Monday, February 8, 2010

Physics Hero

Oct 22 9:57PM - ...
27 Posts

Hello Dr. Syphers! I was wondering why you first became interested in physics? Did someone have a particular influence on you (like a parent or a teacher, or a famous physicist)? On a similar note, did you have a favorite physicist as a student?


Hi M,

Good to hear from you. I think I first became interested in science at a young age, like about 6-7 years old. I was very interested in the things that were going on in the space program (Gemini, Apollo, etc.) and wanted to learn all about the stars and moon and planets. It wasn't until I was in High School that I found out that "physics" was the science that talked about all that. That's when I knew I wanted to study physics (and astronomy and astrophysics!). My older sister was an influence -- she bought me my first astronomy book and a star chart for my wall! -- and my Boy Scout Master was an amateur astronomer and taught me a lot. My H.S. physics teacher was wonderful and a huge influence on me, too!

As far as a favorite physicist, another school group asked me that same question, so I'll cut and past the same answer here.

"... And, as for my favorite scientist? Newton and Einstein always come to mind. However, I have always like a guy named James Clerk Maxwell. You'll learn about him probably much later in the year. But he did a LOT of things, including the final synthesis that showed the world how light, electricity, and magnetism are all related. He also showed (using pure logic, pen and paper) that the rings of Saturn could not be solid objects -- that they must be made up of broken up rocks or small particles of some sort. It was really quite an amazing thing to calculate and convince people back in the mid-1800's. He won a prize and became famous by that calculation. He did a lot of other things, too, but those are what I remember about him, and I always thought he was a cool dude."

Thanks, M!

Oct 23 1:31PM - Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: From our awesome Physics class!
27 Posts
Wow thats cool! We're learning Newton's laws right now. What's your favorite Newton's law? So far we've learned the first one and working on the second one. What's your favorite movies? We like The Hangover, Austin Powers Goldmember, Transformers, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Breakfast Club, In the Persuit of Happiness, and 7 Pounds. Do you have any kids? Do they like physics? Talk to you later!
Your fellow physicists! :]

Glad to hear you're enjoying learning about Sir Issac! It's hard to pick a "favorite" law of his three, but probably the second law is used the most in everyday physics calculations that it has to be my number one! (By the way, are you taught that F=ma, or are you taught that F = Delta p / Delta t ? Or both? Just curious; they're the same thing, but F=ma is usually taught in H.S., whereas the second concept is actually what Newton first wrote down...)

Favorite movies?? Well, I see and like a lot of movies, and I like all the ones you mentioned, except I haven't seen 7 Pounds. I have two kids, a daughter and a son -- they keep me pretty up-to-date on movies and such. They're both in college now. They both took physics -- my daughter did well in it (she's great at math!) and my son didn't like it so much. They're now studying business and emergency medicine.


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