Exhibits - Entrance and Room 1

Handshake Mirror

A hemispherical mirror approximately 1m in diameter generates a real image of objects near to it - such as a hand. It really does look as if you can hold hands with your own reflected image. Objects further away are reflected upside down.


Crackle Discs (Luminglas discs)

A "flat" version of the well known plasma globe. The blue "lightning" flashes within the disc of glass are about 300 mm long and are attracted to your hand. There are three of these, set at different heights, so even young children can “have a go” without having to be lifted up.


Floating On Air

Similar to an “Air Hockey” game, this consists of an air table and three discs. The edges of the table and of the discs have strong magnets set into them, such that they always repel each other. The user starts the exhibit by pressing a button. The three discs, of differing sizes, move around the table top, always trying to “get away” from each other and the sides of the table. Because the discs are different masses, they interchange their momentum(s) in a surprising way, the small disc accelerating away from the large one quite rapidly.


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Jumping Ring

Thompson’s jumping ring experiment, consisting of a vertical guide almost 2.5 metres high. When a button is pressed, anl aluminium ring about 70 mm diameter instantly jumps almost to the top of the guide. There is a large electromagnetic coil beneath the surface of the exhibit. When a pulse of electricity passes through the coil, a magnetic field is generated. The aluminium ring is paramagnetic, and an opposing magnetic field is set up around the ring. (Lenz’s law). The opposing magnetic fields cause the ring to jump


The World’s Daylight

This large exhibit consists of a touch-screen contoller and a model of the earth and sun. The earth travels round the sun on a four-foot orbit. Around the earth's orbit labels show the months of the year. The earth is arranged so that its inclination angle is always vertical. It can be seen that more or less of the Northern and Southern hemispheres can see the sun at different months of the year. The user drives the earth around its orbit to any date in the year, and can compare the daylight lengths of various places on the earth, from Reykjavik to Cape Horn. The variation in daylight length, and hence the seasons is easy to demonstrate, as is the fact that all places on the earth's surface have equal daylight (12 hours 0 minutes) at the spring and autumn equinoxes.

Wiggly Wires

Nothing very fancy about this old favourite, but people find it a challenge they cannot resist. Simply three different wires - ranging from fairly easy to almost impossible, and three wands. Try to get the wand from one end to the other without touching the wire.


Archimedes’ Screw

The screw in this case is a genuine grain auger, used in farms and warehouses for lifting grain from one level to another. Turn the handle to see how the grain is lifted by each of the "turns" of the screw. When the grain reaches the top, it falls down a ramp to reurn to the start.


Vertical Roundabout

This is a roundabout, 1200 mm diameter, mounted on a wall, such that its axle is horizontal. When given a good spin by hand, bean bags thrown into the roundabout will stick to the edge, and be carried around with the roundabout. They will not fall down until the roundabout is travelling quite slowly. This is a excellent demonstration of centrifugal force.


Moving Pictures 1

This exhibit is an octagonal drum which can be spun. The user looks through slots in the side of the drum to view sequential pictures pasted on the inside of the drum. Our version shows the cow jumping over the moon. If the user does not look through the slots, but over the top edge of the drum instead, the pictures merely go by as a blur. The scientific name for this device is a zoetrope.

Moving pictures 2

Similar to the above, the moving pictures in this exhibit are on the underside of a flat disc which is equipped with slots. The user looks at a mirror mounted beneath the disc, which reflects the pictures to him. The moving pictures here are of a dripping tap. Also known as a stroboscope or a phenakistoscope.


Turbulent Turntable

This is a rotating turntable, about 450mm diameter, very much like a "Lazy Susan" dumbwaiter. The top is of glass, beneath it is a thin layer of liquid, coloured dark blue. The user should spin the table, not too fast, then stop it by gripping the sides. The special fluid then reveals the spirals, twists and turbulence in the fluid as that near the edge is still spinning faster than that near the centre. The patterns change according to how the user manipulates the table - some are reminiscent of Jupiter's atmosphere that we see in space photographs.


Distorting Mirrors 1, 2 & 3

These three mirrors are full-length "fairground" type distorting mirrors, included for fun. They show in a very graphic way how reflected images will be distorted if a mirror is not “true”.

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