What’s FiveThirtyEight Good For?: The Inevitable Nate Silver Backlash

Now that we’ve apparently elected Nate Silver the President of Science, this is some predictable grumbling about whether he’s been overhyped. If you’ve somehow missed the whole thing, Jennifer Ouellette offers an excellent summary of the FiveThirtyEight saga, with lots of links, but the Inigo Montoya summing up is that Silver runs a blog predicting […]

On the Helpfulness of Numbers

Anybody who has taught introductory physics has noticed the tendency, particuarly among weaker students, to plug numbers into equations at the first opportunity, and spend the rest of the problem manipulating nine-digit decimal numbers (because, of course, you want to copy down all the digits the calculator gives you. Many faculty, myself included, find this […]

The Advent Calendar of Physics: Introducing Angular Momentum

Moving along through our countdown to Newton’s birthday, we come to the next important physical quantity, angular momentum. For some obscure reason, this gets the symbol L, and the angular momentum for a single particle about some point A is given by: This is probably the most deceptive equation we’ll see this season. Yesterday’s definition […]