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Al Tobias (wat4y) - Office: Gibson S123 & Physics 218, (434) 924-0538

Physics Demo Manual

Demonstrations are cataloged according to PIRA Bibliography


Due to Physics Building renovations, the lead time to set up demo requests has increased due to the need to transport equipment across campus. Please be kind and let me know well ahead of time what you need.

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 Harmonic Motion
 Open / Closed Resonance Tube
 Resonant tunning fork
  video  - Dancing Flames (Ruben's Tube)
  video  - Air Driven Organ Pipe
 Singing Tubes and Rods
 Chladni Figures
  video  - Breaking a Wine Glass

Chladni Figures


To demonstrate different vibrational resonances of thin plates.


Attach support rod to the plate and clamp to the edge of the table so that the plate is horizontal. Sprinkle sand over the surface and bow the edge of the plate with the bow in the vertical position. Many different modes can be obtained by bowing in different spots and by placing a finger along the edge of the plate. This does take considerable pratice to be effective.


Using a PASCO or other wide range generator is much easier. Most cool looking shapes are at the high(er) (around 1KHz) frequencies. Start with small amount of "sand", listen to the increased amplitude of the annoying high frequency sound and sprinkle more magic dust to get a good figure. Some additional patterns for square plate are provided in the picture gallery. They are 707, 776, 970, and 1658 Hz oscillator frequency correspondingly.


  • Violin Bow
  • Chladni Plates
  • Table Clamp
  • Sand or Cream of Wheat
  • Mechanical Vibrator
  • Wave Generator