The power of physics: physics as myth-buster

By & . Published on 28 July 2015 in:
July 2015, News, ,

The Young Minds Valladolid section is included in the non-profit association Physics League which has engaged in several outreach activities in 2015. One of them is a show to demystify some of the most common beliefs of pseudo-science called “The power of physics”. In this show some apparently ‘paranormal’ tricks or “superpowers” are easily explained with physical laws. For instance:

  • Levitation: We have constructed the same levitating system with steel rods used by ‘yogis’ in India and by some street performers, which introduces the concept of mass centre.
  • Gravity evasion: gravity is evaded when a magnet is dropped through a copper tube (by induced currents).
  • Creating electricity: a fluorescent lamp is turned on without electrical connections by a hidden plasma sphere.
  • Bending spoons: A gallium spoon, which looks like a normal kitchen spoon but with a melting point of 28 ºC, is easily bent in our hands.
  • Burning hands: a mixture of water, soap and hairspray allows us to set fire to our hands without damage (Leidenfrost effect).
  • Fire control: A Rubens’ tube shows the modulation of fire apparently caused by “supernatural beings”, but it is explained by acoustic standing waves in the tube.
  • Telekinesis: at a certain distance, a pile of glasses is destroyed and candles are put out … by an air vortex hidden in the backstage. 
  • Duel of strength: the attendance is challenged to prove their strength against members of Physics League. Because of the knowledge of centre of mass, our team always wins.
  • Walking through broken glass: We walk through broken glass without any damage and it is just simple physics at work!
  • Bed of nails: the pain control shown by fakirs lying over a bed of nails is demystified by the relationship between force and the surface where it is applied. We take it to the next level by breaking a concrete block placed over the stomach of a Physics League member lying on this bed.
  • Ghost apparitions: a ghost suddenly appears! Thankfully, Ghostbusters come to our rescue explaining the “Pepper Ghost” effect.

After the show, the attendance is invited to try all the experiments.

This show has been performed four times through June 2015 with a total audience close to 1,000 viewers. In May 2015, this activity was awarded the EPL Best YM Activity Award 2015 during the 4th EPS Young Minds Leadership Meeting.

EPS Young Minds activities
EPS Young Minds activities

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