NYU Physics Demos

Pile Driver

Topics: Mechanics - Conservation of Energy, Transformation of Energy

Equipment: Pile driver apparatus, wood blocks, large nails.

Setup: There is a large metal block that acts as the pile driver. Lift it using one hand and place a wood block with a nail sticking out underneath the pile driver. The top of the nail should be higher than the shock absorbing springs near the base of the apparatus. Lift the pile driver as high as it can go, make sure all hands and feet are clear, and release.

If the nail is somewhat secure into the wood and lined up properly, the pile driver will hammer the nail through the wood. The energy is converted several times in this short process: First, the pile driver gains potential energy by being lifted, U=mgh. Then, that energy is converted to kinetic energy as it gains speed, T=(1/2)mv2. Finally, the energy that was not lost to air resistance is ultimately used to drive the nail into the wood block, and converted to thermal energy.

Location: Back of room B22

Notes: Nails available in rooms B22 and 227.

Keywords: Fall, Drop, Hammer


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