Neutral Axis

Spare the Weight: Use Valentine Candy to Calculate the Speed Of Light

by on Feb.15, 2010, under Uncategorized

Wired.com has an experiment you can perform at home with chocolate candies to calculate the speed of light. Its the same principle as behind the method Cliff Stoll used to calculate the speed of sound in this video.   i.e. Frequency x wavelength = speed.  The cleverness is in the means of measurement.

(Disclaimer:  Not responsible for damage caused by thrown objects should this experiment be performed with someone else’s candy)

Here’s what you do :

  1. Make sure the candy is in a microwave-proof box. Better yet, take the chocolate out and put in a microwave safe dish.
  2. Remove the turntable in your oven. (You want the candy to stay still while you heat it.) Put an upside-down plate over the turning-thingy, and place your dish of candy on top.
  3. Heat on high about 20 seconds.
  4. Take the chocolate out and look for hot spots. Depending on the candy you use, you may have to feel the candy to see where it has softened.
  5. Measure the distance between two adjacent spots. This should be the distance between the peak and the valley (crest and trough) of the wave. Since the wavelength is the distance between two crests, multiply by 2. Finally, multiply that result by the frequency expressed in hertz or 2,450,000,000 (typical for a modern microwave).

Melty remnants would be great over ice cream.


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