Archive for February 2013

Quixotic Quadratic Queries Qause Qonfusion

February 24, 2013

Funny - Math - Quadratic - Stupid Names vs. WealthWelcome to Mathematical Methods – a subject which will prepare you for using mathematics to analyse the world and introduce the concept of developing theoretical models to investigate potential results of decisions. It is also a subject that will require you to work hard to master the skills and techniques so that you can use them effectively.

We have already completed the simplest work of the year, revising skills which you should be familiar with from previous years of mathematics – simple linear equations, systems of functions and basic coordinate geometry. Now, we start to go further, by investigating non-linear relationships – that means all lines that can be drawn on a graph that are not straight. The simplest of these are the quadratics – which have the shape of a smile (or a frown), just like the one in graph just above.

You will have studied this last year, and you may have become quite good at factorising and sketching quadratics – which is good. If you are not so confident, you will have time to revise, but you will have to put in additional work. We will be going a lot further with quadratics over the next month, and you will need to be prepared!


Everything you wanted to know for the whole time about half-life in a quarter hour

February 20, 2013

funny - science - physics - radiation mutationSo we are studying Atomic & Nuclear Physics – one of the most exciting areas of modern physics, and almost certainly one of the sciences that has most affected human history in the 20th century. It is one of the areas of physics that the public knows the least about, despite a great deal of interest. Even popular culture deals with nuclear power – from “The Simpsons” to “Battlestar Galactica”, from Iron Maiden’s Brighter than a Thousand Suns to Andy Warhols “Atomic Bomb”, every form of human expression from highest art to puerile comedy, from heavy metal to science fiction – the idea is everywhere.

I have written many posts on this blog about nuclear power (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) (you may want to pay particular attention to the comment streams…). Not only is nuclear power an important part of our studies, it is essential that all people who live in Australia are aware of the risks and rewards associated with nuclear energy, because like it or not, Australia has a nuclear future. I have written a specific set of class notes to supplement your textbook. You must download them, print them and bring them to class.

This post is specifically about the concept of half-life (no, not the game). Half life is the name given to the process of atomic decay, and particularly the rate at which particles undergo the decay process. Half life is an interesting process – and works very differently from other types of decay.

Take an example that is probably more familiar – fruit. If you have a bag of apples, what happens over time?


Twistin’ and Turnin’ – Circular motion will set your brain a-burnin!

February 16, 2013

funny - science - physics - definitionSo. You’re back – you survived one year of physics, and you decided to come back for another. If you’re smart, you’re a bit scared! If you’re smarter, you’re already working your backside off and planning how you can work harder. This year we are starting with a review of 1-D kinematics from last year, and quickly moving into 2-D applications of the same ideas. The first one we are spending time on is circular motion – that is objects moving in a circle in either the vertical or horizontal plane.

Circular motion is hard to get your head around in the beginning, because your own experience is lying to you. Everyone has ridden in a car as it goes around a corner in the road or a roundabout – and you have felt the force “pushing you towards the outside of the curve”, so when you think about these forces, you have an immediate expectation that the force is acting outwards – from the centre of the circle out…

But you would be wrong!