Science

Category archives for Science

Uncertain Dots 16

For the sixteenth episode of Uncertain Dots, we decided to bring in some guests, Andy Rundquist and Kelly O’Shea for a conversation about standards-based grading. This came up because I’m playing around with this using the same tiered scheme I talked about back in January. This was a fun conversation, and some interesting ideas came…

“Earthing” Is a Bunch of Crap

A little while back, I was put in touch with a Wall Street Journal writer who was looking into a new-ish health fad called “earthing,” which involves people sleeping on special grounded mats and that sort of thing. The basis of this particular bit of quackery is the notion that spending time indoors, out of…

That recent study on active learning continues to generate some press, including a new interview with Carl Wieman about why traditional lectures are problematic. Wieman is pretty blunt about his opinions on the subject, which will come as no surprise to people in the AMO physics community… Anyway, while most of the rest of the…

Uncertain Dots 15

Rhett and I did the 15th episode of our Uncertain Dots hangout yesterday, commenting on a discussion started by Casey Rutherford about what we would like students coming into college physics to know. We had a slight difference of opinion about physics content, but agreed about the importance of algebra (which is like sunscreen). I…

Cosmos and Priorities

While solo-parenting Sunday night, I still managed to get free of The Pip just barely in time to catch the start of Cosmos. This was a strange episode in a couple of ways, chiefly having to do with the selection of topics. For one thing, there’s no small irony in the fact that following a…

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…