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The Rotating Hoop Launcher package shows the dynamics of a mass that is constrained to move on a rotating hoop. The rotating hoop model is an excellent mechanical model of first- and second-order phase transitions. Although the minimum of the potential energy curve corresponds to the bottom of the hoop at low rotation frequency, a spontaneous symmetry breaking (cusp catastrophe) occurs as the frequency is increased. This package presents the theory, a demonstration, and an Easy Java Simulation (Ejs) of this experiment. The package was presented at the NC Section of the AAPT Spring 2008 meeting.
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