Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are essential to the economy and to sustainable long-term economic growth.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are essential to the economy and to sustainable long-term economic growth. The demand for stem workers in the United States across industries is expected to grow faster than other occupations in the next decade.

The Three Basic Categories of Physics

The physics that provides the foundation for all of modern science and engineering
can be divided into three broad categories:

  • Particles and energy
  • Fields and waves
  • The atomic structure of matter

A particle is an idealization of a physical object. We will use particles to understand how objects move and how they interact with each other. One of the most important properties of a particle or a collection of particles is energy.

Although many phenomena can be understood in terms of particles and their interactions, the long-range interactions of gravity, electricity and magnetism are best understood in terms of fields, such as the gravitational field and the electric field. Rather than being discrete, fields spread continuously through space. Much of the second half of this book will be focused on understanding fields and the interactions between fields and particles.

One of the most significant discoveries of the past 500 years is that matter consists of atoms. Atoms and their properties are described by quantum physics.

A Message About Learning Intro to Physics

How do you feel about physics? Fear? Uncertainty? Let’s face it, physics has a bit of an ‘image problem’. You’ve probably think that it’s difficult, maybe downright impossible unless you’re an Einstein. Things that you’ve heard, your experiences in other STEM courses, and many other factors all color your expectations about what studying physics is going to be like.

Just what is physics, anyway?

Physics is a way of thinking about the physical aspects of nature. It isn’t any better than art or biology or poetry or religion, which are also ways to think about nature.

It’s not just about “the facts.” Oh, not that facts are unimportant, but physics is far more focused on discovering relationships that exist between facts and patterns that exist in nature than on learning facts for their own sake. As a consequence, there’s not a lot of memorization when you study physics. Some—there are still definitions and equations to learn—but less than in many other courses. There is much more emphasis on thinking and reasoning.

Perhaps most important of all, physics is more than just math. It involves looking for patterns and relationships in nature, and searching for the reasons why things happen as they do. In doing so, we stress qualitative reasoning, pictorial and graphical reasoning, and reasoning by analogy.

As you study, you’ll sometimes feel baffled, puzzled, and confused. That’s perfectly normal and to be expected. Making mistakes is OK too if you’re willing to learn from the experience. No one is born knowing how to do physics any more than he or she is born knowing how to play the piano or shoot basketballs. The ability to do physics comes from practice, repetition, and struggling with the ideas until you “own” them and can apply them yourself in new situations. There’s no way to make learning effortless, at least for anything worth learning, so expect to have some difficult moments ahead. But also expect the feeling of self-discovery and sense of adventure to eventually outweigh the frustrations.

Spider Silk for Artificial Limbs

A group of research personnel from MIT noticed that spider silk can undergo a process called super contraction. Super contraction provides a very strong torsional force. Soon after the groundbreaking discovery, researchers worked on figuring out how to synthetically create the material for artificial limbs. Spider silk is already known for being lightweight, strong and flexible. This material would greatly increase the range of motion in synthetic limbs.

How does Galileo break with the past in his physics and astronomy? What elements of continuity with prior traditions remain in his works?

Sidereus Nuncius told the learned community that a new age had begun, and that the universe and the way in which it was studied would never be the same. heavenly phenomena hidden since the beginning of time were suddenly revealed by the telescope and could be seen by anyone who could procure one of these devices. In the autumn of 1609, Galileo Galilei, a forty-five-year-old professor of mathematics at the University of Padua, directed a twenty-powered telescope at the Moon, setting off a chain of events that was to shake the intellectual edifice of Europe to its foundations.

Continue reading “How does Galileo break with the past in his physics and astronomy? What elements of continuity with prior traditions remain in his works?”

Can Robots Take Care of the Elderly?

50% of adults over the age of 85 require daily assistance for simple tasks. 90% of adults that age prefer to live at home over a nursing home. Yet, it’s difficult for them to live on their own, and for them to get assistance from other people.

With the growing cost of eldercare, the shortage in caregivers, and health challenges of the elderly, there is a need to find a more efficient way to care for the elderly population. Continue reading “Can Robots Take Care of the Elderly?”

US Government Surveillance and Personal Data Collecting: Ethical, Effective, and Just (One Take On the Situation)

Privacy is of value to the individual and the society. It affords us the space to be ourselves and to define ourselves through giving us a degree of autonomy and protection of our dignity. In our interactions with others, we may define the intimacy of our relationships with them through the amount of privacy we relinquish in that relationship. Privacy is also important in the social context of democracy. In many cases, we do not want to know everything about everyone around us, and so privacy can protect the rest of us from being exposed to too much information. Thanks to a level of anonymity, people can feel emboldened to speak out publicly against corruption or injustice, or to simply be more creative in self-expression.

Continue reading “US Government Surveillance and Personal Data Collecting: Ethical, Effective, and Just (One Take On the Situation)”