Things that don’t like water

So, my class of students (well, at least one of them) have done the calculations and think that a centimetre of water is enough to shield a mobile phone from communicating with the nearest mast.  Only one way to find out.  I’ll bring along a bucket, lots of glad wrap and waterproofing materials to tomorrow’s […]

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Mind games for physicists

Here’s a gem of a paper from Jonathan Tuminaro and Edward Redish. The authors have carried out a detailed analysis of the discussions a group of physics students had when solving a particular problem. They’ve worked hard (the researchers, as well as the students) – the first case study they chose was a conversation 45 […]

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Mobile phone physics

Just occasionally, I have a crazy thought regarding a physics demonstration.   This is one that I’m thinking about inflicting on my third year electromagnetism class.   We’ve been discussing the way electromagnetic waves travel (or rather, do not travel) through electrical conductors. Basically, conductors allow electric currents to flow in response to an applied electric field (in simple terms […]

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My kind of blog

This is what I like to see – a fellow blogger (Brian Clegg) extolling the virtues of physics blogging and tweeting. What’s interesting about Brian’s entry is that he talks about how a blog can trigger a discussion that increases the quality of the original posting.  Like peer review for a scientific paper, but informal, […]

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The wrong kind of question

Following on from yesterday’s discussion of the paper by Gire et al. I’ll remark on one little aspect of this study that physics teachers and lecturers need to take note of. (Well, in my opinion they do, and I’ve got a steadily increasing pile of literature to back me up on this). One of the questions […]

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How does a physicist think?

As part of my reading for the Postgraduate Certificate in Tertiary Teaching (henceforth known as the PGCert(TT) )  I’ve come across this article by Gire et al. on how physics students think.   The study looked at how closely the physics-thought-processes of undergraduate and graduate students aligned with the physics-thought-processes of practising physicists.    In other words, do students […]

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Does my teaching work?

This year, I’ve finally decided (more accurately, finally got around to doing it) to undertake a Postgraduate Certificate in Tertiary Teaching.  In plain English, that means do some training that actually prepares me to teach at university. "What?" I hear you say – "You mean you haven’t got any qualification to teach at university?".  Nope. […]

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The importance of physics

It is sometimes hard as a scientist to maintain a broad focus. It is very easy to get obsessed with your pet project and forget the equally important stuff being done by scientists and others elsewhere. Just because you find your research extremely interesting and you can see lots of uses for it, it doesn’t […]

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