Saturday, January 31, 2009

The February stories at include
1. Landing an airplane on water --- why, exactly, is it so dangerous and how did Captain Sullenberger do it so well?
2. "Hang on a minute, lads. I've got a great idea." How would you solve the greatest cliffhanger in movie history, the ending to the "The Italian Job" in which we last see Charlie Croker and his mates on a bus that dangles over a steep mountainside in the Alps?
3. How can you crush an exceptionally strong railroad tanker car in minutes with nothing more than steam and a really big physics mistake?
4. Why do penguins huddle in groups of many thousands?
5. Pub trick of the month --- balancing forks, spoons, and other objects on a match stick that straddles the edge of a drinking glass.
6. Article of the month: the strange acoustics in the whispering gallery in the dome at Saint Paul's Cathedral in London. A whisper can be heard a surprising distance if you face the wall of the gallery but not if you face away from it.
The photo here was taken by Tara Peppard as I was about to stick my fingers into molten lead (see the pot on the left) in front of my class at Cleveland State University. I am showing that I have all of my fingers intact, at least before I do the stunt.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My student Becky, returning from duty and giving me that you-better-give-me-a-good-grade stare.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The January stories at are now posted.

1. Pedestrian throw, moose throw, camel throw. The physics of the collision between a road vehicle and either a pedestrian or a large animal. Although none of the videos show close-up photos of people, some of them may not be suitable for children because the motion of an airborne person is upsetting.

2.The pub trick for this month involves removing a cork from the body of an empty wine bottle without breaking the bottle.

3. The puzzle for this month involves the collapse of a small bridge due to the weight of a house being moved across it. One of the photos is reproduced here.

4. Bottle music. There are at least three distinct ways a beer or soda bottle can be played as a musical instrument. One of the videos shows bottles being played a rollerblader. Another is from the psychedelic group The 13th Floor Elevators from the 1960s. And another is a very charming performance by a man with a beer bottle and a tambourine.

5. The article of the month is one that I published in January 1978. It shows how you can use common clear sticky tape to reveal the polarization of skylight, as seen by many types of insects who navigate via the polarization.
As always, odl and new videos of me are available at .
Cheers and happy new year