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Centripetal Motion: Physics Lab

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

Table of Contents

Projectile motion, physics lab steps, lesson summary, learning outcomes.

Uniform centripetal motion is the motion of an object moving in a circle at a constant velocity. This happens due to a force pointed towards the center of the circle, called a centripetal force. The exact nature of this force depends on the circumstances. For example, if you whirl a ball over your head on a string, the tension in the string provides the centripetal force. Or for the space shuttle in orbit, gravity provides the centripetal force.

In other lessons, we introduced the equation for centripetal force, which is:

Where m is the mass of the object moving in a circle, measured in kilograms, v is the velocity of the object moving in a circle, measured in meters per second, and r is the radius of the circle, measured in meters. But now it's time to get our hands dirty and investigate that motion with an experiment.

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  • 0:01 Projectile Motion
  • 0:48 Physics Lab Steps
  • 4:04 Lesson Summary

For this physics lab, you will need:

  • A plastic cup filled with water
  • Some kind of square or circular platform; the sturdier the better. But you must be able to make holes in the corners. If you have access to a drill, you could use some plastic or acrylic. Otherwise, a really sturdy piece of cardboard might do the trick.
  • A large amount of string
  • A stopwatch
  • And a tape-measure or ruler

Step 1: Create your platform. You should have several holes on the edges to attach strings. If the platform is square, a hole in each corner is fine. The platform needs to be sturdy enough to hold a plastic cup filled with water without deforming noticeably.

Step 2: Attach strings to your platform. One string should be tied to each hole securely, so that you can hold the platform in the air by the strings, kind of like a puppet. The length of each string should be a little shorter than the distance from your outstretched arm to the floor, though a lot of different lengths can work.

Step 3: Put the plastic cup of water on the platform and hold the platform cup by the strings. The cup of water should be held perhaps a foot above the floor, sat on the platform. If this is difficult to do, your platform might not be sturdy enough.

Step 4: Starting carefully, swing the cup of water back and forth like a pendulum. As you gain confidence, try spinning it in a full circle, so the cup is upside down. If you do it fast enough, the water will not spill! Well done, you've just seemingly defied gravity! But it's all due to the power of circular motion.

It turns out, the water doesn't fall out of the cup, because by the time it begins to fall you've already moved the cup to the side (and down). It's like you're catching the water before it has a chance to actually move.

Step 5: Play around in this way for as long as you like.

Step 6: Once you're ready to take some measurements, measure the mass of your mostly-full cup of water. Also, measure the mass of the platform, and add it to this figure:

This is your value of m.

Step 7: Get a friend to use the stopwatch, and measure how long it takes for the platform to make one complete circle. The best way to do this is to measure the time for ten spins and then divide your number by ten to get an average.

Step 8: Without adjusting your grip, measure the length of the string from the gripping edge of your fingers to the platform.

Step 9: Use basic circles equations to calculate the circumference of the circle. Do this by taking two times the length of the strings and multiplying it by pi (3.14). Then figure out the average speed of your cup of water by taking this distance and dividing it by your average time from step 7. The answer you get is your value of v, the velocity of the cup and platform.

Step 10: Use the centripetal force equation to estimate the total tension in the strings (the centripetal force). Take your value of m, multiply it by your value of v squared, and divide it by your radius, which is just the length of the strings again (mv^2 / r).

And that's it; you've calculated the centripetal force in this particular situation. So if you haven't already, it's time to pause the video and get started.

Uniform centripetal motion is the motion of an object moving in a circle at a constant velocity. This happens due to a force pointed towards the center of the circle, called a centripetal force.

FC = mv^2 / r

  • where m is the mass of the object moving in a circle, measured in kilograms
  • v is the velocity of the object moving in a circle, measured in meters per second
  • And r is the radius of the circle, measured in meters

In today's physics experiment, we managed to defy gravity using the power of circular motion, spinning a cup of water in a vertical circle. We were also able to calculate the average centripetal force, in this case tension, using the centripetal force equation.

Subsequent to watching this lesson on centripetal motion, determine whether you can:

  • Recite the meaning of uniform centripetal motion
  • Identify the equation for centripetal force
  • Calculate the tension in a string using this equation

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  • Spring 2021

PHYS 121 A: Mechanics

physics lab homework

Syllabus Description:

Topics covered.

Physics 121 addresses the following topics:

  • one dimensional kinematics
  • relative motion
  • motion in two or more dimensions
  • circular motions
  • rotational kinematics and dynamics
  • angular momentum

This course has multiple components lecture, lab, and tutorial (QZ section in time schedule) each of which have several important aspects.  These are described below after some general information critical to success in this course.

Resources to Succeed

This website describes recommended practices to succeed in this course and contains a list of resources you may find helpful for a variety of issues you may encounter during your time at UW.  Contact us if you need help finding the resources you need.

One very important practice described in the above website is working collaboratively. We will create a space for you to communicate with your peers in your tutorial section and TA in a Slack channel. See Getting Started for more details.  However, you are encouraged to reach out to other students to find people with whom you can study and learn.

To organize your coursework, we have posted sample weekly schedule here . We recommend downloading it and make your own by moving various cells (except the due dates in red cells). For example, move the cell corresponding to “Attend Tutorial”   to the time of your actual tutorial (QZ) section, move the time when you will watch the lecture videos to a time that works for you, etc.

Office Hours and Posting Questions

During the week we (the TAs and Instructors) will hold office hours on Zoom where you can ask questions.  Click Office hours for the office hour schedule. 

Use Slack (sign-up using your UW email at the link here ) for physics questions or syllabus related questions.  Students are encouraged to answer each others' questions, but we will also monitor this frequently and will respond if needed.

Contact information

There are many ways to get in touch with us. Slack and Email are probably the best.

  • Your reading group for discussion of homework, physics content, etc.
  • Your TA for any specific questions on content or the tutorial or labs (email contact information can be found here and they are part of your reading group discussion channel).
  • the instructors, David Smith at [email protected] and Gerald Seidler at [email protected] or Slack DM, for personal correspondence related to grades, health issues, questions about the course, etc...
  • the PHYS 121 TA coordinator (Peter Shaffer) at [email protected] for questions about your TA or questions that your TA may not be able to answer.
  • the program coordinator at [email protected] for administrator questions related to registering, overloading, etc.

Course Material

You need to purchase the following items:

  • Only available from the University Bookstore  at this direct link .
  • This will be used to fill in your tutorial work and tutorial homework, so you cannot use a used one.
  • See purchasing options here .

Getting started

  • Connect to the online homework system using the instructions found  here .
  • For labs, we will use  Pivot to perform video experiments.  Note that you have already paid for access to Pivot through the course fee as part of registration.  Your TA will announce details on how to get access during the first week of the quarter.
  • Use your UW email to join our  Slack workspace .
  • Get Slack running on your device.  Here  are useful tips and features for using Slack. We highly recommend  downloading the mobile or desktop app, and turning notifications on so that you don't miss messages from your TA and other members in your tutorial section.

Class components

This class consists of lecture, lab, tutorial and exam components.  You can see all the components required in a given week in Modules .

Important Note: Since each exam includes questions based on the lectures, labs, and tutorials, missing a lecture, lab, or tutorial section can have an impact on your exam performance.  You should be sure to watch all lectures, and work through any lab or tutorial that you miss as soon as possible to minimize the impact on your course grade.

Lecture components:

Before each scheduled lecture you need to complete the assigned reading ( see schedule below ).  The lectures include the following graded components:

  • For each lecture, there is an associated reading quiz that will be posted on MyLab and Mastering. Each reading quiz is due by 11:59 pm on the day of the scheduled lecture.
  • For late submissions, 20% of the grade is deducted for every day past the deadline.
  • You have 5 attempts per question, with no penalty for each incorrect attempt.
  • After completing the reading quiz, you need to watch the lecture video and complete the embedded quizzes before 11:59 pm  on the day of the assigned reading (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday).
  • These will be graded based on engagement, not on correctness.
  • Your lowest three video quizzes will be dropped.  If you miss more than three due to a valid reason (family and medical emergency etc.), please contact us .
  • These will be due on Tuesdays at 11:59 pm , and will be based on material covered in the previous weeks reading and video.
  • You can access the lecture homework in MyLab and Mastering .
  • You have 5 attempts per question.
  • For multiple choice, multiple select and true/false questions, a deduction of 100% / (#options - 1) is given for each incorrect attempt. For example, if a question has five choices, for each incorrect attempt, 25% of the points assigned to the question is deducted. There is no deduction for questions in which you need to enter a value but you have a total of 5 attempts.

Lab components:

  • There are nine graded lab assignments, some of which may have multiple parts.
  • Each lab assignment under "Assignments" tells you the parts to be completed in Pivot .
  • After you start any of the assignments, you can save your work and go back to it as many times as you want before the deadline, thus, allowing you to talk to peers or a TA, and then go back and finish.
  • Meeting learning objectives (3 points) : Questions in the lab are answered, and the answers clearly show mastery of the learning objectives of the lab.
  • Needs some improvement (2 points) : Questions in the lab are answered, but some answers indicate a lack of mastery of the learning objectives of the lab.
  • Needs significant improvement (1 point) : Many questions in the lab are not answered and/or indicate significant lack of mastery of the learning objectives of the lab.
  • Not completed (0 points) : Significant portion of the lab is not completed.
  • If you receive 0 points, 1 point, or 2 points, you can do or redo up to 2 labs without asking for permission.  After the deadline, you will temporarily no longer be able to submit new work.  Contact your TA and they can allow you to submit late work.
  • If you need to make-up more than 2 labs due to a valid reason (family and medical emergency etc.), contact us .

Tutorials components:

The tutorials include the following graded components:

  • These are designed to get you thinking about your ideas on topics covered in this course.  They are graded based on a thoughtful attempt, not on correctness.
  • These become available Friday at 3:30 PM and are due on Sunday at 11:59 pm .
  • Once you start a pretest, you will have 15 minutes to complete it without the ability to pause.
  • Your lowest tutorial pretest score will be automatically dropped.
  • If you miss more than one tutorial pretest due to a valid reason (family and medical emergency etc.), please contact us .
  • Adequate (2 points) :   Actively engaged in discussion throughout tutorial.
  • Needs improvement (1 point) :  Multiple periods not engaged in discussion during tutorial.
  • Missing (0 points) : Did not attend any tutorial section.
  • If you cannot attend your tutorial section in a given week, you can attend another section.  A schedule of tutorials with their Zoom links can be found here (select "12x" then select "121 Tutorial Schedule").  Be sure to contact your TA to let them know.
  • Your lowest tutorial in-class score will be automatically dropped.  However, you are still responsible for submitting the associated tutorial homework on time.
  • If you miss more than one tutorial in-class due to a valid reason (family and medical emergency etc.), please contact us .   
  • Each tutorial has homework that is due at 11:59 pm the   Monday after you have worked through the tutorial .
  • For each homework, you need to upload a scanned pdf file to the Canvas tutorial homework assignment. For instruction on how to create and upload a pdf, see the Tutorial Information .
  • Only part of the tutorial homework is graded completely (8 pts); the rest is examined for completeness (2 pts).
  • If you submit your tutorial homework after it is due, there is a penalty of 1% deduction of the score for every hour that it is late.
  • If you need to submit tutorial homework late due to a valid reason (family and medical emergency etc.), please contact us .
  • Your lowest tutorial homework score will be automatically dropped.

All important tutorial information can be found under the Tutorial Information .  Once at the tutorial website select "12x" for information general to all courses in the Phys 121-122-123 sequence.  Select the link for section A, B or C under "PHYS 121" to get the schedule for all assignments specific to your class.

Exams will be done online.  The exam procedure is described here .

The following dates are preliminary and may change.

  • Midterm exam 1 on Thursday April 29th starting between 4:55 and 5:15 pm (PST) . Once you start the exam, you will have 60 minutes to finish the exam.
  • Midterm exam 2 on Thursday May 20th starting between 4:55 and 5:15 pm (PST) . Once you start the exam, you will have 60 minutes to finish the exam.
  • Option 1: o n Monday June 7th starting between 2:25 pm and 2:45 pm (PST)
  • Option 2: on Tuesday June 8th starting between 8:25 am and 8:45 am (PST)

Note that there are no make-up exams.  So, students with outside professional, service, or career commitments (i.e. military service, ROTC, professional conference presentation, NCAA sports, etc.) conflicting with the exam dates must contact us  early in the quarter to establish alternate examination procedures.  Exam scores for students who miss an exam without making prior arrangements will be zero.

Each exam is out of 100 points, and have three components:

  • 70 points on lecture material
  • 15 points on tutorial material
  • 15 points on lab material

Exams will count for 60% of your grade.  Your overall exam score will be based on the best of the following two methods:

  • Method 1: 20% from each of your midterms scores and 20% from your final exam score
  • Method 2: 20% from your best midterm score and 40% from your final exam score

We will design the exams such that a student who understands some of the material very well but needs some improvement in the remaining material should get a score around 65%.  If the class average on a given exam is less than 65%, then all the scores for that exam will be adjusted upward so that the average is 65%. Scores will not be adjusted downward even if the class average is higher than 65%.

If a student is found responsible for misconduct during an exam, a score of zero will be given for that exam for this student.  If the misconduct occurs during a midterm, only Method 1 is used to calculate the final grade, and Method 2 is not used.

You will get a grade of 0 for the entire course if y ou receive less than 18 out of the 27 points possible on the lab assignments.

Otherwise your final weighted percentage is converted to a grade point using the following thresholds.

4.0 92.0 3.0 76.0 2.0 60.0 1.0 44.0
3.9 90.4 2.9 74.4 1.9 58.4 0.9 42.4
3.8 88.8 2.8 72.8 1.8 56.8 0.8 40.8
3.7 87.2 2.7 71.2 1.7 55.2 0.7 39.2
3.6 85.6 2.6 69.6 1.6 53.6    
3.5 84.0 2.5 68.0 1.5 52.0    
3.4 82.4 2.4 66.4 1.4 50.4    
3.3 80.8 2.3 64.8 1.3 48.8    
3.2 79.2 2.2 63.2 1.2 47.2    
3.1 77.6 2.1 61.6 1.1 45.6  

Reading schedule

Research Study Information

This course is part of a research project  examining student reasoning ability and attitudes about physics with the goal of  improving physics teaching.  By enrolling in this course you are automatically included in the study. Early in the quarter, students will have an opportunity to learn about the study and to remove themselves from the study if they wish. Your instructor will not know whether or not you participate. Later in the quarter,   this link  will become active and allow you to review the details of the study, contact a member of the research team, or remove yourself from the study.

Access and accommodation

Your experience in this class is important to us, so if you have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but are not limited to: mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical), please contact DRS to arrange accommodations.

Safe campus

We are committed to ensuring a safe environment on campus.  We encourage you to check out the resources available here .

Religious Accommodations

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at  Religious Accommodations Policy ( . Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the  Religious Accommodations Request form ( .

Academic integrity and student conduct

The University takes academic integrity and student conduct very seriously.  Behaving with integrity and respect is part of our responsibility to our shared learning community.  Acts of academic misconduct may include, but are not limited to, cheating by working with others or sharing answers on exams.

Please note that screenshots or recordings of instructors, other students, and course materials during active video (Zoom) participation sessions are strictly forbidden.  Streaming or posting inappropriate materials on any course platform is also not allowed. 

All the course materials including exam and quiz questions, lecture notes, lecture videos are intellectual properties of the instructor and the University of Washington. Distributing them in any form without permission is forbidden.  

The University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-121) defines prohibited academic and behavioral conduct and describes how the University holds students accountable as they pursue their academic goals.  Allegations of misconduct by students may be referred to the appropriate campus office for investigation and resolution.  More information can be found online at .

If you’re uncertain about if something is academic or behavioral misconduct, ask us.  we are willing to discuss questions you might have.

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CERN Accelerating science


The research programme at CERN covers topics from the basic structure of matter to cosmic rays, and from the Standard Model to supersymmetry

An ATLAS event with 4 muons

CERN's main focus is particle physics – the study of the fundamental constituents of matter – but the physics programme at the laboratory is much broader, ranging from nuclear to high-energy physics, from studies of antimatter to the possible effects of cosmic rays on clouds.

Since the 1970s, particle physicists have described the fundamental structure of matter using an elegant series of equations called the Standard Model . The model describes how everything that they observe in the universe is made from a few basic blocks called fundamental particles, governed by four forces. Physicists at CERN use the world's most powerful particle accelerators and detectors to test the predictions and limits of the Standard Model. Over the years it has explained many experimental results and precisely predicted a range of phenomena, such that today it is considered a well-tested physics theory.

But the model only describes the 4% of the known universe, and questions remain. Will we see a unification of forces at the high energies of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)? Why is gravity so weak? Why is there more matter than antimatter in the universe? Is there more exotic physics waiting to be discovered at higher energies? Will we discover evidence for a theory called supersymmetry at the LHC? Or understand  the Higgs boson that gives particles mass?

Physicists at CERN are looking for answers to these questions and more – find out more below.

What does “five sigma” mean?

Particles and forces.

Scientists at CERN are trying to find out what the smallest building blocks of matter are.

All matter except dark matter is made of molecules, which are themselves made of atoms. Inside the atoms, there are electrons spinning around the nucleus. The nucleus itself is generally made of protons and neutrons but even these are composite objects. Inside the protons and neutrons, we find the quarks, but these appear to be indivisible, just like the electrons.

Quarks and electrons are some of the elementary particles we study at CERN and in other laboratories. But physicists have found more of these elementary particles in various experiments, so many in fact that researchers needed to organize them, just like Mendeleev did with his periodic table.

This is summarized in a concise theoretical model called the Standard Model . Today, we have a very good idea of what matter is made of, how it all holds together and how these particles interact with each other.

Standard model

Higgs boson, understanding our universe, the early universe, heavy ions and quark gluon plasma, matter-antimatter asymmetry, dark matter, cosmic rays: particles from outer space, supersymmetry, compositeness, unified forces, extra dimensions, gravitons, and tiny black h....

physics lab homework

Air Curtains for Buildings and Industrial Processes

  • © 2024
  • Alexander Zhivov 0 ,
  • Andrey Strongin 1

Champaign, USA

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Research Institute of Building Physics, Russian Academy of Architecture and Cons, Moscow, Russia

  • Insights into improving building microclimates with air curtain application
  • Savings on initial construction costs and reduce energy consumption by 10-20%
  • Provides schematics of air curtains and pictures from real-life implementation

Part of the book series: SpringerBriefs in Applied Sciences and Technology (BRIEFSAPPLSCIENCES)

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About this book

This book is based on several decades of authors’ research and practical experience in the areas of industrial and commercial buildings ventilation and energy efficiency as well as in process optimization in different types of industrial facilities. The Book discusses different types of air curtains used around the world and describes design, applications, pros and cons and examples for each type of air curtain.  The book is illustrated with schematics of air curtains and pictures from their real-life implementation from around-the -world. To compare various design of air curtains, authors propose several indicators/efficiency criteria, which address effectiveness of air curtains, their energy and performance efficiency. 

The target audience for this book are energy and process engineers and designers of large commercial and industrial facilities, warehouses, and hangars.  

  • Energy Management
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Energy Systems
  • Air Curtain and Air Lock
  • Protection Effectiveness
  • Large Industrial and Commercial Buildings
  • Warehouses and Hangars
  • Air Curtain with Heated Indoor Air
  • Energy and Process Engineers

Table of contents (6 chapters)

Front matter, introduction.

  • Alexander Zhivov, Andrey Strongin

Classification of Air Curtains and Requirements for Their Performance

Indicators/efficiency criteria of air curtains, calculations, design methods and examples of calculations, conclusions, back matter, authors and affiliations.

Alexander Zhivov

Andrey Strongin

About the authors

Dr. Alexander Zhivov is a senior research engineer at the Engineer Research and Development Center Construction Engineering Research Laboratory in Champaign, Illinois. He is responsible for the US Army facilities energy strategic planning leading to the implementation of new HVAC systems, distributed generation technologies, renewable energy. He develops the framework and concepts of a secure, reliable, and efficient Army installation energy strategy and supporting implementation programs.

He holds a Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering from the Central Research and Experimental Design Institute for Industrial Buildings, Moscow, and the Research Institute for Labor Protection, Leningrad, and an MBA degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Between 1991 and 2003 he was a visiting, adjunct and assistant professor at the Bioenvironmental Engineering Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois.   

Dr. Zhivov served as an Operating Agent for the International Energy Agency ECB Program Annex 46 “Holistic Assessment Tool-kit on Energy Efficient Retrofit Measures for Government Buildings “EnERGo,” Annex 61 “Business and Technical Concepts for Deep Energy Retrofit of Public Buildings” and Annex 73 “Towards Net Zero Energy Public Resilient Communities.”

Dr. Zhivov is a Fellow and Life member of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers. He has authored more than 250 books and technical papers.

Dr. Andrey S. Strongin is a head of the laboratory "Environmental safety and energy efficiency of building’s engineering equipment" at the Research Institute of Buildings Physics Russian Academy of Architecture and Construction Sciences in Moscow. His areas of research include ventilation and air conditioning ofresidential, commercial, and industrial buildings, he manages projects related to HVAC and energy supply systems; develops and reviewers codes, standards and guidelines related to design and construction of heat supply and HVAC system.  Dr. Strongin received his M.S. degree in civil engineering in 1974 from Moscow State University of Civil Engineering in the area of heating ventilation, heat and gas supply.  He also received his Ph.D. degree in 1983 from the Central Research Institute of Industrial Buildings.  He is an author of more than 90 technical publications, including monographs and university textbooks, he is a holder of 12 patents.

Bibliographic Information

Book Title : Air Curtains for Buildings and Industrial Processes

Authors : Alexander Zhivov, Andrey Strongin

Series Title : SpringerBriefs in Applied Sciences and Technology


Publisher : Springer Cham

eBook Packages : Earth and Environmental Science , Earth and Environmental Science (R0)

Copyright Information : The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2024

Softcover ISBN : 978-3-031-59275-1 Published: 04 June 2024

eBook ISBN : 978-3-031-59276-8 Published: 03 June 2024

Series ISSN : 2191-530X

Series E-ISSN : 2191-5318

Edition Number : 1

Number of Pages : XV, 82

Number of Illustrations : 27 b/w illustrations, 22 illustrations in colour

Topics : Environmental Engineering/Biotechnology , Building Repair and Maintenance , Energy Policy, Economics and Management , Sustainable Development , Environmental Management , Social Sciences, general

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