Mad Physics :: Experiments
Giant Hooke's Law Demonstration

Hooke’s law is names after Robert Hooke, a physicist, who in the seventeenth century published the anagram: ceiiinosssttuv. It was later revealed that the anagram meant ut tensio sic vis (as extension, the force). This law would govern elasticity (specifically springs) for many years.

Intro | Methods | Results

Introduction

Hooke’s law is a fundamental concept for springs, but does not accurately predict the behavior of other elastic objects. The law stipulates that if a force (F) is put on a spring, its extension will be linearly proportional to its tensile stress. The equation for a spring is:

F=-kx

Of course with springs there is a limited amount of forced that can be applied until the spring loses its original shape. This is called the elastic limit, and this takes us into today’s lab. Most physics classes use very simple set-ups to demonstrate this principle. They take small springs and tiny weights to show the linear progression of extension. Instead, for this lab we chose a spring with a 160lb capacity (2), and we strung it up on a balcony with metal cabling (1).

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Methods

To demonstrate this lab we got one of Joost’s (many) little brothers to pitch in. Today’s victim—coming in at a mass of 60kg—Martijn ten Lohuis. After we set up the spring, we checked it to strength and safety, and then took our initial measurement.

We then tested various weights and then topped it off with Martijn’s 60kg. We got on with some difficulty (2-3), but when he was on safely it was just fine (1). He stayed on long enough for us to get some more measurements.

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Results

As it turned out, the relationship was linear, we had some irregularities in our measurements, but the lab was a success. We managed to create a giant visual for the principle, and we got it to work. We recommend that you try this lab out with lany spring you might find, but remember that keeping your balance on a giant spring hung from a balcony might be a skill reserved for mad physicists!

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Family, Afrooz. “Giant Hooke's Law Demonstration.” April 25, 2005 Mad Physics. dd mmm. yyyy

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