Otterbein Physics Blog

News And Psuedo-Random Blurts from the Otterbein University Physics Department

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Kid’s Misconceptions about physics

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http://amasci.com/miscon/opphys.html

Some of my favorites:

“Rain comes from holes in clouds.”

“Gases are not matter because most are invisible.”

“Batteries have electricity inside them”

Most of these are familiar to us as instructors, even after students reach college…

Written by Nathaniel Tagg

December 4th, 2015 at 9:46 am

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Measuring Planck’s Constant with LEGOs

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An amusing project from NIST for using a LEGO “Watt balance” — the device used in the recently updated definition of the kilogram — to measure Planck’s constant h.  I’ll be firing this one up at home, for sure!

tableTop_LegoWattBalance

Written by David Robertson

November 12th, 2015 at 11:10 am

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Breakthrough Prize in Physics to Neutrinos

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Following on from the 2015 Nobel Prize, the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory has just been awarded the 2016 Breakthrough Prize:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/11/06/science/breakthrough-prize-winners-2016.html?_r=0

The Physics prize is shared amongst multiple collaborations, including SNO, Super-K, K2K, KamLAND, and Daya Bay.

(As you all know, I did my graduate work on SNO.  I also worked for a year on Daya Bay shortly before coming to Otterbein.)

Neutrinos continue their glorious ascendency.

Written by Nathaniel Tagg

November 9th, 2015 at 8:59 am

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Beautiful new experiment verifies (yet again) that quantum mechanics is weird

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A new experiment carried out in the Netherlands has confirmed the “spooky action at a distance” that is a central feature of quantum mechanics.  There have been several such confirmations, going back to the early 1980s, but this is is the first one that simultaneously closes all the loopholes that might arise.  It may therefore be the final blow to the idea — championed by Einstein and Bell, among others — that quantum mechanics is incomplete and there might be local “hidden variables.”

The preprint version of the paper is available here.

Written by David Robertson

September 3rd, 2015 at 8:35 am

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The Coldest Place in Westerville

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Last week Dr. Reinhard and his students detected ultracold rubidium atoms in a magneto-optical trap for the first time. The atoms, seen below with an infrared sensitive camera, have a temperature of about 100 micro Kelvin, or about a million times colder than room temperature. For reference, the surface of the sun is only about 20 times hotter than room temperature. IMG_0408

Written by Aaron Reinhard

July 29th, 2015 at 3:39 pm

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How Physics Will Change—and Change the World—in 100 Years

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Interesting and inspiring article on the (history and) future of physics by Frank Wilczek.

Written by David Robertson

July 8th, 2015 at 3:38 pm

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Operation Physics in full swing for 2015-16

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OP2 teachers study force and acceleration.

OP2 teachers study force and motion.

OP2: Operation Physics, a crash course in physics for middle school science teachers, is underway now at Otterbein. The course features many hands-on activities and the teachers receive loads of gear for teaching science. The program is supported by a grant from the Ohio Board of Regents, and is in its 6th year at Otterbein.

Written by David Robertson

June 27th, 2015 at 11:33 am

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Relatively Funny

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A student riding in a train looks up and sees Einstein sitting next to him. Excited, he asks, “Excuse me, professor. Does Boston stop at this train?”

Written by David Robertson

June 7th, 2015 at 2:00 pm

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First collisions at 13 TeV as the Large Hadron Colllider restarts

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screen_shot_2015-05-21_at_09.22.21

On May 21, 2015 proton beams were collided together in the Large Hadron Collider at the record energy of 13 TeV, as the LHC restarts after extensive upgrades over the past two years.  This is the total energy in the center-of-mass frame, so each beam contains protons of energy 6.5 TeV.  That’s about 6,500 times the rest energy of a proton (roughly 1 GeV), hence the relativistic gamma factor for these protons is about 6,500.

Read the CERN article on this important milestone here.

Written by David Robertson

May 29th, 2015 at 12:14 pm

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Higgs boson paper has 5,154 authors

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CMS and Atlas, the two big experimental collaborations at the Large Hadron Collider, have joined forces to produce the most accurate determination of the Higgs boson mass to date.  By combining their data sets they obtained

$$ M_H=125.09\pm0.24~GeV$$

for a relative error of about 0.2%.  The paper in Physical Review Letters describing these results has the longest author list ever: 5,154 names.  In the published version, there are 9 pages describing the research and 24 pages of authors and their affiliations.

Read the associated APS Physics Viewpoint article here.

Written by David Robertson

May 20th, 2015 at 1:56 pm

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