Posts tagged ‘physics’

April 23, 2015

Thursday Quote Du Jour: How am I doing in physics? Eh, it’s all relative.

by Janie Jones

The semester, and therefore my foray into the realm of physics, is almost over.  But, we are just beginning to study relativity.


When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.

-Albert Einstein
February 6, 2015

Share the Physics Lab joy

by Janie Jones

This is what I had to build in physics lab yesterday:

circuit diagram

This is supposed to represent a circuit diagram.  Each little dome shape was a light bulb.  The bottom with the angled bit sticking out and down was the switch.  The open bit on the left with a small and large perpendicular line on either side was the battery connection.

With me so far?

So, we were given a packet of various configurations of the above and tests to make with voltmeters and ammeters inserted in the diagrams at various points.  This was a series of 1 bulb and two parallel bulbs.  I found it the most complicated to figure out how to build.

But Janie, you might well think, what’s so hard about making that?

You see, we were also given a large assortment of wires, little light bulbs, a switch and a battery pack.  Some of the wires had little alligator clips on the ends.  Some had metal rod things.  Some had one of each.  But other than a set of diagrams and an assortment of doo-daddery, there was not a stitch of instructions given on how to put all this stuff together.  Neither myself nor my other two partners had any experience with this sort of equipment, so it was quite a circus act trying to figure out how rectangular boxes related to wires and light bulbs.

It was a bit fun once we got over the initial WTF? moment of how to manipulate the equipment.  Surprisingly, none of us got electrocuted.  And as we are in general a rather highly educated, intelligent bunch, we got it figured out.  Mostly.  We did run out of class time before we finished it all, and I’m still glad I’m not an electrical engineering major; I have to spend this afternoon doing calculations with the data we collected from our voltmeter and ammeter readings.


September 24, 2014

No Freakin’ Way. Did that really just happen? To me?

by Janie Jones

So you must now all share in my Physics shock.

Today we had lab.  Lab so far has been mostly us looking confused and in pain trying to follow the mumbling ramblings of our teaching assistant (the TA) who is apparently too brilliant to be understood by any of the classmates I’ve talked to about what is going on in lab.

Today’s lab was on projectile motion.  I had been assigned a lab partner whose grasp of physics was no better than my own.  Somehow, perhaps due to the grey hair, I became the “leader,” and was responsible for most of the measurements and calculations and I pretty much thought we’d be screwed.  We had to calculate where to put a small cup on a stand on the floor in order to catch a ball which was released from a ramp which shot it off the table.  We were given the height of the opening of the basket and the diameter of the opening (which we were told wasn’t strictly necessary for the calculations).  We had to measure all the rest of our variables, calculate the speed and velocity of the ball, do the derivations for the equation to calculate the position for the basket, and then, once we had done the calculations we were given 5 tries to try and get the ball into the basket.

If the ball went in on the first try we’d automatically get full credit for the lab without having to do the homework for the week.

If the ball went in on the second try, we’d still have to do the homework and we’d only earn the points we earned from doing the homework.

If the ball took 3 tries, we’d have to do the homework, but with a 1 point penalty to our final homework grade.

If the ball took 4 tries, we’d have to do the homework with a 2 point penalty.

And if the ball took 5 or more tries, we’d have to do the homework with a 3 point penalty.

I was hoping against hope to break even and just not have to worry about a penalty, because I figured there was no way my partner and I would be able to sink that ball on the first try.  After all, I was the one leading this party and it involved math, my arch nemesis.

So, we measured the speed of the ball and I calculated the velocity of the ball.  I measured the height of the end of the ramp.  I asked for just a little help with deriving the equation to make sure I was going in the right direction.  I crunched the numbers.  I conferred with my partner, who said, “I trust your math more than mine.”  I shuddered, that did not bode well.

From there I followed the directions implicitly.  We used a plumb bob to find the horizontal position exactly below the ramp.  We shot the ball off the ramp onto carbon paper so it marked the floor where it hit, then we shot the ball from about a third of the way down the ramp onto the carbon paper to mark a second point.  I got out a meter stick and lined up the two carbon paper points and the point indicated by the plumb bomb exactly below the ramp.  Then I placed a target at the distance from the ramp that I got from my calculations, lining up the cross hairs with the line connecting my three points.  I verified this with my partner.  We agreed this was as good as it was going to get.  We agreed that it would take a miracle for this to work.  I said, as long as it goes in on the second try I’ll be tickled pink.

The TA brought over the cup on the stand and lined it up on our target.  My partner released the ball down the ramp.  I stood at the basket waiting to judge how far it was off so I’d be ready to adjust it accordingly.

And, then the damn thing sunk perfectly in the cup on the first damn try.


I’m stunned.

And thrilled I don’t have to do lab homework this week.

October 3, 2011

The Great White North’s most expensive grade school activity

by Janie Jones

For a small investment of 10k+ per semester, you too can play jump rope with a PhD holding professor during class time.

Mind you no one was complaining, it’s better than listening to her lectures….

That’s okay.  My education isn’t a total waste of money, I got a 90% on my physics test.  Yes, I’m very proud.  But I must confess, it is physics lite, or physics with out the math.  Yay!  Physics with math bad.  Physics with out math very good.

Hey, I can even say that in Spanish.  Física sin las matemáticas es muy buena.

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