Frontiers of Science: John Jay
Written by Bwog Staff
Full disclosure: Your correspondent, Carolyn Ruvkun, lives on John Jay 11. Though she did not participate in the project described below, she is inclined to defend her floor mates and their shenanigans.
On Sunday afternoon, a few badass residents of John Jay decided to construct a string-and-cup telephone between rooms on opposites sides of the floor. Why? “Why not?” answers one of the masterminds, “I guess we did it to prove to ourselves we could.” The project leaders wrapped a few yards of string around a cup and taped pennies securely inside it. This added weight gave the cup momentum to swing through the air. The dynamic duo enlisted eager floor residents along the inside of the hallway to help out. Rather than swing the cup haphazardly to the desired room, they methodically guided the cup to its final destination through neighboring windows. A few Ruggles residents even gathered to cheer on the enthusiastic freshmen.
“We chose to do something so insignificant,” admits one of the participants, “there’s really no point except that we wanted to finish it.” Another coordinator credits his “seven-year-old tendencies, general lack of maturity and fondness for large scale projects.”
Does this makeshift telephone device really work? Bwog asked physics professor John Parsons. Here’s what he had to say: “When the first person speaks into the cup at their end, the sound waves from their voice travel through the air and cause the bottom of the cup to vibrate back and forth, matching the air vibrations corresponding to the sound waves. For a typical human voice, the frequency of the vibrations is in the range of 100-300 vibrations/second. If the string is held taut, then the vibrating bottom of the cup pulls back and forth on the string, transmitting the vibration along the string from one end to the other. At the other end of the string, this vibration of the string causes the bottom of the second cup to vibrate, thereby creating sound waves in the second cup, such that the person listening there ‘hears’ the voice of the person at the other end.” In short, yes, the string and cup telephone works.
And to those who still doubt whether this is a productive use of time, think back to when you watched those whippersnappers from Disney Channel and ZOOM do all those awesome science projects. We know you always wanted to try them too, so props to the kids of John Jay for realizing childhood dreams.
Photos by Elyse DeWitt