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Homework Help: Topics for Physics Extended Essay

  1. Jan 11, 2007 #1
    I apologize if this thread is in the wrong spot. I am new here, and I know how annoying n00bs can be...

    I was wondering if there are any possible physics topics to do on the extended essay for the IB diploma in aerodynamics. It is basically a 4000 word paper on anything you want, and I would want a focus on aerodynamics. An experiment is not required, but it would be beneficial...i have no idea what to experiment though

    I considered looking at the relationships between the angle of attack and the coefficients of drag and lift

    there are a few graphs out there on the internet, but I'm having some doubts
    will I be able to squeeze 4000 words out of this topic? Are there any possible ideas for creating an experiment in terms of aerodynamics with some simplicity?

    One of my seniors created a huge wind tunnel to test out the effects of different leading and trailing edges etc and I don't think i will be able to something that extensive

    Or is Aerodynamics a good area to venture into in order to write a Physics Extended Essay...if possible please suggest topics in all areas of physics. So far, we have only covered Kinematics, Heat and Waves in IB SL
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 12, 2007 #2
    Generally the science EEs get graded really low, so if you care about your grade switch to English or History.

    If you don't care about the grade, and want to stick with physics you ought to change your topic. The topic needs to be very specific. Focus on something specific with aerodynamics, such as "Laminar Flow and Linearity in Aeroplanes." You could build a wing and show the conditions when you lose laminar flow, and what happens when nonlinearity enters the system. I don't think you would have to know where the math comes from, but you would still have to present it.
  4. Jan 12, 2007 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    I apologize, but I don't know what an IB diploma is. What level in school are we talking about? Is it equivalent to US high school graduation level, or a year into college or something?

    Also, if you are specializing in aerodynamics, do you have access to some school wind tunnels? I guess if you are finishing high school, you may not unless you build one yourself like the other person did.
  5. Jan 13, 2007 #4
    Well I read the IB EE Guidelines and I realized that aerodynamics and hydrodynamics are discouraged. So I decided to do focus my EE around this topic

    "The relation between the temperature and conductivity in insulators and conductors"

    This way I can include an experiment that I can perform, as aerodynamics is almost impossible to experiment with.

    I approached my physics teacher, and he asked me to think exactly how the experiment will be done, and only then will he sign on as my mentor.

    Dear Mindscrape: Why are sciences marked low? I used to always think subjective topics got marked low, because there is always information to write, and it is merely a task of condensing the information and/or using that condensed information to prove an argument.

    Dear Berkeman: It is somewhat similar to AP in the U.S, restricted to the 11th and 12th grade. It is basically an advanced set of courses that are supposedly recognized worldwide. Building anything for aerodynamics was my first idea, but I realized it is going to become hard to implement
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2007
  6. Jan 14, 2007 #5
    I think that a lot of people don't do an experiment with their topic, so they end up simply restating a popular science subject. I think that if you do an experiment you will be okay.

    From my days as an IB student we were always encouraged to make our topics as specific as possible. For example, my extended essay topic was "The Impact of the Salt Commodity on Religious Revolutions Throughout History." I basically had two main sources, and had to really struggle to piece together other sources. I think that is the goal of the program, so that later on when you are trying to write on some specific research later, for example "Beat-note and Doppler Free Spectroscopy Laser Locking," that you will be used to the lack of sources. So, having all that said you should refine your topic idea to something specific. You could talk about the thermal conductivity of kovar or novar, which are special metals designed to thermally match pyrex, though you wouldn't want to because the metals are expensive. Regardless, you have to focus on something.
  7. Jan 15, 2007 #6
    Conductivity provides an interesting topic, where you can really dig deep into the quantum mechanics to get 4000 words packed with information, though I can't think of any experiment you can easily do except the lame one on drawing graphs and finding out temperature coefficients.

    Another interesting topic you can tackle is the dependence of conductivity on particle size. As particle size approaches the nano level, instead of the continuous band structure of macro-scale solids, we get slightly discontinuous structures where the continuous approximation fails and some resemblance to the atomic large energy level gaps is present. This leads to really interesting optical properties, and presumably affects the conductivity too. It's a very new topic so if you tackle it well you may not need an experiment. You seem to be in a program at least as advanced as IIT JEE so the QM math should be no problem for you. Combine a general text on solid state physics with some cutting edge research papers from the net and perhaps some elementary speculations you can make, and you should be ready to go.

    You can also tackle the very similar topic of how the Tyndall effect is not what it seemed (basically the same explanations), or maybe the mechanism of metal-acid reduction (why nascent hydrogen is a truckload of bull****). Incidentally, if you are not afraid of chemistry then reaction mechanism is a field where a very brilliant and well-read beginner with only intelligence and imagination (and a reasonably good lab) as his weapons can do some truly original and exciting work that may not turn out to be merely "the transfer of bones from one graveyard to another".

    Just a few suggestions, let me know what you think.

  8. Nov 8, 2007 #7
    I've done my extended essay in exactly the same topic suggested (aerodynamics) and got the full marks so far. I'm just trying to write my abstract, deadline for this draft is the 8th Nov but final is 14th Dec.
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