New York State Fair Science Exhibit and Demonstration 2010

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A New High Visibility Location

For 2010, The New York State Fair placed me in a brand new and highly visible location.  I am still in the Time Warner Science and Technology Building, Hall of Medicine, but I now have my own private corner which provides me with very high exposure and a greatly increased flow of traffic. 

I was also able to surreptitiously bump out my allocated space from a very cramped 10'x10' box to a roomier 11'x11' - a 20% increase in usable floor space!  One drawback of my new location was that I had to stretch my exhibit to serve 2 sides of the "square"; but I was now very close to the bathrooms (a big plus).  I would like to thank Paul Husted who attended The Fair every day and assisted with the exhibit allowing me to take much needed lunch breaks.


All set up and ready to go... The new Space Science & History set-piece protected the corner of my display space; the unique Space Shuttle Main Engine Main Fuel Valve (SSME-MFV) artfact is displayed right in front. At the last minute I added my Cody variation of a Hargave box kite to give the space some height and depth. Lawrence Hargrave, an early Austrlian aviation pioneer, also experimented with harmonographs. The original Saul Bass poster (on the wall) is from the movie "Vertigo" and features a harmonogram.

The new rotating Space Science & History display was very popular. I did have some trouble with the Moon, Mars and Mercury Meteorites Display panel because kids tugged on the magnifying lamp which kept coming loose.

Here I am carefully setting the pendulums in motion to crank out another unique harmonogram.

The harmonograph performed flawlessly as usual. This view shows the overhead mirror which passers by utilized to observe the harmonograms as they were being rendered by the pendulums.

Who's that in the mirror?

Viewing stereoscopic harmonograms through the Topcon stereoscope. The stereoscope allows one to observe a pair of flat harmonograms as a 3-dimensional image.

Watching the drawing machine, it takes an average of about 5-7 minutes to create a new harmonogram.

Discussing physics...

Every 20 minutes or so I would perform my really cool laser demonstration.

People watching. I really enjoy doing The Fair; I get to meet many people and show them lots of fascinating stuff.

You can't do physics without a bit of smoke and mirrors.

I bounce the laser light between optical mirrors mounted on tuning forks and rotating prisms. This demonstration replicates Lissajous' elegant 1855 experiment. The smoke allows one to observe the path of the reflected laser light beam.

When I got bored I would do a little floor show and create flash-booms with some simple chemical reactions. I dispensed a pinch of CaC2 (Calcium Carbide, a hygroscopic salt) into water and ignited the acetylene gas this released.

The green laser spot on the wall (top, right of center) is a real time lissajous curve projection!

3D anaglyphic stereoptic harmonographs and photosensitivity seizure warning.

Real money! This is a display of foreign currency which utilizes Harmonograph generated security lines instead of the more common Mechanograph lines which appear on all American currency and scripophilly.

Lots of fun physics toys to entertain the masses.

Using the anaglyph glasses to view the stereoscopic harmonograms.

Front table (this is actually the box for my massive antique Cave Astrola telescope): L to R; two Moire pattern special effect demonstrations; Topcon Stereoscope; tip jar. Underneath is a large first-aid kit which also serves as a stool (when slid out) so the kids can reach the stereoscope eyepiece.

Passers by...

Removing a finished drawing.

Essential support equipment and supplies. A library to assist with the inevitable tough math and physics questions, a big fire extinguisher and a well stocked tool box for the occasional mechanical issues.

Overhead mirror.

Side view. The Time Warner Hall can be seen to the right and the bathrooms are behind my exhibit.

Do I look fat in this picture?

This is the magnifying lamp on the meterite and Apollo 11 artifact display which gave me problems throughout The Fair. I will rethink this design for next year.

I would like to thank Jeff Bachstein of Bach Photography, North Syracuse, NY and his commercial photographer Daniel Michaels for taking most of the splended images on this page. I would also like to sincerely thank the NYSF for donating me this wonderful space to exhibit my physics collection, and especially Building Manager Vinnie Bova and his staff who provided excellent support and after hours security during the run of The Fair.

Harmonograph plaque; I designed and built this apparatus for a course in Product Design in 1977 while an undergrad at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

Harmonogram scan from the 2010 NYSF.