Monday, November 30, 2009

xkcd Experiment

I assign my AP Physics students a pack of six free-response questions over Thanksgiving break. They get some "sugar" for completing the assignment. But they were terribly eager for me to see today's xkcd. I think they might not have appreciated the opportunity to keep their physics motors oiled over the break.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dance of the water droplets

My buddy, Fred Bremmer, sent me a link to this groovy video. Who knew a drop of water could be this much fun?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Nice high-speed video of lightning

The monochrome segment is especially instructive. The stepped leaders meander and split until--BLAMMO--contact is achieved.



Hat tip to Huffington Post.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Psychic Reading's

You might think that someone capable 0f seeing int0 the present would be capable of looking int0 a dictionary or ustage guide. But You Would Be Wrong 0n Both Count's.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

AP Physics B Redesign, part 2

The College Board has added information about impending changes to AP science exams to its general redesign website.

The website is called "AP in 2011-12 and Beyond: Developments in AP French, AP German, and AP World History." No doubt they'll eventually revise the title of the site to better reflect the content. The title is built into the title graphic, so it may be a while.

The page now includes a promising link to AP science course information. Unfortunately, the page at the other end of that link has no information about the AP Physics B redesign. Instead it's devoted exclusively to AP Biology.

But the rest of us do get something. The science course info page ends as follows:

"Additional information about the revisions to AP science courses and exams and the range of resources, including sample questions, that will be available to teachers to facilitate the integration of these changes into their courses will be announced in early 2010."

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Big Blog Theory

The fact that this post is nearly two months late indicates that I haven't figured out how to travel back in time and post it earlier.

I am an enthusiastic fan of The Big Bang Theory. Both of them, actually. For this post, I'm referring to the CBS sitcom. It is a sitcom for "my people." I'm a physics-type who's been known to enjoy a bit of the science fiction. And somehow I manage to go about my day without being mobbed by ladies pining for my attentions. Go figure.

So yes, I harbor special affection for TBBT.

Among its charms is the correctness of the science references that range in importance from tangential to pivotal in plot development. TBBT gets the science right. How refreshing is that?

The key person responsible for this accuracy is TBBT Science Consultant, David Saltzberg. Saltzberg is a real-life professor of physics at UCLA.

The Big Bang Theory is a commercial network situation comedy that must operate and succeed in that environment. It is not educational programming. I laugh out loud when I watch TBBT. When I watch NOVA? Not so much. TBBT and NOVA are different series with different purposes and goals. And NOVA is excellent in its own right.

But Saltzberg now takes the science on each episode of TBBT and expands on it in his weblog, The Big Blog Theory. Talk about value-added! Saltzberg's essays are accessible and easy to read. Much more conversational than you have any right to expect from a co-author of "Inclusive Search for Anomalous Production of High-pT Like Sign Lepton Pairs in Proton-Antiproton collisions at 1.8 TeV."

If you're a fan of the show, don't miss the blog. You'll be learning physics (and/or physics lore) without even knowing it. He's sneaky, that Saltzberg!

Oh, The Big Blog Theory is being translated into Spanish. If you habla the Espa├▒ol, check out the Spanish-language version!