Come to Our Spring Meeting! April 11 & 12, 2014

Registration is now open here. We encourage advanced registration; you can now pay online (including membership dues if you own them). With our new registration system, you can add one to three events to your “cart,” then check out in one step (yes, you need to add the free events in order to register for them–we need to know how many are coming).

We are polishing the details on our upcoming April Meeting.  We will have events on Friday the 11th and Saturday the 12th.  Friday will see a workshop by the two biggest names in the business plus a hotdog social, and Saturday will feature top-notch speakers David & Christine Vernier, Pascal Lee and Douglas Stone, all at the brand-new Exploratorium!

Here’s a map showing all our locations:

View NCN AAPT at Exploratorium in a larger map

Friday afternoon: PASCO/Vernier Workshop 1:00-5:00 PM

PASCOThis 4-hour hands-on workshop is for high school and college physics teachers who use Vernier and/or PASCO equipment and would like to learn some new tricks, or those who are considering purchasing or updating their equipment.

Due to high demand for this workshop, we had to change the format slightly–We’ll split into two groups: one half will first see Vernier showing new products for the physics classroom/lab and the other half of the group will first see PASCO’s former teachers share their favorite demos from their 25 years of teaching. Around 2:45 we’ll take a short snack break, then each group will move to see the other presentation. See what these two major companies have for you to use in your classroom and get the opportunity to ask questions in a small-group setting.

 VernierThis is a free workshop. St. Ignatius High School is on the west side of San Francisco, with a wonderful view of the Pacific Ocean (see map here).

Workshop Leaders:

Space is limited, so please register early to reserve a spot.

Friday night: Hot Dog Reception at Rockstar Science; 6:30-9:30 PM

Parking won’t be free (see link about parking below), but the beer and wine will be–and as many hot dogs as you can eat! David Kagan and Paul Robinson will lead folks for a stroll around AT&T Park for a little tour about 7:30 PM, so please plan to arrive before then if you’re interested in the tour. Afterwards we’ll head back to Rockstar Science for drinks and refreshments and the “Hot Dog Reception”. 
Pablo’s place is right next door to AT&T Park and he’ll email more specific directions to those who register. Come join us and have a hot dog and brew or two and get in the mood for some yummy physics. Pablo’s tips on parking can be found here.

Saturday NCN/AAPT Spring Meeting and Conference at The Exploratorium


Yes, they’ve moved.  They are now at Pier 15. Directions to the Exploratorium + Parking

Current Saturday Schedule (Subject to Change):

8:00     Registration, Coffee, & Breakfast Food

8:45     Welcome and Announcements

9:00     Show & Tell

Share your favorite demonstration or teaching tip. Since new teachers and section members will be at this meeting, you are encouraged to dust off some of your oldies but goodies. If you have handouts, please bring 75 copies. Time limit is 5 minutes per person or you risk the dreaded GONG by referee David Kagan!

9:55 Break

10:00 Invited Talk: “Vernier Software & Technology—The Past, The Present and the Future”

Dave and Christine Vernier, Vernier Software & Technology

Vernier Software & Technology was started by a high-school physics teacher just as computers were starting to become available to the general public and for education. This talk will discuss the evolution of computer use in physics labs from Apple II and MS-DOS to Macintosh and Windows, and CBL and Palm, and iOS and Android. We will also discuss the personal trip from physics teaching and social work to heading a company with over 100 employees.

Christiine and Dave VernierWe will demonstrate some of the newer developments in physics hardware and software, including: Motion Encoder System, Emissions Spectrophotometer, wireless sensors, and using Arduino microcontrollers in physics teaching.

11:00 Invited Talk: “Mission: Mars—Steps Toward the First Human Mission to the Red Planet”

Pascal Lee, Mars Institute, SETI Institute, NASA Ames

The first human mission to Mars will be humanity’s greatest undertaking in space exploration in the 21st century. As with all expeditions, its success will depend on planning. The first steps towards a human journey to the Red Planet are already under way, as we achieve longer spaceflight missions, plan for deep space journeys to Near-Earth Asteroids, and explore extreme environments on Earth viewed as Mars “analogs”. Pascal Lee will discuss progress being made around the world, from the Arctic to Antarctica, from basement labs to the International Space Station, to achieve the first human voyage to Mars. He will examine in turn the what, why, how, when, and who of the first human mission to Mars.

12:00  Business Meeting & Group Photo

The agenda for the business  meeting will be emailed to pre-registered attendees and posted to the NCN/AAPT website two days prior to the meeting. Topics include:

12:30 Lunch and Book Signings by Pascal Lee, Douglas Stone, and The Verniers 

1:30 Invited Talk: “Einstein and Quantum Mechanics—It’s Not What You Think”

Einstein and the QuantumDouglas Stone, Yale University

Einstein is well known for his rejection of quantum mechanics in the form it emerged from the work of Heisenberg, Born and Schrodinger in 1926. Much less appreciated are the many seminal contributions he made to quantum theory prior to his final scientific verdict, that the theory was at best incomplete. In this talk I present an overview of Einstein’s many conceptual breakthroughs and place them in historical context. I argue that Einstein, much more than Planck, introduced the concept of quantization of energy in atomic mechanics. Einstein proposed the photon, the first force-carrying particle discovered for a fundamental interaction, and put forward the notion of wave-particle duality, based on sound statistical arguments 14 years before De Broglie’s work. He was the first to recognize the intrinsic randomness in atomic processes, and introduced the notion of transition probabilities, embodied in the A and B coefficients for atomic emission and absorption. He also preceded Born in suggesting the interpretation of wave fields as probability densities for particles, photons, in the case of the electromagnetic field. Finally, stimulated by Bose, he introduced the notion of indistinguishable particles in the quantum sense and derived the condensed phase of bosons, which is one of the fundamental states of matter at low temperatures. His work on quantum statistics in turn directly stimulated Schrodinger towards his discovery of the wave equation of quantum mechanics. It was only due to his rejection of the final theory that he is not generally recognized as the most central figure in this historic achievement of human civilization.

 2:30     Close of Formal Program

This earlier-than-normal close time will allow members to enjoy the many exhibits at the Exploratorium.

Exploratorium entrance

Register now

Excited?  We certainly are!  Registration is now open here. With our new registration system, you can add one to three events to your “cart,” then check out in one step (yes, you need to add the free events in order to register for them–we need to know how many are coming). We encourage advanced registration; you can now pay online (including membership dues if you own them). Academic year dues are $25. Event price is $20 including lunch).


If you’re coming in and want to stay overnight, the good news and the bad news is that this is San Francisco. Hotel rates are pretty high, but we’re listing a few below that seem to get reasonable reviews on Yelp or elsewhere (read the reviews and you decide):

  • Green Tortoise Hostel (OK, you took the bus back in the day, now you can stay in the hostel $35-85/night–if you find anything else this cheap in SF, you won’t want to stay there–but the Green Tortoise will be clean and without junkies in the hall).
  • Hotel North Beach (“lower cost” but shared bathrooms).
  • Royal Pacific Motor Inn (“lower cost”).
  • Club Quarters (not so low cost, but not super high end either, a bit complicated to get an estimate)
  • Hyatt Regency (OK, so your school will cover the $250+ or so per night, why not stay here).

Who’s coming so far?

Here’s a map of ZIP codes for registered attendees as of Tuesday, April 8th.

View Attendance for NCN AAPT at Exploratorium in a full screen map

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