Cavendish Experiment

Description:  Henry Cavendish was the first scientist to measure the gravitational force between two objects in the laboratory using a gravitational torsion balance. In this video physics teacher Andrew Bennett attempts to recreate this experiment. Reading the comments section is very interesting. Pseudoscientific flat-earthers attempt to point out errors in the Mr. Bennett's experiment. Students could attempt to recreate the experiment or join in the conversation.

Web Resources:  Cavendish Experiment - Wikipedia, Gravitational Torsion Balance - Pasco


Gravitational Waves and LIGO

Description:  Gravitational waves are disturbances in the fabric of spacetime and are generated by accelerated masses. Gravitational waves were predicted by Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity but were measured for the first time in 2016 by two LIGO and Virgo observatories. These first waves originated from two merging black holes 1.3 billion light years away. This cutting edge phenomenon can be used to introduce gravity as a fundamental force and to give a sense of scale of the Universe.

Web Resources:  Gravitational Waves - Wikipedia, LIGO - Wikipedia


Protecting the Earth from Killer Asteroids

Description:  Asteroids have the potential to cause catastrophic loss of life on our planet upon impact. In 2013, the Chelyabinsk meteor injured 1500 people when it exploded over Russia. If researchers could identify potential asteroids early enough they could change their orbit to eliminate the threat to Earth. This phenomenon could be used to explore the motion of orbiting objects in the solar system or to gain a better understanding of gravitational forces and fields.

Web Resource:  Asteroid Impact Avoidance - Wikipedia


Weighing the World

Description:  The Schiehallion experiment was an attempt to measure the mass of the earth using a pendulum and a mountain (Mount Schiehallion). The mass of the mountain was approximated and the deflection of a pendulum due to the gravitational force of the mountain was measured. Students could attempt to do the calculations or even repeat the experiment on a nearby mountain.

Web Resource:  Schiehallion Experiment - Wikipedia

weigh world.jpg

Woman Hit by Meteorite

Description:  Ann Hodges has the distinction of being the only human to have been hit by a meteorite. While Mrs. Hodges was napping on the couch the meteorite impacted her house, bounced off a table and hit her in the hip. She was able to walk away from the incident. Scientists can learn about the composition of the early solar system and the formation of the Earth by studying these primordial objects orbiting in space.

Web Resource:  Sylacauga (meteorite) - Wikipedia