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Physicists Work on Physics' Uncool Image

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the centripetal-not-centrifugal dept.

Education 362

WindowsTroll writes "Since it seems that science doesn't appeal to the youth of today, physicists are trying to make physics kid friendly. From the article, 'Bicycle stunts, rap music and modern dance -- all in the name of Einstein.' I am particularly interested in the modern dance, thinking that this is probably a better approach of studying oscillations than the springs that I used when I was in college."

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362 comments

What? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354048)

Real physicists like Stephen Hawking, and fictional ones like Quinn Mallory, are very cool!

Re:What? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354186)

...rap music...

Real physicists like Stephen Hawking...

And the combination of the two... MC Hawking [mchawking.com]. Ooooooh, yeah.

Re:What? (3, Interesting)

Lindsay Lohan (847467) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354214)

Real physicists like Stephen Hawking... are very cool!
I couldn't agree more. God playing dice, black holes, "A Brief History of Time"... these are not stale topics but a newcomers to physics and experts alike might find SH riveting. Check out his lectures [hawking.org.uk], they're not dry, but alive and well-written.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354241)

Plus he appears on a Pink Floyd album. Er, maybe that isn't so cool anymore.

Re:What? (4, Insightful)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354240)

>Real physicists like Stephen Hawking, and fictional ones like Quinn Mallory, are very cool!

The problem is, we think they're cool, while most kids think the opposite.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354282)

Yeah, geeks showing kids what's cool. This idea was doomed from the start.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354355)

Real physicists like Stephen Hawking, and fictional ones like Quinn Mallory, are very cool!

This is exactly why you will not get laid in this century.

What the hell happened to the cell phone story? (-1, Offtopic)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354051)

This is the 2nd time this week that this has happened to me!

Re:What the hell happened to the cell phone story? (1)

daniil (775990) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354247)

It was pulled because it was a fucking dupe [slashdot.org]. For once, an editor was actually doing his job, yet you still complain. Eh.

Great Idea but... (2, Funny)

nxtr (813179) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354052)

Won't it make you look like the crazy bum at the park?

Mobile Phone story (1)

nxtr (813179) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354081)

I meant this for the mobile phone story, but I guess it still sorta applies...

Re:Great Idea but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354109)

I smell a new /. cliche joke in Slashdot's future!

No, wait, I don't!

Re:Great Idea but... (1)

justsomebody (525308) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354148)

I can imagine:)

me draw number, phone... Error
me draw number again, phone... Error
me draw number again, this time carefully, phone... Calls wrong number
me draw "FUCK YOU" in the air, phone calls 911 and reports abuse

Re:Great Idea but... (1)

justsomebody (525308) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354176)

God damit rss changed order, worng story:)

Re:Great Idea but... (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354204)

Not just rss- damned story disappeard just as I was ready to have a flame war about the potential errors caused by trying to use that cell phone in a car, a plane, a bus, or a train. And looking at that last sentence, I think I've read too many Dr. Seuss books to my kid this week.

From the Onion... (4, Funny)

dexter riley (556126) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354295)

Raving Lunatic Obviously Took Some Advanced Physics

STANFORD, CA--Known throughout the community for his verbal outbursts and his shopping cart full of trash, area street denizen "Cosmic Stan" must have studied advanced physics at some point, sources reported Monday.

[Photo Caption: Cosmic Stan asks for enough change to take a bus to the Riemannian manifolds.]

"Where's my cheese? Don't take my rowboat! Got no room!" the lunatic screamed from his regular spot near the Campus Drive bus stop. "I need space! Gimme space! Infinite dimensional separable Hilbert space!"

Though his rants seem nonsensical to most passersby, some astute listeners say they contain evidence of higher learning.

"I'd always see him around that bus stop, dressed in his ragged wool clothes, duct-taped shoes, and that plastic sheeting covered over with symbols drawn in magic-marker," Stanford Ph.D. candidate James Willard said. "Then, a few days ago, he was out there waving his tin-foil wand at random strangers, and I heard him yell, 'I demand that you buy me an ice-cream cone! My third-favorite flavor is strange! My second-favorite is top! My favorite flavor is anti-charmed!' Suddenly, I realized the guy was talking about quarks."

Willard said he spent the next several minutes listening to Cosmic Stan's rant.

"Mixed in with the usual stuff about CIA mind-control beams, talking dogs, and monkey-people, I heard him mention beta decay, instantons, density matrix, and subspaces of n-dimensional Riemannian manifolds," Willard said. "I'm not sure where he got it, but he definitely seems to have had extensive schooling in theoretical physics. Man, what could've happened to him?"

Stanford theoretical physicist Carl Lundergaard seconded Willard's theory on the loonball.

"He's definitely had some advanced training, though I'm not surprised that it went unnoticed for so long," Lundergaard said. "It's hard for the layperson to differentiate schizophrenic ramblings like 'Modernity chunk where the sink goes flying on the ping-pang' from legitimate terminology like 'Unstable equilibria lie on the nodal points of a separatrix in phase space.'"

Lundergaard said he first became intrigued by Cosmic Stan in December 1999, when the homeless man threw a chicken bone at him and said, "Components of the Weyl conformal curvature tensor." The professor said he initially suspected that Stan was repeating a phrase "from a textbook he'd found in the garbage." Then, several weeks later, the screaming nutcase shouted some things that indicated a strong grasp of high-level science.

"As I was buying coffee in the quad one morning, Stan came by waving those roller skates he sometimes wears on his hands," Lundergaard said. "I distinctly heard him say, 'I can't be in two places at once! I can't meddle in my own affairs! I can't destructively interfere with my own future plans! What do I look like--the uncollapsed wave function of an electron?' He was referring to the seemingly paradoxical aspects of wave/particle duality as illustrated by the 'two-slit' experiment in electron diffraction. Stan wasn't just mouthing phrases: The crazy homeless man knows his stuff."

Added Lundergaard: "I almost approached him the other day to see if he had any ideas regarding the general solution for the relativistic force-free equation describing the structure of the pulsar magnetosphere, but he was busy smearing a plastic doll with glue."

Cosmic Stan also appears to be versed in other academic subjects, Lundergaard said.

"He seems to have a working understanding of several of the higher maths, including Zurmelo-Fraenkel set theory, category theory, and algebraic topology," Lundergaard said. "He also seems to be quite interested in the subjects of religion, sexuality, fast-food restaurants, Ferdinand de Saussure, malevolent evil, '70s TV shows, and shadowy authority figures."

Lundergaard said he has no knowledge of Cosmic Stan's past, but theorizes that his nickname derives from the physics term "cosmological constant."

"You have to wonder how this happened to him," Lundergaard said. "Was he calculating the transition amplitudes between the unperturbed eigenstates due to the presence of the perturbation in order to determine transition probabilities in time-dependent quantum phenomena, and the next day, strapping a TV antenna to his head?"

Perched atop a bicycle rack on Marquette Street, Cosmic Stan was asked for comment.

"Who you? You've been balderdashed! Doodads! Wood glue, dammit!" Cosmic Stan said, glancing around wildly and cradling a partially disassembled transistor radio. "Fock space! Spin polarization! The Clausius-Clapeyron equation obtains! The incident field is representable by a plane wave vector potential! You gotta believe me!"

First Glavin Post (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354057)

With the posting and the succeeding and whatnot. GLAVIN!

Too Late! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354061)

I believe one Bill Nye The Science Guy has already accomplished making Physics (and science in general) "cool".

Re:Too Late! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354119)

bill nye is totally uncool.. everyone at my school hated him now Beakman...he was cool

Re:Too Late! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354231)

How do you think I passed Physics 3 at UF!! Nye is my homeboy.

MTV Generation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354063)

This may the only way to reach the MTV Generation.

Re:MTV Generation (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354131)

Reach them? Christ, I don't want to touch them.

Re:MTV Generation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354158)

If we could kill all the religious people we could house children and their parents in the churches and never have to see them.

Kids are too smart for this (2, Interesting)

sidepocket (817256) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354067)

As soon as they figure out you're trying to teach them something they'll turn on you!

Re:Kids are too smart for this (4, Insightful)

Spyffe (32976) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354132)

Absolutely. Dressing up subject material in "bling" doesn't make it any more palatable. The way to make science more accessible is to teach an enjoyment for learning how the world works at an early age.

Kids know that science is not entertainment, and trying to dress it up as such tells them that you don't think science itself is worthwhile. Enthusiasm for the subject on the part of the teacher is worth more than a world of interpretive dances and rap tunes.

Spoken like one who's never seen Rappin' Einstein (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354194)

See you on the quark spin, square.

Re:Kids are too smart for this (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354197)

Kids know that science is not entertainment...

Something that accomplished scientists have seemingly forgotten.

Re:Kids are too smart for this (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354280)

As soon as they figure out you're trying to teach them something they'll turn on you!

More like: they'll tune you out.

Kids are most effectively taught when they seek out the information, the real trick, as I expect the author is attempting to do, is figure out how to peak their interest. Making it 'cool' only appeals to a herd mentality, you have to lead the student out of the herd.

Yeah, because we all know... (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354069)

... Jordi was THE coolest guy on Next Generation.

Seriously, did he EVER get laid in those 7 years?

Re:Yeah, because we all know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354085)

Does the holodeck count? And, don't forget, Data was the science officer and once played holodeck poker with several historical physicists.

Re:Yeah, because we all know... (1)

oneiron (716313) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354130)

I think he almost laid some engineer chick from some holodeck program, once. I think he, then, he met her in real life and totally freaked her out.

That's as close as I ever remember him coming. No pun intended...ha...ha.....ha.

Re:Yeah, because we all know... (1)

davidoff404 (764733) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354250)

Her name was Leah Brahms and, yes, he could've got some but he totally freaked her out by stalking her on the holodeck.

I do, however, agree that Jordi was one of the cooler crew-members.

Re:Yeah, because we all know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354294)

I think he almost laid some engineer chick from some holodeck program, once. I think he, then, he met her in real life and totally freaked her out.

Having first seen that episode over 10 years ago, I saw it again recently.

Man, it's *not* very flattering to Jordi... he comes as obsessed (vaguely stalkerish) and unaware of his complete lack of professionalism.

BTW, while we're on the subject of Jordi, anyone find it ironic that the guy whose eyes were almost always covered up was played by LeVar Burton who has these *really* big, conspicuous eyes?

Re:Yeah, because we all know... (1)

grunthos (574421) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354154)

No, but he did get chewed out by the warp-drive engineer woman when she caught him running simulations of her on the holodeck.

I still thought he was cooler than "Mr. Smooth" Riker, though. Boy, what does that say about me?... Sigh.

MC Hawking (5, Funny)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354072)

I think they should get MC Hawking to promote physics

http://www.mchawking.com/ [mchawking.com]

He rocks :) I still like " F*ck the Creationists" best :)

Re:MC Hawking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354111)

Shit dawg.

"Unstable like the isotope that resolves the fate/of the theorhetical cat in the hypothetical crate"

haven't we learned? (1)

SoupGuru (723634) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354073)

since the 80's we've only laughed at rap used as a promotional tool... You suckas got SERVED... by relativity!

Wait a second... (1)

Zorplex (800305) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354074)

I already thought physics was cool... I mean... come on, you can't get much cooler than being able to calculate the proportions of kelvin degrees as you approach zero!

Absolute Zero (3, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354079)

The flipside of that double-edged sword is that physics will be infiltrated by people who want to be "cool", rather than just smart. Physics is already cool, because it *creates* coolness. Most "cool" kids aren't cool at all; they're just smart at looking cool, copying the people who other people say are cool. Truly cool physics is asymptotically low entropy; that won't be making the cover of the _Rolling Stone_ anytime soon.

Re:Absolute Zero (1)

hugg (22953) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354283)

Maybe if you're really *cool* you already have low entropy, that is, you just stand around and look cool. Maybe you don't *need* to be told you're cool, because like the MC Heisencool effect, you might no longer be cool after you're told you're cool.

Word.

Re:Absolute Zero (1)

dontbgay (682790) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354359)

Correct me if I'm wrong but increasing the appeal of physics would attract more people, therefore bringing more bright people to the field. I'm failing to see where that'd be a bad thing. Don't let your elitism get in the way of broadening the appeal of the field.

Kid friendly? (3, Insightful)

StevenHenderson (806391) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354082)

Why does physics have to be kid-friendly?

The shit is hard.

Like computers/programming, kids will pick it up if they have the interest...

Re:Kid friendly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354188)

Association of some type is needed to create interest. Everyone needs a motivating factor to engage in, well anything. Now I agree that they won't stick it out if all they find is difficulty without seeing the true beauty of physics. But at least some will come for the "cool" and stay because they found something they never would have known that they could like.

Re:Kid friendly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354192)

As a computational physicist involved in many space missions over the last 25 years, let me just say that the physics is a lot harder than the programming. Anyone can program or build a linux cluster.

Re:Kid friendly? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354272)

to get them interested.

Basic physics is not hard. You can apply it with basic math, and real world examples and experiments.

Re:Kid friendly? (1)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354296)

While physics might be hard, the basic concepts of Newtonian physics aren't. Explaining even simple things about how our world works [the relation of velocity and mass to momentum, the constantness of gravity, that force causes motion...] to kids cannot be anything but good for them.

Ugh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354083)

Must they sully the good physics professions with rap music and such?

Yep, whip out the 70s slang dictionary and get this process started.

Maybe SI units can become more commonly used due to gram and kilogram drug mass measurements.

Physics and Geeks (3, Interesting)

Daxx_61 (828017) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354094)

It all links to the reasons that smart kids are so unpopular at school. Maybe because being smart is seen as an attempt to suck up to the teachers, or picking on nerdy kids is a defence mechanism to cope with lack of ability, but Physics Expert = Geek in many people's eyes.

Re:Physics and Geeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354115)

I'll never forgot this time in high school algebra I was standing in line at the teachers desk to get help. In front of me was this huge black guy who always had this mean scary look on his face. Very much a stereotype, I know. Anyway, he turns around and looks at me, motions towards the Einstein poster on the wall and says, "Damn man, I wish I had that guys brains."

You can't make it "cool" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354103)

It will seems forced, fake, and in the long run even more dorky.

An A for effort, but.. (1)

Antonymous Flower (848759) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354113)

Kids generally don't care that tony hawk can do a 900 degree spin on a vert because he has (or hasn't, no clue) a calculus text book. The only way to get kids interested in the sciences is to get the kids to ask questions about things non-social. Put Descartes on their bookshelf. Ask them classic philosophical questions when they are young and the rest will follow.

if they (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354248)

can apply it, thye will get interested.

If you can show that skaterkid the principles, and then challenge him to figure out what he can do to increase his spin, he will apply it.

Give basics,
challenge student to apply it,
and watch them improve at what they like doing because if it.

Thats how to teach the basics to the intially disinterested.

Good intentions but... (5, Interesting)

jerometremblay (513886) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354123)

To make sciences look cool, you need to fix the problem that causes nerds to be unpopular [paulgraham.com].

As if

Re:Good intentions but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354331)

It all boils down to ugliness, shyness, and bad social skills which cause unpopularity. There are those who are popular and intelligent as well. But those people are smart, good-looking and/or have good personalities. Unfortunately, we live in a society where appearances and how you present yourself matters more than what you know.

Once again Family Guy shows us the way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354127)

We present the following in an attempt to impress kids with the importance of the sciences in day to day life.

"Where the hell is Louie?"
"Well, you tell me. Louie left his house at 3:00 pm traveling at a rate of 35 miles per hour. If he has to travel 60 miles, what time will Louie arrive?"
"... Depends if he stops to see his ho'." "Thats what we call a variable!"

We hope that this will make up for that stupid Yakov Smirnov bit about Ovietsay UssiaRay.

Beakman's world (1)

ivansanchez (565775) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354136)

Re-run a show like "Beakman's world", or shoot a similar one. I liked that show much when I was 10 years younger (and I was putting legos together after school).

Bring back the cool experiments (5, Interesting)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354146)

Things you probably cant do nowadays but we did in high school (which was only 8 yrs ago)

1) Play with radioactive stuff

2) Use transformers to run some 14kV distribution lines up and down the classroom to show the decrease in cable loss

3) Show that the high voltage back-emf spikes from a relay closing can jam your nerve signals and leave you unable to move (ala taser)

4) Look inside classmates with ultrasound

5) Find out how much voltage it takes to blow up a capacitor

Even then our teacher had a closet full of 'special equipment' that he'd smuggle home every time the inspectors came round to visit.

I loved physics and i can assure you that 90% of my high school classmates concurred that it was better than chemsitry or biology or social "science". The experiments make it fun.

Re:Bring back the cool experiments (2, Funny)

hugg (22953) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354258)

5) Find out how much voltage it takes to blow up a capacitor

I did #5 in my dorm. I would say about 110 VAC.

Re:Bring back the cool experiments (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354304)

my current physics teacher does a lot of this and his classes are always packed, especially the high level ones. last year as an end of the year physics project he let us go wild, my group built a gauss coil gun, another group built a trebuchet (which we used for a lab this year). He is the only teacher I ever had that uses computers correctly and for educational use. He is especially great after natural disasters because he has dual masters in Geology and physics (I have no clue why he works in a public school) and his lectures about the disasters are about 1000x more informative and interesting then any major newsmedia Ive read.

Re:Bring back the cool experiments (1)

davidoff404 (764733) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354313)

I *almost* decided to become a chemist after one particularly enlightened teacher let me play with some potassium and magnesium and a few big beakers of water. Oh, the memories.

A few days later, however, my maths teacher started telling me about manifolds and differential geometry, and I was lost to physics forever.

If you don't think Physic is cool... (1)

BinaryLobster (837808) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354151)

I don't think any amount of rap music, stunts or modern dance will make it any cooler.

In fact, you may not be qualified to do it if you don't think it is cool.

On the other hand, there are tons of cool physics experements that teachers could do in high school classrooms with the right equpment.

*disclaimer* I hold a B.S. in Engineering Physics

I disagree (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354203)

more kids need to see examples of it in the things they enjoy.

I had a science teacher who could get anybody to understand scientific principles this way.

Matbe It didn't make them want to become scientists, but at least when they walked out of that class they understood and could apply the principles to thing they did enjoy.

He taught shop.

Re:I disagree (3, Interesting)

Stevyn (691306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354360)

My sophomore chemistry teacher once did a fun demonstration. He attached a rubber hose to the propane supply and the other end to a small funnel. He dipped the wide end of the funnel into a shallow dish of soapy water. When he turned on the propane, large propane bubbles formed and sank because propane is heavier than air. On the floor was a candle and the propane bubbles then burst into flames.

He did this while playing the song "Great Balls of Fire". He was a cool teacher.

Re:If you don't think Physic is cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354212)

Is it true that Engineering Physics is the most difficult undergraduate study? I've heard that repeatedly.

I'm considering undergrad studies in physics (non-applied) but have been told to take a look at your program ;)

Not many schools offer it, unfortunately :( Where did you attend?

physicians? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354159)

....physicians are conscious they must rebrand their shunned science to appeal to young people.

physicians? don't they mean physicists? ;)

Ah, wasted youth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354162)

I am particularly interested in the modern dance, thinking that this is probably a better approach of studying oscillations than the springs that I used when I was in college.


You were obviously using the wrong kind of springs in college...

for all that is good an pure in this world (1)

revery (456516) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354180)

I just know at some point I am going to have to see some physicist/actor doing a rap about how government grants put the schnizzle in his projectizzle - or something even scarier, middle-aged, balding, white backup dancers...

<shudder>

Rap? Modern dance?! Just show them the physics! (5, Insightful)

01dbs (696498) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354183)

My graduate fellowship (in physics) [nsf.gov] requires me to spend two days a week working with the science classes at a local high school, and I can say from experience that gimmicky pedagogical tricks like those mentioned in the article aren't the way to get kids (except maybe very young children) interested in science. The stuff just comes off as incredibly lame, and physicists end up looking like bigger geeks than they already are.

The way to engage kids is simply to show them the physics at work. I've got kids making plasma in a microwave, measuring the temperature of the sun with a cup of water, studying paper airplane trajectories, making stereo speakers. Physics is interesting and it's ubiquitous, so there's always something kind of cool that the kids can relate to. The secret is to let them see what's happening, get their hands dirty, and most importantly, let them ask the questions.

Find interesting (but safe) project, put them in charge, and they're hooked.

Re:Rap? Modern dance?! Just show them the physics! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354338)

as a high school senior, whos been through 5 science classes (3 levels of physics (good teacher)) I have to agree.

My HS Physics Teacher... (1)

ryusen (245792) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354205)

had his own special way to make physics problems interesting... he combined cats and kenetic energy...

Scientists must take intrest in community instead. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354220)

Build affordable houses, transport. Their knowledge
isn't sufficiently translated to the betterment of the masses. They don't even encourage people to build on high ground.

Now Wait Just A Gol-durn Second (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354222)

I wants my transporter raygun that can make people and objects disappear and reappear on the ninth planet out from Sirius*. Then physicists can try to be kewl all they want.

(* This is purely for experimental purposes, and not to make my wife, kids, doggie doo-doo, Hoover salesmen, Jehovah's Witnesses, that guy Bob who wears his hat on backwards and thinks Gremlins are awesome cars, my mother-in-law, recently used hash-pipes, small electrical appliances that I accidentally dropped, used motor oil, former Worldcom executives, David Hasselhoff, Germany, WiFi interferers, anybody who disagrees with me disappear.)

Liquid O2 poured on charcoal in BBQ pit (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354226)

Saw a video of a guy pour liquid oxygen into one of those steel bbq pits found in public parks. It was filled with with charcoal. When the liquid oxygen hit the charcoal, without any flame or ignition source, it spontaniously combusted.

Never once while the guy was walking over to the bbq pit and spilling liquid oxygen all over the place did I think he was uncool. Entropy in action for the stupid, I do not know how he survived.

Silly ideas (5, Insightful)

davidoff404 (764733) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354232)

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the best way to interest young people in physics is to describe some of the wonders of the universe to them. Stupid ideas like the "Einstein flip" serve only to make physicists look like your father and his embarrassing attempts to be hip by listening to Icey Tea, and saying grace before dinner in "wrap-stylee".

I've yet to meet a kid who isn't fascinated by the ideas of time dilation, the uncertainty principle, black holes, or how the universe began. Far better than this crud.

Australia is lacking Physicists too (1)

atlamp (598960) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354245)

Gerry Haddad, Chief of CSIRO Industrial Physics, has made similar noises recently about the lack of interest in Physics in Australia. You can some of his thoughts on the issue [rednova.com]. It strikes me that a lot of the lack of interest in physics amongst kids stems from a lack of interest in physics amongst their teachers. I would have thought that inspiring teachers were one of the best ways to enthuse kids. Mind you, finding a bunch of inspiring teachers in any field is no doubt a difficuly task. Cheers, Andrew

One word (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354257)

Explosions. Now those are way cool, and always made chemistry exciting. Then again, the explosions in chemistry class never had fallout associated with them.

Bigger issue (0, Redundant)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354289)

Physicists are not looked up to in the United States because society has a backward view of the world. We look up to the shallowest people (collectively) in our society -- actors and athletes. We are more intersted in the outside appearance of peole than what they have inside. Until that attitude changes, there is nothing that is going to improve the image of physicists or any other group that requires hours of study...

FRAILZORS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11354335)

BSD addic7s, flame

....it's the teachers. Definitely. (3, Interesting)

trainsnpep (608418) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354342)

As a current physics student (crazy physics idiot #3 actually) in IB HL Physics, I've gotta say this: It's all about the teachers. The teachers can make it interesting, or they can make it hell. One teacher in my school is the nicest person in the world, but she can't teach. The two physics teachers I've had are great. They encourage us to do experiments.

Three of my friends and I wanted to take pictures of exploding balloons. So, we built a circuit to trigger a flash (a strobe actually), and borrowed a camera. We got some amazing pictures out of it (http://www.benza.us/group4/ [benza.us]. See second- and third-to-last), while at the same time ended up with extra credit we never intended on. We even ended up doing a short lesson on it.

To make physics cool, all you need are teachers who make it fun. When it's fun, it's cool.

Prior to the balloons, we made a potato cannon. Our next project is a ballistic pendulum...If that's not bringing cool and physics together, I don't know what is.

Some ideas (2, Informative)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354347)

I guess they should add more interesting images and stories about scientists. Like the one about Newton blowing up his alchemy lab ^_^

Or how about Einstein's tongue [lanset.com]?

Or Lenna [ndevilla.free.fr]? (Lenna is a 70's playmate whose picture is widely used by image processing scientists. The image is cut JUST at the RIGHT point, so nothing "interesting" is seen :P )

However, I think that the most critical part of science is HOW it's taught. Richard Feynman made an astonishing discovery on science being memorized and not taught [66.102.7.104] (Excerpt from book: Surely you're joking Mr. Feynman).

I belonged to a scientific group in my school. (I'm talking about college). We had LOTS of funs making robots that actually walked (one was a crane-like biped robot), programming computer simulations (or making cool flashing lights with electronics), a talking program (you would train the program with your voice, and a few hours of manual labor later :P, you could make it speak any phrase you'd like)...

And of course, just talking about science, of any topic that interested us. We even talked about religion - in a scientific way (WEIRD math ideas), fractals (fractal geomety of nature), chaos theory (remember Jurassic Park?), etc.

We were like the "deat poet society" of science. The LINDA group was pretty succesful, and we published some papers in international physics journals.

Perhaps making groups like this in your school would attract youngsters. Science, without the grades. Just for learning and fun :)

Physics graduates? (1)

deanj (519759) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354353)

OK, now don't get me wrong, Physics is not an easy subject. It's great that people are working on it to make it more kid friendly.

However, I know many Physics majors that, even through the booming 90s, didn't graduate and go on to actually work for places they could apply their skills.

What kind of expectations do they give the kids they are showing this stuff to TODAY for jobs tomorrow?

Nice try (1)

Zareste (761710) | more than 9 years ago | (#11354357)

Idiots who are desperate for everyone to love their interests for no reason should go study the art of dog crap disposal for ten years. Maybe throw in skateboarders or something.
"Dude, dog craps is da bomb!"
"Yeah! Physics rox too!"
"Watch me do the Lorentz contraction!"

If you've got nothing worth saying then nobody's gonna care no matter how you say it. Confounded pseudo-scientists.
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