Spring Meeting at Stanford

AAPT Northern California/Nevada Section

Friday & Saturday, April 7-8, 2000

Stanford University
Stanford, California

Local Host: Rick Pam


Friday Programs
Friday Night Event
Saturday Program
Concurrent Sessions
Special Programs
General Information

Friday, April 7, 2000

Friday Workshops

The Charm of Strange and Other Quarks

Varian Lab, B109

Andria Erzberger is conducting a Particles Workshop from 9&endash;3 pm. Learn about quarks and leptons and the four forces. Get background information for the afternoon tour and talk at SLAC. Find the mass of the top quark by using conservation of momentum and do other classroom activities. You'll receive a free CD-Rom and charts.

The workshop will adjourn to a tour of SLAC after a day spent learning about the smallest particles of the universe. Email Andria at alerzberger@lbl.gov to sign up.


Computer/Calculator Interfacing in the Lab

Varian Lab, B109

Clarence Bakken will conduct a Computer/Calculator Intaerfacing Workshop from 9&endash;3 pm. It will feature the new LabPro from Vernier Software and CBL2 from Texas Instruments. Participants will gain hands-on experience using computer and calculator interfaces to do labs in new and exciting ways. Learn powerful techniques to investigate physical laws. Learn about a new Barometer Story. There will even be door prizes and popcorn! Email Clarence at clarence@cbakken.net to sign up for this workshop.

Workshop Fee Structure: The workshop fee covers materials and any extra goes to support the PTRA program nationally and locally. If your school pays directly, the cost for either workshop is $30 (check payable to AAPT). If you pay yourself, the cost is only $12. Deadline to signup for either workshop is March 31.

Parking: Directions for parking will be posted on our website soon. Parking on campus Friday will cost about $8. Therefore, workshop participants are advised to park at SLAC (for free) and take the shuttle bus to campus. Shuttle buses leave every 15 minutes. Get off at the "Gates Building" stop on campus, and proceed to the Varian Labs for the workshop. Arrive early (ideally, for the 8:15 am shuttle bus) so you can be at the workshop on time. After the workshop, take the shuttle bus back to SLAC, which will put you in the right place for our Friday night social, and a great educational evening. Parking on campus Saturday is free. You may park in either at The Oval, which is at the front entrance to the University at the end of Palm Drive (the extension of University Avenue into campus) or in the parking lots at the corner of Panama Street and Via Ortega. See the campus map.

Friday Afternoon Tour of SLAC

Helen Quinn has made arrangements for a special behind the scene tour of one of the premiere high energy particle accelerators in the world - SLAC. The first tour will begin at 4:30 pm for the workshop participants. There will be a shuttle bus to transport workshop participants from the campus to SLAC. For all others, the second tour will begin at 5:00 pm or shortly thereafter. Park at the lot to the right of the entrance guard. Report directly to the SLAC Visitor's Center.

Reception at SLAC
Stanford Linear Accelerator Center

If you should arrive after the last tour bus, browse through the Visitor Center between the cafeteria and the auditorium. See what Burton Richter wrote in his notebook when the J/psi particle was discovered, an actual Nobel Prize, a cosmic ray muon detector, and more.

6:30    "Cut Me Some SLAC"
Helen Quinn, SLAC Auditorium

Staff physicist Helen Quinn will give an overview of past and current activities.

7:00    "The Amazing Tale of the Tiny Neutrinos"
Giorgio Gratta, Stanford University

Neutrino physics has recently become a very hot topic in particle physics, cosmology and astrophysics ever since it appeared that neutrino masses might be finite. While these results have implications in many disparate fields of science, the study of neutrinos involves exotic places like deep mines, the depths of the ocean underneath the Antarctic ice-cap as well as the world's largest particle accelerators and nuclear reactors. Don't miss Giorgio's overview of this fascinating adventure.

SATURDAY, April 8th


Morning Session: SEQ Learning Center-201, formerly known as TCseq (Teacher Center - Science & Engineering Quad)

7:45    Registration, Coffee, Donuts, and other culinary delights. Hallway outside Room 201

8:45    Welcome and Announcements

9:00 - 10:00    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 100 copies. Time limit is 5 minutes per person.

10:00 - 10:45    Invited Talk

"Holding Onto Atoms and Biomolecules with Light"
Steve Chu, Stanford University

Steven Chu shared the 1997 Nobel Prize for the development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light. In this technique, tuned laser beams are used to create a region of "optical molasses", slowing small numbers of atoms to the order of cm/s, resulting in temperatures of microkelvins. The techniques of laser cooling and trapping are widely used in fundamental, high-resolution spectroscopy and are what allow Bose-Einstein condensation to be achieved with atomic systems. Professor Chu also is a leader in interdisciplinary work in physics and biology, applying laser traps to manipulating large biomolecules with a refinement of his technique dubbed "optical tweezers". His talk will describe the development and applications of this fascinating and growing field.

10:45 - 11:00    Break

11:00    Invited Talk

"So What Really Happens at Absolute Zero?"
Douglas Osheroff, Stanford University

Douglas Osheroff heads a research program which probes the behavior of matter near absolute zero. In 1996 he shared the Nobel Prize for Physics for the discovery of superfluidity in 3He - work he did as a graduate student. This talk describes some of the unusual properties of matter near absolute zero and shows how most of the observed behavior can be understood in terms of simple quantum mechanical ideas such as the Pauli Exclusion Principle and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. In addition, he will demonstrate a couple of his favorite low temperature demonstrations.

12:00 - 1:30    Lunch at Tresidder Union

On your own for lunch from a variety of menus. New Teachers meet in the Varian Lab #401 (roof, weather permitting).

Munch a Bunch of Physics: Research & Student Lab Open House

Stanford Grad Students will be available for tours of research labs in low temperature physics, lasers and optics, the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search, and the Stanford Free Electron Laser lab, among others from during lunch. Stop by and check it out!

1:30    Raffle/Business Meeting. TCseq 201


2:00    New Teacher/New to AAPT Workshop.

This workshop is intended for teachers who are either new to teaching physics and/or those who have been at it for a while but still feel like they're new! All new teachers will be networked with experienced teachers with either phone and/or email addresses. Valuable teaching tips, goodie bags, raffles where everyone wins, question and answer panel, popcorn, and more!

Contributed Papers

SESSION A, Room TCseq 102

SESSION B, Room TCseq-103

2:00   "Physics Toys on the Web"

Tsing Bardin, City College of San Francisco

Toys have been widely used as an effective, engaging way of teaching physics and mathematics concepts. This free public domain Website will distribute the detailed instructions for building toys, the material, the cost and the accompanying physics content. Teachers and students will learn physics through questioning and explanation provided after each toy. Whenever appropriate the connections of the toys to real world applications will be mentioned, so the students will be more exposed to the real world technology. The toys presented can be used as supplementary curricula for elementary, high school and introductory college and university level physics courses.

2:00   "A New Barometer Story"

Clarence Bakken, Gunn High School

With the advent of portable data logging (CBL, PASCO 500, and LabPro) and a myriad of sensors, new ways to use them inevitably emerge. In this talk I will show the results of taking a barometer literally to new heights, namely on amusement park rides. I will also encourage others to "think outside the box" and come up with their own innovative applications of these new tools.

2:20   "Clarifying Student Understanding using Reading the Equation and Justification Worksheets"

Matthew J. Moelter and Chance Hoellwarth, Cal-Poly, San Luis Obispo

In an attempt to help students clarify their understanding of formulas and problem solutions we have developed and used two specific exercises. "Reading the Equation" has students articulate in written form the physical meaning of a mathematical expression. The students are asked to focus on the underlying physics and any limitations inherent in the expression. "Justification Worksheets" present a detailed solution to a problem and ask students to explain/justify each of the steps in the solution. This includes both physical and mathematical justification and/or explanation. Sample exercises along with typical student responses will be presented and discussed.

2:20   "A Strange Behavior of Friction"

David P. Jackson, Santa Clara University

A simple experiment is described that demonstrates an interesting behavior of sliding friction in certain systems. Contrary to what is presented in most introductory physics texts, we observe a wide range of applied forces that lead to constant velocity motion. A closer look reveals that there is a simple velocity dependence to the frictional force, similar to the drag force exerted on objects moving slowly in fluids.

2:40   "A Simple Large-Angle Pendulum Formula and Experiment"

Dick Kidd, Diablo Valley College

An intuitively obvious correction formula allows data for a physical pendulum taken over a large range of angles to be averaged in order to yield an accurate measurement of the small-angle period. This result can then be compared with the theoretical period found from a calculation of the pendulum's moment of inertia.

2:40   "Around-the-World Atomic Clocks"

John Graham, Fresno City College

It has been 28 years since J. C. Hafele and Richard E. Keating flew four atomic clocks both eastward and westward around the world in a test of the special and general theories of relativity. The eastward clocks lost an average of 59 nanoseconds and the westward clocks gained an average of 273 nanoseconds, both relative to "stationary" clocks located on the ground. The calculations to predict time gain or loss in such an experiment are discussed. Also mentioned are applications of the theory to GPS satellites.

3:00   "Construct Your Own Problem (CYOP's) - Another Tool for Developing Conceptual and Analytical Skills"

Paul Peter Urone, California State University, Sacramento

Construct Your Own Problems (CYOP's) are distinctly different from standard problems assigned to students from textbooks, given on exams or solved in most of our courses. In a C.Y.O.P. the general situation and physical quantities to be considered are carefully described. However, the student(s) solving the problem are required to determine the specifics of the problem, thereby constructing it, and then solve it. There is not a single correct answer. Rather, the situation posed and assumptions made by the student(s) must be confirmed to be realistic as a part of solving the problem. At the end of the process the student(s) must assess the implications of their solution and again confirm that the problem fits nature-that is, it is reasonable. This pedagogical tool has many benefits. These will be outlined in this talk, and examples of CYOP's and student reactions to them will be presented.

3:00   "Birds: Lift and Thrust"

Lewis Carroll Epstein (retired), City College of San Francisco

Leonardo di Vinci thought birds got lift by moving their wings downward, and thrust by moving their wings downward with the leading edge tipped downward. What do you think? How can a wing produce thrust?

3:20   "The Magnetic Field of Current-Carrying Polygons"

Matthew I. Grivich, Santa Clara University

We calculate the magnetic field around a current loop consisting of a regular n-sided polygon by successively rotating the field obtained from a straight, finite, current-carrying wire. This involves developing and applying a vector field rotation operator, which transforms vector fields the way a rotation matrix transforms scalar fields.

3:20   "Advantages of Not Doing Examples"

Chris Ray, Saint Mary's College

Why is it common that even after we demonstrate the method of solving a particular type of problem, the students cannot do a similar problem as homework? Perhaps we are "stealing" the best examples from the students by working these examples for the students. I have been working to identify and "save" the most illuminating examples for the students. This talk explains what is "stolen" and methods of "saving", and reports the results of these methods.

3:40   "On Levitating Magnets, Fields, and Currents"

Ron Brown, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

The Meissner effect in superconductors is often demonstrated by levitating a small magnet over a superconducting disk. The demonstration can be extended to show persistent current as well by inducing surface currents and detecting their magnetic field with a small compass. The levitation of magnets can be explained in terms of the surface currents predicted by the London equation.

3:40   "Nonradiating Wave Sources"

Bruce Denardo, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey

For transverse motion of a string under tension, a recent article in the American Journal of Physics predicts that it is possible to drive a segment of the string such that no radiation emanates from the driven region. This complete destructive interference can be physically explained in simple cases. We describe a demonstration with a current-carrying wire that passes through a uniform magnetic field, as well as an experiment with a sonometer driven at two points. Numerical simulations of a mass-and-spring lattice are presented, where the realistic effects of dissipation, nonuniformity, and nonlinearity are shown to cause radiation. Interesting physics arises when the drive is adjusted to minimize this radiation.

4:00   "Resurrecting Feynman"

Dan Burns, Los Gatos High School

There is a plethora of Feynman related books, videos and CDs available. He is considered to be one of the best physics teachers and these resources can be used to bring his talents into your classroom. I have edited his audio lecture on conservation of energy from Six Easy Pieces into an introduction to the concept for high school students. Using figures and examples from the lecture you can "assist" Professor Feynman with his lecture and demonstrations including his toy block analogy and the famous pendulum in the nose stunt. A teacher guide to making your own edited tape and lecture materials will be provided.

4:00   "QuarkNet -Teachers Doing Research"

Andria Erzberger, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

Teachers who "do" science will "teach" science differently. At least that is the hope of QuarkNet, now in its second year. I will discuss the NSF- and DOE- sponsored program that has high school teachers do research in particle physics. The teachers are involved in designing, constructing, and testing the two new detectors being built for CERN. Opportunities exist for local teachers, as several California universities are involved.

4:20   "Teaching Physics in a Multidisciplinary Science Course"

Kelly V. Beck, Stanford University

Stanford University has developed a multidisciplinary science program for "nonscience" students titled the Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Program (SME). Physics is an important component of the SME's curriculum. In this talk I review the role of physics in SME and the challenges we've encountered in teaching physics in a multidisciplinary setting. I emphasize one particular SME course in the program, "Light in the Physical and Biological Worlds," which has a large physical sciences component, and on the pinhole camera project completed by students in the project-based laboratory for this course.

4:20   "Spark Chamber for Cosmic Ray Particle Detection: A Student Project"

Nelia Mann and Dennis Murphree (students), Stanford University

We will describe the construction and operation of a particle track sampling spark chamber by an undergraduate student group. The system's main components include the physical chamber enclosure, high-voltage delivery subsystem, scintillator configuration, trigger electronics, and the gas circulation and user safety systems. The project proved to be an ambitious one and we encountered many obstacles, but the end result was positive. Will discuss some of the difficulties encountered and their solutions, as well as suggestions for improved future performance.

4:40   "The Little Cyclotron that Could: Construction of a 50 keV Cyclotron as a Student Project"

David Kroodsma, Nikhil Padmanabhan, Will Parks, Jiang Qian, Brian Sammuli, Sam Waldman (students), Stanford University

Descriptions of the construction of a student-built low energy (~50Kevproton) cyclotron will be given. Major technical difficulties including the design and construction of a 10-6 Torr vacuum chamber, implementation of high voltage RF circuit, fabrication of an ion source and detection of the accelerated particles will be discussed. Improvements, limitations, as well as suggestions for further experimentation will be presented.



New Teachers

By popular demand, there will be a special afternoon workshop for teachers new to physics teaching and/or AAPT. Experienced teachers eager to share tricks of the trade will host the workshop. As a special incentive, we are including a free lunch to first 20 to signup! Email Paul Robinson at laserpablo@aol.com today!

Old Teachers

Do you have anything you would like to share with a new physics teacher? Bring duplicate books, working items of demonstration or lab equipment; teaching ideas, worksheets, or tests (20 copies if possible) or anything else you wish you knew about when you started teaching. Trade your donated items for raffle tickets when you register.

Directions to the Meeting

Friday Workshops: Directions to the Friday workshops are included on the page of information about the two workshops.

Friday Social: Follow the map to SLAC and enter off Sand Hill Road (easiest access is off Hwy 280, heading east from 280). Stop at the guard station, tell them you are with the AAPT meeting, and ask for directions to the Visitor's Center.

Saturday: From Hwy 101, take the Embarcadero Ave exit and head west. There are multiple turnoffs on the exit ramp - be sure to take Embarcadero Rd. West. Cross El Camino Real (~2 miles from highway) and continue onto the campus. You are now on Galvez Street. Stay in the left lane. Turn right on Campus Drive (first stop sign), then left on Palm Drive (next stop sign). Continue until you reach the "Oval", which is lined with parking spaces. Park here. If the Oval is full, alternate parking is at the lots on the corner of Panama St. and Via Ortega on the west side of campus. See the campus map at http://transportation.stanford.edu/images/parkingmap.pdf

At the head of The Oval is Serra Street--walk right on Serra. The Saturday meeting will be held at the SEQ Learning Center, which is a large new lecture hall on the left side of Serra Street. Behind this is Varian Laboratory, which houses the Physics Department.


Each of the following hotels/motels has set aside a limited number of rooms for the meeting. Ask for a "Stanford" discount. Accommodations tend be pricey in this area and in short supply, so you are advised to make reservations in advance.

Stanford Arms
115 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025
$45      (650) 325-1428

Menlo Park Inn
1315 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025
$85      (650) 326-7530

Mermaid Inn Motel
727 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025
$52      (650) 323-9481

Hotel California
2341 Ash Street
Palo Alto, CA 94306
$57      (650) 322-7666

Townhouse Motel
4164 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306
$50      (650) 493-4492

Mayflower Garden Hotel
3981 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306
$46      (650) 493-4433

Find out about other accommodations at the following website:


Registration fee for this meeting will be $10. Registration is waived for first-time attendees and students.

Updated 4/6/00