Monday, September 20, 2010

Science Mondays---- trusting one's data

Maxwell's Equations


Last Monday I wrote about using NASA's cosmic times curriculum for 1919. This morning I finsihed 1919 then took a side route away from what is next... 1929. Reading up on Red Shift made it clear to me that I better teach a unit on electromagnetic radiation (light) before moving on to Hubble's findings.

Today we discussed Maxwell, who came up with equations to study how magnetism and electricity can induce each other (think coal, nuclear, hydro energy spinning huge magnets surrounded by copper wires fueling our life style).

Anyway, Maxwell's equations (see photo above) found that when one of the fields induces the other, then waves traveling at the speed of light would be created. It took him a moment or two or three before he realized that he had redefined light as electromagnetic radiation.

Last Friday in class, we spoke of Einstein and how he did not trust his data and that later he called it his greatest blunder... which led to a discussion of what we consider our greatest blunder will likely change as we get older unless we do a great blunder early on in our years.

Anyway, when Einstein plugged numbers in his Theory of General Relativity it told him the universe was far from static. But he could not wrap his mind about a universe that was growing or shrinking, so he did what any good scientist would do... add a constant to keep reality and the equation balanced. By 1929 Hubble will provide evidence for an expanding universe, but Einstein will still have some doubts. Guess he wasn't quite up to facing that blunder yet.

How are your self doubts doing these days? Beginning of school years can always make me wonder if I am capable of getting all required tasks completed ... I get to what has to be gotten and go from there.


and so much depends upon Henrietta Leavitt...


4 comments:

  1. Very cool video. I want to come take your science class!

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  2. So cool. I've never taken an astronomy class, but I've always been interested. Maybe I'll take one eventually...

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  3. I love the shirt!! And blogging Maxwell's equations is so cool...

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  4. Kathryn--- sorry I can live without visitors... stage fright ; )

    Donna --- neither have I, nor have I taught it before... another adventure for this biology loving dude

    Michelle--- I think I could live in a hermitage and play with numbers all day.

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