Physics is all around us and the sites listed here do a great job in showing the relevance of what we are learning in class to other situations.
Motion Unit
Forces Unit
Conservation Unit Other links


Motion related material
           Yes, there are still those people out there who are convinced that the earth is flat .  Too bad they just don't make careful observations (viewing an approaching ship coming over the horizon, comparing a sunset viewed while sitting on the ground to one seen a few seconds later when standing).  Anyway, their pages are amusing:  The Flat Earth Society and an article about the international society's president.

           Still trying to get a feel for metric units?  Want to know how to convert pints into liters?  Sounds like you need the table of common equivalent weights & measures.  NIST also has a searchable table of fundamental constants- a very handy reference for the future.  Also, I've collected a few tables of typical values of mass, speed, etc. expressed in SI units.
          Chapter 1 talks about fundamental particles. This is a whole field of physics- particle or high energy physics. There are a few places on the web which give good overviews of the field:

  • The Science of matter, space and time at FermiLab.  This is a great place to start your tour of "particle physics".  It offers a qualitative overview of what the world is made of and what the standard model is.  They even have a short video that gives an overview of the standard model.
  • Particle Adventure- This is a great site that explains the physics behind quarks, electrons and other fundamental particles.  (A bit more technical than the previous site.)
  • Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) Virtual Visitor Center- This site not only has information on the fundamental physics, it also describes the methods that physicists use to study the physics of small particles.

         A second "issue" related to particles is their role in model building. One of the skills that any physics student must master is ability to simplify complicated system enough so they can be discussed and understood, but not so simple that all of the characteristics disappear. (You're not allowed to make the simplification that the universe doesn't really exist, therefore the answer to all of your homework is zero.) George Hrabovsky has an interesting (short) column on this issue of particles as simplifications. Bob has a similar article on modelling, Prelude to the Study of Physics. I urge you to read both.
         Chapter 2 introduces integration; while most of what we'll do in our class will be simple polynomials and trig functions, you may occasionally run into something more complicated.  If so, you might want to use Wolfram's on-line Integrator.
        Galileo Galilei was one of the first people to truely be scientific- he based his ideas not on philosophy or religion, but observations. His insights into motion were essential in the development of our ideas. The Galileo Project at Rice ahs more about the man and his accomplishments.

          At one point he was known as the fastest man alive- Col John Stapp. Not only did he set speed records, but he also pioneered the study of crashes and human physiology.
           Okay, I admit that I'm not completely impartial about this, but I think baseball is one of the greatest places to study physics- everything from projectile motion and air drag to curve balls.  The Exploratorium also has a fantastic site that include many interactive pages.


Forces related material
      Can you read Latin? Do you crave mathematical information? Theny, why not read Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica [Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy] Several editions are online thanks to the folks at MIT.
      Speaking of historical sources, there are some great sites out there which are related to Kepler, Brahe, and those who came before them.

        A good place to view our current understanding of our solar system is the Nine Planets.
      Cirque du Soleil is part circus, part theater, and many part oddness.  It is an amazing show and if you look with a "physics eye" you'll see some amazing examples of mechanics, particularly statics.  You can find such examples in many circus or dance performances.

         On the web you can find several papers related to the Hyatt Regency collapse (mostly by students):

           What's the absolutely best application of Newton's Laws?  Roller Coasters!  Learn more about the physics behind various amusement park rides.
          By the end of the course we will have discussed a wealth of classical mechanics (forces, conservation laws, etc.)  One of the more artistic applications for this information lies in ballet.  There is another site that also talks about the physics of dance.

         NASA has several pages on neutron stars and pulsars.

Conservation related material
       In 1969, Newton was challenged to find the shape of the curve down which a bead sliding from rest and accelerated by gravity will slip (without friction ) from one point to another in the least time. He solved the problem in less than a day. This was one of the early uses of the newly created calculus. Specifically, it involves calculus of variations. The problem is known as the brachistochrone which is a term derived from the Greek (brachistos) "the shortest" and (chronos) "time, delay." The brachistochrone problem was one of the earliest problems posed in the calculus of variations.
       Roller Coasters! What a fun application of physics! Conservation of energy plays a major role in most amusement park rides- conversion of gravitational potential energy to kinetic energy.

  • The Discovery Channel has a site on the history and background of roller coaster (including some videos that put you on some of the latest coasters).
  • CNN has a similar survey of coasters across the US.
  • One site has a simple Applet which lets you tweak the sizes of hills and loops and then let the physics run its course.
  • For a more detailed simulator you might try NoLimits Roller Coaster.
  • There is a nice student report on the net which describes some of the technologies involved in modern roller coasters.

            The search for planets outside of the solar system is one application of conservation of momentum.  Recently there was an announcement that several more planets had been detected.  ABC News has a story about the discovery.  Geoff Marcy also has a site that talks about extrasolar planets in greater depth.  There you will find a constantly updated list of the discovered planets, readable articles and much more!
         Some of the most exciting types of collisions occur in particle accelerators which propel subatomic particles at speeds near the speed of light.  (This is a great site that explains alot of particle physics.)

          In addition to being places where you can see momentum conservation in action, the subatomic world also offers us glimpses at other conservation laws.  The Science of matter, space and time at FermiLab.  This is a great place to start your tour of "particle physics".  It offers a qualitative overview of what the world is made of and what the standard model is.  They even have a short video that gives an overview of the standard model.

         Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) Virtual Visitor Center- This site not only has information on the fundamental physics, it also describes the methods that physicists use to study the physics of small particles.
       Car crash reconstruction is a field that heavily relies on physics, particularly conservation of momentum. Car & Driver has a great article that gives you can overview of this field, describing many of the features in skid marks that experts look for.
        Sports Illustrated Flashback: Being Backwards Gets Results, an archived version of an article published in 1969 on Dick Fosbury and his "new" high jump technique.

Other material
         Einstein is definitely the heavyweight of relativity.  Both AIP and NOVA have nice sites on Albert Einstein.  Here's a page that has many Einstein links.
At the AIP exhibit you can hear Einstein explain his equation E=mc2 . Why not read his 1920 book Relativity: The Special and General Theory
        Speaking of einstein...
WYP 2005 is a worldwide celebration of physics and its importance in our everyday lives. Physics not only plays an important role in the development of science and technology but also has a tremendous impact on our society. You may be wondering- If physics is always so wonderful, why celebrate now? The year 2005 marks the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s “miraculous year” in which he published three important papers that describe the motion of atoms and molecules (Brownian motion), the behavior of fast moving objects (Special Relativity) and the relationship between light and energy (Photoelectric Effect). These ideas have continued to influence all of modern physics and are studied by all physics majors.
          There is FAQ out there for everything, so why not relativity?
         The Michelson-Morley experiment was an impressive in its simplicity and incredibly precise results.  This really ended the debate ether and the propagation of light.

       Subatomic particles give us some of the best evidence that special relativity is correct.

         So can anything go faster than the speed of light in a vacuum?  Well, many reporters have gotten this one wrong.  ABCNews has a report giving their version of an experiment reported in Nature.  The short answer is that the press got it all wrong.  The letter in Nature seemed to say no revolutionary physics was involved, describing the result as: "a direct consequence of classical interference between different frequency components in an anomalous dispersion region."  What is real are the experiments that have the speed of light reduced well below 3 x 108 m/s.  ABCNews describes the findings.
          The Physics Department has a few pages that may be of interest to 101 students.  There are pages designed to help students answer the important questions in life, such as "What I can do with a physics degree?"  Or, "Where can I intern?"  Other pages talk about the latest in the world of physics (everything from research to limericks).

            The Learning Resource Center is a great place for  students to find some tutoring and assistance.  The LRC offers physics, math, and chemistry group tutoring.  They have even prepared a "how to solve word problems" tip sheet.  In addition to course based tutoring, LRC also offers workshops on how to study, how to prepare for tests and studying to the MCAT, LSAT or GRE.

           Society of Physics Students!  Okay, it's easier to say- SPS!  Come meet other students who enjoy science, hear guest speakers (often your fellow students), and eat some snacks.