Bluffton University

NSC111: Physics/Earth/Space
Resource page: Reserve Articles


Some of these articles are available on reserve in Musselman Library. Links to the articles are given if they are available online. As questions come up, new articles may be added to this list. Many of the articles are from the Mad Scientist Network.

The Mad Scientist Network


The Nine Planets
This is the best single website on the solar system.

David Soper's course notes at the University of Oregon
David Soper teaches a course on stars for non-majors as part of a year-long astronomy sequence. His lecture notes are very helpful and clear.

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Radioactivity and nuclear science

How was the atom first split?
This article gives a thumbnail sketch, with references, of the discovery of nuclear fission.

What happens to the extra electrons in an alph-decay process?
This explains how radioactive decay products are absorbed by the surrounding material.

How can you be sure how much carbon an organism absorbs?
This explains roughly how carbon-14 dating works, with links to more resources.

How do you split atoms?
This explains how nuclear fission works.

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Atoms and quanta

Why don't atoms collapse?
This is a recap of the development of Bohr's model of the hydrogen atom, and the experimental results that drove it.

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Color vision

Is there a specific frequency at which cones and rods receive signals?
This answers the question "How does color vision work?" and gives leading references. The short answer is that there are three kinds of rod cells, which detect blue, green and red light. That's why the light primaries are blue, green and red!

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Light scattering

Why is the ocean blue?
This gives a simple answer, and refers to an article on light scattering.

Why is the ocean blue?
This addresses the need for depth; if you don't have enough depth of air (or water), you don't get visible scattering.

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Supplemental readings
These are required reading, and will be discussed in lecture.

An energy scam
Here, along with a warning against something-for-nothing scams, is a discussion of energy released and absorbed by phase changes and the burning question, "Why isn't your refrigerator powered by the energy released by water freezing in your freezer?"

Why can't you cool a room with a refrigerator?
The Second Law of Thermodynamics comes into this somewhere...

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Gravity and motion

Does escape velocity vary with the mass of the object "escaping"?
This essay explains how escape velocity is calculated.

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Philosophy of science

Supplemental readings
These are required reading, and will be discussed in lecture.

What's the most important concept in science?
Here Dan Berger tried to put the essence of science into a few paragraphs... whether he succeeded is another matter.

What is the difference between a theory and a law?
This piece is closely related to the article by McComus ("Ten Myths of Science").

What is science from a physics perspective?
This article, an excellent resource for commonly-used terms in science, is an officially-sanctioned presentation of the "Received View" of science (see the article on philosophy of science, by Philip Clayton), by Paul Craig and Ellen B. Stechel, members of the American Physical Society's Panel on Public Affairs. It is based heavily on two official documents of the National Academy of Sciences: Science and Creationism (1984; the linked version is the 1999 edition) and The Nature of Physics (1972).

Ten Myths of Science: Reexamining what we think we know...
William McComus critically examines the "Received View" of science (see the article by Philip Clayton on philosophy of science) in a readable and helpful way.

Philosophy of Science: What One Needs to Know
This article by Philip Clayton is reprinted from Zygon. It is intended for use by teachers of science and science-and-religion courses, and while it is well-written and clear it is a bit heavy on philosophy.

What's the connection between science and technology?
This article discusses the links (and lack of same) between the study of nature and the technology that allows us to study nature.

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Copyright © 2001 by Daniel J. Berger. This work may be copied without limit if its use is to be for non-profit educational purposes. Such copies may be by any method, present or future. The author requests only that this statement accompany all such copies. All rights to publication for profit are retained by the author.