Overall, physics has taught me that common sense does not always apply to the concepts that occur in physics. It seems when a new subject comes along, common sense points in one direction where the actual answer lies under a layer of thought and reasonable deduction. Math and I had never really been close friends, so I jumped on the idea of mastering physics conceptually. It was a long and challenging few months, but I feel that I understand physics better, as well as the world just a little bit better. Unexplainable everyday life situation can now be explained in a way that broadens my horizons.
The first part of the class project dealt with the classification of stars within the Centaurus constellation. After using the position of the alpha and beta stars, I was able to identify three other stars that I chose to study. I picked theta, epsilon and gamma to research, mainly due in part to their brightness and easy visibility in the photo provided. I then researched the stars through many websites that appeared reliable as well as a few astronomy books. The most challenging part of the research was the fact that almost all the data differed as per source. I had to make educated guesses as to what was most accurate and reproduced most often. After that it was fairly simple to make a chart and list the information gathered based on stars, as well as labeling the coalsack dark nebula, the dark circle close to the southern cross.
The second part of the class project dealt with equations. The majority of the class was spent analyzing equations to understand the key concepts. Each equation we were exposed to had crucial components that allowed us to be able to use it correctly. The most important issue with the use of equations was that only elements that are part of the equation play a role in answer. For example, mass plays no role in the equation velocity=gravity x time. It seems obvious that mass isn’t important when you put the equation out, but most people use that intuitive belief that mass is very important. I think this is due in large part to humans everyday lives, where gravity pulls down objects to earth, and the heavier seems to be pulled quicker.
The third section was the application of a physics concept to real life. As I am now aware of, physics plays a role in most everyday situations, be it a car accident or just a bouncing ball. The concept that I keep coming upon is Newton’s third law, that there exists an equal and opposite force acting on all objects that experience a force. The acts on things that are moving, which almost everything is in the universe. A practical example that I use in my project was the recoil from a gun. A bullet gets fired out of a firearm in a forward direction, but what most people do not think about is the opposite yet equal force that the gun experiences as it kicks towards the shooter. The recoil can be very strong and uncontrollable when a large caliber bullet is used, as is the force used to fire the bullet. Everything in life has an equal force that acts in an opposite manner. Every action has a consequence.
The last section of the project dealt with Fermi’s Paradox. The paradox says that there has to be other life forms in the universe outside the human race, yet there has never been any proof to that idea. Man has never found anything that cannot be explained away that leads to the conclusion that aliens are present. There are many hypothesis, or resolutions as they are called, that have been given to show why aliens have not been found. The resolutions that have been given range from alien technology breaking down or not being distinguishable, all the way down to aliens do not actually exist.
This conceptual physics class allowed me to understand the concepts of physics without having to be encumbered by heavy math topics. I have been able to learn the reasoning behind what makes the world run, and apply it myself and everything around me.