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Published April 1963 | Published
Journal Article Open

Linear Air Trough


The construction and operation of a linear air trough, a device for floating small rectangular blocks (called gliders) on an air film, is described. The apparatus is useful for demonstrations and laboratory study of one-dimensional particle mechanics. The very small friction that is present is due to the viscosity of the air film, and causes the speed of a glider to decay with a time constant of the order of a few hundred seconds. A type of bumper has been designed which yields a coefficient of restitution greater than 0.99. Ten of these air troughs have been used in a student laboratory for a year, and have proved quite successful in experiments involving Newton's laws, collisions, damped harmonic motion, and motion on an incline.

Additional Information

©1963 American Association of Physics Teachers. (Received 13 November 1962) We would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to the many individuals who have helped, in one way or another, to carry through this project; in particular, the personnel in the machine shop for their skillful work. We also wish to acknowledge the financial assistance of the Ford Foundation in supporting the development of such instructional laboratory equipment.

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