Connections @BBC #physics #science #engineering #history #tv

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Look at me. Ending my streak of posts after an entire year, and the very next day posting every day for a week. Will it last? (No.)

I recently rediscovered the BBC show, Connections, hosted by James Burke. I used to watch this with my dad when I was a kid. This is a show about the marvels of science and engineering throughout history and, more to the point, their connections to one another. That is, a technology over here gets merged with a technology over there, and voila! A new invention. 

It’s enough to drive you mad.

I apparently remember it extremely well, because I find myself saying the host’s lines before he says them. Nevertheless, I’m relearning a lot of material. I recently learned about, and wrote a post on, the Cistercian numerals. To my recollection, I never heard of the Cistercian monks before learning about their numbers, yet they were mentioned in the one of the first few episodes, so my memory is exceptional, but not perfect. (My short term memory is failing, which is very unsettling.)

Another thing threw me off a bit. In the first episode – which is a bit scary, by the way – the host describes the New York City blackout of 1977, which left several planes circling overhead with nowhere to land. The flight he expressly mentioned was flight 911. A spooky an odd . . . connection.

Whether your academic or professional background is in science (like me) or history, this is still a fascinating and relevant show.

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Follow the BBC @BBC

I Can’t Wait Until 2620 #science #physics #astronomy #Uranus #Futurama

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Sundays now are lazy days for me. I either post something silly or other people’s work. Usually both. Today … I have no comment. Commenting will just get me in trouble.

If the title of this post confuses you, here’s the context.

Enjoy.

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The Ixitxachitl Lich #science #biology #gaming #DnD #ADnD #ixitxachitl

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Sundays now are lazy days for me. I either post something silly or other people’s work. Usually both. Today, it’s (loosely) using science to imagine a D&D creature.

Funny story. I never thought I’d ever be able to spell ixitxachitl, and only recently did it stick in my brain. Now I can spell it at will. Small victories, huh?

Now, someone stat this thing.

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Dungeons & Dragons is a trademark of Wizards of the Coast, LLC, who neither contributed to, nor endorsed, the contents of this post. (Okay, jackasses?)

The Old Dangling a Cord from a Helicopter Trick #science #physics

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Sundays now are lazy days for me. I either post something silly or other people’s work. Usually both. Today, it’s some science from one of my favorite YouTube channels.

For the record, I got the first and third ones correct.

Science!

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Dungeons & Dragons is a trademark of Wizards of the Coast, LLC, who neither contributed to, nor endorsed, the contents of this post. (Okay, jackasses?)

Memories of My Days as a Physics Student #physics #science #music

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I have a physics degree and had a nice blast from the past the other day while wandering through my home library. I found a copy of my old physics textbook from high school. Here’s an excerpt.

No photo description available.

Suckers. 🙂

This will never not be funny.

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Reactive Centrifugal Force (Actually, Language [Actually, Me Being a Pain in the Ass]) #physics #science #language #pita

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Here’s a random memory triggered by an unrelated Facebook post I read.

When I was a physics major, one of my professors, referencing a carnival ride, actually said, “Centrifugal force doesn’t exist. What you’re experiencing is centripetal force pushing you in.”

I responded, “But if centripetal force exists, doesn’t Newton’s Third Law of Motion demand that centrifugal force also exist? Wouldn’t that be the force your body exerts back on the wall?”

Boy, was he pissed. Of course he knew that the “reactive centrifugal force” existed. This is the force that you exert on the wall in reaction to the wall pushing you towards the center. It’s a very real force. However, even back then, I was killing people for linguistic imprecision. I couldn’t help it. It was a legitimate question brought on by a quirk in how physicists label these topics.

“Centrifugal force” is used differently from “reactive centrifugal force,” which is stupid. All forces have a reactive counterforce, so why qualify it as “reactive”? Unfortunately, that’s the linguistic convention, but when you say “centrifugal force doesn’t exist,” it misleads people who otherwise have a grasp on what you’re teaching. Physics professors should make it clear that there is an outward force, but we experience a misperception that this outward force is acting on us. In fact, the outward force is acting on the wall (or whatever is forcing you to take a curved path). Without “reactive” modifying it, “centrifugal force” refers to the misperception rather than the very real force.

If you want more details on the physics, here’s a relatively short lecture on this topic (about 12-1/2 minutes), though it doesn’t discuss the issue I’m raising here. In fact, it makes the same mistake. I originally provided a paragraph explaining some concepts the lecture takes for granted, but that paragraph would probably have made things worse. 🙂

You may have expected this to be about science, or language, but it was really about me being a pain in the ass.

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