Wonder Wednesday – Rubens’ Tube

I am very easily entertained, but every once in a while I come across something fantastic that I just have to share.  In physics we like to talk about waves and a fascinating way to use sine and cosine waves known as a Fourier transform.  We use these mathematical descriptions to understand things like vibrating strings, pipes in a pipe organ, and even more complicated things.  It turns out that understanding vibrations is key to many issues including keeping buildings from falling down during earth quakes.  However, when my physics training gets in touch with my inner redneck, I tend to find that I’m partial to explosions and anything that involves LOTS AND LOTS OF FIRE!!


This video is both entertaining and instructive for understanding vibrations in a tube (called a Rubens’ Tube):

Then I got lost on YouTube for a while and came across several more.  This one shows the nodes really well:

And this is what physicists do when nobody is watching (or when they think you might be watching on YouTube!):

This is the one that started it all.  This one shows vibrations in a 2D Rubens’ Tube

Curiously though, after all that fire, my inner artist found this one quite soothing and beautiful:


I just love physics! 

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Muahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!! Ok, now that I have that out... I can get to work. For as long as I can remember, I have been making things. This habit used to be called "Inventing" but has lately been repurposed by the Maker community with the term "Maker". While there are some subtle differences between Inventing and Making, I have discovered my passion for both by inspiring a new generation of Makers. In this quest to spark creative thinking and problem solving through practical and exciting projects, I draw on my background in biomedical research, high energy fiber laser development, and 15 years of building laboratory devices. As an experimental physicist with a PhD from Case Western Reserve University, I have seen research and development from many angles and am now bringing that experience to middle school and high school students who want to make everything from catapults to cybernetic augmentations. Through the medium of Making and Inventing, students are transformed from passive observers of education to active learners. This powerful shift fosters deep insights, creative expression, collaborative thinking and a host of other skills that are difficult to learn in traditional settings. Along with my wife Debby, an accomplished constructivist educator, I am on a quest to transform education and am looking for like-minded collaborators to bring hands-on learning to future generations.

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