Friday, September 30, 2011

Everyone gather round to read a solipsist's blog!

  • Great title: Static Patch Solipsism: Conformal Symmetry of the de Sitter Worldline...but can you use such a great word in the title without also including it in the text?
  • By now most everyone has heard about the new FTL result of OPERA. It's really such a shame, but it was fun while it lasted. I mean the climate scientists have long since begun to lose their stranglehold on the AGW conspiracy, so it was only a matter of time until the entire edifice of modern physics is torn down. Of course relativity and quantum mechanics was a snow-job to fool the common person! I mean if Joe-schmoe can't understand it, then it must be wrong. And if it's wrong and more than one person says it, then it is, by construction, a conspiracy. It's now only a matter of a few years until this nightmare of "modern science" is completely ripped asunder and we'll entire a utopia ruled by complete gun and religious freedom. That is to say, the freedom to be white, armed Christians (preferably no Catholics) in the unquestioned greatest country on Earth.
...removing tongue from cheek now.

where's Blogger's preview button?

Friday, September 02, 2011

Hello New Students

This is introductory physics. The goal for this course is three-fold: (i) better understanding of how the universe works at a pretty fundamental level (in other words, this is not biology or chemistry), (ii) better problem solving ability, and (iii) increased quantitative awareness and ability. Students are often intimidated coming into a course such as this. I do not wish to make it hard, but you have to demonstrate some achievement in these three goals.

To give you some sense of how I see the grading in this course a metaphor is in order. Let's say that I'm here to teach you all basketball. You all come in with very different abilities. My tests will have a range of questions...some will be like free throws. An example would be: How much force would one have to exert to accelerate a 2 kg ball at a rate of 3 m/s^2? Some may have no numbers and might be comparable to asking someone to evaluate what kind of defense an opposing team is running. For example, I could ask: What force is responsible for holding a bag of concrete on the back of a flatbed truck as it drives down the highway? More difficult problems might be something like having you carry-out a give-and-go. All of this is definitely teachable, though some will have no problem at all. You all can do this. And, just like in basketball, it will take practice.

Some more involved problems will challenge nearly everyone. They are more akin to looking for you to demonstrate court-awareness and the ability to break-down a defense. You will have to introduce variables not given in the problem, determine a number of equations, and use your math skills to solve them. This can be taught, but is fairly advanced.

In any case, please be aware that you may make a habit of "hiding" in other classes, hoping that the instructor isn't particularly aware of how little one might know. This class doesn't really allow this. I will have a very good idea of both your ability and your understanding, regardless of how little you may participate in class. I want you all to succeed, but you have to do your part. Good luck!