Chad Orzel is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Union College in Schenectady, NY. He blogs about physics, life in academia, ephemeral pop culture, and anything else that catches his fancy.

Reflections on Matter and Interactions

I’m teaching introductory mechanics for the umpteenth time, using the Matter and Interactions curriculum, as we have for a while. This is going to be my last time teaching out of M&I, though, because last year the department decided to switch to a different book. Starting this winter term, we’ll be using Halliday, Resnick and…

Here’s a thought that occurred to me during one of this week’s sleepless nights: Donald Trump is Marion Barry for rural white people. That’s probably too cryptic for a lot of people, since I’m now an old man who yells at clouds, but what I’m referring to is Barry’s second election as mayor of DC,…

Two-Month Physics Blogging Round-Up

As the post title says, it’s been a whole two months since the last time I did a round-up of my physics blog posts for Forbes. That’s less content than you might think, though, because with the new academic term starting and some deadlines I had for other stuff, I posted basically nothing for most…

Grand Jury Thoughts

As I’ve mentioned several times, I just finished a two-month sentence on a grand jury in Schenectady County (well, technically, I have to go back for one more day, because they didn’t finish everything). I’m not allowed to talk about the details of the cases we heard, but I have some general thoughts about the…

Back before The Pip was born, our previous departmental administrative assistant used to bug me– in a friendly way– about how Kate and I ought to have another kid. (She had two kids of her own, about two years apart in age.) “When are you guys going to have another baby?” she would ask, and…

There’s a piece in Inside Higher Ed today on yet another study showing that student course evaluations don’t correlate with student learning. For a lot of academics, the basic reaction to this is summed up in the Chuck Pearson tweet that sent me to the story: “Haven’t we settled this already?” The use of student…

Advice for New Faculty, 2016

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to speak on a panel about teaching during Union’s new-faculty orientation. We had one person from each of the academic divisions (arts and literature, social science, natural science, and engineering), and there was a ton of overlap in the things we said, but here’s a rough reconstruction…

362-366/366: Sillyhead-Centric Closing

And now, the photo-a-day project straggles in to the finish line, with a final five photos dominated by the kids: 362/366: Kid Art I 363/366: Kid Art II One of the official end of summer activities is cleaning off the “art shelf” in the bookcase in the dining room, where we pile the various projects…

353-361/366: Penultimate Photo Dump

Another day, another batch of photos from August. 353/366: Trail Blaze This is actually a slight reversal of chronology, as the hike through Vischer’s Ferry was the day after I went for a hike in the H. G. Reist Wildlife Sanctuary. The pictures from Vischer’s Ferry were better though, as despite the name I didn’t…

344-352/366: Wetland Walk

Another in the sadly delayed wrapping-up of my photo-a-day project. These are all pictures from a hike in the Vischer Ferry Nature Preserve over in Clifton Park. We took the kids over there one time, but a thunderstorm started coming in before we got very far. While the kids were at my parents’, I decided…