Web Watch

Web WatchCarl E. Mungan

  • The University of Nottingham has a series of sixty videos at http://www.sixtysymbols.com/ built around various symbols denoting key concepts in physics and astronomy. (To be fair, they invented a few nonstandard symbols, such as a sillouette of a drinking bird, in contrast to traditional symbols such as physical constants, the planets, and so on.) I think the coefficient of restitution demonstration (symbol “r” near the end of the list) of tiny balls bouncing between compartments on a vibrating platform is pretty nifty.

  • There has been lots of positive buzz about the seven videos of Feynman’s Messenger lectures (delivered at Cornell University in 1964) on Microsoft’s Project Tuva site.

  • Speaking of videos, there are a set of interesting chemistry and physics movies filmed in a Singapore enrichment classroom (with students present) at http://www.plsingapore.com/video.htm. The one demonstrating that a helium balloon sinks when it’s placed inside a helium bag caught my eye, although aspects of it did not look totally safe. Use your own judgment if you decide to repeat those aspects!

  • There are also plenty of good textbooks appearing (for free!) on the web these days. For example, I learned a lot even from the first few pages of Tatum’s “Celestial Mechanics” at http://orca.phys.uvic.ca/~tatum/celmechs.html. For the intro physics course, you would probably want to take a look at the Light and Matter series at http://www.lightandmatter.com/. Looking for an advanced text for mechanics? Try Sussman and Wisdom’s book at http://mitpress.mit.edu/SICM/book.html. Need a reference handbook of advanced math functions? It’s hard to beat Abramowitz and Stegun for comprehensiveness at http://www.math.ucla.edu/~cbm/aands/.

  • Do you have a question about how physics explains everyday phenomena? Well, Louis Bloomfield claims he can explain how everything works at http://www.howeverythingworks.org/. I’ll leave it to you to try and stump him, if you can!

  • John Denker has a very extensive web site about how airplanes fly at http://www.av8n.com/how/. It includes not only the usual discussion of various common fallacies about wings, but plenty of practical physics for real pilots.

  • Lately I’ve enjoyed perusing some of the articles on the Inside Higher Ed website. Also check out BlueSci  which is a science magazine written by Cambridge University students.

  • The Nobel prizes were announced recently. A complete description of the physics prizes in chronological order can be found at http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/.

Carl Mungan is an Associate Professor of Physics at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.

Disclaimer - The articles and opinion pieces found in this issue of the APS Forum on Education Newsletter are not peer refereed and represent solely the views of the authors and not necessarily the views of APS.