Archive for April, 2009

Questions for Kaku?

Michio Kaku, physicist, author, and nearly omnipresent TV science dude, is speaking at the U of M bookstore today.  I am thinking about going to hear him talk (presumably about his new book, The Physics of the Impossible).  I am not sure that there is a Q&A session accompanying the talk, but if you have any good questions that I should ask, let me know in the comments.

Kaku’s book Hyperspace was one of the first physics books that I read as a kid, after Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.  I don’t remember a whole lot about what he wrote about, but I know that it piqued my interest in physics, and got me wondering about higher dimensions, so in that sense it was an important book in my life.  I haven’t read it in years, and I never read any of his other books. Continue reading ‘Questions for Kaku?’

Missing the Important Stuff

Bear with me as I force an analogy between watching basketball and grading physics quizzes.

When I watch basketball on TV, especially during March Madness, I’m often annoyed by the way they handle the replays.  After an exciting play, I’ll yell at the TV, begging for a replay so that I can see again exactly how the play developed.  When they do show the replay, I’ll often end up yelling at the TV again, because they left out all the important part of the play.

They show the shot being released, traveling through the air and splashing through the net, ignoring the pick and roll and the deft pass that set up the shot.  The time that the ball is in the air is really the least interesting part of that play.  The ball flies the same way every time, and we already know the result of the play.  Show us how they got there.

Or they show the dunk at the end of a fast break, hiding the defense that set up the break and the smart decicion making of the point guard that got the ball to the right player to finish the play.  The dunk gets the fans excited and shows up on Sports Center, but it doesn’t happen without the key plays that set it up.

Now the switch to physics…

Continue reading ‘Missing the Important Stuff’