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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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 Geometrical Optics
  video  - Polarization of Light
  video  - Polarization of Microwaves
 Polarization by Reflection
 Brewster's angle
 Optical Activity in Corn Syrup
 Polarization by Scattering
 The Eye



An example of a birefringent material (Calcite) occurring in nature.


Birefringence is double refraction (having two refractive indices). When passing a beam of light through a crystalline solid, the beam is split into two rays.

Place a piece of paper with a small hole in the middle on the overhead projector and place the calcite crystal over the hole. Two holes will now be visible on the screen, one caused by the ordinary ray and one by the extraordinary ray. A polariod can be placed in the path and rotated to show that the rays are polarized in mutually perpendicular directions.


  • Overhead Projector
  • Calcite crystal
  • 8.5x11 paper with a hole in the middle