Dot Physics

Archives for December, 2009

Which wastes more fuel? (and thus produces more carbon dioxide). This is a difficult to question to answer for a variety of reasons. The main reason is that a speed change from 71 mph to 70 mph is different than a reduction from 56 to 55 mph. First, let me be clear that the question…

One of my students showed me this game, Fantastic Contraption. The basic idea is to use a couple of different “machine” parts to build something that will move an object into a target area. Not a bad game. But what do I do when I look at a game? I think – hey! I wonder…

I re-watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix last night and my wife and I noticed something about teaching. Of course I mentioned that this would make a good blog post (and she may still post it on her blog, but I can’t help myself). If you have not read the book or…

The 12 RePosts of Christmas

Haiku: The daylight grows short Blogging time is scarce for now Repost is now here I am ready. Bring on the comments about the proper way to write a haiku. Of course, I should warn you that I am technically a professional Haikuer – here is my winning entry to ThinkGeek’s haiku contest Here is…

Student Evaluations

Female Science Professor has been talking about student evaluations lately. (here are some other Student Eval posts – post 1 post 2 post 3). I had some ideas on student evaluations, and here they are. One Question A friend of mine likes to say that student evaluations should just be one question: “Do you like…

This is one of my favorite demos. I like it because anyone can do it at home and people usually find the results surprising. Here is the situation: How much of yourself could you see in a small mirror? What if you move farther away from the mirror, can you see more of yourself? If…

Fight Science = Bad Science

Fight Science is an entertaining show. Great graphics. The basic idea is to look at the science in different fighting styles. They had a clip-style commercial on it during a MythBusters episode I was watching. And from that, I can say that the kicking looked cool, but the science needs some work. The Setup The…

Dangerous Jumping Calculator

Maybe this could fall under my “physics of parkour”. It could also apply to the MythBusters “dumpster diving” episode. In both of these cases, the question is: how far can you jump off of something and not severely hurt yourself. They do this a lot in parkour. Here are some examples: There are a ton…

Maybe you have noticed how much material there was (for me at least) in last week’s MythBusters. One of the myths they looked at was the bus jumping over a gap in the road from the movie Speed. I am not looking at that myth, it has been discussed many times in many places. Rather,…

Spectroscopy and Collimated light

There was a question from Jerry in a previous post: “A simple question for which I can’t find an answer: Why do you have to collimate light spectroscopy? What would happen if you didn’t collimate it?” The basic idea of spectroscopy is to look at the different colors of light coming from some source. Typically…