Congratulations to the winners of the blog post challenge for FOP 1212!

Section 1

Evan Guffin

AERO by GameDesk

Learning physics and having fun never really seemed like they could be in the same sentence together. I thought labs were about as exciting as things got, but then I heard about this project that is going to help people like me help get a little more interested.

TV phenomenon Bill Nye is helping GameDesk create AERO, the companies next educational game. The main point is to understand how open flight works, and what things are needed to make it possible. Lucien Vattel, CEO of GameDesk says “Games can really help us understand things that, before, were hard to see and hard to understand.” Nye even thinks that this may help us with future flight development. Not to mention that Nye has volunteered his time towards this project for the last 6 months.

What GameDesk is asking to make it possible is $100,000 on their kickstarter page. For those of you that don’t know much about kickstarter, it is a website created to help fund various projects such as games, music, movies and much more. If the project doesn’t meet its goal though, it doesn’t receive any of the money raised.

AERO is planning on being released for the iPad where the prototype was released and was downloaded over one hundred thousand times. It’s eventually looking to being played on Kinect for Xbox with enough funding. The game will teach players about things like lift, drag, thrust, and more. Some have said that this game is Angry Birds for the classroom. In their kickstarter video they videotaped teachers using this simulation to show how well it demonstrated and the reactions from the students using it.

Here’s what the team still wants to incorporate into their game: fish diving, flying into cumulus clouds, even a gravity challenge. Those are just a few of the things they talk about. They have already developed an air molecule viewer to understand the relation of air particles around the wings of the bird.

Most people have even been reminded that since GameDesk is a nonprofit group, that any donations towards funding are tax deductible. Also as always, depending on your level of donation there are incentives. For just $5 you have “a warm happy feeling knowing that you’re helping progress the future of education,” but for $5 more you get a download of full AERO game. Pledges range from just $5 to $10,000 each with a greater reward. The project was launched Nov 28, and with 8 days into the project they already have 755 backers and a total of $10,762. Though once they reach their goal they have higher goals, which include releasing AERO on android, Xbox Kinect, and adding more challenges and lessons. They are mainly trying to release on iPad to help with the growing GameDesk project.

Personally I can say that I am not one who would have been interested in this. Especially since it seems to be geared towards a younger generation. After watching the kickstarter video and other videos where they showed the simulations in action, I would love the chance to try this out. It may not come with the catchy Bill Nye the Science Guy theme song, but anything to keep the next generation interested in their education can only mean good things.

Section 2

Trae “Trae Zoe” Thomas

Looking At The Stars

     Looking at the stars, what do you see? You could be looking simply at a star, the sun, another planet, or even an asteroid. Mostly everything we see in space is much greater in magnitude then we realize and really far away. Most people do not know much about our outer space. Scientist and physicist themselves are learning new things every day. Most of the asteroids in our solar system are in orbit between Mars and Jupiter. 90% of theses rocks could destroy if not cause permeant damage to the earth forever. So what can we do to prevent one from hitting earth? Thats a question that many people have tried to answer and many movies tried to recreate. Do we try to destroy it or do we just give up and say its to hard or impossible? Well what would you do to keep earth around? In the movie Armageddon they try to blow up the asteroid. That could work and might seem like the problem is solved. The earth is saved! But at another glance, we see we just made the problem worst. Now their are thousand if not millions of little asteroids now heading towards earth. We just made the problem worst! Sometimes the easy way out will get you hard time. So if that 1 asteroid didn’t destroy earth the couple thousands will. So the solution is not the destroy it by blowing it up, but instead to move it out of our way.

Earlier in the weeks, we were given some assignments where we had to watch videos of Dr Michio Kaku. I honestly have been watching him for the past year because I’ve alway been into science. (I recommend the show, “How The Earth Was Made” hosted by Dr Kaku.) Little did I know I was setting my self up for this class. Mr Kaku devised a plan to destroy asteroids in our galaxy headed towards earth. The dangers of and asteroid hitting it could level and fry everything, and if it didn’t hit where you were most likely the massive Tsunami will. First we will have to figure out how to detect, apply, and execute the plan in order to keep earth safe. Seems like a lot for one man to do. So do we all have to learn about physics and astronomy. No not necessarily, we need to come up with a sense-able solution to help the earth as a whole. The plan Dr Kaku came up with for asteroids is to put a giant solar satellite mirror in space and aim it at the asteroids and fry the surface. What this would do is it would fry the asteroid and create gas, and that gas would act like a rocket projecting it in whatever way the “laser” was hitting it. That could work! Only down side is of coarse it would be a lot of money, also thats not a fast process to do. We would have to detect the asteroid months, maybe even years before it hit earth. Luckily we can predict the asteroids path of travel (trajectory) if caught early enough. But there is another threat out there that are bigger then asteroids, and that is comets.

Bad enough that we have to worry about asteroids, but now comets too. Seems like the earth is just doomed from the start. Comets are not the same as asteroids. Yes they both are huge “rocks” in outer space but a comet is a frozen rock that orbits the sun. Asteroids are not, plain and simple. Comets usually look really cool, with different colors that light up the sky. If one were coming for us, I don’t think we would like it to much. Dr Kaku also devised a plan to destroy comets. This plan is more like the first one everyone thinks of. Blow it up! This could actually work with a comet. If we cold make a laser with enough energy to blow through it and turn it into space dust we’d be saved! Thats easier said then done. Money will always play a huge factor in things like this. Its not cheap to put a satellite in space. Yet along a satellite weapon to destroy comets and asteroids. So what Mr Kaku proposed is to put a laser on the moon for comets. Theres not environmental distractions on the moon to get in the laser way. But like I said earlier you do not need to be an astronomer or a physicists to contribute to the experiment of destroying projectiles in our galaxy. But to execute the plan you would need to know a little something in that field of study.  First how fast it going (Speed and Acceleration). Second which direction is it traveling (velocity). You would have to apply that to the satellite laser in order to hit it and make it move and/or destroy the projectile. An average person knowing nothing about this could not apply or execute the plan.

Another movie that reenacts destroying a comet is Deep Impact. In this movie they use missile nuclear weapons to try to destroy the comet. Unfortunately the plan didn’t work and part of the comet struct down in the Atlantic Ocean. Causing a mega tsunami. Destroying everything form the Atlantic coast to Europe to Africa. They are afraid the dust from the comet strike will block out the sun for 2 years. That would be devastating to the earth for whoever did survive the comet strike. They believe the comet to be the size or New York and even bigger then Mt Everest. Seven miles long, and weighing 500 billion tons. There are many comets and asteroids that big if not bigger then that. Stopping one would be nothing short of a great feat to save earth and all of civilization.

In the video that is referenced Mr Kaku pitches a Star Wars theory.  To create our own ring of death stars close to the sun that zap any comets that fly by. Of coarse Star Wars is science fiction but then again that could work, but is also the most far fetched idea that he makes. A ring of death stars would be far to much money and take an ample amount of time to manufacture. Not to mention the future science behind making them and putting them in space, in the right spot. Would be nothing less then extraordinary.

Acceleration Equation – A=V/T

Velocity Equation – V=D/T

Video & Movie References (Cited)

Armageddon (1998) – Directed by Michael Bay – Staring Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck

Deep Impact (1998) – Directed by Mimi Leder  – Staring Tea Leoni, Elijah Wood

Video 1

Video 2

Section 3

Randi Pennell

Newtons Laws of Motion and the Fiscal Cliff

           Every time we turn on the news we hear about the fiscal cliff. This cliff is a reference to the end of the Bush era tax breaks and payroll tax cuts from former stimulus. During the presidential election this became a very hot topic between both Republicans and Democrats. It seems that both sides have very strong opinions on what should and more importantly should not be done in order to avoid the economy going back into another recession. Even NASDAQ has predicted that stock prices may move downward as early as today. Fear from investors that lawmakers will not reach an agreement is further accelerating the urgency of the situation (“Fiscal cliff worries,” 2012). Recently I read an article with the reference being made to Newton’s laws of motion and the momentum towards the inevitable “cliff” (Haraldsen, 2012). I cannot think of a more appropriate comparison and how physics can be applied in our own economic situation.

As it stands right now we are heading full steam ahead towards the end of several major tax breaks that are set to expire the end of this year. The only way that this can be avoided is if there is a major shift or change from lawmakers who agree to extend the tax breaks or make new ones to help support the economy. The United States has been heading down this path since it was first put into motion when the deadlines were initially set. This is an example of Newton’s First Law that states an object in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by an external force (Henderson, 2011).

The external force could not simply be a gentle nudge or change but must be strong enough to change the direction we are headed. The force necessary to make such an extreme change would need to be great. Both Republicans and Democrats would need to make concessions to one another and work together should this cliff be avoided. Bipartisanship is ideal in theory but as this past election showed us, nearly impossible in practicality. Should they be able to work together to put an end to the predicted fiscal cliff, it may be avoided. Since time is of the essence there is none to lose and work must be done of equal or greater force to change the trajectory. It would require a drastic change of momentum that is done in a relatively short time period, which is an example of Newton’s Second Law (Henderson, 2011).

There is also the argument that it is better to allow the fiscal cliff to happen so we can truly reset the economy and allow us to avoid another drop in the future. After all Newton’s Laws have already shown us that we are headed in that direction because it was placed in motion in the first place. So there is an equal and opposite reaction to the fiscal cliff, as demonstrated by Newton’s Third Law (Henderson, 2011). Perhaps lawmakers can find a way to not only stop the fiscal cliff but to help reverse the situation we are currently facing. Extremists on either side of this issue are met with those of equal caliber on the other. Thankfully there are also those who are proportionately as influential but are willing to be a strong force against the radicals and do the opposite by working together.

Time will tell us what the outcome of the fiscal cliff will be but physics has already told us what needs to be done in order to change the course. Something monumental must happen in order to avoid the risk to the national and global economy. It is up to our elected officials to decide that their own agendas and political momentum are not worth the risk. Politically this is a huge time for our country to see if it is possible to work together. To be a democracy that has the well being of their people above anything else, especially political wounds. Hopefully we can learn from history and from science how to avoid effects of this magnitude from happening in the first place.

Fiscal cliff worries may drag stocks lower at the open – u.s. commentary. (2012, December 6). Retrieved from—us-commentary-20121206-00420

Henderson, T. (2011, December 11). The physics classroom. Retrieved from

Haraldsen, J. (2012, December 04). Physics and the fiscal cliff. Retrieved from

Ryan “Ryan” Purdy


The physic behind the fun

Ballistics is defined as


  a : the science of the motion of projectiles in flight

  b : the flight characteristics of a projectile


  a : the study of the processes within a firearm as it is fired

  b : the firing characteristics of a firearm or cartridge

(, 2012)

While Ballistics covers a large variety of devices, I will be focusing on what happens inside a firearm and attempt to prove how the knowledge of the bullet, it’s charge and the weapon itself is what allows a shooter to hit his mark.

Now Ballistics actually is a topic that covers many laws of physic such as the laws of motion, thermodynamics, conservation of energy, the Theory of General Relativity and many others. Also, ballistics can be broken up into 3 smaller categories.

“The motion of a projectile, from the instant of firing until impact at the target, is divided into three distinct phases: (1) interior ballistics, which treats of the motion of a projectile while it is still in the gun; (2) exterior ballistics, which considers the motion of the projectile from the time it emerges from the gun until it reaches the target; and (3) terminal ballistics, which deals with the effect of the projectile on the target.” (Unknown, 2012,)

So inside the weapon the hammer strikes a copper plate that throws sparks into a small amount of powder (Primer). The primer sends a shower of sparks into the main chamber of powder (charge). The charge ignites forcing the round down the barrel. So pretty much, it takes a small amount of energy and releases it into another material. Then Fission occurs converting potential energy into kinetic energy. This energy pushes the bullet forward and the shooter back.

So now the bullet is travelling through the air. The bullet is fully kinetic energy at this point. In a vacuum, the bullet would travel forever but this energy is now being altered by several other forces. Force such as air density, wind and gravity. Pretty much the exterior ballistics is Force or (Mass*Speed) – apposing forces over time. Using this, we can calculate the path (trajectory) and Terminal ballistics.

Terminal ballistics (Stopping Force) is what happens when the round hits its target. The type of round alters how it terminates but for this I will make the assumption that all of the force will be transferred to the target and that there will be no penetration. There is a lot that goes on at this time but in simple terms, the energy moves from one body to another. I learned this in high school and it seems to be the easiest way to explain this topic. A .45 bullet travelling at 243 meters per second has a force of 113 Newtons. A 1000kg bull running .13 meters per second will have the same amount of energy delivered to the target. Where the physics would differ is that the bullet has a small area of delivery and the bull will be spread out over a large area.

“Ballistics” 2012. (8 December 2012)

“Ballistics” Unknown. 2012. (8 December 2012)

Chelsea “BlondE” Volpi

I know very little or close to nothing of physics other than what has been presented to myself in this class. I know about the evolutions of technology, modern motor vehicles, and medicinal advancements. So when given this opportunity to search further into an open-ended physics topic, I instantly turn to, “What is physics up to today?” We all think it is this horrible subject in high school and college, but it is not as though it has gone into extinction and has no modern effects on our present. My grandfather was actually both a physicist and a chemist and I wish he was around today to help me out with this class.

Though I did discover that two men both age 68 won the Noble Prize in Physics this last October; Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland. It is said by the academy that their work can, if not promised will lead to super accurate clocks and eventually even quantum computers.

Scientists have known for a hundred years now that atoms behave oddly. On the smallest scales of nature, the common-sense laws of science are overthrown by the strange house rules of quantum mechanics, in which physical systems are represented by mathematical formulations called wave functions that encapsulate all the possibilities of some event or object. (Overbye, 2012)”

Unlike any law we have grown up to know subatomic particles of light’s causes are never directly linked to its effects and an atom can even be in more than one place at once (I did briefly discuss this in a previous discussion about teleporting). Though, what was also interesting and seems to always be a secret passion of scientists was Dr. Wineland’s motivation to continue on with his work with the behavior of atoms. He aspired for more accurate clock directly quoting, “Historically, when we have better clock we have better navigation. (Overbye, 2012)”

Dr. Wineland’s aspiration is to utilize the subatomic photon particles or visible light waves, “every oscillation being a tick of the perfect clock.” This is very much unlike our atomic clock, which is based on cesium atoms (microwaves) and since light vibrates more quickly Dr Wineland’s clock, “would be off by only five seconds over the whole course of cosmic time — 13.7 billion years. (Overbye, 2012)”

The standards and technology institute’s work has also propelled the vision of quantum computing, in which ions — electrically charged atoms suspended in space — serve as the elements of the computation, the qubits. (Overbye, 2012)”

Since I have heard of it so much in these past three weeks of class I am still trying to accurately understand exactly what a quantum computer is. Could it be our science-fiction dreams of having a super computer one that we will one day no longer have to pound on the CRTL+ALT+Delete keys? Though the quantum computer in my understanding is the aspiration of many scientists’ vision of turning our many science fiction into science fact. Quantum computers may even have the ability for us to do image searching. Though what they will be able to do is still a mystery to me and I have not found anything useful in my searches other than theories. Though, when it is a nonexistent technology (yet) we can only theorize what these advancements will hold in the future and how they can benefit our evolution.


Overbye, D. (2012, October 9). A Nobel for Teasing Out the Secret Life of Atoms. Retrieved December 9, 2012, from New York Times:

Section 4

Marina Valladares

We all see time as a river that flows forward, bringing us from our birth to our deaths without a chance to go back or forward. For many centuries, we have looked for ways to go back into our past or look into the future to see our destiny, as revealed by the many examples of both forward and backwards time travel present in our literature. But is time travel possible, or is it something that should remain in the pages of fiction books?

Since we’ve learned how to keep time more accurately – with the use of atomic clocks that can measure time out to 16 digits – we are learning that time does not pass the way we think it does. Time, as measured by a clock, slows down as it gets closer to a gravitational field, and speeds up as it distances itself from the center of the field. Therefore, it should be treated as space time rather than time in space.

Most of us do not perceive this change because it is so minute while on the surface of the Earth. However, if you move away from Earth at high rate of speed, the time will move differently than those down on the Earth’s surface. For example, if an astronaut travels near the speed of light on a one-year mission, he will come back 12 months older, but the Earth will have seen 10 years pass. In the future we could see space missions that would travel near the speed of light for about 1000 years, in Earth time, and the passengers would age about 10 years. So these space travelers would land in a distant future.

But, how about backwards time travel? Although a much more modern concept in literature, backwards time travel is very appealing to all of us. What if we could go back and spend more time with loved ones? Alter a decision that changed your life? Prevent bad things from happening? Physicists have theorized the use of wormholes or cosmic strings, but we are limited by our technology, and experimenting with any of them is far beyond anything we can do today.

Although seemingly impossible, some quantum physicists believe backwards time travel might be possible. The property of nonlocality states that the changes to one photon will not cause a change in just that photon, but on the global system, no matter how far away the other elements of the system are. Using this principle, there are experiments being performed at the University of Washington, where two devices are sending photons between each other, and, theoretically, will be able to receive a message a fraction of a second before it is sent. Although insignificant, this could change our perception of time, and alter what we know about the concept.

Quantum physicists also theorize that there are many parallel universes around us that we could “jump” to in order to experience the past. For example, if you went back in time and fell in love with your teenage mother you would not seize to exist, but would be falling in love with a person identical to your mother, but that would not be your actual mother, as she would be in a parallel universe where you do not exist.

All theories aside, the technology and knowledge required to make time travel possible is way beyond our capabilities today. But in a distant future we might be able to.


Lamb, R. (2010, April 22). Is Time Travel Possible. Retrieved from Discovery News:

Marc, D. (n.d.). Is Time Travel Possible? Retrieved from Nasa Space Place:

Public Broadcasting Service. (n.d.). Is Time Travel Possible? Retrieved from Hawking’s Universe:

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Time Travel. .

Section 5

Zac “Ziggy” Rutherford

Rollercoaster Physics:

Rollercoasters are always a fun subject matter for daredevil, and speed enthusiasts around the world. But what makes a rollercoaster work? The most simple of answers for this is physics. When designing and constructing a roller coaster ride all matters of physics have to be equated into the overall outcome of the ride in question. What all areas of physics does roller coaster construction and operation cover?

To begin with the start of a rollercoaster, that big build up before you take the big plunge down in to the heart of the ride. This can be simply explained my potential energy.  This is the work of forces on a body moving from a starting to end positions that does not depend on trajectory. This potential energy is crucial in the ride itself, for without this the ride would be short lived and the carts would not accelerate to the speed needed to complete the ride. Once at the top of this potential energy area a few more physics forces begin to take over, in the form of free fall, and gravity. Gravitation, which powers the coaster throughout the entire ride, detaches the car from the lift mechanism and forces it off its highest elevation along the inclined track of the first hill. The potential energy of this mechanical system begins conversion into kinetic energy as the coaster reaches a high rate of speed through acceleration. Up next in our rollercoaster experience is one most people really enjoy, that weightless feeling. But what causes this? Projectile motion, and this can be a hard task for a roller coaster designer. The idea is to make it to were the carts are slightly raised above the tracks reducing friction so that the cart can gain the speed needed to create this projectile motion and increase the overall experience for the riders. Friction always plays a big part in rollercoasters. On to what most consider the best feature of most coasters, the loops. When entering a loop you are accelerated at a high speed in to a specially shaped loop that flips the riders upside down and launches them out of the other side. Some coasters push the riders through multiple loops lined up one after the other. When going through the loops there is a high G force that is pressed upon the riders for a very brief moment. Usually no higher than 5 G for a few seconds, any time frame longer than this and the riders can experience acceleration stress. Which can cause the riders to temporarily black out due to the high G force in which they are not use to. Usually these types of areas come towards the end of the run of a roller coaster, before you begin your final decent towards the end/ boarding area of the ride. This is were another physics aspect begins to take over to help bring the ride to its conclusion. Friction is always lowering the mechanical energy produced by the ride, but most designers have found ways to add illusions towards the low parts of the ride when the cart is actually at its slowest speeds, by adding in tight curves and turns to create the feeling of a higher rate of speed. Rides do use a mechanical braking system but this systems is only implemented once the overall friction has been determined by the designers so they can mathematically figure out just how much friction is being used to slow the ride as to how much braking power will be needed to bring the ride to its final rest. This is just a brief overview of some of the aspects that can go into the makings of a roller coaster, depending on what other design aspects may be implemented there are numerous other physics equations and laws that can be used. Hopefully this will hope some see just what all goes into the makings of one of the world’s favorite amusement park rides.


Barnhart. (1999). Physics connections. Tech Directions59(3), 26.

Acceleration in one, two, and three dimensions in launched roller coasters. (2008). Physics Education43(5), 483-491. Etner, J. (2009). Roller Coaster Physics. Connect Magazine22(5), 1-3.

Section 6

James “Gaston” Kurtz II

The Nature of Light

The nature of light has long been a subject of debate (sometimes quite heated). Ancient Greek Pythagorean scientists believed that light consisted of particles which were emitted by all objects. Aristotle, however, believed that light could better be explained as a wave. (Spring, N. D.). This debate continued onward throughout the centuries, with prevailing scientific thought bending toward one side or the other depending on the available evidence at the time. In the 18th Century there was polarizing disagreement between the two fields of thought. On the one hand was Sir Isaac Newton who, along with his followers, held to the theory that light was a particle. The proponents of the wave theory rallied behind Christaan Huygens. It appears that even Newton harbored some doubt about the theory of light as a particle, however (ibid). Experiment after experiment was conducted, with varying results. Some experiments seemed to indicate that light was a wave, while others suggested that light was a particle. One of the presuppositions of these experiments was that any result would necessarily render other possibilities impossible. This is of course understandable, since that is how one would normally come to a correct conclusion (by ruling out other possibilities). Near the end of the 19thCentury most scientists believed the matter finally to be settled – light was a wave. However, the discovery in the late 1880s that light could create a charge in metals under the right conditions raised the question once again. Einstein theorized that light could consist of particles labeled photons(ibid). These particles could also behave as waves. A newer branch of physics, quantum mechanics, began to speculate that perhaps light could in fact exhibit both behaviors depending on circumstances.

As study in the field of quantum mechanics progressed it began to appear that not only light, but also other subatomic particles could behave as both particles and/or waves. At this point no one had ever been able to observe any of these behaving as both particle and wave at the same point in time (Moskowitz, 2012). The behavior as either light or a wave seemed to depend completely on what kind of measurement the observer decided to employ (Science & Life, 2012). On November 2, 2012 Alberto Peruzzo, from the University of Bristol, along with a team of physicists, conducted an experiment wherein light was delayed in its choice of behavior (particle or wave), thus allowing them to observe it acting as both simultaneously (Peruzzo, 2012).  The experiment relied on a concept called quantum nonlocality, which basically asserts the possibility that a particle could exist in two distinct places simultaneously. Peruzzo stated that “The measurement apparatus detected strong nonlocality, which certified that the photon behaved simultaneously as a wave and a particle in our experiment” (Moskowitz, 2012). The results of this experiment could perhaps put to rest centuries of uncertainty and division regarding the nature of one of the most commonly experienced natural phenomena in the universe – light. This experiment has met with some skepticism (Moskowitz, 2012). Considering the recent date of the publication it will be interesting to observe how this experiment affects scientific thought regarding the nature of light.


Moskowitz, Clara. (November 5, 2012). Live Science. “Quantum Mystery of Light Revealed by new Experiment.” Retrieved from:

Peruzzo, A., Shadbolt, P., Brunner, N., Popescu, S., & O’Brien, J. L. (November 2, 2012). A Quantum Delayed-Choice Experiment. Science, 338(6107), 634-637. doi:10.1126/science.1226719.

Science & Life. (November 6, 2012). The Daily Star. “Wave-Particle Duality Tested.” Retrieved from

Spring, Kenneth R. and Davidson, Michael W. (N. D.). Olympus Microscopy Resource. “Light: Particle or a Wave?”. Retrieved from