Education

An unexpected find and very exciting moment for researchers exploring what lies beneath 740 meters of ice in Antarctica…fish! An amazing find given the perpetual darkness and cold. In an expedition sponsored by the National Science Foundation, scientists and ice drillers bored a hole through the Ross Ice Shelf near the coast of Antarctica, 850…

Science Teaching researcher Prof. Nir Orion  recently returned from Peru, where his award-winning Blue Planet teaching unit was adopted by the Peruvian Ministry of Education Q: You have been working for many years to get schoolchildren out of the classroom setting. Why? A: Schools in general and science teaching in particular are supposed to teach…

Dr. Thane Wibbels (University of Alabama at Birmingham) is interested in studying how temperature affects the sex of red-eared slider turtle embryos. For humans, the answer is simple: sex chromosomes. You know, the combination of XX means girl and XY means boy. Turtles are not that simple. Temperature is a factor in determining whether the…

Hiring Completed

Having made several mentions here of the two tenure-track faculty positions we were trying to fill, I feel like I ought to at least note the completion of the search. As of last Friday, all the papers have been signed with properly dotted i’s and crossed t’s, and we have two new tenure-track assistant professors…

Sex differences in sleep apnea

I came across an interesting study published last month in American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology on obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is a disorder in which the upper airway is repeatedly obstructed during sleep resulting in bouts of intermittent hypoxia (low oxygen concentrations). I had no idea that OSA is…

Flying over the Himalayas

I listened to a really interesting story on NPR this morning about new discoveries regarding the flight patterns of bar-headed geese. These birds are known for their incredible ability to fly over the Himalayas on their annual migration to central Asia. Until now, it was often assumed that the birds reached a specific altitude and then simply…

I’m teaching my “Brief History of Timekeeping” class again this term, and as always, I’m tweaking things a bit. This is one of our “Sophomore Research Seminar” courses, intended to introduce students to academic research, so it’s not specifically a physics class, but I’m choosing to take the statements about research outside the student’s field…

Pull a spaghetti noodle out of a box of pasta and take a look.  It’s long and stiff.  Try to bend it and it breaks.  But fresh pasta is pliable.  It can fold just like cooked noodles. When students first look at an amino acid sequence, a long string of confusing letters, they often think those letters are…

Thanks, Common Core

“Daddy, ask me a math problem.” “OK. What’s 18 plus 6?” “Ummm… 24.” “Correct.” “See, I just keep the 18 and then add 2 from the 6 to get 20. That leaves 4 from the six, and 20 plus 4 is 24.” “Right. Good work.” —— “Hey, SteelyKid. What’s 120 plus 180?” “Ummm… 300.” “Very…

Some Follow-Up on Teaching

Yesterday’s Open Letter to Neil deGrasse Tyson struck a chord with a lot of people, and has spread a good distance on social media, which is gratifying. Given the delocalized nature of modern social media, though, it means I’m having essentially the same argument in five different places via different platforms. In the interest of…