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Letter to Obama on Physics

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

Stumbled upon this today. How many of you agree with what this guy is saying?

 

Open Letter to the President

post #2 of 28
so what. he wasn't elected to be the Physician-in-Chief, but the Commander-in-Chief.
post #3 of 28
I'm not going to pretend I have more than a rudimentary understanding of physics, but I am pretty well versed in logic, and that video is very, very short on it.
post #4 of 28
I'm big on science education, but I think we need to focus more on rational thinking and scientific investigation than learning a bunch of theories. Anyone can get at least a cursory understanding of the topics he mentioned once you have a basic level of training,or you can get a much higher level understanding once in college.

Also, beyond general appreciation of science, I don't know how much application modern physics has in daily life. I'm an actual practicing physical chemist and I barely ever have to consider relativity (it does occasionally come up) much less stuff like the strong force.
post #5 of 28
If a student has a passion for physics hidden somewhere inside them, enough H.S. curriculum should be all that's necessary to spark the interest of the student to learn more in their spare time and university.
post #6 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gibonius View Post

I'm big on science education, but I think we need to focus more on rational thinking and scientific investigation than learning a bunch of theories. Anyone can get at least a cursory understanding of the topics he mentioned once you have a basic level of training,or you can get a much higher level understanding once in college.
Also, beyond general appreciation of science, I don't know how much application modern physics has in daily life. I'm an actual practicing physical chemist and I barely ever have to consider relativity (it does occasionally come up) much less stuff like the strong force.

lol chemistry. fight[1].gif

I agree with you here, especially the first sentence.

Re: relativity -- relativity is generally something that doesn't need to be considered directly yet modern physics is impossible without it. That is, sure, you don't have to directly consider relativity but it's rather impossible to perform the vast majority of anything in the sciences and its applications without it. It's more or less 'encoded' into everything and just taken for granted (not a reply to you Gibonius, but more of a general exposition for those who otherwise would misconstrue your statement).

Re: the video. Yeah, pretty dumb. The problem with learning anything from the 20th century is that the mathematics are far more advanced than possible for the average high school student. It's pretty useless to talk about even basic concepts in relativity like the Lorentz transformation when the students don't have the necessary mathematical knowledge to understand it in any meaningful sense.

Besides, there's enough to be learned before the 20th century. Heck, it's hard at this point to find a general university-level physics book with more than the near-useless integral forms of Maxwell's equations (I assume the video maker chose 1865 to make the comment about slavery and because Maxwell's equations which govern nearly all of electromagnetism were formally published that decade). So yeah, until vector calculus becomes part of the standard mathematics curriculum in high schools it's probably best to stick with f=ma.

(Really calculus should be taught alongside Newtonian physics, but even that's a tall order).
post #7 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by why View Post

lol chemistry. fight[1].gif
I agree with you here, especially the first sentence.
Re: relativity -- relativity is generally something that doesn't need to be considered directly yet modern physics is impossible without it. That is, sure, you don't have to directly consider relativity but it's rather impossible to perform the vast majority of anything in the sciences and its applications without it. It's more or less 'encoded' into everything and just taken for granted (not a reply to you Gibonius, but more of a general exposition for those who otherwise would misconstrue your statement).
Re: the video. Yeah, pretty dumb. The problem with learning anything from the 20th century is that the mathematics are far more advanced than possible for the average high school student. It's pretty useless to talk about even basic concepts in relativity like the Lorentz transformation when the students don't have the necessary mathematical knowledge to understand it in any meaningful sense.
Besides, there's enough to be learned before the 20th century. Heck, it's hard at this point to find a general university-level physics book with more than the near-useless integral forms of Maxwell's equations (I assume the video maker chose 1865 to make the comment about slavery and because Maxwell's equations which govern nearly all of electromagnetism were formally published that decade). So yeah, until vector calculus becomes part of the standard mathematics curriculum in high schools it's probably best to stick with f=ma.
(Really calculus should be taught alongside Newtonian physics, but even that's a tall order).

vector calculus is ot know by most in high school? for me it was a 4th year subject.
post #8 of 28
..
post #9 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by scarphe View Post

vector calculus is ot know by most in high school? for me it was a 4th year subject.

Wait, what? When I took Vector Calculus, it was in undergrad, and an elective at that - after Calculus, Differential Equations, and Linear Algebra.
post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gibonius View Post

I'm big on science education, but I think we need to focus more on rational thinking and scientific investigation than learning a bunch of theories. Anyone can get at least a cursory understanding of the topics he mentioned once you have a basic level of training,or you can get a much higher level understanding once in college.
Also, beyond general appreciation of science, I don't know how much application modern physics has in daily life. I'm an actual practicing physical chemist and I barely ever have to consider relativity (it does occasionally come up) much less stuff like the strong force.

I agree. I always wished our education system placed more emphasis on creative thought and logic. I'm not sure where I stand with regards to the video as far as physics is concerned, but I did like that it questioned the quality and possible "out-dated" aspect of our education system...thats why I posted it.

post #11 of 28
English departments teach an old language built on old rules and nobody makes a YouTube video about formal education of txting or the death of the adverb in popular culture.

That said, the complete focus on kinematics in most high schools is dull and inappropriate and does a disservice to a great discipline. You don't need to solve non-inertial reference frames to figure out why this is amazing: (NSFW, women in pasties hula hooping)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ea3RAkGqYC8
post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas View Post

Wait, what? When I took Vector Calculus, it was in undergrad, and an elective at that - after Calculus, Differential Equations, and Linear Algebra.

I originally posted something similar, but realized replying to him was useless since he probably doesn't understand that vector calculus is different from learning what a vector is and it's impossible to call bullshit on over the Internet.
post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by why View Post

I originally posted something similar, but realized replying to him was useless since he probably doesn't understand that vector calculus is different from learning what a vector is and it's impossible to call bullshit on over the Internet.

by vector calculusu you basically mean simple and advanced matrix usage, i assumed, if that is the case yes i did do it the 4th year of high school properly. Properl becaue my specifc topic of study the last 2 years was physics... but the othe other stuff he discussed ED, calculus, basic linear algebra were all part of the course. but ED came in the 5th year.
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by scarphe View Post

by vector calculusu you basically mean simple and advanced matrix usage

No.
post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by why View Post

I originally posted something similar, but realized replying to him was useless since he probably doesn't understand that vector calculus is different from learning what a vector is and it's impossible to call bullshit on over the Internet.

True that.

Seriously, though, my class had maybe 20 people in it, all math majors and upperclassmen, and the instructor wrote the text we used - as we went through the class. I might still have it somewhere. It was a tough class.
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