Physics for Virtual Teaching of Introductory Physics

A Set of Virtual Experiments of Fluids, Waves, Thermodynamics, Optics, and Modern Physics for Virtual Teaching of Introductory Physics
Neel Haldolaarachchige, Kalani Hettiarachchilage
This is the third series of the lab manuals for virtual teaching of introductory physics classes. This covers fluids, waves, thermodynamics, optics, interference, photoelectric effect, atomic spectra, and radiation concepts. A few of these labs can be used within Physics I and a few other labs within Physics II depending on the syllabi of Physics I and II classes. Virtual experiments in this lab manual and our previous Physics I (arXiv.2012.09151) and Physics II (arXiv.2012.13278) lab manuals were designed for 2.45 hrs long lab classes (algebra-based and calculus-based). However, all the virtual labs in these three series can be easily simplified to align with conceptual type or short time physics lab classes as desired. All the virtual experiments were based on open education resource (OER) type simulations. Virtual experiments were designed to simulate in-person physical laboratory experiments. Student learning outcomes (understand, apply, analyze and evaluate) were studied with detailed lab reports per each experiment and end of the semester written exam which was based on experiments. Special emphasis was given to study the student skill development of computational data analysis.
Reaf more at

Click to access 2101.00993.pdf

Teaching gauge theory to first year students

Nils-Erik Bomark
One of the biggest revelations of 20th century physics, is virtually unheard of outside the inner circles of particle physics. This is the gauge theory, the foundation for how all physical interactions are described and a guiding principle for almost all work on new physics theories. Is it not our duty as physicists to try and spread this knowledge to a wider audience?
Here, two simple gauge theory models are presented that should be understandable without any advanced mathematics or physics and it is demonstrated how they can be used to show how gauge symmetries are used to construct the standard model of particle physics. This is also used to describe the real reason we need the Higgs field.
Though these concepts are complicated and abstract, it seems possible for at least first year students to understand the main ideas. Since they typically are very interested in cutting edge physics, they do appreciate the effort and enjoy the more detail insight into modern particle physics. These results are certainly encouraging more efforts in this direction.

Click to access 2009.02162.pdf

Hawking for beginners

A dimensional analysis activity to perform in the classroom
Jorge Pinochet
In this paper we present a simple dimensional analysis exercise that allows us to derive the equation for the Hawking temperature of a black hole. The exercise is intended for high school students, and it is developed from a chapter of Stephen Hawking’s bestseller A Brief History of Time.

Click to access 2004.11850.pdf

Quantum Computing as a High School Module

Anastasia Perry, Ranbel Sun, Ciaran Hughes, Joshua Isaacson, Jessica Turner
Quantum computing is a growing field at the intersection of physics and computer science. This module introduces three of the key principles that govern how quantum computers work: superposition, quantum measurement, and entanglement. The goal of this module is to bridge the gap between popular science articles and advanced undergraduate texts by making some of the more technical aspects accessible to motivated high school students. Problem sets and simulation based labs of various levels are included to reinforce the conceptual ideas described in the text. This is intended as a one week course for high school students between the ages of 15-18 years. The course begins by introducing basic concepts in quantum mechanics which are needed to understand quantum computing.

Investigation of Skyscraper’s Feat

(original version with an addendum)

Costas Efthimiou
Skyscraper is a Hollywood action film directed and written by Rawson M. Thurber scheduled to be released on July 13, 2018. We present an exhaustive analysis of the feat shown in the recently released teaser poster and trailer of the film. Although the feat appears to be unrealistic at first glance, after close investigation using back-of-the-envelope calculations, it is seen to be within human capabilities.
This article is the original version of an abridged article published in Physics Education. It was written very soon after the poster and clip were released by Universal Pictures.


“What’s (the) Matter?”

A Show on Elementary Particle Physics with 28 Demonstration Experiments
Herbi K. Dreiner et al
We present the screenplay of a physics show on particle physics, by the Physikshow of Bonn University. The show is addressed at non-physicists aged 14+ and communicates basic concepts of elementary particle physics including the discovery of the Higgs boson in an entertaining fashion. It is also demonstrates a successful outreach activity heavily relying on the university physics students. This paper is addressed at anybody interested in particle physics and/or show physics. This paper is also addressed at fellow physicists working in outreach, maybe the experiments and our choice of simple explanations will be helpful. Furthermore, we are very interested in related activities elsewhere, in particular also demonstration experiments relevant to particle physics, as often little of this work is published.
Our show involves 28 live demonstration experiments. These are presented in an extensive appendix, including photos and technical details. The show is set up as a quest, where 2 students from Bonn with the aid of a caretaker travel back in time to understand the fundamental nature of matter. They visit Rutherford and Geiger in Manchester around 1911, who recount their famous experiment on the nucleus and show how particle detectors work. They travel forward in time to meet Lawrence at Berkeley around 1950, teaching them about the how and why of accelerators. Next, they visit Wu at DESY, Hamburg, around 1980, who explains the strong force. They end up in the LHC tunnel at CERN, Geneva, Switzerland in 2012. Two experimentalists tell them about colliders and our heroes watch live as the Higgs boson is produced and decays. The show was presented in English at Oxford University and University College London, as well as Padua University and ICTP Trieste. It was 1st performed in German at the Deutsche Museum, Bonn (5/’14). The show has eleven speaking parts and involves in total 20 people.


The nature of polarized light using smartphones

Martín Monteiro, Cecilia Stari, Cecilia Cabeza, Arturo C. Marti

Originally an empirical law, nowadays Malus’ is seen as a key experiment to demonstrate the traversal nature of electromagnetic waves, as well as the intrinsic connection between optics and electromagnetism. More specifically, it is an operational way to characterize a linear polarized electromagnetic wave. A simple and inexpensive setup is proposed in this work, to quantitatively verify the nature of polarized light. A flat computer screen serves as a source of linear polarized light and a smartphone is used as a measuring instrument thanks to its built-in sensors. The intensity of light is measured by means of the luminosity sensor with a tiny filter attached over it. The angle between the plane of polarization of the source and the filter is measured by means of the three-axis accelerometer, that works, in this case, as an incliometer. Taken advantage of the simultaneous use of these two sensors, a complete set of measures can be obtained just in a few seconds. The experimental light intensity as a function of the angle shows an excellent agreement with standard results…
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“Walking” along a free rotating bicycle wheel (Round and round)

Marta mouse
Julio Guemez, Manuel Fiolhais
We describe the kinematics, dynamics and also some energetic issues related to the Marta mouse motion when she walks on top of a horizontal bicycle wheel, which is free to rotate like a merry-to-go round, as presented recently by Paul Hewitt in the Figuring Physics section of this magazine….