April 16, 2007 Issue

Physics To Go 23 - Biplane/sparks

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Physics in Your World

Biplanes image
photo credit: MaxAir2Air Pictures; image source


Look at all the bracing in this photo (hi-res version) of a classic Stearman biplane. Without this structure, the torque produced by the wing flaps could produce a dangerous twist in the wooden wings. For more on biplane design, see the Wikipedia entry Biplane and "Structures--or Why Things Don't Fall Down," by J. E. Gordon (in print only), pp. 259-271.

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Physics at Home

Paper Airplanes

Try an origami technique for making a paper airplane--the results are impressive, and it's fun to build.  For directions, see Paper Airplanes from the Exploratorium.


From Physics Research

Sandia Z-Pinch image
photo credit: Sandia National Laboratories; image source

Sandia Z-Pinch

The Z-Pinch machine in this photo (hi-res version) at Sandia National Laboratories is a plasma confinement system that discharges a very large voltage through fine wires. For more information, see Sandia Z Accelerator, and to learn about fusion power production, see Fusion Machines at the American Physical Society's outreach website Physics Central. To explore plasma confinement, see FusEdWeb.

Worth a Look

PhET: Circuit Simulator

Security note:
Once you have clicked on the "simulation" link below, be sure to read the Java Security Advisory before running the simulation: To do that, click the "Read now" button on the yellow band near the top of the PhET page.

Try the PhET: Circuit Simulator -- it's fun and quite instructive.  You can build circuits with wires, resistors, batteries, bulbs, and switches, in whatever combination you like. Once you have the circuit all built, throw the switch, and you can make voltage and current measurements anywhere in the circuit.

(This feature was updated on July 8, 2013.)

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