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Physics

Physics is more than just sending people to the moon. I was talking with an English professor who teaches at a Russian university. She commented that the physics she learned at school had been the most useful thing she had ever learned that she had never "used" professionally. Physics is useful for everyone, and helps us to understand the world around us.

Topics

  • Chernobyl Meltdown. How it happened, what were the results, and what we can learn from it.

  • E=mc2. The most famous equation in physics. How much mass converted to energy would it take to boil the world's ocean?

  • Electromagnetism. How a wire is deflected by the magnetic field around a current-carrying wire, and the right hand grip rule.

  • Gravity. How gravity acts. The difference between mass and weight.

  • Light. A note on Young's double slit experiment. A brief history of human discoveries relating to light, and the basic religious beliefs of the discoverers. Atmospheric phenomena – rainbow, fogbow, glory, sun dog and moon dog, icebow or halo. Neon lights and De Broglie wavelength.

  • Pulleys. How to get children to hoist themselves upward by having them haul on a rope.

  • Satellite orbits. Space vs orbit. Types of orbits – low Earth orbit, polar orbit (and sun-synchronous polar orbit), geosynchronous orbit, geostationary orbit (aka Clarke orbit), geostationary transfer orbit, semi-synchronous orbit, graveyard orbit. Launch direction. Going beyond Earth orbit.

  • States of matter. Solid, liquid, gas, plasma. Names of phase changes (changes of state).

  • Strong nuclear force. Magnets can act as a stand-in for charges in a nucleus, giving an idea of how strong the strong nuclear force is.

  • Waves and sound. Use of a slinky to demonstrate longitudinal and transverse waves. Amplitude and swell. Corner reflectors to show up better on radar.

Reference

Homeschool course

The textbook for the homeschool group was Exploring Creation with Physical Science by Dr Jay Wile. The course involved practical, hands-on demonstrations including recreating Thomas Young's famous twin slit experiment using a laser and making a compass needle rotate by passing a curent through a nearby wire.