Physics Experiments Using Your Phone

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  • Published: 13 June 2020
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA
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It is always amazing what you can do with your phone. It can, for example, answer questions such as: How fast is an elevator? How loud is your environment and which materials block out sound waves? How long does a free fall take? Do your sunglasses actually block UV light?

Sebastian Staacks, RWTH Aachen University, Germany, has created an app that uses the sensors of the smartphone to record data for a variety of physics experiments. The app is available for free for Android and iOS. Similar apps are also available from other providers, such as the Physics Toolbox apps from Vieyra Software. The websites of the app developers offer ideas for experiments and explanations in video and text form. On social media, there is an exchange and discussion about experiments.

Smartphones are equipped with many sensors. First, of course, the camera and the microphone come to mind. But there are more: A magnetometer tells navigation apps which way is north, but it can also measure other magnetic fields. A barometer measures air pressure, an inclinometer detects the angle of the phone, and a light meter checks the intensity of ambient light. Some phones also have thermometers to measure air temperature and hygrometers to measure humidity.

The apps can be used in schools and university classes, and during social distancing and homeschooling, they make it possible to carry out experiments anywhere.



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Magazine of Chemistry Europe (16 European Chemical Societies) published by Wiley-VCH