Category Archives: Physics

Why do Airplanes Fly?

In many physics textbooks, the explanation for lift on a flying airplane is that the top of a plane’s wing is longer than the bottom, and so air must travel faster across the top than the bottom, and therefore the … Continue reading

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Can Hot Water Freeze Before Cold Water? The Mpemba Effect

Here is a link to a fascinating post on this subject from earlier this year at Skulls in the Stars. The effect has apparently been observed for millenia (the post contains a reference by Aristotle!), but the conditions under which … Continue reading

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Stupid Textbook Questions

One of the persistent complaints about mathematics and science textbooks, especially high-school textbooks, is that the questions tend to involve formula manipulation in a way that is not very meaningful. Such questions tend to be artificial. A case in point … Continue reading

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We Teach Too Much “what to think” And Not Enough “how to think”

Way back when I was a little high-school student, I recall the pride I felt when working through the nuclear reactor unit of our Grade 11 physics course. The pride derived from the featured CANDU reactor. Wow! Our little Canada … Continue reading

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On Pulling Weeds

“A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. This is a profound observation about judgements and the role of words in conveying judgements. Nowadays, with our quite extensive knowledge of plants and … Continue reading

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The Scientific Peer Review System: A Cautionary Tale

One of the brilliant strong points of the scientific enterprise is its self-correcting nature. Constant testing, constant criticism, constant reflection, constant doubt … they all lead to errors being caught and corrected, and fuzzy ideas being clarified. At its best … Continue reading

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Resources For Superconductivity

I felt like learning more about superconductivity last week, so I spent some time reading from various sources. Not being an expert in the field, I cobbled together what I could find, and I thought I would list some items … Continue reading

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