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David R. Hayworth College of Arts and Sciences
Physics

Undergraduate Research Showcase

Jacob Brooks, BigSURS 2013


The Effects of Initial Conditions on the Motion of the Boleadora Weapon
Presented at the 2013 BigSURS Meeting, High Point University

The effects of initial throwing conditions, such as mass and initial speed, on the motion of a thrown boleadora from the point of the boleadora’s release to its full equidistant spread were investigated. The boleadora is an ancient hunting weapon made of three individual masses connected by rope to a common center point. When the weapon is thrown, the three masses initially travel together. Shortly after release, the masses spread out around their common center point, eventually ensnaring their target. A computational model was developed and compared to actual results measured with video analysis. The effects of mass, radius, and initial speed on the evolution of the system were studied. Both the model and results from video analysis will be presented.

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Matthew Carnaghi, BigSURS 2013


The Path of Springs Released from Uniform Circular Motion
Presented at the 2013 BigSURS Meeting, High Point University

The path of a spring released from uniform circular motion was investigated and compared to a computational model. This study is an extension of the “slinky drop” experiment, which consists of holding the top of a slinky above the ground, allowing it to stretch due to the gravitational force, and releasing it from rest. In this case the bottom portion of the slinky remains stationary until the top portion (or a longitudinal wave) reaches it. Similarly, for a spring in uniform circular motion, the spring is not uniformly stretched but is most stretched near the center of the circle. If released from rest, the furthest end of the spring continues in uniform circular motion until the spring has collapsed. Video analysis was used to measure the motion of the spring and it was compared to a computational model of the system.

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Nikki Sanford, AAPT W13


Simulation Studies of the Helium and Lead Observatory (HALO)
Presented at the Winter 2012 AAPT Meeting, New Orleans, LA

Simulation studies for were conducted for the Helium and Lead Observatory (HALO), the supernova neutrino detector at SNOLAB, Sudbury, Ontario. HALO consists of 79 tons of lead, with 128 3He counters which detect the scattered lead neutrons resulting from incoming neutrinos. Improvements were made to the Geant4 Monte Carlo simulation’s geometry by the addition of water boxes and plastic baseboards, which serve to reflect scattered neutrons back towards counters, and shield against outside neutrons and gammas. Several box designs were created, and the resulting event detection efficiencies and labeling of 1n and 2n events were studied. It was found that these additions cause a 2% efficiency increase, a slight improvement of correctly labeled events, and are a significant improvement to the HALO simulation.

Kevin Sanders, AAPT W13


Computational Modeling and Video Analysis of a Kicked Football
Presented at the Winter 2012 AAPT Meeting, New Orleans, LA

The motion of a football is not characterized by ideal projectile motion because it is significantly affected by drag and spin. In this experiment, a regulation football was kicked end-over-end in a vertical plane, and high-speed video was used to analyze its motion. The video was analyzed with Tracker software to determine the effect of drag on the path of the football. It was found that the drag force and gravitational force were not sufficient to describe its motion. The path of the football also showed something of a lift force, likely due to the Magnus effect. A numerical model was developed using a classroom cluster of Macs to approximate the solution using a brute force method. The results of this and a comparison to a possible analytic solution will be presented.

Linda Poplawski, AAPT W13


Determining DNA Breaks Due to Neutron Radiation
Presented at the Winter 2012 AAPT Meeting, New Orleans, LA

The amount of radiation that a human being is safely allowed to receive is determined from a linear curve extrapolated from unfortunate events in which large doses were delivered, such as atomic accidents. In order to determine if the body reacts to neutron radiation in a different way, such as with a threshold, DNA breaks were examined. Large doses of neutron radiation, from a neutron generator, were given to plasmid DNA placed in a copper holding block to determine if there are any damages in the DNA specifically due to radiation. The irradiated DNA was then analyzed using gel electrophoresis and measurements were taken from those images. Assumptions have been used in order to create a simpler calculation of the radiation given and to determine an approximated dose received by the plasmid DNA.

Kelsey McLaughlin, NCSAAPT F12


Elasticity of Thera-Band Resistance Bands
Fall 2012 Meeting of the North Carolina Section of AAPT at High Point University

The elastic properties of Thera-Band resistance bands were investigated to determine whether the material could be used in an introductory physics experiment for life science majors. Green and black bands were studied by stretching the bands and graphing the stress vs. strain. As expected for this material, resistance bands are non-linear. However, for greater than 40% strain, the material is approximately linear. For longer bands (1.7 m), the elastic modulus was consistent for the two colors. For shorter bands (0.8 m), the elastic modulus for the green band was slightly less than the elastic modulus for the black band. For both colors, the elastic modulus for shorter bands was less than the elastic modulus for longer bands.

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Laura Lee, NCSAAPT F12


Controlling a VPython Simulation with an Accelerometer and Arduino
Presented by Aaron Titus at the Fall 2012 Meeting of the North Carolina Section of AAPT at High Point University

This experiment involved using an Arduino microcontroller to facilitate input from an accelerometer in order to control a VPython simulation. A Memsic 2125 dual-axis accelerometer was connected to an Arduino microcontroller, to which the X-axis and Y-axis pulse width modulated signals were sent. Serial communication was used to record these values and calculate the acceleration on the X-axis/Y-axis in an Arduino program. This program then used a linear approximation to calculate the tilt in degrees on both axes. A VPython simulation then used these tilt values to rotate a virtual board in order to move a ball into a target ring.

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Andrei Makhanov, NCSAAPT F12


Finding an Approximate Age for the Open Star Cluster NGC 2422
Fall 2012 Meeting of the North Carolina Section of AAPT at High Point University

In this study we determined the approximate age of the open cluster NGC 2422. A color-magnitude diagram was used to do this. To create the diagram, we took images of NGC 2422 with the PROMPT 4 telescope on SKYNET and analyzed them with Afterglow. We determined that the cluster is approximately 474 million years old.

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Brielle Spencer, HPU 2012


Quark Model Calculation of a Meson Spectrum
Presented at the HPU Department of Math Senior Seminar

Mesons are bound states of a quark and an anti-quark. The theory that describes the interaction between quarks is known as Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD). While QCD cannot be solved analytically, simplified models have been used to investigate the essential properties of bound states of quarks. In this work, I calculate the mass spectrum of mesons composed of charm quarks. To accomplish this, I solve the time-independent Schrodinger equation containing a simplified model QCD potential that describes the interaction between the quark and anti-quark. The Hamiltonian matrix is written in a harmonic oscillator basis and is diagonalized to obtain the meson masses and wave functions. I compare the spectrum generated by the model with experimental data for the masses of the mesons.

Nikki Sanford, BigSURS 2012


An Analysis of the Rotation of a Hula Hoop
Presented at the 2012 BigSURS Meeting, Radford University

The motion of a point on a hula hoop rotating about a person‘s arm was studied using video analysis. The x-position versus time graph of the motion was found to be a sum of two sinusoidal functions of slightly different frequencies, i.e. a beat pattern. The two frequencies in the curve fit were related to the rotational frequency of the arm and the ratio of radii of the hoop and the arm. The measured frequencies can be predicted using a theoretical model of the hoop rotating in uniform circular motion about its center with the center of the hoop rotating in uniform circular motion about the arm. The video analysis and a theoretical model will be presented.

Nikki’s presentation was awarded First Place for her session.

Andrei Makhanov, BigSURS 2012

Color Magnitude Diagrams of Open Star Clusters
Presented at the 2012 BigSURS Meeting, Radford University

A color magnitude diagram of a star cluster is a plot of the apparent magnitudes (brightness) of the stars vs. their color indices. The information contained in these diagrams can be used to calculate the distances to and ages of star clusters. In this project, we construct the color magnitude diagrams of various open clusters. Images of the clusters used to construct the diagrams are taken remotely with the Panchromatic Robotic Optical Monitoring and Polarimetry Telescopes (PROMPT) located at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. The online processing software Afterglow is used to analyze the images. Access to PROMPT and Afterglow is provided by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Kevin Sanders, AAPTW12


Computational Modeling and Video Analysis of a Place Kick in American Football
Presented at the 2012 AAPT Winter Meeting, Ontario, CA

The motion of an American football during a place kick is not characterized by ideal projectile motion because it is significantly affected by drag and spin. In this experiment, a regulation football was kicked end-over-end (as in a field goal kick). Video was analyzed to determine the effect of drag and lift (due to backspin) on the path of the football. Results of a computational model were compared to the actual path in order to estimate the drag and lift coefficients. It was found that lift, due to the Magnus effect, was more significant than anticipated and could not be neglected in order to accurately model the motion of the football. The video, computational model, and resulting coefficients will be presented.

Nikki Sanford, AAPTW12

Video analysis of a hula hoop rotating about a person’s arm
Presented at the 2012 AAPT Winter Meeting, Ontario, CA

The motion of a point on a hula hoop rotating about a person’s arm was studied using video analysis. The x-position versus time graph of the motion was found to be a sum of two sinusoidal functions of slightly different frequencies, i.e. a beat pattern. The two frequencies in the curve fit were related to the rotational frequency of the arm and the ratio of radii of the hoop and the arm. The measured frequencies can be predicted using a theoretical model of the hoop rotating in uniform circular motion about its center with the center of the hoop rotating in uniform circular motion about the arm. The video analysis, the theoretical model, and a computational model will be presented.

Amanda Tindall, AAPTW12

Use of a Simple Harmonic Oscillator Model to Analyze the Movement of Cilia in the model organism Paramecium
Presented at the 2012 AAPT Winter Meeting, Ontario, CA

Paramecium, unicellular eukaryotes commonly found in freshwater habitats, survive by propelling themselves through the water in search of nutrition. Propulsion is achieved through coordinated motion of thousands of tiny hair-like structures called cilia performing a rowboat-like motion, powering them through the water as quickly as 2700 mu-m/s. Paramecium are excellent model organisms as they are easy to maintain and large enough to examine using brightfield microscopy; models constructed from the analysis of paramecium ciliary beat can be applied to higher order systems, such as human trachea cells. We captured and analyzed videos using a light microscope and open source tracking software, then determined ciliary beat frequency and compared motion to the simple harmonic oscillator, thereby developing an effective model for cilia motion. This research requires little specialized equipment and is an interesting and effective use of video analysis easily explored in both undergraduate laboratories and advanced high school programs.

Jeff Gerber, BigSURS 2011

Presented at the 2011 Big South Undergraduate Research Symposium (BigSURS)

The Minor Planet Center allows professional and amateur astronomers to contribute to our knowledge of the orbits of asteroids. By measuring the position of an asteroid, its osculating orbit can be determined. Due to perturbations, the orbit of any asteroid must be regularly calculated and updated. In this project SkyNet, a network of telescopes and software developed at UNC-Chapel Hill, was used to take images of an asteroid. The CLEA Astrometry Toolkit software was used to measure the position of the asteroid. In this presentation, the images, software, and results will be demonstrated.

Kevin Sanders, BigSURS 2011

Computational Modeling and Video Analysis of a Kicked Football
Presented at the 2011 Big South Undergraduate Research Symposium (BigSURS)

The motion of a football is not characterized by ideal projectile motion because it is significantly affected by drag and spin. In this experiment, a regulation football was kicked end-over-end in a vertical plane, and high-speed video was used to analyze its motion. The video was analyzed with Tracker software to determine the effect of drag and lift (due to backspin) on the path of the football. Results of a computational model were compared to the actual path in order to estimate the drag coefficient. It was found that the path of the football was not parabolic, as expected, and that the drag force and gravitational force were not sufficient to describe its motion. The path of the football also showed something of a lift force, likely due to the Magnus effect. The video, computational model, and resulting coefficients will be presented.

Amelia Morgan and Tiffany Byerly, BigSURS 2011

The Treadmill Effect: The Alteration of Gait Parameters Following Treadmill Activity
Presented at the 2011 Big South Undergraduate Research Symposium (BigSURS)

The pattern in which an individual walks is defined as his or her gait. Gait is specific to an individual, and basic gait parameters, including step velocity, step frequency, and step length can be established. Additionally, center-of-mass motion is also specific to an individual and can be calculated through motion analysis. In these experiments, video analysis was used to establish an individual's basic gait parameters and center-of-mass oscillation. These parameters were then used as a standard to investigate the sensation of vertigo, known as the "treadmill effect," immediately following treadmill activity. Results show that treadmill activity does produce an alteration in step length and parameter variability.

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Coty Mason and Bradley Taylor, BigSURS 2011

High-speed Video Analysis of a 2-Liter Bottle Rocket
Presented at the 2011 Big South Undergraduate Research Symposium (BigSURS)

A 2-liter bottle rocket refers to an inverted 2-liter soda bottle with a hydrogen-oxygen gas mixture that can be ignited to launch the bottle. In this experiment, five two-liter bottle rockets were set up on a rocket launching platform and each rocket’s motion was analyzed using high-speed video at 1200 frames per second. The hydrogen gas (H2) and oxygen gas (O2) were mixed with various concentrations. Through the use of two single replacement chemical reactions and the principle of water displacement, the gases were generated and stored inside the 2-liter bottles. The motion of each rocket was analyzed using Tracker software to determine the net force, impulse, burn time, and maximum speed in order to ascertain the effect of the gas concentrations on the mechanics of the rocket.

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Luke Grome and Shawn Sloan, BigSURS 2011

High-Speed Video Analysis of a Soccer Ball Kicked with Backspin
Presented at the 2011 Big South Undergraduate Research Symposium (BigSURS)

The spin of a soccer ball is caused by kicking the ball off center. If kicked with a force acting through the center of mass, it will have no spin. If kicked with a force off center, then it will spin about an axis through its center of mass. In this experiment, a soccer ball was kicked with backspin, and its motion was recorded with high-speed video at 1200 fames per second. The linear motion of the center of mass and rotational motion about the center of mass were analyzed with Tracker software to determine how far off center the ball was kicked. With this technique, the moment arm was measured to be 7.1 +- 0.1 cm. To verify this result, the moment arm was independently measured to be 7.5 +- 0.5 cm by measuring the angle between the point of impact of the foot on the ball and the force. These measurements of the moment arm were consistent within uncertainty.

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