Experiment

Category archives for Experiment

I was proctoring an exam yesterday in two different sections of the same class, so I had a lot of quite time. Which means I wrote not one but two new posts for Forbes… The first continues a loose series of posts about the exotic physics behind everyday objects (something I’m toying with as a…

Breaking Boards

One of the highlights of teaching introductory mechanics is always the “karate board” lab, which I start off by punching through a wooden board. That gets the class’s attention, and then we have them hang weights on boards and measure the deflection in response to a known force. This confirms that the board behaves like…

On Toys in Science

The big social media blow-up of the weekend was, at least on the science-y side of things, the whole “boys with toys” thing, stemming from this NPR interview, which prompted the #GirlsWithToys hashtag in response. I’m not sorry to have missed most of the original arguments while doing stuff with the kids, but the hashtag…

One of the points I make repeatedly in teaching introductory mechanics (as I’m doing this term) is that absolutely every problem students encounter can, in principle, be solved using just Newton’s Laws or, in the terminology used by Matter and Interactions, the Momentum Principle. You don’t strictly need any of the other stuff we talk…

The editor at Forbes suggested I should write something about the re-start of the Large Hadron Collider, so I did. But being me, I couldn’t just do an “LHC, yay!” post, but talk about it in a larger context, as one of three major approaches to filling the gaps in the Standard Model: The big…

How Fast Is SteelyKid’s Nerf Gun?

SteelyKid is spending a couple of days this week at “Nerf Camp” at the school where she does taekwondo. This basically consists of a bunch of hyped-up kids in a big room doing martial activities– taekwondo class, board breaking, and “Nerf war” where they build an obstacle course and then shoot each other with dart…

Over at Scientific American’s Frontiers for Young Minds blog, they have a great post on what happens when you ask scientists to explain key elements of a different research field. It’s pretty funny, and rings very true, as SteelyKid asks me tons of science questions, very few of which have anything to do with atomic,…

Science Stories: Commercial Instincts

(When I launched the Advent Calendar of Science Stories series back in December, I had a few things in mind, but wasn’t sure I’d get through 24 days. In the end, I had more than enough material, and in fact didn’t end up using a few of my original ideas. So I’ll do a few…

I wrote up another piece about football for the Conversation, this time drawing on material from Eureka, explaining how great football players are using scientific thinking: Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman gets called a lot of things. He calls himself the greatest cornerback in the NFL (and Seattle fans tend to agree). Sportswriters and some…

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,…