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Why Bother Teaching Mechanical Energy Conservation?

Note: It is assumed that the reader has read part I and part II of the series. Is Mechanical Energy Conservation Free of Ambiguity? Can We Do Better Than Mechanical Energy Conservation? Preface In view of what has already been said, there seem to be three options for proceeding with the teaching of mechanical energy…

How to Avoid Breaking Physics With Your “What If” Question

We get a lot of “what if” questions here on Physics Forums. This article will explore three different types and then some suggestions for students who feel their question may fall into one of those types. “what if” questions that contradict physics as we know it “what if” questions that are themselves self-contradictory “what if”…

Aiming High and Managing Distractions as Keys to Success for Science Majors

Over the years, I’ve noticed some distinct trends among the physics and chemistry majors I’ve mentored and worked with. Those with GPAs in the 3.8-4.0 range vary with respect to other habits, but they are very intentional in two things: 1) They aim high from the first day of the semester.  Test scores close to…

An Introduction to the Traditional Abacus of China and Japan

Introduction Abacuses are commonly seen in ancient civilizations around the world as the convenient tool to do simple calculations. In this article, we will focus on the traditional abacuses in China and Japan, also known as suanpans (China) and sorobans (Japan). Etymology The Chinese word「算盤」, which is pronounced as “suanpan”, literally means “calculating tray” or…

What Academic Advice Would You Tell Your 18 Year Old Self?

We asked our PF Advisors to tell us what academic advice would you tell your 18 year old self. Here are their responses… Thanks to all the PF Advisors that shared their academic advice. We have more questions for them in the near future. Stay tuned for another “Ask the Advisors”!    

What’s Your Most Memorable Textbook?

We asked our PF Advisors to tell us their most memorable or influential textbook and why. Here are their responses… Thanks to all the PF Advisors that shared their favorite textbook. We have more questions for them in the near future. Stay tuned for another “Ask the Advisors”!

Learn 3 Tips For Cooling Off Hot Debates and Win The Argument

  Civil discussion and debate is critical to Physics Forums. But it is also important in everyday life. When arguments get overheated, people may avoid engaging with friends and family and the relationships could wither and die.  If the only safe topic you can discuss with your friend is weather, your relationship is in danger….

The Birth of a Physics Textbook: An Author’s Journey

  It is said that you should accomplish three things in life: Plant a tree. Have a child. Write a book. Out of the three, I have completed at least one. At the time of writing this Insight, my textbook “Mathematical Methods for Physics and Engineering” just hit the virtual online shelves. This Insight will…

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