Lectures and Lava Lamps

Teaching at Maynooth University has resumed after the Study Break, and yesterday I gave my first lecture on Astrophysics & Cosmology after a gap of a week. I still haven’t got onto the Cosmology bit yet, but am most of the way through a set of half-a-dozen lectures or so on stellar structure and evolution.

In past incarnations I’ve deployed a lava lamp as a prop to illustrate convection, one of the ways that heat can be transported from the core of a star (where it is generated by nuclear fusion) to its surface (whence it is radiated). The simple demonstration of how a temperature gradient can lead to convective motion always proved popular with students. In fact, more-or-less the only complimentary comments I ever got about my lectures on this topic were about how nice the lava lamp was.

Anyway, no longer having access to the official Cardiff University School of Physics & Astronomy Lava Lamp, I thought I’d just show a video chosen from the many available on youtube. They seem quite popular, perhaps because they are rather restful:

Unfortunately, however, the fates had it in for me yesterday. The Powers That Be decided to update the version of Windows on all the PCs in all the teaching rooms on campus during the study break. When I tried to show the video the computer crashed and would not restart. I had to run back to the office to get my laptop, which I eventually got to work, but I had lost so much time that I skipped the video. Hopefully I’ll get to show it properly at some point in the future.

 

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One Response to “Lectures and Lava Lamps”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    You could always get a real lava lamp rather than a virtual one. No nonsense with temperamental software that way.

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