Category Archives: physics

Wave equation first

This semester I kick off my general physics 2 course with waves. I really want the early focus to be on what waves are, and, more specifically, what the wave equation means. The reason I want to do this is … Continue reading

Posted in physics, teaching | Leave a comment

Finding normal modes

Normal mode analysis is a typical topic in junior/senior mechanics courses. Ours suffers from a lack of linear algebra as a prerequisite so I’ve worked to find ways to engage students with this material without that background. My typical approach … Continue reading

Posted in mathematica, physics, teaching | 8 Comments

Relativistic explosions

Earlier this week I got an email from a friend who has been working with his students modeling how momentum works in a situation where two carts start connected and then explode apart. I’m not sure, but I think that … Continue reading

Posted in physics, teaching | 1 Comment

Taking it up a notch: nail beds

About a month ago, I had an extraordinary experience: It was Bill Nye standing on me while I laid on a nail bed. Lots of fun, for sure, and I pointed out to the audience that it was the one … Continue reading

Posted in fun, physics, teaching | 6 Comments

Leaving a gaping hole

This past week in my optics class I think I made a mistake. We were talking about how light interacts with a system with multiple parallel interfaces, and we started with analyzing a single interface that didn’t happen to be … Continue reading

Posted in physics, teaching | 2 Comments

Finding grains

My colleague asked me to help him out with this image: He needs to know the grain size distribution, and they’ve been having trouble automating this. He knew I’d been doing some work with Mathematica’s image analysis capabilities so he … Continue reading

Posted in mathematica, physics | 4 Comments

Human loop speed

Rhett Allain’s post about a human running around a loop has really got me (and him!) thinking (click through to see the video). I wondered if there was a more sophisticated way to do the calculation for the minimum speed … Continue reading

Posted in fun, physics, twitter | 3 Comments