April 8, 2017

Loyola Marymount University

Local Host: Jeff Phillips


Order of Magnitude question: How many cubic centimeters of rubber are left on Los Angeles County roads on a typical weekday?

Meeting attendees will be charged a $10 registration fee. (Note that we do waive this for first time attendees.)

A $10 “box” lunch comprised of a sandwich, side salad, chips, dessert and drink will be available.  Those who are interested in the lunch, need to reserve one by April 3 via the online form (Deadline has passed)

Lunch will be served outdoors in a partially covered area, so attendees should check the weather forecast prior to arrival.

The meeting will be held in the Seaver Science Hall and Life Sciences Building, with registration held outside of the Life Science Building auditorium (LSB 120). The best place to park is in the Life Science Building garage. Parking on the LMU campus will be free.

Directions to the LMU campus can be found on the university website. (Enter campus via LMU Drive off of Lincoln Blvd.) We have created an annotated campus map to aid with driving.

The date to submit an abstract has passed.

8:00-9:30 AM Registration, Refreshments
8:15-9:15 A  Workshop: Incorporating Astronomical concepts in General Physics John Bulman, Loyola Marymount University
This workshop is a hands on program that has three modules. Participants work with three concepts in Astronomy. The first deals with Kepler’s Three Laws of Planetary Motion. They will construct ellipses of different eccentricities and understand the location of the Sun and the planet. Working with these ellipses, Kepler’s second law, equal area in equal time ,is examined. Kepler’s third law is derived for circular orbits.
The second module is to construct a scale model of the solar system using 8 spheres of different sizes and one meter to equal one Astronomical Unit [ 1AU]. A result of this scale model is to have one see the reason for the differentiation between the four closest to the Sun planets, the Terrestrials, and the four outer planets, the Jovians.
The final module is a in-class demonstration of the proton-proton chain, the nuclear reaction that takes place in the core of the Sun, that is responsible for the tremendous energy production of the Sun. This demonstration uses tennis balls to simulate protons and requires the whole class participation. It introduces the concepts of mass to energy conversion, nuclear binding energy, the strong nuclear force, quantum mechanical tunneling , and the mysterious particle the neutrino.Workshop: Hands-On Demo Session Anatol Hoemke, Loyola Marymount University

Spend some time trying out some lecture demonstrations that are old favorites, some that are new to you, and some that you’ve maybe seen but not had the chance to try for yourself. The host will have a selection of demos on display that will be presented and left available for you to have a look at and try out. The session will be informal, allowing you to explore the demonstrations at your own pace and discuss them with both the host and fellow attendees. Consider this a “try-and-tell” more so than a “show-and-tell”.

9:25-9:30 AM Welcome and Announcements
9:30-9:45 AM Robotics Club at the High School Level Walter Uriostegui
9:45-10:00 AM Comparison of Common B-Dot Probe Designs for Plasma Diagnostics Miana Smith, Los Angeles Physics Teachers Alliance Group
The electrostatic pickup and the magnetic field frequency response are measured for a variety of probe geometries described in literature. The electrostatic pickup is tested by placing the probe in an approximately uniform electric field. The magnetic field frequency response is determined by creating known magnetic fields. The electrostatic pickup and magnetic frequency response of the probes are tested using a network analyzer. Plots are generated of the ratio of the measured signals from the electrostatic or B-field excitation test sources.
10:00-10:15 AM Teaching physics using resources available at OpenStax Jeff Sanny, Loyola Marymount University
OpenStax is a nonprofit organization whose mission to improve student access to education. It has compiled a library of peer-reviewed textbooks in a variety of subjects available for free to students. In this presentation, OpenStax resources for physics teachers at either the high school or college level are discussed.
10:15-10:30 AM The Calculus-Based Physics Tutorial Program at CSU Los Angeles: An Assessment of Utility, Gains, and Student Group Dynamics Smbat Avetyan, CSU Los Angeles
Previous research has addressed the overall effect of the tutorial program on the Physics 200 series curriculum, the size and significance of gains attributable to the undergraduate calculus based Physics 200 series tutorial program, and the correlation of tutorial gains with student final course grades at CSU Los Angeles. The new study looks at group dynamics in the physics tutorial program and how individual students shape the progress of their peers in group settings.
10:30-11:00 AM An Invitation to Collaborate on the Thinking in Physics Curriculum Vincent Colletta, Loyola Marymount University
The Thinking in Physics (TIP) project, supported by an NSF grant, was designed to develop the scientific reasoning skills needed to learn introductory physics, skills which are often weak for many students who take physics. TIP has shown great success with LMU’s population of students, a group with widely varying scientific reasoning abilities. (A description of TIP is provided in an article in the Feb., 2017 issue of TPT.) How well this curriculum will work with other populations is yet to be explored. This talk extends an open invitation to physics instructors who want to consider using elements of the TIP curriculum, adapting it to their own student populations, and working together to do further research on developing effective pedagogy. Some free copies of Thinking in Physics will be available at the meeting.
11:00 AM-12:00 PM Genius to You, Father to Me Michelle Feynman
In this talk, Michelle will share with us some aspects of her father’s private side, both in her own words and those of Richard Feynman himself through letters he wrote over the years, compiled in the book “Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track,” edited by Michelle.
12:00-12:15 PM Business MeetingWe will be voting on changes to the section’s Constitution and By-Laws. Documents showing the proposed changes can be accessed by clicking on the above links.
12:15-1:15 PM Lunch
1:15-1:30 PM Show & Tell (Sign up when you check in)
1:30-2:30 PM Phys21: Preparing Physics Students for 21st Century Careers Walter Buell, Aerospace Corporation
Undergraduate physics programs have served their students well in the past for many of the careers they have entered. However, the world is changing, students are more diverse, and the needs of today’s employers are rapidly evolving. In 2014 the American Physical Society (APS) and American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) formed the Joint Task Force on Undergraduate Physics Programs to provide guidance to physics departments seeking to improve career readiness of their graduates. The task force consisted of leaders in academic physics, physics education, industry, and national labs, and produced the report: Phys21: Preparing Physics Students for 21st-Century Careers. This talk will review the background motivating the Task Force, the learning goals articulated in the report, and approaches to achieving these goals in diverse institutions.
2:30-3:30 PM Gravity in Flatland: How dumping dimensions informs fundamental physics Jonas Murieka, Loyola Marymount University
The quest for a theory of quantum gravity is perhaps one of the most compelling efforts in theoretical physics. Achieving such a feat will allow us to understand the intricacies of the Universe from present day back to the Big Bang – and possibly even earlier! Efforts to quantize gravity have encountered numerous insurmountable roadblocks. An alternative approach has arisen over the last decade, however, that provides new hope. Instead of modifying gravity to conform to quantum rules, one can modify the structure of the Universe itself by decreasing the number of spatial dimensions. In this talk, I will discuss how gravitation behaves in “Flatland” and “Lineland” – one and two-dimensional spaces – and how the quantum nature of gravitation naturally arises as a result. I will also reveal how experiments such as LIGO could potentially confirm the existence of such a dimensionally-reduced universe.
3:30-4:00 PM How the SQUID Was Born: Chance, Serendipity, and Science Arnold Silver
The talk will begin with a brief explanation of some of the fundamental concepts of superconductivity. Then, I will illustrate the interplay of chance, serendipity, and science in the discovery and invention of the SQUID (Superconducting Quantum Interference Device) in 1963 and 1964 and its subsequent improvement and perfection over the decades. SQUIDs are extremely sensitive sensors of magnetic fields and have been used to conduct basic and applied research in physics, materials, biology, geology and medicine. SQUIDs are used in advanced electronic instrumentation and may eventually form the engines of supercomputers and a powerful form of computing—“quantum computing”. I was fortunate to be one of the physicists at the Ford Motor Company Scientific Laboratory in the 1960’s that chanced upon the phenomenon that led us to the invention of the SQUID and SQUID instrumentation. I believe it is an interesting, even humorous story.
4:00PM The World Famous “Order of Magnitude Contest” and Door Prizes Meeting Adjourns

On Saturday, April 8, 2017, fifty-five members of the Southern California Section of AAPT gathered at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) for an exciting day filled with new physics and helpful advice for the classroom.

The day began with two interactive workshops- “Incorporating Astronomical concepts in General Physics” and “Hands-On Demo Session.” John Bulman (LMU Physics) guided participants through multiple astronomical activities, including a derivation of Kepler’s laws, modeling of the nuclear reactions in the sun. Anatol Hoemke (LMU Physics) invited participants to join him in the lab rooms where he set out several dozen of his favorite demonstrations. Participants not only had the opportunity to use the equipment, but they also took time to share teaching tips with each other.

The meeting was called to order by SCAAPT President Cliff Gerstman and Jonas Mureika, Chair of LMU Physics Department.

The meeting included several fascinating invited presentations:

Michelle Feynman read from her book Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track, which is a collection of personal letters from her father, Richard Feynman. Along with those letters, she recounted some of her memories of her father.

Walter Buell, Aerospace Corporation and member of the APS and AAPT Joint Task Force on Undergraduate Physics Programs, spoke about trends in physics education and employment and presented suggestions for preparing undergraduates for a wide range of careers.

Jonas Murieka, LMU, talked about alternative approaches to quantum gravity such as decreasing the number of spatial dimensions in the model of the universe. The behavior of gravity in these “Flatlands” and “Linelands” (two and one-dimensional spaces) may provide some insight into current observations.

Arnold Silver, talked about the interplay of chance, serendipity, and science in the invention of the SQUID (Superconducting Quantum Interference Device). Dr. Silver’s work at the Ford Motor Company Scientific Laboratory in the 1960’s on SQUIDs provided an interesting tale for scientific research.

Several other SCAAPT members also gave engaging contributed presentations:

  • Walter Uriostegui,  Alexis Rodriguez-Mejia, Johnny Vargas, Quan Do, Middle College High School, The Benefits of a High School Robotics Club
  • Miana Smith, Los Angeles Physics Teachers Alliance Group, Comparison of Common B-Dot Probe Designs for Plasma Diagnostics
  • Jeff Sanny, LMU, Teaching Physics Using Resources Available at OpenStax
  • Vincent Colletta, LMU, An Invitation to Collaborate on the Thinking in Physics Curriculum

The ever-popular Show ‘n’ Tell featured demonstrations by Eric Tom (managing group projects), James Lincoln (semi-quantitative electrostatics), Bryn Bishop (recursive egg drop), Dean Papadakis (human air columns), John Altounji (using tablet accelerators), and Bob Baker (Quarknet).

At the business meeting members approved several changes to the section’s constitution and by-laws.

The meeting ended with our traditional “World Famous Order of Magnitude Question” discussion, led by Bill Layton, James Lincoln and Cliff Gerstman, and the raffle of donated door prizes.

SCAAPT thanks its corporate sponsors –Arbor Scientific, PhysicsVideos.com and PASCO– for their support and donation of door prizes.  SCAAPT thanks Jeff Phillips and the LMU Physics Department for hosting the meeting.  Thanks also to Chad Kishimoto, for serving as Program Chair of the meeting.