Tagged: physics

Two major Discoveries

Two major discoveries occurred this week.

I was stunned by the revelation that Stella Artois was in fact not what it seemed and it had fallen from its lofty position of 5.2% abv to a much lower alcohol content. The once “reassuringly expensive” premier lager had quietly drifted into being a weaker concoction that was no longer top of the line in my humble opinion. To me this was a real eye opener.(See my previous post)

The second Earth shattering discovery of a particle that supported Higgs Boson theory was announced at CERN on 4th July 2012. As with a lot of “breakthroughs” that happen at the high end of Science, the Press get hold of the new concept and either dumb it down, or get a so-called expert in the field in question to explain in “lay man’s” terms how it affects day to day life of the average person in the street. These “experts” are normally socially inept academics who may be able to talk a lot about, in this case, Particle Physics but do not say much.

People want to hear that Higgs Boson can make their plasma telly work better, or their iPhone will need less battery charging time. They do not want to be tied down by quantum mechanics. Well I think that the common man is in for a disappointment, but at least we have come a few steps from the point where the tabloid red tops were scaring the living daylights out of some of the kids I taught at the time that the CERN project started. This was due to the fact that the kids were reliably informed by the tabloids that the World would end when the linear particle accelerator was switched on.

It is so much more reassuring that the Daily Star reports this week that the discovery…

means one day we could travel faster than the speed of light – like in Star Trek. Beam me up Scotty!

If you are happy with that explanation then do not watch the video below. I am quietly thinking to my self if the same tabloid had announced that Stella Artois could no longer be considered to be “wifebeater” it would create more of a stir!

The Higgs Boson Explained from PHD Comics on Vimeo.

Physics – in a minute, it can be done

There are some things that you just experience as part of life. Now the study of life processes is Biology – everyone gets that. You can have first hand experience of most biological actions. Hey, think about it, you can summarize most key concepts of Biology on a A3 poster, bit of colouring in and there you go!  That is why girls love Biology, and also why I can say that without being rude, anyone can (and have done in my experience) teach it.

So Biology is the study of living things. Great.

So what is Chemistry? I was once told by a Physicist that Chemistry was “advanced cooking” – ‘So what was Home Economics then?’ I retorted.

‘Oh, that’s just dough bashing!’ came the reply.

My response was ‘Ok. So Physics must be Black magic then! – the study of things you cannot touch, feel or explain, such as magnetism and quantum theory” He took that as a badge of honour that he wore with pride.

He was the best A-level teacher I have ever worked with.

There is a different level of thought required to study Physics. That is why most girls do not choose it as an option. I will never forget the time when that same teacher came and unravelled the mess that I created in trying to explain the ideas behind Heisenbergs Uncertainty Principle to a very bright 15 year old girl (as it happened).

I had rambled on and tied her in knots, she did not even need to know this theory for her exam in the first place. Grabbing the Master of Black magic from next door’s classroom I shoved him in front of her. About a minute of time, a broken pencil and a mug of tea was all he needed to model his the ideas that he explained. All fixed. Panic over. A true master craftsman had done his work.

Anyway here are two sources of other great Physics teaching – click and enjoy. There are only two of you left now reading this anyway!

First up Sixty Symbols ………….

Then some inspiration in a ‘Physics in a minute’ video