### Day o' Videos: Presentation and Flying Superconductors

The lab book today was a bit sparse and a bit dry.  This is a bit odd considering I got to play lab yesterday...  You'll see.

First, here's an archival video of the presentation I did last Sunday for the TX APS section meeting here in College Station.  I fumble a few times, but the content is all there.  If you have any questions, they are very, very welcome!

The second video has some kind of cool stuff in it.  Not stuff that went the way I had hoped mind you, but cool nonetheless.  Here's the deal; we'd hoped to make a spiffy little superconductor visibly quenching video.  The idea was to suspend a superconductor as a pendulum in a magnetic field.  It was hoped that as the field increased, the superconductor would swing away from the pole of the magnet, (it did), and that as the field increased more, the superconductor would quench and fall from it's suspended state, (it didn't).  Our melt-texture growth superconductor from CAN just won't quench in 12.8 kG fields.  We already knew that.  Our next hope was to go with a low quality superconductor which should have quenched at a lower field strength.  I didn't consider the fact that quality also affects the force available for superconductor levitaiton, and so the lower quality superconductor did absolutely nothing.

In any event, it was educational and fun to watch the high quality superconductor as the field was ramped up.  Here's what you'll see.  As the field between the magnet poles is increased, the cylindrical superconductor which must have frozen in a bit of residual field when it was cooled will first orient it's magnetic moment perpendicular to the field to minimize the torque it feels.  As the field strength is increased, the superconductor will then begin to move itself out of the magnet altogether eventually swinging off the screen.  You'll also catch the odd snippet of extraneous lab conversations.

Picture of the Day:
New Mexico Mountains

### Cool Math Tricks: Deriving the Divergence, (Del or Nabla) into New (Cylindrical) Coordinate Systems

The following is a pretty lengthy procedure, but converting the divergence, (nabla, del) operator between coordinate systems comes up pretty often. While there are tables for converting between common coordinate systems, there seem to be fewer explanations of the procedure for deriving the conversion, so here goes!

What do we actually want?

To convert the Cartesian nabla

to the nabla for another coordinate system, say… cylindrical coordinates.

What we’ll need:

1. The Cartesian Nabla:

2. A set of equations relating the Cartesian coordinates to cylindrical coordinates:

3. A set of equations relating the Cartesian basis vectors to the basis vectors of the new coordinate system:

How to do it:

Use the chain rule for differentiation to convert the derivatives with respect to the Cartesian variables to derivatives with respect to the cylindrical variables.

The chain rule can be used to convert a differential operator in terms of one variable into a series of differential operators in terms of othe…

### Lab Book 2014_07_10 More NaI Characterization

Summary: Much more plunking around with the NaI detector and sources today.  A Pb shield was built to eliminate cosmic ray muons as well as potassium 40 radiation from the concreted building.  The spectra are much cleaner, but still don't have the count rates or distinctive peaks that are expected.
New to the experiment?  Scroll to the bottom to see background and get caught up.
Lab Book Threshold for the QVT is currently set at -1.49 volts.  Remember to divide this by 100 to get the actual threshold voltage. A new spectrum recording the lines of all three sources, Cs 137, Co 60, and Sr 90, was started at approximately 10:55. Took data for about an hour.
Started the Cs 137 only spectrum at about 11:55 AM

Here’s the no-source background from yesterday
In comparison, here’s the 3 source spectrum from this morning.

The three source spectrum shows peak structure not exhibited by the background alone. I forgot to take scope pictures of the Cs137 run. I do however, have the printout, and…

### Unschooling Math Jams: Squaring Numbers in their own Base

Some of the most fun I have working on math with seven year-old No. 1 is discovering new things about math myself.  Last week, we discovered that square of any number in its own base is 100!  Pretty cool!  As usual we figured it out by talking rather than by writing things down, and as usual it was sheer happenstance that we figured it out at all.  Here’s how it went.

I've really been looking forward to working through multiplication ala binary numbers with seven year-old No. 1.  She kind of beat me to the punch though: in the last few weeks she's been learning her multiplication tables in base 10 on her own.  This became apparent when five year-old No. 2 decided he wanted to do some 'schoolwork' a few days back.

"I can sing that song... about the letters? all by myself now!"  2 meant the alphabet song.  His attitude towards academics is the ultimate in not retaining unnecessary facts, not even the name of the song :)

After 2 had worked his way through the so…