Monday, February 8, 2010

50 Physics Ideas You Really Need to Know

For Anne Hathaway, and everyone who wishes to know Physics (Reality) ....

Before I begin, I have to pay off a bet by putting up a picture of The New Orleans Saints, who won The Super Bowl last night over The Indianapolis Colts, since I picked the Colts to win and, um, they didn't. I chose this picture of the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player, Saints Quarterback Drew Brees, and his tiny son, in the post-game celebration. As a Dad 4 times over, I can relate. Congrats, New Orleans:

The Human Male in his element ... the Human Male, at the VERY TOP of HIS game ...




Joanne Baker, PhD Physics, University of Sydney 1995 is a Physical Science editor at Science magazine, where her specialty is Earth Science and Space (which is why I forgive her misguided views on Anthropic Landscape ... let's face it, Lenny Susskind has an infectious personality).

She wrote a wonderful book with the title of this article/blarticle, which my 14-yr-old son gave me for Christmas, along with 50 Mathematical Ideas You Really Need To Know. Both are wonderful introductions to their respective subjects. Very concise, and a great launching point into any of the many facets of each field. Many, but not insurmountable. I love books like this that lay fields of study out in a compact way. Neither Physics nor Mathematics are difficult, in spite of what you have been mis-taught. Yes, both take work and therefore time to understand, but not nearly as much as many would have you believe.

This page is a work in progress. I will eventually link the 50 Things which I list below, as well as key points and key people. But for now, just the list:

MATTER IN MOTION
1. Mach's principle
2. Newton's laws of motion
3. Kepler's laws
4. Newton's laws of gravitation
5. Conservation of energy
6. Simple harmonic motion
7. Hooke's law
8. Ideal gas law
9. Second law of thermodynamics
10. Absolute zero
11. Brownian motion
12. Chaos theory
13. Bernoulli equation

BENEATH THE WAVES
14. Newton's theory of colour
15. Huygen's principle
16. Snell's law
17. Bragg's law
18. Fraunhofer diffraction
19. Doppler effect
20. Ohm's law
21. Fleming's right hand rule
22. Maxwell's equations

QUANTUM CONUNDRUMS
23. Planck's law
24. Photoelectric effect
25. Schrodinger's wave equation
26. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle
27. Copenhagen interpretation
28. Schrodinger's cat
29. The EPR Paradox
30. Pauli's exclusion principle
31. Superconductivity

SPLITTING ATOMS
32. Rutherford's atom
33. Antimatter
34. Nuclear fission
35. Nuclear fusion
36. Standard model
37. Feynman diagrams
38. The God particle
39. String theory

SPACE AND TIME
40. Special relativity
41. General relativity
42. Black holes
43. Olber's paradox
44. Hubble's law
45. The Big Bang
46. Cosmic inflation
47. Dark matter
48. Cosmological constant
49. Fermi paradox
50. Anthropic principle <=== won't Susskind, who would have us believe ships were built to house barnacles, be pleased?

Now I will re-list the 50 things, this time with the short/sweet "The condensed idea" following each four-page blurb. They were written by the author or the editor, and go like this:

MATTER IN MOTION
1. Mach's principle - Mass matters for motion
2. Newton's laws of motion - Motion captured
3. Kepler's laws - Law of the worlds
4. Newton's laws of gravitation - Mass attraction
5. Conservation of energy - Indestructable energy
6. Simple harmonic motion - The science of swing
7. Hooke's law - Elastic fantastic
8. Ideal gas law - Pressure cooker physics
9. Second law of thermodynamics - Law of disorder
10. Absolute zero - The big chill
11. Brownian motion - An invisible microscopic dance
12. Chaos theory - Order in chaos
13. Bernoulli equation - Arteries and aerodynamics

BENEATH THE WAVES
14. Newton's theory of colour - Beyond the rainbow
15. Huygen's principle - Wave progression
16. Snell's law - Light finds the shortest path
17. Bragg's law - Spotting structure
18. Fraunhofer diffraction - Interfering light waves
19. Doppler effect - Perfect pitch
20. Ohm's law - Circuit theory
21. Fleming's right hand rule - Induction rules
22. Maxwell's equations - ... and so there was light

QUANTUM CONUNDRUMS
23. Planck's law - Energy budget
24. Photoelectric effect - Photon bullets
25. Schrodinger's wave equation - Here, there, but not everywhere
26. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle - Know your limits
27. Copenhagen interpretation - You choose
28. Schrodinger's cat - Dead or alive?
29. The EPR Paradox - Instant messaging
30. Pauli's exclusion principle - Is this seat taken?
31. Superconductivity - Resistance is futile

SPLITTING ATOMS
32. Rutherford's atom - The hard core
33. Antimatter - Mirror image matter
34. Nuclear fission - Splitting the atom
35. Nuclear fusion - Star power
36. Standard model - All in the family
37. Feynman diagrams - Three-pronged approach
38. The God particle - Swimming against the tide
39. String theory - Universal harmonies

SPACE AND TIME
40. Special relativity - Motion is relative
41. General relativity - Warped space-time
42. Black holes - Light traps
43. Olber's paradox - Our finite universe
44. Hubble's law - The expanding universe
45. The Big Bang - The ultimate explosion
46. Cosmic inflation - Cosmic growth spurt
47. Dark matter - Dark side of the universe
48. Cosmological constant -The fifth force
49. Fermi paradox -  Is there anybody out there?
50. Anthropic principle - The just so universe

2 comments:

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

I know nothing about american football. Nor am I able to tell an advice about how well a baseball team plays. My problem is the same with hockey... Why the heck do american people feel the need to wear an armor at sport? Is it because health insurances don't want to pay you if you get into an accident without one? Isn't it too much warm inside? Can one move freely bearing such a suit on one's back?

Many questions, few answers, which make it hard for me to seize where the pleasure is.

Basket-ball is however my favorite sport worldwide.

Best,

Steven Colyer said...

I have re-grouped the 50 things in the same way the author did. The 50 things in Mathematics were not so grouped.