April 2018

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Nilla Wafers and Albert Eintstein

What do Calculus and Physics teachers do for fun, you wonder. ("No, I don't wonder," you might say, but I say, " Yes, you do.")

Ann's colleage Cecilia, who teaches physics, showed Ann, a Calculus teacher, a neat trick a couple of weeks ago.

Take a box, like a cracker box, whose dimensions are different on each side. Throw it in the air and spin it one way, and it spins. Spin it another way, and it spins again. Spin it a third way, and it twists and spins like Greg Louganis off the high dive. Apparently, differential equations can explain why this twist happens.

This is the sort of thing that excites Calculus and Physics geeks like poetry excites geeks like me.

Ann demonstrated Cecilia's trick in our living roomwith a Nilla Wafer box, half filled with Nilla Wafers from the days when I was allergic to chocolate.

She threw it and spun it into the air one way, and it spun. A second way, and it spun. The third way and it did the Greg Louganis twistand spin and then threw the Nilla Wafers scattershot across the living room.

I wonder if Albert experienced such a mess. Probably, but I don't think he wrote about it. That's why he was a famous physicist and not a famous memoirist.

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