And so they’re back — ripple tanks, that is. And a Required Practical to boot!
They were a staple of Physics teaching when I started my career, but somehow they fell into an undeserved desuetude. I know many fine teachers and excellent technicians who have never used one in anger, which is a real pity, since they are a great teaching tool.
So I present here my eclectic mix of ripple tanks: what you really need to know.
The Basics: “Look at the shadows, honey, look at the shadows!”
A ripple tank is simply a container with a transparent base. The idea is to put water in the container and make waves or ripples in the water. A light source is positioned above the water so that a screen underneath the transparent tank is illuminated. The crests and troughs act as converging and diverging lenses and produce a pattern of…
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