Entertaining physics demonstrations

His name is Julius Sumner Miller and physics is his business.

For those who lacked my good fortune in seeing most of these demonstrations a number of times at Vancouver’s Science World, the videos should give a sense of how physics can be made universally comprehensible and exciting. The facts that Mr. Miller looks like a mad scientist and that he has a penchant for hyperbole may well contribute to his ability to hold one’s attention.

My involvement as a camper and leader at SFU’s Science Alive daycamp also impressed upon me the effectiveness of physical demonstrations in sparking children’s interest in science. That is especially true when the demonstrations involve rapid projectile motion, strong magnets, cryogenic materials, aggressive combustion, and explosions.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

7 thoughts on “Entertaining physics demonstrations”

  1. The video clips are indeed awesome. I especially love the suspenseful music at the beginning of every episode, which preludes amazing demonstrations to come. It installs a sense of wonder, which I believe, is the first and foremost step to any scientific accomplishment. I often heard people complaining that they cannot learn science because they lack mathematical skills or do not have the patience to sit in front of their desks to study. What they truly lack, in my humble opinion, is curiosity and the desire to appreciate and understand nature. Science isn’t about performing tedious calculations, which are merely tools to model natural phenomena. It is about observing the world around us and finding answers to questions that arise from the observations made. Go out, look around. Science is in front of your eyes. Educators such as Miller and Feynman had the charisma to capture the attention of professionals and laymen alike because they were representatives of the true scientific spirit, which is inherently most captivating. The demonstrations shown in the videos are stimulating, but what I love the most is the theatrical musical opening. Science is and should be dramatic!

  2. While initially abrasive, this man becomes strangely compelling.

    I have watched about ten episodes.

  3. At 71, Physics Professor Is a Web Star

    CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Walter H. G. Lewin, 71, a physics professor, has long had a cult following at M.I.T. And he has now emerged as an international Internet guru, thanks to the global classroom the institute created to spread knowledge through cyberspace.

    In his lectures at ocw.mit.edu, Professor Lewin beats a student with cat fur to demonstrate electrostatics. Wearing shorts, sandals with socks and a pith helmet — nerd safari garb — he fires a cannon loaded with a golf ball at a stuffed monkey wearing a bulletproof vest to demonstrate the trajectories of objects in free fall.

    He rides a fire-extinguisher-propelled tricycle across his classroom to show how a rocket lifts off.

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