# Physics Hangout in Need of Better Title

What with the umpteen zillion articles declaring the Death of the Blog, I’ve been toying with the idea of doing something podcast-ish for a while. Rhett Allain from Dot Physics was game, too, and suggested using Google+ to do a video hangout, so here we are talking about our classes this term: The video quality…

# Simulated Tape and Universal Behavior

Having spent a lot of time solving equations related to sticky tape models, including trying to work solutions in my head while driving to Grandma and Grandpa’s with the kids, and making some measurements of real tapes, there was only one thing left to do: try simulating this problem in VPython. Because I’m a physics…

# Atomic Physics with Sticky Tape

In addition to making a toy model to show the tipping-point behavior of charged pieces of sticky tape, I spent some time on Tuesday trying to do something quantitative with this. Of course, Tuesday is the one day of the week that I don’t teach, and I didn’t want to go to campus to do…

# Charged Tape, Toy Models, and Dimensionless Parameters

One of the labs we do in the introductory E&M class I’m teaching this term involves investigating charged particles with sticky tape. If you haven’t seen it before, “invisible” tape picks up an electric charge when it’s peeled off a surface quickly, and with a little care, you can create both positively and negatively charged…

# Replacing Gravity

I’m teaching introductory E&M this term, so it’s kind of fun to play around with silly applications of Coulomb’s Law. For example, let’s imagine that gravity suddenly switched off, but we wanted to keep the Earth in its orbit. How much charge would we need to move from the Earth to the Sun for the…

# Another New Term, Another Set of Teaching Experiments

Classes for the Winter term start today, and I’m totally prepared for this. Yep. Uh-huh. Losing a bunch of prep time to snow and ice last week hasn’t thrown anything into disarray. Anyway, for a variety of reasons, I’ve ended up departing from my plan to not do any new preps while I’m stuck being…

# I Teach for Free, They Pay Me to Grade

Over at Unqualified Offerings, Thoreau has a bit of a rant about what students perceive as grading on a “curve”: Moreover, many students have only the foggiest idea of what a curve is. Many (though probably not all) of their high schools had fixed grading scales with fixed percentages for each letter grade. The A/A-…

# A Brief History of Timekeeping: Final Notes

Between unpleasant work stuff and the Dread Stomach Bug wiping out the better part of five days, I only got my student evaluation comments for my winter term class last week, and I’m only getting around to writing the post-mortem now. This was, for those who may not have been obsessively following my course reports,…

# Scientific Commuting: Some Answers to “How Much Faster?”

So, the previous post poses a physics question based on some previous fooling around with modeling my commute: A car starts from rest at the beginning of a straight 1km course, accelerates up to some speed, cruises at constant speed for a while, then decelerates to a stop at the end of the course. A…

# Scientific Commuting: How Much Faster?

Back in the summer, I did a post mathematically comparing two routes to campus, one with a small number of traffic lights, the other with a larger number of stop signs, and looked at which would be faster. Later on, I did the experiment, too.) Having spent a bunch of time on this, I was…