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2nd year presentation topic needed

  1. Nov 9, 2006 #1
    Hi. Long time, no post. Don't know if this is the best place for this post... seemed an okay fit. Anyway... I need help.

    I need to do a dumb 10 minute presentation on some physics subject to this year's second years. The focus of this task is to test presentation skills rather than physics knowledge (although knowing what you're talking about is quite a good presentation skill in my experience).

    Anyway, I'm basically too unimaginative, apathetic and lazy to come up with a suitable topic. Other ideas I've heard are things like the magilev trains in Japan... simple but groovy things like that which can be explained neatly in under 10 mins and warrant pretty diagrams. Nothing taxing. I've done some digging through things like Physics Today, Physics World, SciAm, etc, but can't find ANYTHING that sparks my interest. All my ideas are either naff or too complicated to explain.

    Anyone have any good ideas? Anyone heard of any nice, simple physics stories that will fend off sleep for a dozen or so second years for ten minutes?


    El Hombre
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 9, 2006 #2


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    The Nobel Prize and the old cosmic background radiation stuff...

    Lots of nice pics.
  4. Nov 9, 2006 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

  5. Nov 9, 2006 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    The whole "missing neutrino" story is an amazing snapshot of physics in action, IMO. Great story, and it will be a challenge to distill it down to a 10 minute presentation. If you do it well, it will surely be A-material.

  6. Nov 13, 2006 #5
    Hello Astronuc. Good to read you again. I trust you're well. I'm pleased to see that your beard has grown long and lustrous in my absence.

    Appropriate. I am a pheasant plucker. I will take a look at the links you provided straight away. Many thanks.

    OK. Like what?

    A great story, I agree, and a great presentation idea, but alas it is a tale already told by our Particle Physics lecturer, over a much longer interval. Plus it suffers from the same problem as my current back-burner idea, the LIGO interferometer. That is, the audience (2nd year UGs) won't have the necessary background.

    But certainly the right track. If you have any other thoughts, hurl them my way. Thanks a lot.

    El Hombre.
  7. Nov 13, 2006 #6


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    You could give a presentation on the physics puzzles posed by quasars. For inspiration, here is a very informative talk by Michael Strauss (SDSS scientific spokesperson), presented at the STSI on Nov 2, 2005.


    You could refer to some papers by Fan, Strauss, et al. Basically, if quasars are at the distances implied by a conventional reading of their redshifts, the highest-redshift quasars (z~6.5) must have at least several billion solar masses and must reside in host galaxies of perhaps a trillion solar masses or more. You could tie in the the inverse-square law to illustrate how luminosity falls off with distance.

    And one more tidbit - plotted against redshift, quasars show no evolution in absolute or relative metallicities, nor in any other parameters the SDSS team could measure. As Strauss gleefully points out in his presentation, theorists have not satisfactorily explained how such massive highly-metallized structures could have formed only a few hundred million years after the BB.

    Such a presentation could be very stimulating. Unsolved puzzles will interest students more than a cut-and-dry "and that's how they did it" presentation regarding phenomena that they may have already been exposed to.
  8. Nov 22, 2006 #7
    Thanks turbo-1. Sorry I did not reply sooner. My phone line is knackered so I have intermittent internet access. I did read your link but struggled to find more info on that specific problem suitable for the presentation. I have finally settled on a subject though. Thanks to all for your ideas.
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