Browsing the Journals
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• Elisha Huggins has a three-part article on Special Relativity in the March, April, and May 2011 issues of The Physics Teacher (http://scitation.aip.org/tpt/). Also be sure to read Michael Grams’s two-part discussion of whether students should be provided solutions to homework problems (and if so, from Cramster www.cramster.com or from the textbook publisher?) to help them learn physics in the April and May issues.
• I found Swendsen’s article about the meaning of entropy in the April 2011 issue of the American Journal of Physics (http://scitation.aip.org/ajp/) to be thought provoking. I also appreciated Lewis’s Letter to the Editor in the same issue that we should start reporting the range of visible light in terms of hundreds of THz rather than only in terms of hundreds of nm.
• There has been some controversy about the relative roles of gravity and of atmospheric pressure in the operation of a siphon. The May 2011 issue of Physics Education has some useful ideas and demonstrations related to this matter, such as what happens when there is a large air bubble in the siphon line or if the siphon tube runs into another wider diameter tube which runs into the reservoir. I also was intrigued by the demonstration on page 290 of the same issue about constructing a Faraday cage by enclosing a cell phone in a tin can sealed off with foil and punching a hole of increasing diameter in the foil until the phone rings. The journal can be accessed at http://iopscience.iop.org/journals.
• The 1 March 2011 issue of the Latin-American Journal of Physics Education (http://www.lajpe.org/) has a paper discussing the motion of a ball rolling on a spinning turntable. The trajectories are conic sections and are analogous to motions of charged particles in crossed electric and magnetic fields.
• The 1 May 2011 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education (http://pubs.acs.org/toc/jceda8/88/5) has a nice discussion of using the Metropolis algorithm in an undergraduate thermodynamics course on page 574. Successive pages in the same issue have five articles that consider phase diagrams and entropy that should also be of interest to the same audience.
• The online version of Physics World at http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/45048 has an interesting discussion of the measurement of the thermal Casimir force (due to thermal fluctuations in the electromagnetic field between two objects).
• The February 2011 issue of Science online has a surprising demonstration that under certain circumstances it can be easier to push a can whose top end is closed into a sand pile than an otherwise identical can open at both ends: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/02/convince-your-friends-youre-a-ge.html?ref=hp&sms_ss=email&at_xt=4d59d1d02a6fc1fe%2C0.
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 the APS.