relationships between your savings and the quantity of coffee and bagels that you have. What are the units of these prices? What is the mathematical definition of \(P_C\) and \(P_B\)?

  2. Write down the total differential of your savings, in terms of \(B\), \(C\), \(P_B\) and \(P_C\).

  3. Solve for the total differential of your net worth. Your net worth \(W\) is the sum of your total savings plus the value of the coffee and bagels that you own. From the total differential, relate your amount of coffee and bagels to partial derivatives of your net worth.

assignment Homework

Scattering
Central Forces 2022 (2 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.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Hydrogen emission
Contemporary Challenges 2022 (4 years)

hydrogen atom photon energy

In this activity students work out energy level transitions in hydrogen that lead to visible light.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

de Broglie wavelength after freefall
Contemporary Challenges 2022 (3 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.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Electric Field of Two Charged Plates
  • Students need to understand that the surface represents the electric potential in the center of a parallel plate capacitor. Try doing the activity “Electric Potential of a Parallel Plate Capacitor” before this activity.
  • Students should know that
    1. objects with like charge repel and opposite charge attract,
    2. object tend to move toward lower energy configurations
    3. The potential energy of a charged particle is related to its charge: \(U=qV\)
    4. The force on a charged particle is related to its charge: \(\vec{F}=q\vec{E}\)

assignment Homework

Ideal gas calculations
Ideal gas Entropy Sackur-Tetrode Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

Consider one mole of an ideal monatomic gas at 300K and 1 atm. First, let the gas expand isothermally and reversibly to twice the initial volume; second, let this be followed by an isentropic expansion from twice to four times the original volume.

  1. How much heat (in joules) is added to the gas in each of these two processes?

  2. What is the temperature at the end of the second process?

  3. Suppose the first process is replaced by an irreversible expansion into a vacuum, to a total volume twice the initial volume. What is the increase of entropy in the irreversible expansion, in J/K?

assignment Homework

Light bulb in a refrigerator
Carnot refridgerator Work Entropy Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020 A 100W light bulb is left burning inside a Carnot refridgerator that draws 100W. Can the refridgerator cool below room temperature?

grading Quiz

60 min.

Free expansion
Energy and Entropy 2021 (2 years)

adiabatic expansion entropy temperature ideal gas

Students will determine the change in entropy (positive, negative, or none) for both the system and surroundings in three different cases. This is followed by an active whole-class discussion about where the entropy comes from during an irreversible process.

assignment Homework

Heat pump
Carnot efficiency Work Entropy Heat pump Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020
  1. Show that for a reversible heat pump the energy required per unit of heat delivered inside the building is given by the Carnot efficiency: \begin{align} \frac{W}{Q_H} &= \eta_C = \frac{T_H-T_C}{T_H} \end{align} What happens if the heat pump is not reversible?

  2. Assume that the electricity consumed by a reversible heat pump must itself be generated by a Carnot engine operating between the even hotter temperature \(T_{HH}\) and the cold (outdoors) temperature \(T_C\). What is the ratio \(\frac{Q_{HH}}{Q_H}\) of the heat consumed at \(T_{HH}\) (i.e. fuel burned) to the heat delivered at \(T_H\) (in the house we want to heat)? Give numerical values for \(T_{HH}=600\text{K}\); \(T_{H}=300\text{K}\); \(T_{C}=270\text{K}\).

  3. Draw an energy-entropy flow diagram for the combination heat engine-heat pump, similar to Figures 8.1, 8.2 and 8.4 in the text (or the equivalent but sloppier) figures in the course notes. However, in this case we will involve no external work at all, only energy and entropy flows at three temperatures, since the work done is all generated from heat.

group Small Group Activity

60 min.

Gravitational Potential Energy

Mechanics Gravitational Potential Energy Zero of Potential Introductory Physics

Students examine a plastic “surface” graph of the gravitational potential energy of an Earth-satellite system to explore the properties of gravitational potential energy for a spherically symmetric system.

face Lecture

5 min.

Energy and Entropy review
Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020 (3 years)

thermodynamics statistical mechanics

This very quick lecture reviews the content taught in Energy and Entropy, and is the first content in Thermal and Statistical Physics.

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).

face Lecture

30 min.

Review of Thermal Physics
Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

thermodynamics statistical mechanics

These are notes, essentially the equation sheet, from the final review session for Thermal and Statistical Physics.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Changes in Internal Energy (Remote)

Thermo Internal Energy 1st Law of Thermodynamics

Students consider the change in internal energy during three different processes involving a container of water vapor on a stove. Using the 1st Law of Thermodynamics, students reason about how the internal energy would change and then compare this prediction with data from NIST presented as a contour plot.

group Small Group Activity

120 min.

Box Sliding Down Frictionless Wedge
Theoretical Mechanics 2021 (2 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.

assignment Homework

Photon carnot engine
Carnot engine Work Energy Entropy Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

In our week on radiation, we saw that the Helmholtz free energy of a box of radiation at temperature \(T\) is \begin{align} F &= -8\pi \frac{V(kT)^4}{h^3c^3}\frac{\pi^4}{45} \end{align} From this we also found the internal energy and entropy \begin{align} U &= 24\pi \frac{(kT)^4}{h^3c^3}\frac{\pi^4}{45} V \\ S &= 32\pi kV\left(\frac{kT}{hc}\right)^3 \frac{\pi^4}{45} \end{align} Given these results, let us consider a Carnot engine that uses an empty metalic piston (i.e. a photon gas).

  1. Given \(T_H\) and \(T_C\), as well as \(V_1\) and \(V_2\) (the two volumes at \(T_H\)), determine \(V_3\) and \(V_4\) (the two volumes at \(T_C\)).

  2. What is the heat \(Q_H\) taken up and the work done by the gas during the first isothermal expansion? Are they equal to each other, as for the ideal gas?

  3. Does the work done on the two isentropic stages cancel each other, as for the ideal gas?

  4. Calculate the total work done by the gas during one cycle. Compare it with the heat taken up at \(T_H\) and show that the energy conversion efficiency is the Carnot efficiency.