Spring Meeting 2004 Program

Northern California/Nevada Section AAPT

Friday & Saturday, March 26 & 27, 2004

Lawrence Livermore Lab ~ Las Positas Community College

This web page will be updated as new information is passed along to the webmaster. Check back here for the most current information.



Special Notices

Local Hosts: Dick Farnsworth & Eric Harpell

email: farnsworth @ llnl.gov and eharpell @ laspositascollege.edu

Schedule and Directions for the Friday Workshops and Tours

Friday Workshops

Teachers are welcome to contact our President, Peter Urone, for a letter of support to assist them obtaining funds and release time to attend this conference.

All Friday participants must register for entry to LLNL. Parking is limited!


"New Teacher Workshop" (10 am - 5 pm) Paul Robinson, Dean Baird and Lonnie Grimes

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. The workshop includes valuable teaching tips, goodie bags, raffles where everyone wins, question and answer panels, popcorn, and more! Although there is no fee, interested participants should email Paul at laserpablo@aol.com for more information.


Workshops sponsored by Lawrence Livermore staff members. These workshops include a tour of workshop-related facilities at LLNL and the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the world's largest laser. The deadline has passed for registering for these workshops. There was a security issue that had to be resolved in advance.


Presenters:  Dr. Chris Ebbers, Physicist,, Mr. Joel Speth Laser Technician

The optical revolution in communication is taking place literally right now within your home. Where only 200 years ago it took weeks to transmit information in letters carried by foot, horse, or boat, the new transit of information takes place at the speed of light using lasers propagating down shards of glass. This tremendous increase in the speed of information transfer takes place due to the merging of two sciences: optical physics and materials science - understanding the nature of how light works and the discovery and perfection of glass fiber optics. We will explore the developments in these two branches off science that have merged at this historical moment.


Biophotonics is the science of generating and harnessing light (photons) to image, detect and manipulate biological materials. It is used in biology to study molecular mechanisms, function and structure. It is used in medicine to study tissue at the macro and micro level to detect, diagnose and treat disease.

Biophotonics is a fascinating topic which involves many science disciplines including physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, and engineering, providing an excellent avenue for introducing students to the truly interdisciplinary nature of much of scientific research. It is a critical emerging technology providing an exceptional career path.

The Symposium will provide teachers with three sets of information:

Environmental Science - Radiocarbon Dating

Presenters:  Dr. John Knezovich, Director, Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry

Mr. Stan Hitomi, Director, Edward Teller Education Center

The environmental group will focus on radiocarbon dating. Following a tour of the facility where radiocarbon measurements are made (Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry or CAMS), participants will receive a lecture - "Radiocarbon Dating 101" - and partake in a discussion of how radiocarbon dating can be used to help meet the California Science Standards. Later in the day, participants will be engaged in problem solving activities where they will interpret actual 14C data sets from volcanic eruptions and earthquake faults. Supporting documents will be provided such that all of the activities will be of immediate use in the classroom.

Tour Only

Some of our members opted to tour the National Ignition Facility rather than take a workshop that included the tour. The tour will begin with badging about 2:45. Be sure to see the page of directions, including the directions to obtain your badge and then join the tour if you're doing the tour only. 

Friday Evening Social vers. 1.1

Here are our latest plans for the Friday Evening Social (3/24).  At Five PM, we will begin our social by meeting at the Davis Applied Science Area (where the workshops are being held. See the page of directions to the Friday workshops for directions.).  There will be beer, wine, soda and appetizers there to help us get reqaquinted and ready for the evening festivities.  At approximatly six pm, our first speaker will talk on current research at LLNL.  This may be Ed Moses of NIF, or another speaker that Dick Farnsworth is lining up right now. Ed Moses may be able to speak at 6 PM (not 7:30 as originally planned) or he may follow the first speaker, depending on his calender (Dick is checking on this). 

After our speakers are finished, we'll head over to a local sports bar BEEBS which is near the hotels by Las Positas College for dinner.  Prior to the Social (and possibly during), the visitors galery area at LLNL across the street will be open.

For those of you who are coming to the Friday night social, but will not attend the workshops at LLNL, be sure to exit the 580 freeway at Greenville Road (the exit afte Vasco when coming from the west).  Go South on Greenville road until you see the signs for the UC Davis Department of Applied Science building.  Its an open area, so you can simply drive in and park.  For those of you coming from Livermore, note that you cannot drive on East Ave past the lab due to security concerns after 9/11. 


SATURDAY, March 27, 2004

Morning Session, The Little Theatre, Building 800

7:45 Registration, Coffee, Donuts, and other culinary delights.

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.

10:00        Invited Speaker: Lewis Carroll Epstein, CCSF (retired) (425) 826-3488

"I have questions about questions!"

Usually physics people talk about stuff they know‚Äîthe answers. This talk will address the stuff I don‚Äôt know‚Äîstuff that troubles me a lot‚Äîthe questions.  After I listen to a lecture on the latest in cosmology or particle theory I am so full of questions I feel like screaming!  My frustration is not about the new stuff I don‚Äôt understand, but rather the stuff that seems self-contradictory.  And it seems like the same questions go unanswered lecture after lecture.  For  example, how can you test to find if the space between you and a thing is expanding or if the thing is moving away from you?  How can virtual photons cause electrostatic attraction?  How can there be negative or positive pressure in a vacuum of intergalactic space?  How can an electron neutrino in free flight become a mu neutrino  if the have different rest masses? It is our business as physics teachers to get the answers to these and other questions.

10:45  Break

11:00 Invited Speaker: Alex Filippenko, UC Berkeley, alex@wormhole.berkeley.edu

"Einstein's Biggest Blunder? the Case for an Accelerating Universe."

Alex Filippenko, University of California, Berkeley, will discuss how observations of Type Ia supernovae are being used to determine the past history of the rate of Universal expansion in his talk, "Einstein's Biggest Blunder? The Case for an Accelerating Universe." The most important conclusion from the work of Filippenko's group is that Lambda, Einstein's infamous "cosmological constant," is not zero: the expansion of the Universe started to accelerate about 5 billion years ago, after an early era of deceleration. The acceleration is driven by a mysterious "dark energy," akin to cosmic antigravity, which might be linked to quantum fluctuations in the vacuum of space.

12:00 - 1:30        LUNCH:  Pizza and soft drinks will be catered in the Little Theatre lobby.  Please pay $5 cash at registration before 10 a.m.

1:15     Raffle/Business Meeting

Contributed Papers

2:00  My Favorite Labs and Demos

Paul Robinson, San Mateo High School, laserpablo@aol.com

Labs serve a variety of functions; some introduce a topic, others provide computational reinforcement of important concepts, while others yield surprising results. Some, however, make an indelible impression on students. I will share some of my personal favorites, including "Bull's Eye," "The Flying Pig," "The Anatomy of a Homer," "Hot Balls," and others, and give reasons why I think they are favorites with my students as well.

2:30 Have You Seen Dark Bands on a Rainbow Spectrum with Diffraction Gratings?

Brendan Diamond and Cheuk K. Chau , California State University, Chico

Looking through a diffraction grating at a white light source, such as a clear light bulb, you will see two sets of beautiful rainbow spectra symmetrically on both sides of the light source. However, with careful observations, especially with replica gratings, you may see dark bands superimposed on the continuous rainbow spectra. In this presentation we will show the origin of these dark bands experimentally and then give them a theoretical interpretation.

3:00 A Simple Demonstration of the Hall Effect

Wes Bliven, Humboldt State University, wwb2@humboldt.edu

A simple experimental technique demonstrating the Hall Effect in a piece aluminum foil will be presented. This experiment requires no specialized equipment.  The experiment requires a DC power supply capable of outputting 1 Amp, a voltmeter, a small neodymium magnet and the construction of a simple amplifier circuit and of course a piece of aluminum foil.  In this experiment the sign and density of the charge carrier in aluminum will be determined.

3:30 "The Galilean Transformation: A Sneak-Preview of Special Relativity"

Michael Harris, emmakande@sbcglobal.net

One of the central ideas of special relativity is that of reference frames, and coordinate transformations among them. I will discuss some surprising difficulties your students may have with using coordinates, and several rich applications of the Galilean transformation, along with some instructive spin-offs.

4:00 Original talk will not be given. A substitute may be offerred

"The Physics of Baseball" 

Contributed papers are being solicited for the Summer AAPT National Meeting this summer at Sac State.  Please consider giving a paper (http://www.aapt.org/Events/call4papers.cfm). Deadline is April 16th. This session features Bob Adair, author of "The Physics of Baseball" and renowned expert and consultant to Bud Selig, as well as other special invited speakers including our own David Kagan, Mont Hubbard of UC Davis, Paul Mitiguy (of Interactive Physics), and John White of LLNL.

Physics Teachers Unite--Tailgate Party of the Decade

Paul Robinson is also organizing a group to go to PacBell Park to see the Giants play the St. Louis Cardinals on July 31st.  There are two ways to get to the ball park; if you're already at the meeting, you can take a bus from SAC State, or you can provide your own transportation.  A block of 100 tickets of prime seats (not far from Paul's season tickets) at PacBell Park have been purchased for this special event.  Although the game is at 7:15 PM, festivities will begin with a tour of the park, a tailgate party at 4 PM at McCovey Cove (includes hot dogs, hamburgers, beer, wine, sodas and other goodies!), and a ticket to the ball game. Paul has even arranged with the city engineers for the 3rd Street drawbridge to raise and lower, a very special treat!  There will even be a scoreboard message acknowledging the AAPT conference in Sacramento!  Bus(es) will depart from SAC State around noon and return after the game. This is a unique opportunity (this is the first group of physics teachers to attend a game) to rub shoulder's with physics teachers from all over the nation in the world's most beautiful ball park.  E-mail Paul (laserpablo@aol.com) for more information.  Ticket Prices are $35 (if provide your own transportation) or $60 (includes bus from SAC State).  For views of the park, go to:  www.paulstickets.com and click on "View from My Seats" or "More of My Photos". What better way to study physics?

The Ultimate Show and Tell. Don't Miss This One!

The Demonstration Show at the 2004 Summer Meeting of AAPT will be held in conjunction with the Picnic on Monday, August 2. Both will be outdoors at the PASCO plant, and buses will take eaters and watchers from Sac State to PASCO for the events. An announcement about the Demonstration Show can be found online at :


Section members are encouraged to think big and propose large scale demonstrations that could be done during this fun event.  E-mail Clarence Bakken at cbakken2001@yahoo.com for more information on this spectacular demo show Imagine an entire evening devoted to Show and Tell!  Mark you calendar for Monday evening, August 2nd, at Pasco Scientific.


apply to be a meeting volunteer

In exchange for working eight hours at the national meeting, teachers receive a free meeting registration and a $50 gift certificate for future AAPT product purchases. Student volunteers receive a free meeting registration and a free membership. Students also may be eligible for up to four nights shared lodging and a daily meal plan.

Duties may include checking badges, monitoring session rooms, or helping at the registration counter.

Application deadline: May 28. For full details, including eligibility restrictions, go to this address at the beginning of April: www.aapt.org/events/volunteer.cfm



To get to Las Positas, take Highway 580 East from San Francisco, or West from the Central Valley.

Take the Airway Boulevard exit from Interstate 580. Turn north towards the hills at the stoplight at the end of the exit ramp. Turn right at the second stoplight, at North Canyons Parkway. Proceed for about a mile, until Collier Canyon Road. Turn left and drive a short distance to the Las Positas College entrance on the right.

Larger version upon clicking map above.



Hampton Inn
2850 Constitution Drive
(exit 580 fry at Airway Bvld, Collier Canyon road and go just north towards Costco)
Tel: 925-606-5400 Ext: 416
Rate: $59 per night Friday and or Saturday
Manangement has agreed and blocked rooms
Pros: Nice rooms, Nice talking/lounging/eating area area, Pool, small workout area, continental brekfast. Nice overall..about one block from580 and two blocks from LPC.

Hilton Garden Inn
2801 Constitution Drive (across the stret from the Hamton Inn)
tel: 925 292-2000,

Clerk said rate would be $69  Needs to be confirmed with mangaement.
Pros: Seems like a good deal for $69. Nice rooms and decor, Indoor pool,
Sauna, Jacuzi, workout area.  same location as Hampton (above)

Courtyard by Marriot
2929 Constitution Drive
tel: 925-243-1000

Same location as Hilton Garden Inn, but up the street away from freeway as Hilton and Hampton.
Rate: $59 or possibly less.  Need to confirm with managment.
Indoor pool and Jacuzzi, Sana, workout area.  Full breakfast, but may have to pay.  Voucher for 24 hour fitness.  

Comfort Inn
2625 Constitution Drive
Livermore, Ca 94550
tel: 925-606-6200

Same basic location as the others, but right besides fry. Still Nice.
Normal rate for friday and Saturday is $59. No special discount for us.
Pool, Jacuzzi, Continental breakfast.

Dues and Don'ts

Section dues are $10 per year, due each Fall. If you cannot attend the meeting, remain an active member which will ensure you'll receive all our mailings by sending dues to our treasurer Dennis Buckley, Liberty High School, 850 Second St., Brentwood, CA 94513.

Upcoming Events

o Spring Meeting, SCAAPT, UCLA, April 3 2004

o Summer Meeting, National AAPT, CSU Sacramento, July 29-August 4, 2004

o Fall Meeting, NCNAAPT, Santa Rosa Junior College, Nov., 2004


Updated 3/25/04