Porter Johnson (IIT Physics) Generator or Alternator?
Porter passed out an article by Bob Weber [sobriquet Motormouth]
that appeared in the Chicago Tribune [http://www.chicagotribune.com/]
on 16 July 2001, entitled By alternate name, device still generates
electricity. The article began with the following question::
Q: Years ago they were called generators, and now they are called alternators. What is the difference?
In answering the question, Bob / Motormouth had made the following points:
Bill Blunk (Joliet Central HS, Physics) Fan Car, Revisited
Bill showed us a refinement of his presentation of the Fan Car
on 20 November 2001 [see the writeup for the November
20 High School MathPhysics SMILE Meeting], in which he
asked us whether we knew where to get flexible, braided wire with lower
electrical resistance than his earphone cord. He said
that the answer is often right around us  and especially around
Christmas time! He found that wire from burnedout Christmas
tree lights worked very well. Bill placed the fan car on an
incline, and we observed a "stall angle" of 8° to 10°, as
compared with a maximum of around 5° obtained with smaller
wires last time. Thanks, Bill! Persistence pays big
dividends.
Bill also showed off his set of Choositz Decision Balls [which are also called "Happy" and "Sad" Balls], ordered from the Fall 2001 Educational Innovations Catalog. You may call EI directly at the tollfree number 1  888  9127474, or else visit their website, http://www.teachersource.com/. Here is the information on this item that appears on their website:
SS3 Choositz Decision Balls
These are the largest "HappySad" balls we have seen! They are over 11/4" in diameter! These two black rubber balls appear identical, but have extremely different physical properties. Dropped onto a hard surface, one ball bounces high while the other hits the floor and stops immediately. Show students that some properties cannot be observed without experimentation. Set includes two balls (one 'yes' and one 'no').
Qty  Cost 
110  $6.95 
11 p  $6.25 
Bill Shanks (happily retired from Joliet Central HS,
Physics) Mixing of Colors
Bill is taking a course using software packages such as Adobe
Photoshop® or Photo Deluxe® to edit digital photographic
images. He showed us some very impressive images, including a
shot of the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. The slide had been
damaged by creases or scratches, but by digitizing the slide image
using a scanner and repairing the damage using software, he produced a
beautiful 8 ´ 10 print
Bill remarked that the "layering" of images in these photo
editors is truly amazing, and raised the question of whether image
overlays are treated "additively" or "subtractively". He tested
the question by forming yellow, cyan, and magenta circles in the image
editor with a (grey background), and overlaying each pair of
circles: He held up a page showing us these results in for
overlapping regions:
Subtractive Combination 

Overlap colors  Color produced 
yellow + cyan  green 
cyan + magenta  blue 
yellow + magenta  red 
By contrast, the electron guns in a color television picture tube strike phosphors in the screen that emit light of specific colors: red, green, and blue. The colors are produced additively, with following results:
Additive Combinations 

Overlap colors  Color produced 
red + green  yellow 
red + blue  magenta 
green + blue  cyan 
Porter Johnson mentioned that the "red" phosphors in picture tubes involve rare earth salts, and add significantly to the cost of the tubes. Very interesting, Bill!
Fred Farnell (Lane Tech HS) Why is the flag on the Moon Wrinkled
in the standard "moon landing" photo?
The standard
image of the astronauts putting a flag on the moon shows the flag
wrinkled and waving. Why? The "moon landing hoax" people
have used this point, among others, to forward their case. For a
discussion of the scientific basis for this and other moon hoax
effects, see the website http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/tv/foxapollo.html.
The NASA website [http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2001/ast23Feb_2.htm]
contains specific discussion of how the astronauts managed to put a
flag on the moon. Good Question, Fred!
Don Kanner (Lane Tech HS, Physics) Jury Duty Physics
Don described a [let us say, purely hypothetical] situation
in which two occupants of the front seat of a car made 3
consecutive left turns in the car, while traveling at a
constant speed of about 15 miles/hour [5 meters/sec]. The
passenger described the following sequence of events
There was some discussion as to whether this sequence of events could have occurred as described. Was either the passenger or the driver at fault? What do you think about this purely hypothetical situation?
Bill Colson (Morgan Park HS, Mathematics) New Toys
Bill used his $100 equipment allotment from CPS to obtain
blackboard drawing materials from the K12 Mathematics and Science
Catalog for Fall 2001 of the EAI http://www.eaieducation.com/.
Eric Armin Inc (EAI) EducationIn particular, he purchased these items:
567 Commerce Street
PO Box 644
Franklin Lakes NJ 074170644
1  800  7708010
He showed us how well the compass worked on the blackboard; then we tossed the ball around for a while and answered the questions. Useful stuff. Thanks, Bill!
Leticia Rodriguez (Peck School) Experiment with Magnets, Continued
We divided into teams of two and performed an experiment using
discshaped, pressed ceramic magnets and paper clips. On a flat
horizontal table, we brought the magnet and the paper clip [which lay
directly away from the magnet] closer together, until the paper clip
jumped over to the magnet. Then each group recorded the distance
of separation (jump distance) between the paper clip and the magnet at
which the jump occurred. The experiment was repeated with 2, 3, and 4
magnets stacked on top of one another and one paper clip. The
measurements were distributed in the following way.
Magnets and Paper Clip  
Number of Magnets  Distance (mm) 
1  3 5 
2  6  9 
3  10  13 
4  12  15 
We drew a graph of the jump distance versus the number of paper clips, which showed that with more magnets, the separation distance increases. We also experimented with the magnets as we moved them closer to one another. Do they attract or repel? This is a simple yet very interesting exercise in magnetism. Good work, Leticia!
Ann Brandon (Joliet West HS, Physics)
Ann passed out a newspaper article describing an
internetbased, virtual bridge building contest sponsored by the U
S Military Academy at West Point, NY, using West Point
Bridge Designer computer software available without cost at the
contest website, http://bridgecontest.usma.edu/.
Students may compete either individually or in teams in this contest,
which marks the bicentennial of the USMA. The prizes to
winners are rather generous:
Hoi Huynh (Clemente HS) Areas of Polygons and the Pythagorean
Theorem
Hoi showed us a balanced, right procedure for calculating
the area of any polygon, using the standard formula for the area of a trapezoid:
Area = [ (top length + bottom length) /2 ] ´ height = [ (a + b)/2 ] ´ h
The balance comes in because one must "balance" the length
of the top and the bottom (a+b)/2, and the right
comes in because one must use the "right angle" or perpendicular
distance between the sides; ie, the height h We can use
the same principle for other figures
PARALLELOGRAM
For the parallelogram the top and bottom sides are equal, and we get
Area = a ´ h.
TRIANGLE
By taking any polygon and cutting it into trapezoidal pieces, she showed us how to calculate its area.
Next she pointed out that the area of a circle of radius r [such as a pie] is equal to pie ´ r^{2}, or p r^{2}. [PJ comment: You could slice the pie into ever smaller equalsized pieces, and turn the pieces alternately "up" and "down", to make a figure that becomes a simple trapezoid in the limiting case. Half of the pie edge is on top, and half is on the bottom, so that the "height" of the trapezoidal figure is r, the circle radius. Thus, by the trapezoidal formula, in the limiting case the area is [ (p r+ p r) /2] ´ r, or p r^{2}].
Next Hoi showed us how to prove the Pythagorean Theorem using
area formulas. She took a square of edge length (a + b), and
divided each of the edges into components of lengths a and b, as shown:
The total area of the square is (a + b) ^{2}. Inside
that square, there is a tilted smaller square of side c, with area c^{2}.
In addition, there are four congruent right triangles, each with
sides a, b, and hypotenuse c. Thus, the area of the larger square
may be written as the sum of the area of the inner square plus the
areas of the four (identical) triangles. ...
Hoi told us that Mrs Pythagoras really invented the theorem while she was supposed to be knitting her husband's socks, and she let him pretend to discover it on his own. Perhaps this interesting story may not be completely accurate:
Pythagoras founded a philosophical and religious school in Croton (now Crotone, on the east of the heal of southern Italy) that had many followers. Pythagoras was the head of the society with an inner circle of followers known as mathematikoi. The mathematikoi lived permanently with the Society, had no personal possessions and were vegetarians. They were taught by Pythagoras himself and obeyed strict rules. The beliefs that Pythagoras held were [2]:Source: http://wwwgroups.dcs.stand.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Pythagoras.htmlBoth men and women were permitted to become members of the Society, in fact several later women Pythagoreans became famous philosophers. The outer circle of the Society were known as the akousmatics and they lived in their own houses, only coming to the Society during the day. They were allowed their own possessions and were not required to be vegetarians.
 that at its deepest level, reality is mathematical in nature,
 that philosophy can be used for spiritual purification,
 that the soul can rise to union with the divine,
 that certain symbols have a mystical significance, and
 that all brothers of the order should observe strict loyalty and secrecy.
Very nice, Hoi!
Notes taken by Porter Johnson