Archive for March 2011

Doin’ Circlework!

March 23, 2011

Circlework” is a common country activity – put utes, dirt and young farmers together, and quickly it will devolve into who can kick up the most dirt while spinning their utes in a circle. Every B&S has one, and the prize for best circlework is always hard fought.  Unfortunately, you don’t have your license yet, so the only circle work you will be doing in the near future is in mathematics.

Unlikely as it may seem, circles are actually quite interesting and show up in many places – architecture, art, technology, nature, basically everywhere. In fact, people love circles so much, that when lost they automatically walk in circles… spooky!

March 14, 2011

Science Fiction has a common thematic element – space ships “Raise Shields” to create an invisible force field that protects them from damage (if you have a week to waste, you may want to check out TVtropes – just try and not follow the links…).

But force fields are just science fiction, right? Well, no – we use the term force fields in physics to mean an area where a “force at a distance” is acting. It doesn’t work in the same way as SF force fields work, but it does do something similar. In SF, force fields work like an invisible barrier or wall that nothing can pass through. In physics, something that is affected by a force field will change direction as it is affected by the field. The most common “force field” you experience every day – gravitational fields. We will save that for year 12. This year, it is necessary for you to understand how Electric Fields operate.

Mathematics Flat Out!

March 14, 2011

Dimensions are interesting things. Something with zero dimensions is a point, a dot in space (is that the same as no dimensions?). Something with one dimension is a a straight line (it has length). Something with two dimensions is a planar shape ( having length and width like a triangle, square or any polygon). Something with three dimensions is an object with volume (length, width & height, such as a pyramid, sphere or greater stellated icosahedron).

It is difficult to imagine, but there are far more than three dimensions – indeed many more dimensions are necessary for our understanding of modern physics. A little starter is at “Imagining the Tenth Dimension”, and that is only for the first ten dimensions! Watch it and learn that you need far more than three dimensions to exist in!