Vicphysics Website upgraded – Physics Survey extended. VicPhys News 5/T4/18

The Vicphysics website has been upgraded.  It is now easier to find resources and there are extra features.
The deadline for the survey as part of the VCE Physics Review has been extended to 30th November.
There is also information on a website for 3D real time tracking of satellites.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be at 5pm on Thursday, 15th Novemberat Melbourne Girls’ College.  The second half of the meeting will be on the Physics Review Survey. All teachers are welcome to attend this or any other meeting.  If you would like to attend, please contact Vicphysics

The November exam will be the focus for the whole meeting on Thursday, 22nd November.  The purpose of the meeting is to prepare our review of the paper, which is forwarded to VCAA. This meeting will be at Swinburne Secondary College, Burwood Rd, Hawthorn from 5pm to 7pm.  If you would like to attend, please contact Vicphysics  There is no parking In Burwood Rd at that time.  There is parking a short distance away behind the Hawthorn Arts Centre, enter off Kent St.

The Vicphysics Executive Team
Frances Sidari (Pres), Bronwyn Quint (Vice-Pres), Barbara McKinnon (Sec), Terry Tan (Treas) and Dan O’Keeffe (Coord)

Table of Contents

  1. Our website has been re-designed.  Check it out
  2. Physics Review: Questionnaire: Closing date 30th Nov
  3. Viewing Satellite orbits in real time
  4. Latest Job Ads
  5. Events for Students and the General Public
  6. Events for Teachers

7. Physics News from the Web
a)  Wave concentrator could help capture renewable energy from the sea
b)  Ingenious Inventions: Review of Audrey, the Inventor
c)  Cool polymer paint saves on air conditioning
d) The fluid mechanics of bubbly drinks

1. Our Website has been redesigned.  Check it out
There are a number of new features on the Vicphysics website.

  • The menu has been re-configured to make it easier for you to access different webpages,
  • Commonly accessed webpages have their own icon on the home page,
  • Events and latest News can be found in the footer,
  • The home page is more visually attractive and
  • A new webpage on ‘Sharing ideas’ has been set up for you to upload your own material to make it available to others, or pass on a good website. It is under ‘Teachers’.

2. Physics Review: Questionnaire: Closing date: 30th Nov
Units 1 & 2 are accredited until December 2020, so these units are scheduled for a review in 2019.  VCAA is conducting a questionnaire to assist with this review process.  The questionnaire covers Units 1 to 4 as well as the Advice to Teachers.
The questionnaire can be accessed and completed here from the VCAA website.  The questionnaire can be completed at a later stage once commenced. To recommence the questionnaire, you use the [NEXT] button located in the bottom right hand corner to save entered information and then use the same computer and web browser on which the questionnaire was commenced as a copy of your responses will have been saved.
The Survey has been extended, the closing date is  now 30th November, 2018.
To assist you with preparing your responses to the questions on the questionnaire, a copy of the questions can be downloaded from here on the Vicphysics website.
In addition to this questionnaire, VCAA anticipates that teacher focus groups will be held to gather more information. Notification of focus groups will be via their Notice to Schools in addition to the Expression of Interest at the end of this questionnaire.

3. Viewing Satellite Orbits in Real Time
NASA’s J Track 3D Satellite Tracking program was a very useful tool for showing the various types of satellites orbits.  Students could use the displayed data for different satellites to calculate different gravitational parameters of their orbits.  However the program is no longer available.
A worthy successor is Stuffin Space .  It has all the features of J Track 3D.  You can zoom in and out, tilt the view to any angle for a polar or equatorial view, click on a satellite to see its orbit.  To see the ring of geostationary satellites is a learning experience in itself.  The data displayed for a satellite includes: Name, Type, Apogee (km), Perigee (km), Inclination, Altitude (km), Velocity (km/s) and Period (min).  There are many satellites in circular orbits at different heights as well as many with eccentric orbits. The data can be used in a number of ways:
a) Circular orbits: confirm the relationship between speed, radius and period, calculate and graph the accelerations of satellites at different altitudes and plot radius cubed against period squared for different satellites,
b) Eccentric orbits: record the velocity and altitude over time and graph speed squared against altitude for a particular satellite.  The Stuffin Space website does not include the mass of the satellite, but Gunter’s Space Page has a lot of satellite information including their masses, if you want to calculate KE.

4. Latest Job Ads

As schools lodge information about a vacancy, they will be placed here on our website.  Applications for the listed independent schools have closed. The list of government schools has been updated.

5.    Events for Students and the General Public

a)  23rd November, Breakthrough: The detection of gravitational waves from a neutron star merger, 6:30pm, Swinburne University.
Speaker: Assoc. Prof. Tara Murphy, Sydney Institute of Astronomy, University of Sydney
Abstract: On August 17th 2017 the LIGO-Virgo interferometer detected gravitational waves from a neutron star merger in a galaxy 130 million light years away. This was a breakthrough for physics and astronomy. What followed was a frenzy of activity as astronomers around the world worked to detect electromagnetic radiation with conventional telescopes. After this unprecedented effort the event was detected in gamma-rays, x-rays, visible light and radio waves. I will discuss this incredible scientific result and its implications, including: predictions made by Einstein; the production of gold and other heavy elements; and our understanding of black hole formation. I will also give a ‘behind the scenes’ perspective of how it happened, and discuss the changes in the way we do science in this era of big astronomy.
To Book: click here.

b) 27th November, Quantum reality: Cats, photons and breaking the banking system, 6:30pm, Monash University
Dr Felix Pollock is from the school of Physics and Astronomy.  He works on open quantum systems theory and quantum information theory. His main interests are in characterising and probing quantum dynamics with memory and developing tools to better simulate and control such processes.

Abstract: Our understanding of quantum mechanics underpins modern science and technology; without it, there would be no chemistry,  or modern computing. Experimentally, it has been verified, to extraordinary accuracy, as our best description of how things really behave. However, when looked at closely, quantum physics forces us to make some pretty radical changes to how we view reality. In this talk, I’ll walk you through some of the weirder aspects of existence at the smallest scales. Together we’ll see why certain cats may or may not be simultaneously dead and alive (depending on who you ask), how light can upset Einstein, and how next-generation quantum technologies could lead to the collapse of the banking system (luckily, they might also give us a means to fix it).

Time: 6:30pm
Venue: Theatre S3, 16 Rainforest Walk, Monash University

For information about the public lectures at Monash University,including parking and maps, clickhere.

c) Physics Days at Luna Park: Tuesday, 6th March to Friday, 9th March, 2019
Next year there will be two extra rides on offer one of which is the Road Runner located next to the Spider.  Up to 9 people sit in a car as it twists, turns and sways while moving backwards and forwards through a curved dip. It will be useful for data logging and also simple calculation of g forces from using a stop watch and estimating distances.  The other ride will be a new ride, which is yet to be announced.
Bookings are now open for next year’s Physics Days at Luna Park.  You can make a booking for a particular day at this year and change your day once your timetable for 2019 is known. But please remember to notify Luna Park on any change of date at least a fortnight before the event.
An aerobatic display by a member of the Roulettes has been requested, but confirmation is often not provided before February next year.

6.     Events for Teachers
a)   15th November, Earthrise: Looking back at the Planet, 7pm – 8:30pm, Royal Society of Victoria, Melbourne

What’s in a picture?

Almost 50 years ago on Christmas Eve, 1968, US astronaut William Anders took a photo aboard the Apollo 8 mission that became known as ‘Earthrise.’ This ground-breaking image transformed our view of our unique planet, and the place of our home in the cosmos.
Taking this photograph was one of the most profound events in the history of human culture, for at this moment we truly saw ourselves from a distance for the first time; and the Earth in its surrounding, dark emptiness not only seemed infinitely beautiful, but also extraordinarily fragile. This wonderful image crystallised and cemented the sense of our planet’s isolation and vulnerability. It is linked to the start of the environmental movement and to many significant concepts developed and popularised over the last 50 years such as Spaceship Earth, Limits to Growth, Small is Beautiful, Sustainability and Gaia.

Join an interdisciplinary panel to reflect on “Earthrise” and the progress – or otherwise – we have made as an Earth-bound species in the intervening half century.
Panellists include:
Dr Colleen Boyle, Artist and Art Historian with RMIT’s School of Design
Dr Jenny Gray, CEO of Zoos Victoria and the President of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums
Prof Rachel Webster, Head of Astrophysics at the University of Melbourne’s School of Physics
Dr Lynette Bettio, Senior Climatologist with the Bureau of Meteorology
Alicia Sometimes, broadcaster, poet and writer, will be the MC

Venue: Royal Society of Victoria, 8 La Trobe St, Melbourne
To book click here
Cost: $5.86 to $27.50

Also check out ‘Rocket Men’ by Harvard lawyer and space-nut Robert Kurson.  Recommended by Paul Cuthbert:  “What the crew and NASA did was just so amazing that by the end of the book I think this mission is actually a bigger achievement than the 1st Moon landing. Just so many things had to go right for them to return safely (so many things I’d just never realised were so incredibly dangerous about such a voyage). And it was a very hurriedly plan mission with much powerful opposition.
They were the first humans to ever fly a Saturn V (and that was after nothing but problems with the remotely controlled tests prior), the first humans to leave Earth and be captured by the gravitational field of another body and of course they took that iconic photo of Earth (and prompted Anders to say “we went all the way to the moon to discover Earth”).

Finally the crew in 1968 of Borman (40), Lovell (40) and Anders (34 years old) are now 90, 90 and 84 respectively, are all still alive, well and in all probability will remain so this xmas eve for the 50thanniversary.”

Also check this Youtube video of three astronauts at the book launch earlier this year.

Scienceworks has a new Exhibition, Museum of the Moon, opening on 1st December that includesa seven metre diameter spherical sculpture featuring large scale NASA imagery of the lunar surface.  At a scale of 1:500,000, each centimetre of the sculpture represents five kilometres of the moon’s surface. It is included with Museum entry.  Also the Earthlight: Spacewalk activity finishes on 14th December.

b)   17th November, Science Says! 2018, 3:30 — 5pm, Royal Society of Victoria, Melbourne

Brilliant scientists, gifted comedians and talented communicators use their wits and wittiness to uncover the top scientific discoveries of 2018 – and a few of the odder ones, too!

It’s an evening in the style of the great panel shows – think mixing Mock the WeekSpicks and Specks, and just a dash of QI.
Venue: Royal Society of Victoria, 8 La Trobe St, Melbourne
To book click here.
Cost: $10

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c)  9th – 13th December, AIP Congress: Teaching Nexus – Evolving Physics Education in our Schools, Perth
This year the AIP Congress includes a two day program for teachers on Tuesday and Wednesday.  There are two keynote talks on ‘Science as a Human Endeavour: What does this mean and how can we use it to connect students to the physics’ and ‘How to strengthen physics by making it inclusive’ plus three workshops. The registration fee for the two days is $290. For registration details clickhere. For more details about the program for teachers click here.

7.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletins of the Institute of Physics (UK).
Each item below includes the introductory paragraphs and a web link to the rest of the article.
a) Wave concentrator could help capture renewable energy from the sea
A new device that can triple the amplitude of a water wave by concentrating it into a small, shallow space has been unveiled by researchers in China and the US.  As well as concentrating waves incident on the device, it does not reflect a significant amount of wave energy back into open water. As a result, the team believes that their prototype could soon be scaled-up to tap into the enormous potential for power generation provided by the oceans.
b) Ingenious Inventions: Review of Audrey, the inventor
The short, quirky book tells the story of Audrey who lives with her father and her pet “Happy Cat” and decides to become an inventor. Inquisitive and adventurous Audrey dreams up and creates a number of devices – from an egg collector to a strawberry jam dispenser to a “cat washer” – in the hopes of being helpful. Alas, her builds soon fall apart or, worse, cause chaos. Our young heroine is despondent, convinced that she is the “world’s worst inventor”. Thankfully, daddy steps in with words of encouragement and advice, suggesting that she learn from her mistakes and try again. This time around, Audrey carefully plans her project and repeatedly tests her invention before unleashing it on the household with huge success.

c) Cool polymer paint saves on air conditioning.
Air conditioning accounts for 10% of global energy consumption. Now researchers at Columbia University and Argonne National Laboratory in the US have produced a polymer “paint” capable of cooling surfaces to around 6 °C below ambient temperatures without using any energy at all. Used in combination with conventional air conditioning, it could allow significant reductions in the time these units are switched on, as well as providing some cooling relief in areas where air conditioning is not so widely available.

The approach uses a solution process at room temperature to produce a film of a polymer with nanometre- and micrometre-sized air voids trapped inside. “There are a lot of examples of substances that are white from air voids – like snow for example,” says Nanfang Yu associate professor in Applied Physics at Columbia University in the US. “Snow is white because there are a lot of air bubbles inside, otherwise you have ice which is transparent – it’s as simple as that. We are just pushing this to the extreme by this chemical process.”

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d) The fluid mechanics of bubbly drinks

In most cases, the bubbles in a drink are the result of carbonation. The amount of carbon dioxide gas that dissolves in the liquid is proportional to pressure. And if the pressure is suddenly reduced, such as when a bottle of beer is opened, the gas quickly comes out of solution and forms bubbles that rise to the surface, only to burst after a brief instant or to aggregate into a frothy head of foam.
That’s just the start of what happens to carbonated drinks opened to air; many processes occur before the first refreshing sip. In this article we discuss the bubbles’ birth, motion, stability, and fascinating connections to a range of other phenomena that lie beyond the need for refreshment.
Perhaps the first question worth asking is, Why do we like bubbly drinks? A scientific answer has proven elusive. Carbonation, it turns out, triggers the same pain receptors in the deep brain that are activated by tasting spicy food.1 Curiously, when carbonated water is fed to other animals, such as mice, dogs, and horses, the animals refuse to drink it. But humans appear to enjoy the mildly irritating effects. Water, CO2, and saliva enzymes react to produce small amounts of carbonic acid, the substance thought to be behind the tingly sensation. The bubbles themselves are known to alter a drink’s perceived flavor, at least in the case of soda: The smaller the bubbles, the faster they dissolve to produce carbonic acid.

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