Thursday, August 28, 2014

Particle Physics

I came across a video (see right) of a very good talk by Sean Carroll called "Particles, Fields and The Future of Physics". A good general non-mathematical introduction to the subject including some illuminating comments about the Higgs particle. About an hour in length and worth it.

I should say that this is more A-level or university level than high school!

Also worth mentioning here is a short but more technical article on the same topic "The Physics of a New Generation".

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Solar storms and power troubles

This post is speculative but worth considering. The physics is interesting a least. Some research in North America on insurance claims for damage to power systems suggests that geomagnetic storms of solar origin which impact the magnetic field surrounding the earth (magnetosphere) are responsible for some disruptions of the electrical power grid.
"In the early hours of the morning of 13 March, 1989, a powerful geomagnetic storm from the Sun hit the Earth, immediately inducing currents in long conductors on the Earth’s surface, such as power and railway lines. "
"... much of this equipment is connected to the low voltage power distribution network. “The claims statistics thus reveal that large-scale geomagnetic variability couples into the low-voltage power distribution network,” they say. That has never been revealed before."

Are we in Guyana vulnerable? We are near the equator which is good but our power lines are above ground.

Issues to consider:
- what are solar storms?
- what is the magnetosphere?
- how do the storms affect the grid?
- what can be done to protect us?

Note also we had a near miss recently according to this report:
"Two years ago, Earth experienced a close shave just as perilous, but most newspapers didn't mention it. The "impactor" was an extreme solar storm, the most powerful in as much as 150+ years."

Friday, June 13, 2014

More resources - TES

Another goldmine of useful resources for teachers from the Times Educational Supplement (TES):

"Free physics resources: physics lesson plans, physics worksheets, physics revision, physics teaching" 

Of course they cover much else besides Physics too.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Learning and gadgets

A NY-based company called Adafruit Industries has some nice offerings.
"Adafruit was founded in 2005 by MIT engineer, Limor "Ladyada" Fried. Her goal was to create the best place online for learning electronics and making the best designed products for makers of all ages and skill levels. ... Adafruit has expanded offerings to include tools, equipment and electronics ... Limor was the first female engineer on the cover of WIRED magazine and was recently awarded Entrepreneur magazine's Entrepreneur of the year."
I will not attempt to review their gadgets but here are a couple of interesting and relevant educational downloads:
Guide to multimeters
Electronics guides

Digging around in their website is recommended.

Why "Ada"? - probable connection here to Ada Lovelace often described as the world's first computer programmer.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Physics Classroom website

A great resource for teachers.
This site seems to have some of everything a teacher or student might want including teaching resources, questions, labs etc. Too much to describe. Every teacher needs to check it out.
For the US curriculum but that is not a big problem.
Mainly the work of one very dedicated teacher - Tom Henderson of Glenbrook South High School.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Some more Caribbean Physics sites

In a previous post we looked at a couple of interesting sites for teachers. In this post we look at a few more. There are many sites offering tuition of some kind but these are difficult to evaluate and have been omitted for now.

University sites - there are the University of the West Indies Physics Departments at Mona (Jamaica), at St Augustine (Trinidad) and at Cave Hill (Barbados). All are interesting sites to browse around in. There is also the University of Guyana site although there is currently no degree program.

Another interesting item is an article called "Meet 5 world-renowned Caribbean scientists" on Caribbean Current". One is Guyanese (Dr Chang-Yen) and two are physicists. There are of course many more but making a list would be both challenging and contentious.

I also came across this useful physics blog "Science Zone Jamaica".

There are not a lot of Caribbean physics sites but I will keep looking.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

CSEC (CXC) Physics syllabus online

The Caribbean Examinations Council has redone their web site and syllabii can now be found online - after a bit of digging. Since my days of teaching CXC Physics ready access to the most recent syllabus has always been less than easy for teachers and students so having them online like other examining authorities is much to their credit - well done CXC!
The Physics syllabus, effective May 2015, can be found here along with other subjects.
Also of note are the study guides which look really useful, available through publisher Oxford University Press. The Physics study guide is here.