Interesting physics

Interesting physics is a course that I teach at the Faculty of Science, Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. Its focus is to show that there are many interesting things and phenomena in our everyday lives that can be understood with the help of physics. Sadly, many people perceive physics as a collection of formulae and claims without any relation to reality. I try to show in my lectures that this is far from true and that physics enables us to understand the world just in the closest neighbourhood around us. At the lectures many interesting experiments are performed and explained.

Selected topics of Interesting physics courses from past years:

Mechanics used by everyone: balancing by rotating arms, running downhill to prevent slipping, the pole held by an artist, inertial releasing of water from hands etc.
Coriolis force: how to understand it, where the factor of two in the formula comes from, a shot-trial on a rotating plate, does the Coriolis force act also on light?
Camera: basic features - harmonic focusing scale, angular resolution, coating, camera obscura
Stress and deformation tensor illustrated in an amusing way using a carrot root
Reflecting glass: what types of these glasses exist, how they work
How to understand the behaviour of a rotating carton of milk
Soap bubbles: how they emerge, why they can last long, their colours, experiments with them. Oscillations of the soap films. Solving the Laplace equation using a soap film.
Experimental measurement of the Euler number e using several physical methods
Atmospheric optics: Fata morgana and mirage effects - showing the light bending using a few students on a string, experiments with light bending and scattering in sugar solution, movement of the air above a fire, rainbow and halo effects
Motion of the sun on the sky: the sun path, where and when is raises and sets, polar night and day, energy incident in 24 hours on the earth surface at various places, how to make a solar clock
Weather: clouds, storms, atmospheric electricity, rainbow
Tidal phenomena: how tides work, simple calculations, movement of earth's crust, how Moon is influenced by tidal forces, tearing a person falling into a black hole
Vortices: what they are, how they emerge, the influence of angular momentum on a vortex. Is the direction of a vortex formed in a sink connected with the hemisphere (southern or northern) where it is situated or not (we show that the latter is correct). Vortex rings and amusing experiments with them (blowing out a candle at a distance of 15 meters etc.)
Surface tension: coins floating on water surface, their attraction; water carried around in a water sieve; a tea-bag as a barrier for air but not for water; contact lenses hold in an eye; milk flowing out of a milk carton and the patterns it forms; jumping of mercury in a medical thermometer; vibrational modes of a soap film; observation of inverse bubbles; fight of surface tensions of water and alcohol when mixing them; mixture of water and starch - is it a solid or a liquid?
Interesting sounds in our neighbourhood: the noise of a plastic bag, whistle of a corrugated iron sheet, explanation of them
Similarity theory: How ants perceive this world, how we would do when contracted a hundred times, how far a flea can jump, why water bugs do not drown; bacteria suffering from the Parkinson disease
Interference and diffraction around us: observing a street lamp through a piece of fabric, diffraction on a human hair, colourful spots on a coin when looking very close, how to understand holography easily, Soret plate, interference fringes on a dirty mirror
Physics in the kitchen: how pressure cooker and microwave oven work, why dumplings should be torn after cooking, behaviour of a water drop in a hot oil in a frying pan, can water boil in macaroni, the noise when heating water to boiling, and many others
Magnetism: gliding magnets, levitating superconductor and other fascinating experiments

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