This is not black magic. This is physics. This is laminar flow. (Jr IS guest blog by Emma Brinton)

For my Junior Independent Study, I looked into some cool physics videos to find an interesting topic to explore. I found a youtube video about the University of New Mexico Couette cell apparatus for demonstrating laminar flow and decided that watching fluid blend together and then separate out again was an interesting concept. The project I designed was to bring this apparatus to the College of Wooster and then experiment with it. I looked into how accurately a line of color could be returned to its original location after being rotated at various angular velocities and if the transition was more accurate at varying depths below the surface of the fluid.

 

 

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Walker’s Walker: Building a Passive Robot for Active Learning (Jr IS guest blog by Justine Walker)

Walking – we all do it. But why do we walk so often? Why doesn’t everyone skip down the block to work?

Aside from that being deemed as weird by society, walking is the most efficient way for people to move on earth due the gravity here. We’ve all experienced this in some way. You probably know that it’s much easier to walk long distances, than to run them. In my Clare Boothe Luce work this year, I confirmed that walking is amazingly efficient by simulating a passive walker that is able to walk down a hill simply through the force of gravity.

My Junior IS study “Building a Passive Robot for Active Learning,” aimed to take this simulation research and create a real passive walking robot (a robot without a motor) out of plastic Tinkertoys. I used a previous study done by a group at Cornell to base my walker design off of and to use as a comparison. When they built their robot in the 1990s, wooden Tinkertoys were mass-produced, but now plastic Tinkertoys are the only financially possible option. I found that the walkers behaved slightly differently due to sensitivity to initial conditions and parameters for passive walkers. Though this difference exists, I proved that it is still possible to create this simple passive walking robot.

The hope is that this walker could be used as an outreach tool at Science Days at the College of Wooster in order to introduce kids to engineering and to make mechanics a more approachable topic to them. This project is a fun way to spark children’s imaginations and learn more about how fascinatingly efficient human movement can be.

 

 

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Student blog reports from their Junior Independent Study self-designed projects

This spring, each Wooster Junior physics major undertook a six-week scientific investigation of their own design, as a part of our junior independent study course. Watching their projects come to fruition over the course of the semester was a very rewarding experience for me, and I am happy to announce that each junior prepared a blog post on their project. These will be posted shortly as a series of guest blogs, so please stay tuned!

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The Burj

The tallest structure in the world since 2008, Burj Khalifa (or Khalifa Tower) is the fantasy skyscraper of my childhood. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), with Adrian Smith and Bill Baker as chief architect and engineer, the Burj is aesthetically and structurally magnificent. No single photo can do the Burj justice, but the one below emphasizes the Y-shaped floor geometry that buttresses the central core and the complex spiral pattern of 27 setbacks that decrease the cross section. Crucially, the terraces “confuse the wind” to minimize vortex shedding vibrations, the bane of skyscraper designers.

Over a half-mile high, Burj Khalifa is the world's tallest building. Photo by Stéphane Compoint.

Over a half-mile high, Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building. Photo by Stéphane Compoint.

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Picnic and Pie Fest 2017!

Giant bowl of veggies, waiting to be grilled

Last weekend we had another excellent picnic and pie festival at my house. This event has been a tradition since my first summer in our REU program back in 2004. We have outdoor games, eat grilled veggie quesadillas and a variety of sides, and then we have the celebration of pie!

This year’s pie festival happened to fall on the 22nd of July, or 22/7 if you write the date in a European date/month format, or “European pi day” as Dr. Lindner likes to call it.  Pi is of course an irrational number and thus cannot be represented by a fraction like 22/7, but it turns out that 22/7 is a reasonably good approximation of pi and has been widely used to simplify calculations, and so holding the pie festival on pi day is particularly sweet.

 

Fast-paced, no-net badminton! The birdie (bright blue) can be seen in the upper left of the photo.

KanJam action shot

Frisbee in flight!

This year, we had a great assortment of pies, including pecan pie, strawberry-brownie pie, raspberry blueberry tart, chocolate peanut butter pie, pineapple pistachio pie, peach cream pie, sour cherry pie, and shoo-fly pie!  I always make several pies (three this year), but the students contribute the rest!

Whew!  I think we did have one noble soul attempt to take a slice of all the pies, but I believe he later regretted it. Of the pies that I had the room to try, the pineapple pistachio was my favorite because I hadn’t had a pie like it before, but they were all good!

A delicious assortment of pies!

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