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Ampere’s Alternate Interpretation of Electromagnetism

A. K. T. Assis is a Brazilian scholar who has written some intriguing books on physics and the history of physics. He has very generously made all these books available for free access on his website – https://www.ifi.unicamp.br/~assis/books.htm. I have been flipping through the book Ampere’s Electrodynamics by Prof. Assis. It requires a much closer … Continue reading Ampere’s Alternate Interpretation of Electromagnetism

When Young Faraday’s First Discovery Led to Charges of Plagiarism

Two Faradays and two electromagnetic discoveries Michael Faraday is one of the most well known names in science, probably even for people outside science. He made two landmark discoveries which led to the invention of the electric motor and the electric generator — two devices which we benefit from, every single day of our lives. … Continue reading When Young Faraday’s First Discovery Led to Charges of Plagiarism

Electrostatics in Middle-School – Part 3: Early Electrical Knowledge in the Classroom

Read the previous parts if you haven’t: Part 1 Part 2 In the previous article, I briefly introduced the major developments in the knowledge of electricity up to the first half of the 17th century. So, what lessons and activities for the classroom can be designed based on this? I intend to describe one possible approach … Continue reading Electrostatics in Middle-School – Part 3: Early Electrical Knowledge in the Classroom

Electrostatics in Middle School – Part 2: Early Knowledge of Electricity

Read Part 1 if you haven’t. Amber and Lodestone Since antiquity, people have been fascinated and mystified by rare materials with special properties. Two such materials were amber — a fossilised resin from extinct pine-like trees — and lodestone — an iron-containing mineral that we now recognise as permanently magnetic. The ancient Greek (4th century … Continue reading Electrostatics in Middle School – Part 2: Early Knowledge of Electricity

Sparks and Giggles: Electrostatics in Middle-School — Part 1 (Prelude)

Electrostatics and the school science curriculum Electrostatics is a topic that sits awkwardly in the school science curriculum. In fact, it is hardly a topic in itself before it is introduced in all its mathematical glory in grade 11. Until then, students normally only encounter a handful of scattered electrostatic facts and phenomena without getting … Continue reading Sparks and Giggles: Electrostatics in Middle-School — Part 1 (Prelude)

A Medical Doctor’s Sabbatical to Do Science Experiments

A forgotten name in science Key contributions to scientific knowledge are almost always intertwined with the names of the scientist(s) who made those contributions. A glaring exception exists in the case of one of the most fundamental discoveries of all in the life sciences – photosynthesis. Jan Ingen-Housz (1730-1799) was a Dutch physician who, at … Continue reading A Medical Doctor’s Sabbatical to Do Science Experiments

Time for Science Education

In a previous post, I looked at resources from the mid-20th century, when history and philosophy of science had been at the centre of debates on science education. Later, probably as a consequence of the Space Race starting in the late 1950’s, a more technocratic view of science education took over and history of science … Continue reading Time for Science Education

Joseph Priestley — the Science Historian

Joseph Priestley is pretty well known as the discoverer of the gas we now call oxygen. He was a brilliant scientist and had a very methodical mind. His fame rests primarily on the series of researches into the chemical properties of different gases, collected together under three volumes called Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds … Continue reading Joseph Priestley — the Science Historian

Harvard Case Histories in Experimental Science

James Bryant Conant (1893-1978) was a chemist, educationist and diplomat who served as a president of Harvard University. Among various educational reforms he pushed for in his influential position, was a greater role for the history and philosophy of science in science education. In 1948, Harvard University Press published two volumes consisting of eight case … Continue reading Harvard Case Histories in Experimental Science

Tribute to Hans Christian Oersted, 200 Years after His Experiment – Part II

In Part I of this tribute, we looked at some of the background of Oersted’s famous experiment. We saw that Oersted was philosophically inclined to believe in the existence of a link between electricity and magnetism, but had not actually formulated any hypothesis or experiment to specifically investigate it. We touched upon the fact that … Continue reading Tribute to Hans Christian Oersted, 200 Years after His Experiment – Part II

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