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Bringing Early Physics Apparatus and Demonstrations into the Twenty First Century

Tom Greenslade

Tom Greenslade
Kenyon College

Let me tell you some stories about how you can find new uses for old apparatus. After all, apart from what we used to call "modern physics", which is now 125 years old, most of the apparatus that we use in the introductory lab and for demonstrations in that course, were designed in the 1850-1950 era. I'll tell you about some of the modern versions of early apparatus that I have worked on with John Daffron, and some of the experiments and demonstrations that I have updated on my own. You will see new uses for blood-pressure cuffs and shoe polish, and see what you can learn from a picture.

Tom Greenslade received his A.B. in Physics from Amherst College in 1959, and his doctorate in experimental low temperature physics from Rutgers in 1965. From 1964 to 2005 he was a physics faculty member at Kenyon College. His research deals with the late 19th and early 20th century physics course, focusing on the apparatus used to teach physics. Some of the 750 pieces of apparatus that have been donated to him are housed in the museum wing of his 1957 house in Gambier. Many of this artifacts have appeared in the 700 pictures with 100 word captions that he has published in American Journal of Physics. In addition, he has published about 300 articles in physics teaching journals. He is a Fellow of both the AAPT and the APS.