Ripple Tank


The ripple tank demonstrated a variety of wave phenomena, and was the best known device created by the Physical Sciences Study Committee (PSSC). It was introduced in the late 1950s and remained essentially unchanged for 50 years. In this example, the tank is made of glass with wooden sides and 4 aluminum legs. A support rod, V-shaped base, and clamps hold the high power lamp. Two wooden square rods serve as straight wave generators; each is equipped with a small motor. There are, in addition, several yellow ball wave generators and several foam rubber baffles.

The light source consists of a 150-watt glass lamp mounted in a well-ventilated flat black shield. Its box is marked: The Science SourceĀ®. This firm was established in Waldoboro, Maine, in 1986. It is still in business and still selling light sources of this sort. See

References: PSSC, "Physics Laboratory Guide" (1960), pp. 26-33 (photos and diagrams of several ripple tank set-ups).

Central Scientific Company, "Educational Catalog" (1974), p. 48 (for ripple tank).

Date Made: late 1950s

Maker: Physical Science Study Committee

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: Massachusetts, Cambridge

Subject: Science & Scientific Instruments


See more items in: Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences, Sputnik, Science & Mathematics


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Uri Haber-Schaim

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2007.0043.05Catalog Number: 2007.0043.05Accession Number: 2007.0043

Object Name: ripple tank

Physical Description: wood (sides material)glass (tank material)metal (legs material)Measurements: overall: 22 1/2 in x 22 1/2 in x 2 1/2 in; 57.15 cm x 57.15 cm x 6.35 cmoverall; ripple tank: 2 1/2 in x 22 1/2 in x 22 1/2 in; 6.35 cm x 57.15 cm x 57.15 cmoverall; lamp box: 4 7/8 in x 12 7/8 in x 9 1/2 in; 12.3825 cm x 32.7025 cm x 24.13 cmoverall; tray with parts: 2 3/4 in x 14 1/2 in x 24 1/8 in; 6.985 cm x 36.83 cm x 61.2775 cm


Record Id: nmah_1321761

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