Physics Seminar


Randall D. Peters
Department of Physics
Mercer University

Wednesday, 2/9/2005, 4:30 pm
Willet Science Center 101

Detailed Experimental Study
of two Heat Engines

(Use of Classical Mechanics
 to better understand Thermodynamics)

The figure shows two radically different pedagogical heat engines, each of which was instrumented with ‘non-invasive’ sensors to measure their motion.  Considerations of the mechanics of the Stirling engine, whose efficiency approaches that of a Carnot cycle, will show that the approximations of the idealized (theoretical) cycle can never be fully realized in experiment.  Examples will be given of previously unreported complex behavior, whose quantitative properties can only be discovered through synergy in the three elements of experiment that were employed; i.e., (i) good sensors, (ii) an adequate analog to digital converter, and (iii) user-friendly but powerful data analysis software. A graphic example of complex behavior by the dippy bird will be illustrated by replacing his usual water ‘drink’ with acetone.  This change converts the nearly periodic, well-known motion of this popular toy (patented by M. V. Sullivan in 1946) into what has been described as the chaos of an ‘inebriated woodpecker’

Please join us for light refreshments at 4:15pm outside WSC 109.