Monday, May 14, 2012

Epic Eruption was, well... Epic.

It's the end of the semester. I'm in the process of grading the last final exams and wrapping up grades. As a way to finish off some of the extra liquid nitrogen and a little end-of-semester stress release. On friday, Todd Z - who blogs over at "Talking Physics" ran the high speed, while I basically goofed off in front of the camera. Here's a little mashup of the festivities:

This one made full use of the rubber ducks hinted at in the first version. Needless to say, we got some good hang time on those ducks. Todd wasn't around, but my pals Laura (best. department chair. ever.) and Kelly McCullough (Sci-Fi/Fantasy author and self-heating cat furniture) was able to trigger the camera. Well, really "clench with surprise" at the explosion - which had the added benefit of pushing the button at the same time.

The bit of "action hero" footage was suggested by Steve  Gough over at Little River Research & Design - I guess it's a "thing" that cool guys don't look at explosions. So this was me trying to be cool or something.

Don't forget the educational potential here - there's the geological, plinian eruption style and data from the "volcaniclastic" ejecta to be gained. There's a whole slew of mechanics questions you can ask/answer. Such as why does the trash can jump? And how much energy is released by the expanding nitrogen gas? (compare the measurements from the moving can/water to the ideal gas law, perhaps). Or, how high does the eruption column go? To help you out with that last bit, I strung together a couple of the slow-motion clips to help you figure that out:

My colleague teaches a "Physics for Video Game Design" course and they estimated about 1/1000th of a pound of TNT equivalent. That seems a little small to me, but then again TNT is pretty explosive stuff.

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