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Welcome to the website for Gilbert, Haeberli: Physics in the Arts: Revised Edition.

Physics in the Arts

About This Companion Site

Ever since the course Physics in the Arts was introduced by Profs Ugo Camerini and Willy Haeberli at the University of Wisconsin in the early 1970s, laboratory exercises were made an integral part of the course. Initially, many doubtedthat a history major could learn to use an oscilloscope, a Fourier analyzer, or a spectrophotometer, but in recent years use of computers has changed the picture. However, to this day we find it important to avoid frustration among the students by providing ready access to a sympathetic teaching assistant in the 2-hour laboratory sessions. The luxury of the initial small 12-student laboratory groups has in the meantime given way to economic reality with present 16 groups of 18 students working in pairs, with 4 TAs and two professors per semester. We have a pool of 5 professors alternating in teaching this course. The laboratory exercises are described in a manual which the students more or less follow—they are encouraged to deviate from the prescribed exercises but they rarely do. Each student records his/her lab work in a bound quadrille notebook, which is kept in the laboratory.

Here we give a short description of the laboratory experiments for the Physics in the Arts course at the UW-Madison. Depending on the preference of the professor in charge of the course, the chapters in Sound (Chapters 10-21) may be covered before the chapters on Light (Chapters 1-9). We recommend not planning labs during any incomplete weeks (the first or the last week of class), during Thanksgiving week, or spring break, and not scheduling labs the week of the mid-term exams, otherwise some students will have done the lab and others will not at the time of the exam, and this is obviously unfair.We recommend doing the labs after the related lectures, and after the related homework has been turned in. These labs are considerably different from the lecture demonstrations, and in many cases are the only chance in the lifetime of a liberal arts student to do hands-on measurement.

Laboratory Experiments

Figures for Teaching


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