Angular Quantities II

In this post, I will address the first question on the list in the previous post. What exactly does it mean for something to be a vector? In almost every introductory physics course, vectors are introduced as “quantities having magnitude and direction” and are eventually equated to graphical arrows. A vector is neither of these, […]

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Matter & Interactions I, Week 5

This week, we transitioned to chapter 1 of the Matter & Interactions textbook (fourth edition). I have WebAssign problem sets for each chapter available for formative assessment and practice while working their way through the reading. I encouraged them to use the book the way it was intended to be used, specifically by stopping and […]

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Matter & Interactions I, Week 4

This week we formally wrapped our coverage (I hate that word) of special relativity. My goal never has been for students to do complicated numerical problems. Instead, I wanted them to understand the foundations of special relativity with an emphasis on the invariance of light’s speed, the loss of absolute simultaneity, and loss of absolute […]

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Matter & Interactions I, Week 3

This week, we encountered what, in my opinion, is the most fundamental aspect of special relativity: the loss of absolute simultaneity. The Michelson-Morley experiment established that light’s speed must be invariant. An immediate consequenc of this is that two events that are simultaneous in one inertial frame cannot be simultaneous in any other frame. Last […]

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Matter & Interactions I, Week 2

This week we began readings from chapter 36 (24MB) of Arnold Arons’ 1965 calculus-based textbook Development of Concepts of Physics (rare, but occasionally found on the used market…I have two copies and I hope to get Dover to reissue the book in paperback). This is the chapter on special relativity, and in my opinion forms the best foundation for relativity […]

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