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Meeting Summary — Fall 2006

The Fall 2006 Meeting of the Southern California Section was held Saturday, November 4 at the University of California, Irvine. Special thanks to the local host, Michael Dennin, for arranging the meeting site and to the UCI Physics Department for providing lunch and parking. Approximately 60 people attended.  

The meeting began with a workshop: "Ripple Tank Construction," led by Dean Papadakis and Bill Layton. Materials were provided for participants to make their own ripple tank to take home with them.

Dr. Kenneth Janda from the UCI Chemistry Department gave the morning invited talk: "Several Vignettes in Molecular Physics: What happens when atoms get together and then depart." Dr. Janda discussed how laser spectroscopy can be used to study interatomic interactions that are too weak to be called chemistry, for example, how helium and neon stick to molecules composed of two halogen atoms, and how, when the helium atom is knocked off, the intensity plot looks like a two-slit wave diffraction pattern. Dr. Janda discussed a solid phase of water that traps vast quantities of methane-methane clathrate. He stated that most methane near the surface of the earth is frozen into marine ice sediments and that this methane could be a partial solution of the world's energy problem or a huge problem for global warming. Bob Ferrazi also from UCI presented a demonstration of burning propane calthrate which looked like a chunk of burning ice. A video clip of this demonstration "Burning Ice" can be seen on Dr. Janda's web page

David Kirkby from the UCI Physics Department presented the afternoon invited talk: "Hidden Harmonies: Setting Physics to Music." Dr. Kirkby described a physics of music course he developed and taught, which utilized students' familiarity with activities such as strumming a guitar or positioning loudspeakers to make connections with fundamental physics. The course begins with the classical physics context, treats how sound is perceived and how different instruments make music, and ends with descriptions of how music is captured and stored. He covered experiences with this courses for non-science majors and described how musical analogies have helped him to better communicate and understand his research into subtle differences between matter and antimatter.  

The ever popular Show'n' Tell featured demonstrations by Gary Reynolds, Gordon Owens, Myron Mann, Mark McLaughlin, Jeff Phillips, and Martin Mason.

During the lunch break, participants had a chance to engage in topical discussions on AP Physics or evaluating teaching effectiveness, see sunspots, or view a Diet Coke and Mentos demonstration.

The following contributed talks were presented:

  • "Observations on Teaching Large Lecture Classes," George Kuck, CSU Long Beach
  • "Physics 2005 in Latin America," Margarete Allen, Los Angeles Pierce College
  • "Gauss' Law in your household kitchen: Fundamental fishy physics for all!" Jonas Mureika, Loyola Marymount University

The meeting ended with our "World Famous Order of Magnitude Contest." This meeting's question was, "What fraction of the atmosphere by volume does one year of automotive CO2 emissions represent?" Richard Buck and Katsuya Yamada tied for first place with their median answer of 10-6. They won a digital timer and photo gate from American 3B Scientific and a picnic basket from Vernier, respectively.   Door prizes were won by Myron Mann (GoMotion from Vernier), Don Sparks (Book Bag and Hume and Ivey PSSC 50 th Anniversary DVD from AAPT), George Rainey (The Flying Circus of Physics by Walker from Wiley), and William Layton (The Way Things Work by Bloomfield from Wiley). Other door prizes (books donated by members) were won by Gordon Owens, Greg Darakjian, Ishtiak Murtaza, and Stan Masaoka. We thank our corporate sponsors - Vernier, American 3B Scientific, and John Wiley & Sons, Publishers - for their support and donation of door prizes.

The Southern California Section will hold its Spring Meeting in April at the University of Southern California. Please bookmark the SCAAPT URL and check for the date in early Spring.

Mary Mogge, Section Representative

  ©2005 SCAAPT
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