Term Project - Ideas
Below I have listed some ideas of what you might do for a term project. You may choose one of these ideas, choose a modification of one of these ideas, or think of something completely different. I would encourage you to be creative, and to investigate something that really interests you. Search the web, encyclopedias, and your physics text book for good ideas.
Investigate the "Faraday Oscillator" model of a blown bottle (perhaps comparing Faraday's model to a 3D resonator model).
Investigate the thermal conductivity of air between two pieces of glass, varying their separation (use kinetic theory to gain insight).
Investigate solutions to a 2 or 3 dimensional wave equation, perhaps calculating (and experimentally verifying) the Chladni patterns for a two dimensional plate or the resonant sound frequencies of your shower.
Do a numerical study of "apodization," a method to improve the resolving power of a telescope.
Compare the harmonics of pipes with different diameters. Try to explain what you find with a mathematical model.
Write a java applet to demonstrate a principle from the course.
Study nonlinear properties of oscillating systems-- look for shifts in harmonics, variation of freq as function of amplitude, etc., due to string stiffness, damping, etc.
Measure the heat capacity or heat conductivity of different materials. Compare with a calculation based on the theoretical molar heat capacity we discussed in class.
Study convection in a fluid.
Study the propagation of waves in dispersive media (group, phase velocity, etc.).
Learn about viscosity and predict the rate of flow through a pipe, and then measure the flow rate of a real pipe.
Study waves in a pan of water, calculate and then measure the speed of sound for these waves.
Study Fourier transforms with a computer; calculate how a string will evolve from a given initial condition.
Use a computer to take the Fourier transforms of different sounds. Compare what you learn from the Fourier transform to your qualitative impression of what the tones sound like to you.
Use an eyedropper to put a drop of oil of known volume into a pan of water. From the colors in the interference pattern, measure the thickness of the oil film after it has spread out over the surface of the water, and measure the diameter of the oil film to calculate the volume of the oil, etc.
Build a pinhole camera. Calculate the theoretical resolution for different sized pinholes, and then put your calculations to the test.