Category Archives: physics

How people think about scientific concepts

A couple of times a year, I taught a class in introductory physics for non-science majors. Once for this class, I was discussing a problem in Newtonian mechanics with some students. I think maybe we were looking at a moving … Continue reading

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How to visualize Maxwell’s Equations

Maxwell’s Equations are a set of four differential equations that govern electricity and magnetism. If, by some bizarre twist of fate you find yourself studying electromagnetism while reading this blog, then this post may or may not be helpful. Otherwise, it simply … Continue reading

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The Unexpected and the Unexplainable

Niels Bohr, the quantum theorist, once said “If quantum theory hasn’t shocked you, that just means you haven’t understood it yet”. People love this quote because it gets at how counterintuitive quantum mechanics can be. But it’s also discouraging, making … Continue reading

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Who is Schroedinger’s Cat?

The light was ebbing, and the observer could not distinguish the cat’s state… Schroedinger’s cat occupies a weird space in popular knowledge of science. It is familiar to many people, partly because the name has an aura of mystery, and … Continue reading

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Against theoretical minima

Here is a link to a page set up by Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist Gerard ‘t Hooft, called “How to become a GOOD Theoretical Physicist.” I’m lucky I decided to be an experimentalist! More seriously,  ‘t Hooft is putting … Continue reading

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John Johnson

As mentioned in the previous post, Pääbo’s was not the only interesting talk I went to last week. On thursday, I saw John Asher Johnson talk about the search for exoplanets. You may know John Johnson from this PhD-comics video … Continue reading

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Physicists seek to use shame as teaching tool

This article about intro physics classes moving away from lecture style teaching has been making the rounds among my physicist/npr-reader friends. My initial take on this was that this is another example of shame being a strong motivator. People don’t want … Continue reading

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