Date : Wednesday, April 11, 2001
Location: Willet Science Center Room 109

Professor Randall Peters
Department of Physics
Mercer University

"The Physics of Whirling Tubes"

Abstract: One of the best known expressions of classical physics is Bernoulli's equation. Just as his name is frequently mispronounced, so also his equation is frequently mis-applied to a variety of phenomena for which the assumptions of its derivation are not rigorously met. These include the lifting force of an airfoil (wing of an airplane) and the curve of a spinning baseball, to cite just two of several common examples of 'hand-waving' a formula. Such naiveté is detrimental to student development and can be cause for faulty reasoning by even physics professors. An example will be provided, based on the 'whirling catheter' technique developed by Dr. Peters to calibrate very low pressure sensors. Finally, we will consider the physics of a corrugated plastic tube that is open on both ends--a common toy that 'sings' when it is whirled.