Math with Bad Drawings has a post about “word problems” that will sound very familiar to anyone who’s taught introductory physics. As he notes, the problem with “word problems” for math-phobic students is that it requires translating words into symbols, and then using the symbols to select a procedure. It adds a step to what…

Surprise!

Over at Curious Wavefunction, Ashutosh Jogalekar offers a list of great surprising results in physics. This is fairly comprehensive, but leaves out one of my favorites, which is the discovery of the muon. Muons are particles like electrons, but a couple hundred times heavier. When they were first detected in cosmic ray traces in 1936,…

Deflategate on Discovery Canada

I know I said I was done with this story, but this was actually recorded last week: The Daily Planet show on Discovery Channel in Canada contacted me last week when all this deflated-football silliness was exploding, and got a cameraman to come over and record me talking about it. The episode aired Monday night,…

Fly, Fly Away

Tonight’s bedtime stories included two books involving flying characters: Foo, the Flying Frog of Washtub Pond (in which the title character gets blown into the sky by a gust of wind), and The Magic Brush. The latter is a dead-grandparent book, but ends with a cheerful picture of the kids reunited with their grandfather in…

Eureka on “Inquiry”

While I’ve managed to generate a lot of blog traffic talking about football, I sort of suck at turning that into book sales. Sigh. I am, however, continuing to do interviews in support of Eureka: discovering Your Inner Scientist, the most recent of which is this one with WICN’s Inquiry, hosted by Mark Lynch. This…

Ain’t No Party Like a SteelyKid Party

I’ve mentioned in a few places that SteelyKid frequently comes home from school/ camp/ day care singing garbled versions of current pop hits. So for the first time since about 1990, I added a Top 40 station to my car radio presets, so I would know what she was actually trying to sing. This leads…

Deflategate: The Final Chapter

The low-level cold I’ve been nursing for a month now finally exploded into the full unpleasantness of my usual winter illness Saturday, or else I would’ve been more active following up on my Deflategate article and my ideal gas law post. As it was, for most of the day, I could barely keep on top…

So, as mentioned yesterday, I got an email asking me about the weird scandal involving the Patriots and underinflated footballs, so I wrote a piece for the Conversation on the subject. since a few people had beaten me to citations of the Ideal Gas Law, though, I decided to bring my own particular set of…

One of the cool things about working at Union is that the Communications office gets media requests looking for people to comment on current events, which sometimes get forwarded to me. Yesterday was one of those days, with a request for a scientist to comment on the bizarre sports scandal surrounding the deflated footballs used…

Thermal Thursday: How Good Is My Mug?

One of my favorite Christmas presents this year was a Seek Thermal camera to use with my Android phone. This allows for a lot of idle physics-y fun, taking pictures of things in thermal mode. One idea I had was to do a sort of follow-up to the test of my insulated mug that I…