Internet Physics Resources. Vicphys News 2/T1/19

There are a few overseas physics education journals that feature links to websites with useful resources.  This newsletter includes a selection of those found in the last week.

Also coming up next week is the Physics Teachers’ Conference.  The Chief Assessor’s Forum is a month later in early March and the Beginning Teachers’ In-Service is in the school holidays.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be on Thursday, 7th February at Melbourne Girls’ College starting at 5:00pm. Teachers are welcome to these meetings. If you wish to come, please email Vicphysics

Frances Sidari (Pres), Jane Coyle (Vice-Pres), Dan O’Keeffe (Sec) and Terry Tan (Treas)

Table of Contents

  1. PhyPhox: Smart Phone Experiments
  2. Parallel Pedagogy: Learning the concepts simultaneously – Introductory mechanics
  3. Why a tennis ball goes flying when bounced on a basketball? Editable software of the impact
  4. Equipment Designs for Physics Demonstrations
  5. Events for Students and the General Public
  6. Events for Teachers

7. Physics News from the Web
a) Newton: Egomaniac or Troubled genius? A review of ‘Isaac Newton: The Asshole who reinvented the Universe’
b) Fascinating Physics Facts about Snow Flakes
c) The Physics of Knitting

1.  PhyPhox: Smart Phone Experiments
PhyPhox is an app produced by the Aachen University in Germany.  It can be downloaded for free.  The software makes use of the large range of sensors now in smart phones.  You can export your data in most common formats and also control any experiment remotely from a web browser.  There is also a ‘forum’ with numerous contributions.

2. Parallel Pedagogy: Learning the concepts simultaneously – Introductory mechanics
This curriculum resource adopts a teaching approach similar to the way we learn our first language. ‘We just start using it while increasing complexity through iteration. Most every sixth grader can distinguish energy, momentum, force, and motion. Parallel Pedagogy begins there; stresses concepts, problem solving and picture drawing; while adding maths only as it becomes necessary.’
The material is produced by Pete Schwartz, Professor of Physics at California Polytechnic State University.
The website has an introductory video in which Pete Schwartz explains his methodology and the use of the flipped classroom. There is also a link to an article from ‘The Physics Teacher’ about the program.  He also has an extensive list of short instructional videos.

3.  Why a tennis ball goes flying when bounced on a basketball? Software to investigate the impact
An article in Wired by Prof Rhett Allain of Southeastern Louisiana University explains the high rebound of the tennis ball, along with a video, but more usefully he includes the code for a computer simulation of the impact.  You are able to not only run the simulation, but also, adjust the ratio of the masses to investigate the effect.  He also extends the software analysis to a multiball collision (Check out ‘Astroblaster‘ the commercial toy).  There are a set of homework exercises at the end of the article.  Also check out Physics Girl Youtube video

4. Equipment Designs for Physics Demonstrations
This is a set of instructions to build equipment for over 50 physics demonstrations. They were prepared by John Johnston of The Faraday Centre in New Zealand.  The instructions require basic workshop tools.  The demos cover mechanics, waves, light and electromagnetism.

5.    Events for Students and the General Public
a) Monday, 11th February, Girls in Science Webinar, 10:20am – 11:30am AEDT
As part of a celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Victoria’s Lead Scientist, Dr Amanda Caples, with others will be hosting an interactive web-streamed panel session aimed at middle and senior school students in science.  The event will be hosted by the Royal Society of Victoria.
The event will feature a keynote address by Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea, Co-Founder and CEO of Women in STEMM Australia. The panellists will be taking questions from the online audience.
For more details about the event and the panel members and to also book, click here.  There are still spots available for audience members.  Check the link for details.

b) Monday, 11th February, AIP Public Lecture: The Higgs Boson and the search for physics beyond the standard model, 5:30pm, University of Melbourne.
Speaker: Prof Elisabetta Barberio, University of Melbourne.  Elisabetta won the 2018 AIP Walter Boas Medal for fundamental contributions to the experiments and analysis that led to the discovery and characterisation of the Higgs boson at CERN, and the search for physics beyond the standard model.
Venue: Hercus Theatre. Map

c) Friday, 22nd February, Things that go bump in the night: fast radio bursts and the search for life beyond Earth, 6:30pm, Swinburne University
Speaker: Dr Daniel C Price, Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University
Venue: Swinburne University, Hawthorn campus, ATC building, ATC101 (Enter from Burwood Road)
Map: http://www.swinburne.edu.au/media/swinburneeduau/about-swinburne/docs/pdfs/hawthorn-map.pdf
Abstract: Thanks to new, more powerful technology, astronomers can search the skies faster and with more resolution than ever before.  In this public lecture, I will talk about two exciting fields in astronomy: the Search for Extraterrestrial  Intelligence (SETI), and Fast Radio Bursts. The SETI field has been reinvigorated by the 10-year, $100M Breakthrough Listen initiative to search for intelligent life beyond Earth. As a project scientist for Breakthrough Listen, I will introduce the program and detail how we are using new technology to run the most comprehensive search for intelligent life beyond Earth ever undertaken. I will also discuss a mysterious phenomenon known as fast radio bursts: incredibly bright but short-lived signals from distant galaxies, which escaped detection until recently. Could these signals be due to intelligent aliens, or is there an astrophysical explanation? I will give an overview of how a telescope upgrade will help us answer this question, and how Swinburne astronomers will play a leading role. Finally, I will discuss what evidence would convince us that there is indeed life beyond Earth, or that the Universe is ours alone to enjoy.
Registration and Details: For further information and registration, please click here. Closes when maximum capacity reached.

d)  Physics Days at Luna Park: Tuesday, 5th March to Friday, 8th March, 2019

This year there will be an extra ride on offer: the Speedy Beetle located behind the Ferris Wheel.  It is a mini roller coaster that moves in a figure 8 with sharp rises and falls and a quick banked turn..
Bookings are now open .  Tuesday and Friday are filling fast, but there is plenty of room on Wednesday and Thursday.
An aerobatic display by a member of the Roulettes has been requested, but confirmation is often not provided until mid February.
Worksheets are available here.
Schools can also book a Pasco data logger for a half day by accessing the Ciderhouse website here.

e) Girls in Physics Breakfasts in 2019
This year there will be two extra country breakfasts, in Warrnambool and Wodonga.
The dates, venues, speakers and topics are:

  • 22nd March, Ballarat Speaker: Dr Dianne Ruka, Monash University, Topic: Future Computing and Low Energy Electronics.
  • 3rd May, Geelong Speaker: Dr Ellen Moon, Deakin University, Topic: Science in the Antarctic: Where can STEM take you?
  • 10th May, Warrnambool Speaker: Dr Gail Iles, RMIT, Topic: Human spaceflight and science in space
  • 17th May, Bendigo Speaker: Dr Judy Hart, University of  New South Wales, Topic: Developing new materials for renewable energy
  • 24th May, Wodonga Speaker Dr Adelle Wright, ANU, Topic: Nuclear Fusion: An Australian Perspective
  • 30th May, Melbourne Speaker: Dr Susie Sheehy, University of Melbourne and Oxford University, Topic: Colliding worlds: Using particle physics to cure cancer.
  • Late July, Clayton The date, venue and speaker are yet to be finalised.

For more details including flyers and how to book please go to the Vicphysics webpage

f) Friday, 29th March: Watching a Little Gas Cloud on its Way into the Galactic Supermassive Black Hole  6:30pm, Swinburne University
Speaker: Prof Andreas Burkert, Ludwig Maximalians University, Munich
Venue: Swinburne University, Hawthorn campus, ATC building, ATC101 (Enter from Burwood Road)
Map: http://www.swinburne.edu.au/media/swinburneeduau/about-swinburne/docs/pdfs/hawthorn-map.pdf
Registration and Details: For further information and registration, please click here.

6.     Events for Teachers
a)  2019 Physics Teachers’ Conference, 15th 16th February, La Trobe University
Register now to get your workshop preferences.  A school purchase order can be used to accompany the registration form.
The Friday program includes two addresses:

  • Opening Address: Precision Cosmology with the next generation of Telescopes with Dr Laura Wolz from the University of Melbourne
  • Pre Lunch Address: Responding to short answer questions with Andrew Hansen, the Chief Assessor.

There are also three sessions of workshops with 16 workshops on offer in each.

The Saturday program has two Excursion tasters on offer to the Synchrotron and VSSEC as well as a two hour Medical Physics In-Service at Peter Mac. Each session in the Saturday program can be booked independently of the conference booking by emailing Vicphysics indicating which ones you wish to attend.  There is no cost.

The cost: $188 for an individual STAV member, $305 for a STAV School subscriber, $330 for a non STAV member and $78 for a retired teacher.  Registration includes morning tea and lunch.  Program details, registration forms and online booking are available here. Check Vicphysics website as well.

b) Tuesday, 12th March: Chief Assessor’s Forum on the 2018 VCE Physics Exam, 5:00pm, University High School
Vicphysics and the Chief Assessor, Andrew Hansen, would again like to provide teachers with the opportunity to hear about the full exam with an extended opportunity to ask questions and a chance to speak with Andrew.

The Chief Assessor’s Forum a question by question coverage of the students’ responses to last year’s Physics exam.  The event will also be streamed live.
The forum will start at 5:00pm, with a meal break at 6:30pm, commencing again at 7:15pm.  Dinner will be provided.
Cost: $60 to attend the event, including the meal. $30 to view online.
Booking: You will need to book through Trybooking, check our website for details.

c) Monday, 8th April: Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service, Kew High School
Vicphysics will be running a full day in-service on Monday, 8th April at Kew High School.  The event is free, lunch is provided and travel support is available for country participants.
The event is for:

  • Teachers beginning their teaching career,
  • Teachers returning to physics teaching and
  • Teachers who have been asked by their school to take a VCE Physics class

The program will include:

  • Information on course planning, resources, advice of teaching specific topics and suggestions from some of last year’s participants after teaching physics for the first time in 2018,
  • Andrew Hansen, Chief Assessor for the Physics exam, from Ringwood Secondary College on Exam advice.

To register please complete the details on this Vicphysics webpage. . It also has  information about last year’s program.

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)  Newton: Egomaniac or troubled genius? A review of ‘Isaac Newton: The Asshole who reinvented the Universe’ 
Andrew Robinson reviews the book by Florian Freistetter.  Albert Einstein’s final interview, two weeks before his death in 1955, was preoccupied with Isaac Newton, whose physics Einstein revered, next only to that of James Clerk Maxwell. But when the interviewer, an American academic historian of science, touched on Newton’s personality, and particularly Newton’s notorious refusal to publish any acknowledgement of the ideas of Robert Hooke in the preface to hisPrincipia Mathematica (1687), Einstein responded: “That, alas, is vanity. You find it in so many scientists. You know, it has always hurt me to think that Galileo did not acknowledge the work of Kepler.” Later in the interview, Einstein added with a booming laugh that a man might often say that he had no vanity, but this too was a kind of vanity because he took such special pride in the fact. “It is like childishness,” said Einstein. “Many of us are childish; some of us more childish than others. But if a man knows he is childish, then that knowledge can be a mitigating factor.”
b) Fascinating Physics Facts about Snow Flakes
This is a Perimeter Institute (PI) has put together 14 fascinating Physics Facts about Snow Flakes.  At the end of the article, there is a videolink to a 57 min PI lecture on the Secret Life of Snow’
c) The Physics of Knitting 
What do earthquakes, robotics and jumpers have in common? Samuel Poincloux explains why the answer lies with knitting – and how stretching a knitted material is rooted in mechanics

If you’ve ever done a PhD in physics, you’ll know you usually begin by ploughing through lots of background reading, learning how to use your lab’s equipment and maybe even carrying out some provisional experiments. My PhD was a bit different. I started off watching YouTube videos to improve my needlework.

The project I had accepted at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris was about the mechanics of knitted fabrics. The research was to have two sides: a theoretical one to determine what equations described the system; and an experimental one to mechanically test actual knits to guide and verify the theory. The trouble was, I barely knew what a knit was when I accepted the project.

I quickly learnt that there are differences – both structural and mechanical – between a knit (such as a jumper, scarf or hat) and a weave (such as a table cloth, shirt or pair of jeans). In fact, those differences are easy to demonstrate. If you pull on your jeans, you should notice that the weave hardly deforms. Pull on a knitted jumper, in contrast, and it can be effortlessly elongated by up to two times its length. The stretchiness of a knit is also obvious if you wrap it around something: by locally stretching, a knit can fit complex shapes; a woven fabric, however, has to fold to conform to it.

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Events for Teachers and Students – Vicphys News 1/T1/19

Welcome back for 2019.  This first newsletter of the year features several events for teachers and students.
For teachers, there is i) the Physics Teachers Conference, ii) the Chief Assessor’s Forum at Uni HS and iii) the Beginning Physics Teachers’ In-Service as well as online PD.

For students, there is i) the Luna Park Physics Days, ii) Girls in Physics Breakfasts across Victoria as well as talks and a webinar.

Also check out the Youtube video of the combustion-free, propellor-free plane that uses electroaerodynamics.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be on Thursday, 7th February at Melbourne Girls’ College starting at 5:00pm. Tecahers are welcome to these meetings. If you wish to come, please email Vicphysics

Frances Sidari (Pres), Jane Coyle (Vice-Pres), Dan O’Keeffe (Sec) and Terry Tan (Treas)

Table of Contents

  1. Vicphysics Website: New Resources
  2. Online Professional Development
  3. Lagrange’s Halo or How China landed a spacecraft on the far side of the Moon and receives images of the lunar surface.
  4. Latest Job Ads
  5. Events for Students and the General Public
  6. Events for Teachers

7. Physics News from the Web
a) Combustion-free, propeller-free aeroplane takes flight. The ion age of flight
b) Different methods produce different values for the Hubble Constant
c) Climate impacts will seldom strike singly
d) A brief history of timekeeping

1.  Vicphysics Website
Over the holidays, about 50 new weblinks have been added to the resources pages for the various Areas of Study.
Also the webpages for the Units 1 and 3 Areas of Study have been redesigned to have the same format as those for Units 2 and 4 which were revised last year.  The new format makes it easier for you to locate resources for a particular need on an Area of Study.
Now each AoS webpage has a table at the top similar to the one below for Unit 1 Thermal Physics.
  Topic                                           Context     Activities      Assessment      Useful Weblinks
Temperature and Energy               Yes (2,0)    Yes (5,0)          None                None
Heat Transfer                                Yes (2,0)    Yes (4,0)          Yes (1,0)           None
Heat Capacity and Latent Heat     Yes (2,0)    Yes (4,0)          Yes (1,0)           None
EM Radiation                                None          Yes (3,0)          None                None
Greenhouse Effect                         Yes (17,2)  Yes (1,1)        None                Yes (0,5)
‘Yes’ is an active link to resources further down the page. The first number in the brackets is the number of downloadable files, and the second number is the number of weblinks.  ‘None’ means there is no material.  Teachers are invited to submit material for the empty cells here.

2. On Line Professional Development
The National STEM Centre in the UK provides free online courses for teachers. Courses that are about to start include:

  • The Science of Learning – Discover the scientific research about learning and apply it in your classroom to help you teach STEM subjects. Course begins 25th February.  The course runs for 5 weeks and requires 3 hours per week.  You receive access to the course for 7 weeks, including articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes.  For $134 you can also get unlimited access and a certificate on completion.
  • Linking STEM Curriculum Learning to Careers – Discover how to adapt your curriculum to link to careers in science, engineering, computing and mathematics. Course begins 4th March. The course runs for 4 weeks and requires 3 hours per week.  You receive access to the course for 6 weeks, including articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes.  For $99 you can also get unlimited access and a certificate on completion.
  • The Discovery of the Higgs Boson. Course begins 4th February for 7 weeks at 5 hours per week.  Upgrade: $99
  • Teaching Practical Science: Physics. Course begins 22nd April for 3 weeks at 3 hours per week.  Upgrade: $99

3.  Lagrange’s Halo or how China landed a spacecraft on the far side of the Moon and receives images of the lunar surface. 
The technique to communicate with a spacecraft on the far side of the Moon involves some clever gravitational physics that Year 12 students might be able to follow.

  • Around any two large bodies in orbit, there are points in space where a smaller object can maintain its position relative to the other bodies.  These are called Lagrange points and there are five of them. L2 is the one of interest, it is on the other side of the Moon.
  • At L2, an object will experience the gravitational attraction of the Earth.  If this was the only force on the object the period of its orbit would be longer than that of the Moon (by Kepler’s 3rd Law).
  • But the additional inward gravitational force by the Moon means that the object can move faster than would otherwise be the case.
  • The position of L2 is such that the combined gravitational attractions of the Earth and the Moon give the object a period equal to the Moon’s period, that is, the object will stay in that position, L2, and orbit the Earth always being on the other side of the Moon. If L2 is a distance, r, from the centre of the Moon, an equation for r involving the masses of the Earth and the Moon and the radius of the Moon’s orbit can be obtained, but it ends up being a quintic equation!
  • However L2 would be useless as the location for a communication satellite. In 1968 in a PhD thesis, Robert Farquhar showed that an object can orbit L2, even though this is no mass at L2.  This orbit is called a Halo orbit and it is where the Chinese communication satellite is placed.

4. Latest Job Ads

As schools lodge information about a vacancy, they will be placed here on our website.  The list of government schools seeking physics teachers has also been updated with 2 schools seeking physics teachers.

5.    Events for Students and the General Public
a) Monday, 11th February, Girls in Science Webinar, 10:20am – 11:30am AEDT
As part of a celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Victoria’s Lead Scientist, Dr Amanda Caples, with others will be hosting an interactive web-streamed panel session aimed at middle and senior school students in science.  The event will be hosted by the Royal Society of Victoria.
The event will feature a keynote address by Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea, Co-Founder and CEO of Women in STEMM Australia. The panellists will be taking questions from the online audience.
For more details about the event and the panel members and to also book, click here.

b) Friday, 22nd February, Things that go bump in the night: fast radio bursts and the search for life beyond Earth, 6:30pm, Swinburne University
Speaker: Dr Daniel C Price, Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University
Venue: Swinburne University, Hawthorn campus, ATC building, ATC101 (Enter from Burwood Road)
Map: http://www.swinburne.edu.au/media/swinburneeduau/about-swinburne/docs/pdfs/hawthorn-map.pdf
Abstract: Thanks to new, more powerful technology, astronomers can search the skies faster and with more resolution than ever before.  In this public lecture, I will talk about two exciting fields in astronomy: the Search for Extraterrestrial  Intelligence (SETI), and Fast Radio Bursts. The SETI field has been reinvigorated by the 10-year, $100M Breakthrough Listen initiative to search for intelligent life beyond Earth. As a project scientist for Breakthrough Listen, I will introduce the program and detail how we are using new technology to run the most comprehensive search for intelligent life beyond Earth ever undertaken. I will also discuss a mysterious phenomenon known as fast radio bursts: incredibly bright but short-lived signals from distant galaxies, which escaped detection until recently. Could these signals be due to intelligent aliens, or is there an astrophysical explanation? I will give an overview of how a telescope upgrade will help us answer this question, and how Swinburne astronomers will play a leading role. Finally, I will discuss what evidence would convince us that there is indeed life beyond Earth, or that the Universe is ours alone to enjoy.
Registration and Details: For further information and registration, please click here. Closes when maximum capacity reached.

c)  Physics Days at Luna Park: Tuesday, 5th March to Friday, 8th March, 2019

This year there will be two extra rides on offer one of which is the Speedy Beetle located behind the Ferris Wheel.  It is a mini roller coaster that moves in a figure 8 with sharp rises and falls and a quick banked turn.  The other 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. Both rides will be useful for data logging and also simple calculation of g forces from using a stop watch and estimating distances.
Bookings are now open .
An aerobatic display by a member of the Roulettes has been requested, but confirmation is often not provided until mid February.
Worksheets are available here.
Schools can also book a Pasco data logger for a half day by accessing the Ciderhouse website here.

d) Girls in Physics Breakfasts in 2019
This year there will be two extra country breakfasts, in Warrnambool and Wodonga.
The dates, venues, speakers and topics are:

  • 22nd March, Ballarat Speaker: Dr Dianne Ruka, Monash University, Topic: Future Computing and Low Energy Electronics.
  • 3rd May, Geelong Speaker: Dr Ellen Moon, Deakin University, Topic: Science in the Antarctic: Where can STEM take you?
  • 10th May, Warrnambool Speaker: Dr Gail Iles, RMIT, Topic: Human spaceflight and science in space
  • 17th May, Bendigo Speaker: Dr Judy Hart, University of  New South Wales, Topic: Developing new materials for renewable energy
  • 24th May, Wodonga Speaker Dr Adelle Wright, ANU, Topic: Nuclear Fusion: An Australian Perspective
  • 30th May, Melbourne Speaker: Dr Susie Sheehy, University of Melbourne and Oxford University, Topic: Colliding worlds: Using particle physics to cure cancer.
  • Late July, Clayton The date, venue and speaker are yet to be finalised.

For more details including flyers and how to book please go to the Vicphysics webpage

e) Friday, 29th March: Watching a Little Gas Cloud on its Way into the Galactic Supermassive Black Hole  6:30pm, Swinburne University
Speaker: Prof Andreas Burkert, Ludwig Maximalians University, Munich
Venue: Swinburne University, Hawthorn campus, ATC building, ATC101 (Enter from Burwood Road)
Map: http://www.swinburne.edu.au/media/swinburneeduau/about-swinburne/docs/pdfs/hawthorn-map.pdf
Registration and Details: For further information and registration, please click here.

6.     Events for Teachers
a)  2019 Physics Teachers’ Conference, 15th 16th February, La Trobe University
Register now to get your workshop preferences.  A school purchase order can be used to accompany the registration form.
The Friday program includes two addresses:

  • Opening Address: Precision Cosmology with the next generation of Telescopes with Dr Laura Wolz from the University of Melbourne
  • Pre Lunch Address: Responding to short answer questions with Andrew Hansen, the Chief Assessor.

There are also three sessions of workshops with 16 workshops on offer in each.

The Saturday program has two Excursion tasters on offer to the Synchrotron and VSSEC as well as a two hour Medical Physics In-Service at Peter Mac. Each session in the Saturday program can be booked independently of the conference booking by emailing Vicphysics indicating which ones you wish to attend.  There is no cost.

The cost: $188 for an individual STAV member, $305 for a STAV School subscriber, $330 for a non STAV member and $78 for a retired teacher.  Registration includes morning tea and lunch.  Program details, registration forms and online booking are available here. Check Vicphysics website as well.

b) Tuesday, 12th March: Chief Assessor’s Forum on the 2018 VCE Physics Exam, 5:00pm, University High School
Vicphysics and the Chief Assessor, Andrew Hansen, would again like to provide teachers with the opportunity to hear about the full exam with an extended opportunity to ask questions and a chance to speak with Andrew.

The Chief Assessor’s Forum a question by question coverage of the students’ responses to last year’s Physics exam.  The event will also be streamed live.
The forum will start at 5:00pm, with a meal break at 6:30pm, commencing again at 7:15pm.  Dinner will be provided.
Cost: $60 to attend the event, including the meal. $30 to view online.
Booking: You will need to book through Trybooking, check our website for details.

c) Monday, 8th April: Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service, Kew High School
Vicphysics will be running a full day in-service on Monday, 8th April at Kew High School.  The event is free, lunch is provided and travel support is available for country participants.
The event is for:

  • Teachers beginning their teaching career,
  • Teachers returning to physics teaching and
  • Teachers who have been asked by their school to take a VCE Physics class

The program will include:

  • Information on course planning, resources, advice of teaching specific topics and suggestions from some of last year’s participants after teaching physics for the first time in 2018,
  • Andrew Hansen, Chief Assessor for the Physics exam, from Ringwood Secondary College on Exam advice.

To register please complete the details on this Vicphysics webpage. . It also has  information about last year’s program.

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) Combustion-free, propeller-free aeroplane takes flight: The ion age of flight
The ionic wind that powers the plane is generated by electroaerodynamics. An electric field ionizes atoms and molecules in the ambient fluid – such as nitrogen molecules in air – and then accelerates them by Coulomb force. The accelerated ions then couple their momentum with other neutral atoms or molecules they collide with, and this gives rise to the ionic wind.
Check out the Youtube video.
b) Different methods produce different values for the Hubble Constant
A new value for the Hubble constant – the expansion rate of the universe — has been calculated by an international group of astrophysicists. The team used primordial distance scales to study more than 200 supernovae observed by telescopes in Chile and Australia. The new result agrees well with previous values of the constant obtained using a specific model of cosmic expansion, while disagreeing with more direct observations from the nearby universe – so exacerbating a long-running disagreement between cosmologists and astronomers.
c) Climate impacts will seldom strike singly
By 2100, climate impacts will be felt by everyone and most people will experience at least three simultaneous hazards, inexorably made more hazardous by the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

And they could be the lucky ones: some people could be menaced by six different kinds of warming-related hazard simultaneously.
d) A brief history of time keeping
From sticks in the ground to caesium atomic clocks, humans have been keeping track of time with increasing accuracy for millennia. Helen Margolis looks at how we reached our current definition of the second, and where clock technology is going next.

 

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Holiday reading, Conf registration, New Resources. Vicphys News 7/T4/18

This final newsletter for the year has some suggestions for holiday reading and some new resources.
Physics Conference registration is now open.  Register early to get your session preferences.  A school purchase order can be used to accompany the form.
There is also a talk this Thursday on the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics at Swinburne University and finally VCAA has extended the accreditation period for Units 1 and 2 to the end of 2021.  All four units will now expire at the end of 2021.

The Vicphysics Executive Team wishes you a relaxing Christmas break.

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

Table of Contents

  1. Holiday Reading
  2. Physics: Interactive Physics Simulations
  3. Latest Job Ads
  4. Events for Students and the General Public
  5. Events for Teachers

7. Physics News from the Web
a) Try the Physics World Dark Matter Flow Chart:  What kind do you prefer?
b) Beyond the Lithium-Ion Battery
c) A wave of discovery: Gravitational Waves

1.  Holiday Reading
One physics writer that has made a big splash in recent years is Carlo Rovelli.  His first book ‘Seven Brief Lessons on Physics’ was an international best seller and translated into 41 languages.  His latest book ‘Reality is not what it seems – The journey to Quantum Gravity’ . His writing has a persuasive clarity, an engaging read. 

2.  oPhysics: Interactive Physics Simulations
This is a comprehensive set of simulations written by a recently retired US physics teacher, Tom Walsh. The simple and elegant illustrations on various physics principles have been written in GeoGebra.  There are no worksheets nor are there any experimental simulations but the animations require user input.  There is limited text, but they are instructive. The EMI and standing wave model for energy levels are impressive.

Nine topics are covered: Kinematics (vectors, graphs projectile motion, relatve velocity) – 14 animations, Forces (friction,conical pendulum, Kepler’s 2nd law) – 5, Conservation (collisions and springs) – 6, Waves (SHM, superposition, standing waves) – 15, Light (colour, mirrors, lenses, rainbows, the eye, interference) – 20, E & M (Coulomb, fields, DC motor, EMI) – 12, Rotation – 10, Fluids – 2, Modern (energy levels) – 1.
This resource has been suggested by Alan Sutton.

3.  IOP’s ‘Physics Education’ Free downloads of selected articles.
The IOP’s Physics Education journal provides free access to several popular articles that are available until 31st December 2018, after which a new set is released.  Currently the list includes:

  • Let’s have a coffee with the Standard Model of Particle Physics!
  • The warm rich sound of valve guitar amplifiers
  • A simple wind tunnel to analyse Bernoulli’s Principle using a mobile phone
  • How to delude your senses
  • What is an image?
  • A ‘sparkling’ low cost revisitation of the historical Hertz’ experiment
  • Nine optical black box experiments for lower secondary students
  • Learning about students’ understanding of particle physics using concept mapping
  • Finding the average speed of a light emitting toy car with a smart phone light sensor

Also check out the ‘What happens next?’ The Archive which is a collection of short, entertaining, brain-teasing demonstrations using the Predict-Observe-Explain model.

4. Latest Job Ads

As schools lodge information about a vacancy, they will be placed here on our website.  The list of government schools seeking physics teachers has also been updated with 11 schools seeking physics teachers.

5.    Events for Students and the General Public
a)  3D Astro Tours, School holidays, Swinburne University
Experience the Universe in 3D during the summer 2019 school holidays. The 50-minute session includes a journey starting in the solar system and then on to explore the Universe. AstroTours feature the 3D movies, created by the award-winning Swinburne Astronomy Productions team, and all sessions are presented by the Centre’s astronomers or post graduate researchers.
Dates and Times: Tues, 15th Jan at 10am, Thurs, 17th Jan at 2pm, Fri, 18th Jan at 2pm, Tues, 22nd Jan at 10am, Thurs, 24th Jan at 2pm
Venue: AR104 Hawthorn Campus, Swinburne University
Bookings are essential and can be made via email to ethackray@swin.edu.au
Cost: $10 per person which can be paid at the door by cash or cheque. If you would like to pay by credit card please ask for a form which you can pre-complete and bring with you on the day, with your card. Please aim to arrive at least 10 – 15 minutes before the advertised start time.
Astrotours are suitable for children aged 6 years and above. Unfortunately, they are not able to admit children younger than this, with one exception: 5 year-olds are able to attend if they are accompanying another child aged 6 years or above. Swinburne University apologises for any inconvenience this may cause. For safety reasons, no prams/strollers, etc. are allowed in the theatre.

b)  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) Thursday, 13th December, 6:30pm, AIP 2018 Nobel Prize Talk, Swinburne University.

Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 11.07.14 pm
The many uses of optical forces – Art Ashkin’s legacy presented by Prof Kris Helmerson, Monash University
Abstract: Arthur Ashkin was awarded the 2018 Nobel prize in Physics for his invention of optical tweezers and it’s application to biology. Ashkin’s research on optical tweezers, which evolve from his fundamental studies of optical forces, the force arising from the momentum of light, has had a far greater impact. This lecture will describe the use of optical forces to manipulate and study systems ranging from atoms in Bose-Einstein condensates – the coldest matter in the universe – to cells, viruses and biomolecules.

Speaker: My research interests are in the physics and application of ultracold atomic gases and the application of optical techniques to address problems in biophysics and biotechnology. A common thread in my research is the use of lasers and, in particular, the optical forces that can be generated by light. Current studies with ultracold atomic gases include superfluidity in the presence of disorder and/or reduced dimensionality, quantum turbulence, and the physics of two-dimensional electron gases simulated by atoms in an optical lattice. Current experiments in biophysics include the development of techniques for isolating and studying single biomolecules, the behaviour of biomolecules in confined geometries and directed self-assembly of nanoscale objects from biomembranes.
Venue: Room EN103, Engineering (EN) Building, Swinburne University, Hawthorn Campus
To book

b) 2019 Physics Teachers’ Conference, 15th 16th February, La Trobe University
Register now to get your workshop preferences.  A school purchase order can be used to accompany the registration form.
The Friday program includes two addresses:

  • Opening Address: Precision Cosmology with the next generation of Telescopes with Dr Laura Wolz from the University of Melbourne
  • Pre Lunch Address: Responding to short answer questions with Andrew Hansen, the Chief Assessor.

There are also three sessions of workshops with 16 workshops on offer in each.

The Saturday program has two Excursion tasters on offer to the Synchrotron and VSSEC as well as a two hour Medical Physics In-Service at Peter Mac.

The cost $188 for an individual STAV member, $305 for a STAV School subscriber, $330 for a non STAV member and $78 for a retired teacher.  Registration includes morning tea and lunch.  Program details, registration forms and online booking are available here. Check Vicphysics website as well.

b)  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) Try the Physics World Dark Matter Flow Chart: What kind do you prefer?
Dark matter is the name given to the mysterious stuff that makes up some 27% of the universe. This flowchart, composed by former Physics World feature editor Louise Mayor, guides you through the many options for what it could be. It’s just for fun, but the flowchart will help guide you through the maze of possible options for this stuff, be it familiar stuff like massive compact halo objects (MaCHOs) or non-baryonic matter like neutrinos, WIMPS, gravitions, sterile neutrinos or maybe even axions or something to do with supersymmetry. Or perhaps you’d just rather modify our theories of gravity instead. (You can Click to enlarge the image or open in a new tab and zoom in for the full detail.)

b) Beyond the Lithium-Ion Battery
The batteries we depend on for our mobile phones and computers are based on a technology that is more than a quarter-century old. Rechargeable lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries were first introduced in 1991, and their appearance heralded a revolution in consumer electronics. From then on, we could pack enough energy in a small volume to start engineering a whole panoply of portable electronic devices – devices that have given us much more flexibility and comfort in our lives and jobs.

In recent years, Li-ion batteries have also become a staple solution in efforts to solve the interlinked conundrums of climate change and renewable energy. Increasingly, they are being used to power electric vehicles and as the principal components of home-based devices that store energy generated from renewable sources, helping to balance an increasingly diverse and smart electrical grid. The technology has improved too: over the past two and a half decades, battery experts have succeeded in making Li-ion batteries 5–10% more efficient each year, just by further optimizing the existing architecture.

c) A wave of Discovery: Gravtational Waves
James Hough outlines the last 30 years of gravitational-wave astronomy, from building prototype detectors to making a revolutionary discovery.

“Gravitational waves, yet to be convincingly detected, promise to open a new astronomical window.” Those are the words I wrote for Physics World in early 1989. Today, with six detections of gravitational waves confirmed over the past three years, I am delighted to see how many of the predictions I made in that article have come to fruition.

Almost exactly a century after they were predicted by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity, the first detection of gravitational waves – produced via the collision and subsequent merger of two black holes – was made by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory(LIGO) detectors in the US, on 14 September 2015. Since then, four more black hole coalescences have been reported. Although the initial observation took all of us completely by surprise, it was a much-awaited discovery. These observations provide the first direct proof that black holes exist; that they can be in binary orbits; and that there is a family of black holes of tens of solar masses, which were not thought to exist.

Physics Conf: Registration open. VicPhys News 6/T4/18

Registrations have now opened for the 2019 Physics Teachers’ Conference on 15th and 16th February at La Trobe University.
There are also more physics jobs advertised on our website.
The last newsletter had details about our new website and the extension of VCAA’s Physics Review Survey.  If you missed that email, these items are repeated here.

Vicphysics Meetings: 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. 2019 Physics Teachers’ Conference, 15th, 16th February, La Trobe University
  2. Our website has been re-designed.  Check it out
  3. Physics Review: Questionnaire: Closing date 30th Nov
  4. Latest Job Ads
  5. Events for Students and the General Public
  6. Events for Teachers

7. Physics News from the Web
a)   Ignition pending: Fusion
b) Triumphs and frustrations: The Standard Model
c) Late summer Arctic sea ice could disappear by 2040

1. 2019 Physics Teachers’ Conference, 15th 16th February, La Trobe University
Registration is now open for next year’s Physics Teachers’ Conference.  The Friday program includes two addresses:

  • Opening Address: Precision Cosmology with the next generation of Telescopes with Dr Laura Wolz from the University of Melbourne
  • Pre Lunch Address: Responding to short answer questions with Andrew Hansen, the Chief Assessor.

There are also three sessions of workshops with 16 workshops on offer in each.

The Saturday program has two Excursion tasters on offer to the Synchrotron and VSSEC as well as a two hour Medical Physics In-Service at Peter Mac.

The cost $188 for an individual STAV member, $305 for a STAV School subscriber, $330 for a non STAV member and $78 for a retired teacher.  Registration includes morning tea and lunch.  Program details, registration forms and online booking are available here.

2. 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’.

3.  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.

4. Latest Job Ads

As schools lodge information about a vacancy, they will be placed here on our website.
Current list includes: Monivae College, Hamilton.  The list of government schools seeking physics teachers has also been updated with 12 additional schools.

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)  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) Ignition pending: Fusion
Reproducing the energy of stars here on Earth could revolutionize how we fuel our lives. But why does fusion energy always seem to be 30 years away?
b) Triumphs and frustrations: The Standard Model
Particle physics has flourished over the past 30 years but, there are still few signs of any cracks in the Standard Model
c) Late summer Arctic sea ice could disappear by 2040
In just two decades the Arctic Ocean is likely to be ice-free during August and September, and by 2060 the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free throughout the summer months, according to a new systematic review.“This will have far-reaching implications, well beyond the Arctic,” says Julienne Stroeve of University College London, UK. “The impact of this sea-ice loss on climate at lower latitudes and sea-level rise will be profound.” But the findings also indicate that Arctic sea-ice could be stabilised if we prevent global warming from overshooting 1.5 °C.
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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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More Physics positions: Gov’t, Cath, Indep – Seeking advice on Livestreaming. Vicphys News 4/T4/18

Dear All,

  1. More Physics Teacher Positions: Government, Catholic and Independent
  2. Seeking advice on Live Streaming

1. More Physics Teacher Positions: Government, Catholic and Independent
Some schools are seeking physics teachers for next year and hoping to finalise their staffing next week. So if you are looking for a position, now is the time to act.  Listed below are the private schools who have lodged ads with Vicphysics as well as the Government schools seeking physics teachers as found on the Department of Education and Training website.

Our website now provides a Job Ads webpage. As schools lodge information about a vacancy, it will be placed here on our website.  So far the vacancies on our website are:

  • Sacre Coeur, Glen Iris
  • Camberwell Grammar School, Canterbury
  • Mentone Grammar School

Schools can enter the details about a vacancy online here on our website.  There is a charge of $100 for a two months listing on our website and in this newsletter.

Government school positions are listed on this Government website .  A search for ‘physics’ gave the following  9 positions.  On that website you can click on a position to obtain more details.

  • Coburg High School
  • Werribee Secondary College
  • Camberwell High School
  • John Monash Science School
  • Seymour College
  • The Grange P – 12 College, Hoppers Crossing
  • Camperdown College
  • Noble Park Secondary College
  • Bayside P – 12 College, Williamstown

2.  Seeking advice on Live Streaming
This year Vicphysics has streamed live two events, and hopes to continue with this next year, but it is an expensive exercise.  So we are considering buying our own equipment.  However there is a large range of equipment options and costs. We have limited funds, but we are likely to use the equipment in a range of settings from lecture theatres with switches to a powerpoint and multiple radio microphones to a small room with a person speaking straight to camera. So it is difficult to decide which path we should take.
If any teachers have some experience with live streaming and can advise us on equipment choice, it would be very much appreciated. Please contact us at Vicphysics.

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

 

New: Physics Exhibition at Museum, Quantum to Cosmos from PI & more Job Ads. VicPhys News 3/T4/18

The Melbourne Museum is launching a new permanent exhibition called ‘Road to Zero’. It is relevant to Years 9 and 10 physics and other aspects of the Curriculum.  It addresses driver safety and factors related to stopping distances.

The Perimeter Institute has produced a worthy successor to the famous ‘Power of 10′ video.  It is called Quantum to Cosmos, it has active links which make it an effective learning tool as well as a great experience on the scale of the universe.

Among other items, there is another physics position advertised on our website and also a reminder about the questionnaire for the Review of the VCE Physics Study Design. A talk next Tuesday at Monash University on the implications of the Australian Space Agency for STEM Education looks promising.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be at 5pm on Thursday, 15th November at Melbourne Girls’ College.  All teachers are welcome to attend this or any other meeting.  If you would like to attend, please contact Vicphysics There will also be a meeting on Thursday, 22nd November to review the VCE Physics Exam to which teachers are also welcome and again at the same location.

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. New Physics Exhibition at Melbourne Museum: Road to Zero
  2. Physics Review: Questionnaire: Closing date 2nd Nov
  3. Quantum to Cosmos: A Journey through the Universe.  A PI resource
  4. Measuring the Earth’s Gravity Field: Prime Minister’s Prize for Science. Prof Kurt Lambeck
  5. Latest Physics Job Ads: Sacre Coeur
  6. Events for Students and the General Public
  7. Events for Teachers

8. Physics News from the Web
a) Indoor record for magnetic field strength is smashed by physicists in Japan
b) How long does the photoelectric effect take?
c) Lithium-oxygen batteries borach 100% coulombic efficiency

1. New Physics Exhibition at Melbourne Museum: Road to Zero
Road to Zero is a road safety education complex set up at Melbourne Museum.  It was developed by the TAC in partnership with Melbourne Museum.  It is part of the Victorian Government’s Towards Zero vision, which aims for zero road deaths and serious injuries.  Road to Zero aims to reduce road trauma in pre-learner drivers by building knowledge and awareness that will empower young road users to make safer decisions.  The program is designed for Years 9, 10 and VCAL students.

Road to Zero is delivered in two parts, with a total duration of two hours.  The two parts are: i) an immersive and exploratory exhibition showcasing the latest in multi-sensory interactive technologies, and ii) curriculum-linked programs in the purpose-built Learning Studio.

There are resources for schools to use either before or after the visit.

The students are in the Learning Studio for 75 minutes and do one of two programs:

  • Road to Zero Physics Challenge: A virtual reality physics experiment lets students explore the impacts of speed and friction on stopping distances. Students are then required to apply their learning to a real-world problem by designing a safe road system.
  • Getting the Message: Students reflect and respond to the Road to Zero exhibition content through the creation of a collaborative community health campaign. In small groups, students use a range of information sources to research 14-17 year old road user groups (e.g. pedestrians or cyclists). They use their findings to develop a YouTube campaign with a compelling call to action, reinforcing positive road usage amongst their target audience.

The students are also in the Experience Space for 45 minutes. It allows them to explore a range of interactive exhibits at their own pace.  A Zerocard enables students to interact with the exhibits and record their experiences.  As students discover the principles of Towards Zero, they’re encouraged to consider a future free of death and serious injury on our roads, and how we might achieve this.
Details about the program are here.  There is no program fee for Road to Zero for participating student groups.  Low SFOE school communities may qualify for transportation assistance for their excursion to Road to Zero. Further details, including eligibility, are available on application.

2. Physics Review Questionnaire: Closing Date: 2nd 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 closing date is 2nd 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. Quantum to Cosmos: A Journey through the Universe.  A PI resource
The Perimeter Institute (PI) has produced another fantastic resource. Quantum to Cosmos follows in the steps of that famous video ‘Powers of 10‘ Using the same concept of changing your view by a factor of 10 at each stage, Quantum to Cosmos starts at the human scale and goes out to the edge of the known universe and also goes down beyond the atom to quarks and the Planck length. At each stage there are images of objects for that scale, each of which can be clicked for a better view and a description.
The resource can be accessed here.  There is also a quiz you can take as well.

PI are also presenting a Live stream of a lecture by Jocelyn Bell Burnell on Thursday, 25th October at 7pm Ontario time, which is about 10am Melbourne time on Friday 26th October, but please check this local time.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell, winner of the 2018 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, is an accomplished scientist and champion for women in physics. As a graduate student in 1967, she co-discovered pulsars, a breakthrough widely considered one of the most important scientific advances of the 20th century. When the discovery of pulsars was recognised with the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics, the award went to her graduate advisor. Undaunted, she persevered and became one of the most prominent researchers in her field and an advocate for women and other under-represented groups in physics.

She plans to use the $3 million Breakthrough Prize to fund women and other under-represented groups pursuing physics to bring greater diversity to the field.

In a special Perimeter public lecture, Dame Bell Burnell will take the audience on a journey into the realm of pulsars, and share stories from her personal journey of scientific discovery.

4.  Measuring the Earth’s Gravity Field: Prime Minister’s Prize for Science. Prof Kurt Lambeck
The earth’s gravity field is much more complex than had been previously understood. The earth ‘breathes’ as Prof Lambeck says, but on a very long time scale.  The earth is still relaxing from the stresses of the last ice age.  The variations in the gravity field over time and space impact on the effectiveness of GPS and even on driverless cars. So the reserach has immedisate relevance as well as historical interest. Prof Lambeck is the pre-eminent researcher in this field.

Click here for a short video by Prof Lambeck. Click here for a short article.  The article has a link toAuScope. AuScope is partnership between the CSIRO, Geoscience Australia, 11 universities and several government agencies.  It also runs the Geophysical Educational Laboratory with two programs for schools: Australian Seismometers in Schools (AuSIS) program and GPS in Schools (AuGPS) program.  Schools can join these programs and can also access data collected by participating schools.

5. Latest Job Ads

As schools lodge information about a vacancy, it will be placed here on our website.  So far the vacancies are:
  • Sacre Coeur, Glen Iris

Schools can enter the details about a vacancy online here on our website.  The is a charge of $100 for a two months listing on our website and in this newsletter.

6.    Events for Students and the General Public
a) 30th October, From space back to Earth: Implications of the formation of the Australian Space Agency on STEM Education, 6:30pm, Monash University, Clayton Campus.
The October lecture in this series will be on From space back to Earth: implications of formation of the Australian Space Agency on STEM education and will be given by Dr Jasmina Lazendic-Galloway from the school of Physics and Astronomy at Monash University.  Check here for a personal profile of Dr Lazendic-Galloway.
A demonstration, practical activity or laboratory tour will precede each lecture, beginning at 6.30pm, with the lecture starting at 7pm.
The venue is Lecture Theatre S3, 16 Rainforest Walk, which is on the West side of the Clayton campus. (see map). Parking is available free after 5pm in N1 (check the map).

These lectures are appropriate for teachers or VCE students.  Information about the series is available here .
The next lecture in the series is:

b)  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.

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.

7.     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.”

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.

8.   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.

Indoor record for magnetic field strength is smashed by physicists in Japan
Researchers in Japan have created a long-lasting magnetic field with a strength of 1200 T, which is the strongest controllable field ever produced indoors. In comparison, Earth’s magnetic field is a mere 50 μT and the superconducting magnets on CERN’s Large Hadron Collider deliver about 8 T.

How long does the photoelectric effect take?

Just 45 quintillionth of a second (45 attoseconds) is all it takes for a photon to liberate an electron from the surface of a metal. That is the conclusion of Joachim Burgdörfer from the Technical University of Vienna and colleagues, who have done a clever sequence of experiments to make the most precise measurement ever of the duration of photoelectric emission. Their technique promises to provide new information about how electrons behave in materials and could lead to improvements to photoelectric technologies, such as solar cells and optoelectronic telecoms components.

Lithium-oxygen batteries broach 100% coulombic efficiency
If you’re reading this with a rechargeable battery powered appliance, the chances are it’s a lithium-ion battery based on intercalation chemistry. But with increasing demands for higher energy density power banks the search is on for alternatives.

“Intercalation of a cation into a structure (along with the accompanying stored electron) doesn’t change the framework very much.  Charging and discharging is like driving a car in and out of a parking garage, where the framework remains intact,” explains Linda Nazar, a professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Waterloo in Canada. “But if you try to drive too many cars in you get irreversible changes to the structure.” In addition to this fundamental limitation to the energy storage capacity this poses, lithium ion batteries use metals such as cobalt, whose cost is increasing and where sustainable mining is problematic.

The push towards alternatives to the intercalation chemistry of lithium-ion batteries has led to increased interest in lithium-oxygen batteries, which charge and discharge by converting lithium and oxygen into a metal oxide and back again. However parasitic side reactions have plagued efforts to maximize the efficiency and reversibility of this reaction for several years.

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