Physicists like to make things easy. Most physics solutions start with something like, “Assume the car is a point particle.” We’ll actually go to quite a lot of trouble in the pursuit of
laziness simplicity. The Society of Physics Students at UMKC recently brought their powers to bear on the arduous task of crushing an aluminum can.”You mean I have to exert a pound of pressure with my own hands?” No more! A few turns of copper tubing, a giant capacitor, and ten thousand volts of electricity will crush that can with just a push of a button. Here’s a video of the can crusher in action.
For those in the know, the can crusher is basically a Tesla coil with the can acting as the secondary. The electromagnetic radiation generated by the spark gap firing messes up the camera, so they haven’t been able to get a detail shot of the actual crushing action. Bill Baird recently got a couple thousand dollars from our undergraduate research program to make the can crusher safe for demonstrations (currently there’s a chance that the capacitor will explode in a shower of chemical napalm).
To get in on the undergraduate grant action, I’ve been considering the following topics for research proposals:
- A pill to give worms to ex-girlfriends
- A heat gun made from microwave parts
- A study of the thermodynamic properties of Jell-O as a function of flavor
- Motherf*cking lasers and sh*t!!