Physics

Category archives for Physics

Mysteries of Introductory Physics

Every now and then, I run across a question in class that I genuinely don’t know how to answer. If I’m lucky, this happens when I’m prepping a class, rather than when a student asks it live. Like today, when I noticed the above discussion question in my slides (reproduced at the bottom as well…

A couple of weeks ago, io9 ran a piece about the old accusations that Robert Millikan manipulated his data for the electron charge with the headlineDid a Case of Scientific Misconduct Win the Nobel Prize for Physics? that got a lot of attention. I wasn’t as impressed with this as a lot of other people,…

On Beginning to Write

Over at Xykademiqz, a couple of weeks ago, there was a very nice post about the struggle to get students to write. “Very nice” here means that it’s a good description of the problem, not that I’m glad anybody else has to deal with this. I don’t face quite the same thing– my students generally…

Uncertain Dots 14

Another week, another hangout with Rhett. In which we actually fielded a couple of questions from readers on Twitter, about the reason for inertia and a kind of meta-question. More audience questions would, of course, be welcome. A couple of links to things that came up: Mach’s Principle, a past attempt to explain the origin…

I’ve been setting up schedules with my summer research students lately, and the main constraint we’re facing with that is that I’m going to spend most of August in Europe. Part of this is pure vacation– Kate and I are going to the UK for a couple of weeks. Part of it is the World…

Cosmos and the Sideburns

Last night’s episode of the Cosmos reboot focused on one of the three physicists whose pictures Einstein kept in his office: Michael Faraday. I’m a big fan of Faraday, who famously started his career as a bookbinder’s apprentice reading the books brought into the shop, and ended as one of the greatest experimental physicists of…

Over at Five Thirty Eight, Walt Hickey has a piece about cheerleading as a sport and injury rates, which is both a nice look at the way to use stats to measure the real danger level of an activity, and the sort of small details that can be teased out. The piece includes a table…

What a Circus

Last weekend, the circus came to town, and Grandma and Grandpa came up to help us take the kids. We took SteelyKid a couple of years ago, and figured The Pip was old enough to go this time, too. Having bought tickets a couple of years ago, I got sent a pre-sale offer link, and…

This coming fall term, I’ll be teaching Astronomy 052, “Relativity, Black Holes, and Quasars,” because the guy who has traditionally taught it (a radio astronomer who studies active galactic nuclei) has to do other courses instead. But I said “Well, hell, I’ve written a popular audience book explaining relativity. I can teach that.” And since…

I’ve seen a few links passed around to this Tom Siegfried post about science literacy, which is mostly a familiar story about how polls show most Americans giving incorrect answers to science questions. The sort of stuff you find in the NSF’s Science and Engineering Indicators report. What’s getting the social-media attention, though, is this…