Aditi Mathur & Ratnesh Mathur
Physics and magic – is there a connection? Yes, of course. It is well known that magicians use physics to bewilder people and children. They use harmonics to create sounds, optics to throw illusions, mechanics to make things disappear and reappear. Maybe we can refer to them as physicists and not as magicians. Here is a wonderful article that takes the teacher into the world of magic and physics. Read on to find out more.
Science fairs are an annual event in many Indian cities, held under the aegis of the National Council of Science Museums. But it all started in Kolkata at the first science museum of the country – the Birla Industrial and Technological Museum.
Physics is one of those ‘hard’ sciences and like math, can evoke strong feelings of fear and dislike. Unless the subject is handled by a capable and inspired teacher, it can put off most children. This issue on physics has a different approach, showing how the subject can connect to our everyday lives and environment.
Counter culture, anti-establishment stance and apathy towards bureaucracy marked the decade of the 1960s – not only in the US or the European first world but also in the other relatively damped out countries as well. This apparent lack of interest in the commune at large probably had its measures somewhere else.
One of the most fascinating things we see and experience as children is watching sparrows and eagles flying up in the sky, often in formation, and sometimes all by themselves. Which child, or adult, does not fantasize about flying on their own, soaring and gliding up and down the sky and experiencing the beauty and the panoramic view of the world below while doing so?
You say that to find the potential at a point in the vicinity of a charge, I must find out how much work I have to do to bring a one coulomb charge from very far away to that point?” the student asked. “Yes!” I replied, relieved that I had finally been able to get the point across, “and this is exactly the work that is stored in the unit charge as potential energy”.
I am an astrophysicist by training and at graduate school I specialized in just one star, the sun. In my research career I expanded this specialization to include the study of the sun’s effects on the earth. And today I am a science manager of a program called “Living with a Star” (LWS), our sun, at NASA.
What if you realize that some of your students have the potential to become great physicists? What if you know that if you nurture their interest in science and help them develop knowledge and skills, they will extend human knowledge in the future? They may work with the finest of universities and research labs and come up with breakthroughs for the problems that we are facing today. What can you do as their physics teacher to help them succeed as physicists?
More often than not, the Nobel Prize is awarded to inventions and discoveries which are extremely hard for the common man to understand. Ranging from the invention of the cyclotron to the discovery of the Cherenkov Effect, even students of science find it hard to make sense of the details of the subject of the prize winners. However, this year a seemingly simple invention was conferred the Nobel Prize for Physics: the blue LED light.
Some 34 years ago I joined an undergraduate college as a lecturer in physics. Prior to that, I had worked in a science museum. At the beginning of my teaching career, I had one wish in my mind. I wanted my students to avoid learning by rote and inculcate a scientific temper.