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Homework Help: Need help finding a suitable physics topic for a project

  1. Jun 16, 2006 #1
    Hi, my first post here. Been lurking a while however.
    Down to business -->
    I need a topic for a physics project - and as of now my mind is completely blank. I'm supposed to write 4000 words about this as well as include an experiment of some sort. I'd like to do something about either waves or mechanics as I happen to find those fields coupled with astrophysics related material the most interesting. Any ideas for a topic? Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 18, 2006 #2
    It depends on what your level is.

    Astrophysics projects would be theoretical. You could be doing radio-astronomy, simulations but if you are interested in radio-telescopes, that would be experimental.

    Something involving lasers can be theoretical + experimental. Perhaps you can even do something with computer vision (mathematics gets pretty intense so depending on what your aim is you could be doing Fourier transforms, edge detection and all that is theoretical + experimental).
  4. Jun 18, 2006 #3


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    It depends...What do you mean by "including an experiment". You mean that you have to do some experimental work yourself, correct? (or you meant that you have to describe some experiment that was done?)
    If you have to do some experimental work, it depends largely on how much and what type of equipment is available to you.

    My first thought concerning an application of mechanics to astrophysics is the orbit of two massive objects around their common center of mass. One can discuss binary star systems and how one obtains the masses of the two stars using Kepler's laws and the position of th ecenter of mass. One can then discuss how this was used to offer strong evidence of the existence of black holes or how it was used to discover extrasolar planets.

    As for an application of waves, the first thing that comes to mind is the Doppler effect. One could discuss how the relativistic Doppler effect differs from the Doppler effect for sound waves, how it is used in astrophysics (for example how it was used to discover the expansion of the universe) and so on.

    But then there is the "experimental" aspect which depends on what you have to work with.

    I hope this helps.

  5. Jun 22, 2006 #4
    Thanks for the replies.

    Looked up fourier transforms, and as you said - the mathematics involved did seem quite intense, but I'm not ruling anything out of yet. Will read up on the matter as soon as I get the time.

    And yes, I meant that I had to perform an experiment. I've thought a lot about Doppler effect related material but failed to come up with an experiment I could perform to complement my project. As for equipment I'm guessing I have the standard high school laboratory equipment available to me.
  6. Jun 22, 2006 #5
    You can read up waves from any standard physics textbook which does not compromise on the math. Then you can read up Fourier Series and learn why Fourier Series representations are useful. Then you can work your way up to Fourier Integral representations and finally to Fourier Transforms (which as you will see involve transformation of a time or space domain function into another function in the frequency or wavenumber domain). If you use a physics book first then you will understand why these techniques must be resorted to at all. And if you use a mathematics textbook on the side, you will improve your skills at handling the expressions involved.

    I am assuming you know calculus...if not, you can probably even learn that in the time you have. Don't be afraid of the math, it gets interesting as soon as you understand the motivation behind it.

    In fact even in the acoustic project, you might feel like throwing in Fourier Transforms :smile:
  7. Jun 23, 2006 #6

    How about Radar. Uses doppler principles and the maths isn't too intense. I carried out an undergraduate project last year to build a range detecting radar set up. It's interesting and good fun to build. Needs some electronics knowledge though.

  8. Nov 27, 2007 #7
    thats interesting

    hi sham i am in the persuit of making a doppler radar myself can u help me find the electronics involved in it that i could find on the net the website should suffice though i mean i need it fast say in 2-3 days thanks for your patience
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