Objective: Confirm the conservation of energy with the help of Maxwell’s wheel
Maxwell’s wheel is suspended from threads at both ends of its axle in such a way that it can roll along the threads. In the course of its motion, potential energy is converted into kinetic energy and back again. The process of rolling up and down is repeated until the potential energy derived from the initial height of the wheel is entirely lost due to reflection losses and friction. In this experiment a photoelectric light barrier is set up at various different heights in such a way that the axle of Maxwell’s wheel repeatedly breaks the beam. From the times between these interruptions of the beam it is possible to establish the instantaneous speed of the wheel and thereby to calculate its kinetic energy.