Thursday, October 19, 2006

Born in 1992

Today in freshman physics.

Student 1: So if something was in space and there was no gravity, would it just keep going in a straight line forever?
BZ: For sure. This is from before your time, but does anyone remember Pioneer 10?
Student 2: [sarcastic] Oh yeah, I used to watch that show all the time.


  1. My freshman year physics professor used the names of his children in almost every word problem. They were twins. Needless to say, there were an exceptionally large number of "twin paradox" questions.

  2. Oy. Of course, to be fair Pioneer 10 was launched in 1972. So unless you're in your mid 30s its technically before your time also, and odds are you wouldn't remember the launch unless you are at least 40 now.

    This is probably more a lack of education issue. I hope you gave them a basic overview of Pioneer 10 and the space program?

    One final nitpick, its not just lack of gravity which enables an object to travel forever. There needs to be a complete lack of resistance. So its zero gravity in a vacum where an object will travel forever. Technically, there are interstellar particles which will slowly slow down Pioneer. But they are so scare that we can approximate space as a vacum.

  3. Oh, that's nothing. A couple of years ago I was teaching 8th-9th grade Bible, and somewhere in a conversation about Joseph and dreams I made a slightly cheezy R.E.M. joke. Dead silence. "You know, like the band???" Silence. Pause. "Is that like one of those Eighties bands?" one of the kids finally asked, with a voice full of scorn.


  4. Last year one of my students said to me, "I discovered this awesome oldies band! They are amazing, and they're SO old, some of their albums came out on TAPES!" It was Rage Against the Machine. Oy.

  5. In teaching one of my Tanakh classes last year (9th grade), we discussed issues of common context and environment, and how sometimes it's difficult for us to understand the Tanakh because of how alien the world they lived in was compared to our lives today.

    One of my students handed in a short writing piece that included: "If I was talking to someone from the 20th century, I wouldn't understand them; but if I was talking to Sandra*, who's from MY century, we would understand each other."

    (*name changed to protect the innocent)