Whales, apparently, learn from one another. That’s the message of this paper in Science last month on the transmission of feeding tactics among humpback whales. There are lots of fascinating things in the article, some of which are news to me but have been known for a long time to people who pay attention to … Continue reading Whales, culture, and graphs
I’ve been heavily involved in the University of Oregon’s Science Literacy Program, which aims to improve science education for non-science-major undergraduates by designing innovative classes based on effective “active learning” methods. A student in my Fall term Scientific Revolutions class filmed a story for the campus newspaper on the Science Literacy Program, which is neat! … Continue reading Science Literacy Program video
I’m happy to note that tomorrow’s Physics Department colloquium will feature Heinrich Jaeger from the University of Chicago, co-invited by me and Eric Corwin, who were both graduate students of Heinrich. He’s both brilliant and imaginative, with research spanning such things as making soft robots , granular materials in general, complex fluids (as in the … Continue reading Seminar: May 23, 2013
I finally finished copying CDs onto my new ipod, my beloved white-brick old one from 2003 having died a few months ago. 220 albums on one card-sized device! It boggles the mind. When I was a kid, all we had were LPs carved out of wood. Speaking of kids, here’s K. with the plug-in USB … Continue reading ipod
I’m likely to become involved in an organized effort to improve the persistence of STEM majors at the University of Oregon. (STEM meaning Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and persistence meaning completing a degree rather than switching to a different field.) Less than half of the undergraduates who start out as intended STEM majors graduate … Continue reading STEM persistence
Being on sabbatical this term, I’ve been staying away from our science teaching journal club. I went yesterday, though, taking a break from working on papers, pondering signal processing mysteries, and failing at subcloning, since the topic was teaching science via comics. I’m fond of both science and comics, and so couldn’t stay away! I … Continue reading Science Comics
Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about bees’ ability to detect the electric fields of flowers. Now, we find even more amazing bee abilities. Apparently, bumblebees can cut into the sides of flowers to burgle nectar from flowers they don’t pollinate. Moreover, they learn this from other bees, mimicking such things as the side … Continue reading Bees, what *can’t* they do?
An issue that often comes up in the teaching of introductory physics classes is students’ intuitive preconceptions of how the physical world works — often incorrect ideas about forces, velocities, interactions, etc. There’s a lot of education research on this and how to address it — some of which I’m even reasonably aware of! — … Continue reading Folk Physics for Small Children
At a café not long ago, I overheard some students sitting by me complaining that their error analysis exercise for a physics lab class was extremely boring (involving e.g. propagation of errors in measurements). Usually, when I hear griping about classes I have to restrain myself from throwing coffee cups, but in this case I … Continue reading Statistics!
I spent much of the morning being livid, after stumbling on a paper. First, some background: In 2012, I published a paper in Nature Methods that introduced and described a new algorithm for rapidly and accurately determining the location of particles in images — something that’s very important to super-resolution microscopy, measuring fluid properties using … Continue reading Stop, thieves!