# greeks

### RP 9: Error propagation and the distance to the Sun

Some time ago, I wrote about the awesome things the Greeks did in astronomy. Basically they calculated the size of the Earth, distance and size of the moon and distance and size of the sun. The value obtained for the distance to the sun was a bit off, but still a bang up job if you ask me. (where bang-up is meant as a good thing) If the greeks were in my introductory physics lab, they would need to include uncertainties with their measurements. What would the uncertainty in the final value look like? In my introductory physics lab course, I have students measure things and estimate the…

### RP 7: Cool things the Greeks did in astronomy

One of things I like to think about in science is "how do we know that?" It is interesting how one thing builds on another. This is a story of how the Greeks estimated the distance from the Earth to the Sun (an important idea in the development of the model of the solar system). I like this story because it is not too complicated. In fact, one could easily reproduce these measurements themselves. So, here is what I will talk about: Measuring the size of the Earth. Determining the distance from the Earth to the moon and the size of the moon. Calculating the distance (and size) to the Sun.…

### I have never been happy with Newton's first law

Many textbooks are pumped up about Newton's 3 laws of motion. For me, not so much. First, (as many other's point out) these are really Newton's ideas about force. Second, the first law is pretty much a special case of the second law. Here are the first two laws (in my words): Newton's First Law: The natural state of an object is constant motion. Yes. I know that is not how it is normally written. Newton's Second Law: The rate of change of an object's speed is proportional to the amount of net force on the object and inversely proportional to the mass of the object. This could also be…

### The development of the atomic model

I love this story. It is a story of how ideas changed about the nature of the atom. These are the notes (and diagrams) I use when I teach the atomic nature of matter to non-science majors. The best thing about this story is that it is a great example of science. Science (or scientists) build a model. If new evidence comes along, the model gets changed. There are several other websites that describe all of this stuff, I will list a couple at the end of this post. Typical textbook model of an atom Look in an intro, non-science majors textbook and you will probably see a picture like this…

### Error propagation and the distance to the sun

Some time ago, I wrote about the awesome things the Greeks did in astronomy. Basically they calculated the size of the Earth, distance and size of the moon and distance and size of the sun. The value obtained for the distance to the sun was a bit off, but still a bang up job if you ask me. (where bang-up is meant as a good thing) If the greeks were in my introductory physics lab, they would need to include uncertainties with their measurements. What would the uncertainty in the final value look like? In my introductory physics lab course, I have students measure things and estimate the…

### Cool things the Greeks did in astronomy

One of things I like to think about in science is "how do we know that?" It is interesting how one thing builds on another. This is a story of how the Greeks estimated the distance from the Earth to the Sun (an important idea in the development of the model of the solar system). I like this story because it is not too complicated. In fact, one could easily reproduce these measurements themselves. So, here is what I will talk about: Measuring the size of the Earth. Determining the distance from the Earth to the moon and the size of the moon. Calculating the distance (and size) to the Sun.…