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This question is for high school physics teachers

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  • #26
Dr. Courtney
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non-standard doesn't make something empirical or not
But the debate here is so far off into the weeds that most high school administrators who might tell the teacher to stop won't understand the distinction, much less care enough about it to tell the teacher to stop.

I've worked with a lot of faculty through the years who have weird pet theories or alternate views that they enjoy spending a small amount of class time on over the course of the semester or year. If their students are otherwise learning the Physics they need to know, no one has ever been inclined to tell them to stop. Most high schools in the US only have 1 or 2 Physics teachers. It's not like there is a knowledgable administrator to appreciate the distinctions and set boundaries.

But zooming out more broadly to high school science in general, I know there are a lot of things that are discussed as hypotheses. By definition, hypotheses are somewhat lacking in empirical support, yet I wouldn't fault a biology class for spending some time discussing the RNA world hypothesis or an earth science class for spending time talking about the nebular hypothesis.

The ether was a non-empirical hypothesis in Physics that still receives (in my opinion) a disproportional amount of (favorable) discussion in some high school Physics classes. But I think this should be permissible as academic freedom.
 
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  • #27
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and how was the factor of "2" treated by men of science when thinking in terms of twice the KE or twice the work?
Leibniz, for example, didn't have a concept of what we now call work. His argument for vis viva being the conserved quantity relied on the fact that the height reached by an object was proportional to the square of its speed; the factor of 2 didn't pop up because he only considered proportions.

I'm not positive about how those who came after the development of dynamics but before the development of work dealt with the factor of 2, but I think I remember seeing in some of Euler's work that there were '2s' all over the place because he was using vis viva. You can look on the Euler Archive at the relevant papers if you are interested. I have not read Lagrange's Analytical Mechanics so I'm not sure how he did it, but I expect it would be similar to Euler.
 
  • #28
Mister T
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This is makes energy proportional to MV^2, not equal to it, although it is equal to 1/2 this.
The factor of ##\frac{1}{2}## is convention. Discussing that, and things like it, are excellent ways to make the point that science is a creation of the human intellect. An act of imagination. What I mean by that is expressions like ##\frac{1}{2}mv^2## are not things that are discovered like a fossil is discovered buried under earth. Students need to understand that, in my opinion.
 
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The factor of ##\frac{1}{2}## is convention. Discussing that, and things like it, are excellent ways to make the point that science is a creation of the human intellect. An act of imagination. What I mean by that is expressions like ##\frac{1}{2}mv^2## are not things that are discovered like a fossil is discovered buried under earth. Students need to understand that, in my opinion.
I agree. Are you a teacher? If you are then maybe you can tell me what my physics teacher was talking about, when he was writing 1/2 on the parabola, and crossing each one off before proceeding to writing the next 1/2. I mentioned this above.
 
  • #30
Mister T
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I agree. Are you a teacher? If you are then maybe you can tell me what my physics teacher was talking about, when he was writing 1/2 on the parabola, and crossing each one off before proceeding to writing the next 1/2. I mentioned this above.
I teach physics at a two-year college. Sorry, but based on your account of your recollection I cannot even guess what it might have been.
 

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