Physics Flashlets

Michael Fowler - University of Virginia Physics

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This is a collection of Flash animations to make learning physics easier! They were created by myself and my students Jacquie Hui Wan Ching and Heather Welch, and Michael Timmins and Aris Stylianopoulos, in the summer of 2003.


Newton's Mountain: Newton imagined shooting a cannonball horizontally from a mountaintop above the atmosphere. With sufficient speed, it would circle the Earth..


Pythagoras: prove Pythagoras' Theorem fast by moving triangles around with your mouse.


Eclipse of the Moon: a short movie of the Moon moving through the Earth's shadow, and how it appears from Earth.


Ptolemy's Epicycles for Inner Planet Motion: actually a simplified version, with just the basic epicycle idea illustrated.


Ptolemy's Epicycles for the Outer Planets: again, just the basic epicycle idea.


Earth-Mars Line of Sight in Two Models. Viewing the motion of Mars against the starry background: How the Ptolemy model and the Copernicus model predict the same direction, hence the same path. (We slightly simplify--taking both models in the circular orbit approximation, as portrayed in Copernicus' illustration.


Kepler's Laws: construct your own planetary orbits and check Kepler's Laws!


The Inner Planets: a movie of the inner planets in orbit ... and here are the Outer Planets.


Galileo's "Compound Motion": Galileo realized that the motion of a projectile was a compound of constant speed horizontal motion and constant acceleration vertical motion -- we give an animation of his diagram.


Trip to Mars!: Try your skill at shooting a probe from the Earth to a close encounter with the Red planet.


Jupiter Slingshot Find out for yourself how a gravitational boost from a moving planet can get you to the far reaches of the Solar System.


The Doppler Effect Animation shows expanding rings of sound, and a microphone clicks as each ring hits. Dutch Version Hungarian


Carnot Cycle: the Carnot engine in action! You can slow it down to see what's going on, and choose other values of pressure and volume to vary the cycle.


Michelson-Morley Experiment: an animation of the beautiful experiment to detect the aether that found nothing.


Lightclock: Einstein's famous clock bouncing light between two mirrors is animated, to show just why taking the speed of light the same in all inertial frames leads inevitably to time dilation.


Young's Interference Experiment An animation that builds up the two-slit interference pattern by adding the two waves sequentially for a series of points on the screen.


Basic Young's Experiment Without bells and whistles.


Wave Pulse Transmission Two strings of different linear densities are joined, a wave pulse is sent towards the join, the reflection/transmission is shown.


Phases of Venus An animation of Venus in orbit, with the sunlit portion of the surface viewed from different perspectives. (htm file)


Chinese Version