Derivative of 1/x




Another poorly written word problem (Part 11)

Another bonehead word problem. Notice the word “her”. While Usain Bolt holds the current 100-meter world record of 9.58 seconds, the women’s world record is currently 10.49 seconds.


Another poorly written word problem (Part 10)

The current women’s world record for the long jump is 7.52 meters, or 24 feet, 8 inches.


Why Should Physicists Study History?

I’ve always enjoyed reading about the history of both mathematics and physics, and so I really appreciated this perspective from Physics Today magazine about the importance of this field. One of many insightful paragraphs:

And a more human physics is a good thing. For starters, it makes physics more accessible, particularly for students. Many promising students drop out of the sciences because the material seems disembodied and disconnected from their lives. Science education researchers have found that those lost students “hungered—all of them—for information about how the various methods they were learning had come to be, why physicists and chemists understand nature the way they do, and what were the connections between what they were learning and the larger world.” Students can potentially lose the wonder and curiosity that drew them to science in the first place. Historical narratives naturally raise conceptual, philosophical, political, ethical, or social questions that show the importance of physics for the students’ own lives. A field in which people are acknowledged as people is much more appealing than one in which they are just calculating machines.

The whole article can be found here:

Richard Feynman’s Integral Trick

“I had learned to do integrals by various methods shown in a book that my high school physics teacher Mr. Bader had given me. [It] showed how to differentiate parameters under the integral sign — it’s a certain operation. It turns out that’s not taught very much in the universities; they don’t emphasize it. But I caught on how to use that method, and I used that one damn tool again and again. [If] guys at MIT or Princeton had trouble doing a certain integral, [then] I come along and try differentiating under the integral sign, and often it worked. So I got a great reputation for doing integrals, only because my box of tools was different from everybody else’s, and they had tried all their tools on it before giving the problem to me.” (Surely you’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!)

I read Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! dozens of times when I was a teenager, and I was always curious about exactly what this integration technique actually was. So I enjoyed reading this article about the Leibniz Integration Rule:

Texas slide rule competitions

I got a kick out of reading this retrospective of Texas high school slide rule competitions… including a 1959 picture of Janis Joplin on her high school slide rule team and a 1980 Dallas Morning News article eulogizing the competition.

Fibonacci joke