Galileo and Einstein Home Page

*Michael
Fowler* - University of Virginia
Physics

**Check out our flashlets**
(but they're not mobile friendly -- we're currently updating them).

** This website is under reconstruction! I am working with several students to update the Java applets to JavaScript, which will play on any device. **

This applet describes a single atom gas moving in one dimension. It accelerates or decelerates only through classical collisions with the moving piston on its container. This alone is enough to explain why the gas gets warm when it is compressed and cool when expanded.

**Rutherford scattering from a Thomson Atom and from a Nuclear Atom - Relevant
Lecture in Physics 252Modern Physics. **

This applet** shows how atomic velocities cause the Brownian Motion of a dust particle. In one panel a small ball jitters. In the next, we see that it jitters because many smaller balls bat it rapidly about. Here's the original Java version.**

Shoot a cannon ** (or throw a ball!) to see how high and far the ball flies.> Here's the original Java applet.
**

A wave pulse traveling down a uniform string under tension comes to a join with a string of different density. The pulse is partially transmitted, partially reflected. The relative densities of the two strings can be set by the slider. Note the phase of the reflected wave as a function of relative string densities. The physics is the same for a wide variety of wave reflection phenomena.

Prove Pythagoras' theorem by moving the triangles around--in the original configuration, the total area inside the red square is equal to that of the four identical triangles plus the area of the central square on the hypotenuse (side = triangle's longest side). Rearrange to see that the total area inside the red square is also that of the four triangles plus the sum of the areas of squares on the other two sides.

Change the group and phase velocities of interfering sine waves. Relevant Lecture for Physics 252 Modern Physics.

**A short movie **** of the Moon entering the Earth's shadow, and how it appears from Earth. The ancient Greeks used this picture to estimate the distance to the Moon. Their estimate was within ten per cent of the correct answer.
**

A simple applet showing the relative orbital sizes and periods of the inner planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.

A simple applet showing the relative orbital sizes and periods of the outer planets:Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

This applet is a slightly simplified representation of Ptolemy's mode for the motion of the inner planets. From our modern perspective, the planets do not go in perfect circles around the Sun. If they did, our simplified Ptolemy model of uniform circular motion around an epicycle which is itself precessing uniformly would represent exactly the motion of the planet through the heavens. In fact, this is very close to the truth: the true orbits are ellipses, but very close to circular. Ptolemy's model had to be refined with small extra epicycles, or not quite uniform circular motion.

Here we just want to emphasize the main point: how this simple model can successfully account for the motion of the planets in the heavens to a very good approximation, but keeps the Earth itself at rest.

Point to notice: Venus and Mercury never get very far from the Sun in the sky. Think about how that works in the modern picture. An applet demonstrating that the motion of Mars through the heavens agrees exactly with the Copernican (modern) view of the Solar System * and * the ancient Earth-centered epicyclic model of Ptolemy.

It follows that observing the path of Mars through the stars, (or the path of any other planet, by similar model comparisons) cannot settle which model physically represents the real Solar System.

An applet demonstrating that the motion of Mars through the heavens agrees exactly with the Copernican (modern) view of the Solar System * and * the ancient Earth-centered epicyclic model of Ptolemy.

It follows that observing the path of Mars through the stars, (or the path of any other planet, by similar model comparisons) cannot settle which model physically represents the real Solar System.

(Trial version of this.)

Old Java applet** nicely illustrates motion in a two dimensional collision in the center of mass frame and the "lab" frame.**

This is still in Java: Newton's imaginary cannon is on a high mountain, and fires a cannonball above the atmosphere. Depending on speed,it could fall, circle the earth, or fly away depending on how hard it was fired, showing the motion of an cannonball near the Earth and of the Moon are different aspects of the same thing. (Here's the Flash version.)

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.