[ASC-list] Fwd: A science communication challenge austscicomm13.bloodnok at recursor.net exclusive)

Philip Dooley phildooley at gmail.com
Tue Dec 10 02:45:10 UTC 2013


Hi Marina

I'm really keen to answer this, but  my intefnet is too flaky so far so
I'll do a brief one and you can send the 'but why?' follow on quecstions
later.

Light is little bunches of waves of energy coming from the thing you are
looking at into your eye. A mirror works by bouncing the light a bit like
how waves in the bath bounce off the edge of the bath... if you look at
your nose in the mirror, light is coming from your nose to thd mirror and
then back into your eyes. The trick is your brain expects light to travel
in a straight line, so when nose shaped light comes into your eye from the
diretion of the mirror, it says, ah ha, there is a nose ovef there behind
the mirror. Silly brain!

Because the waves that light is made of are very small, the surface needs
to be very smooth so that the waves don't get all messed up. Like bouncing
a ball off a wall, if the wall is not smooth, for example corrugated iron,
then the ball would not come back in the direction you expect. So in rough
surface a face might get all mixed up, in the christmas ball reflection,
because some light from your nose bounces at the wrong angle and mixes up
with some light from your nose and your cheek, so it blurs into a bit of a
smudge.

Hope this makes sense...
Phil
 On Dec 10, 2013 9:58 AM, "Marina Hurley" <info at writingclearscience.com.au>
wrote:

>
> Thanks for the comments and advice (both off and on list).
>
> It is a good principle that if you can explain something to a four year
> old, you can explain it to anyone. Yes we need more school teachers! Would
> someone with a background in quantum electrodynamics be a good teacher of
> pre-school children? Different people can teach in different ways. Also a
> parent is always a teacher bringing different skills to the process. I
> worked as a research scientist for 20 years (zoology and ecology) and my
> son was eight while I was doing my PhD (on stinging trees) and I really
> enjoyed explaining how plants and animals work. However physics is not my
> background and I struggle with the concept of explaining how a mirror works
> to my grandson because I don't really know myself.
>
> Over the weekend we chose some xmas tree baubles and talked about the
> difference between the shiny one and how it worked better as a mirror than
> the opaque red one and we also talked about how come mirrors dont work at
> night. He enjoyed the conversation but I felt that I hadn't answered his
> question sufficiently. My xmas holiday project perhaps.
>
> cheers
>
> Marina
>
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: <austscicomm13.bloodnok at recursor.net>
> Date: 10 December 2013 08:33
> Subject: Re: [ASC-list] A science communication challenge
> austscicomm13.bloodnok at recursor.net exclusive)
> To: marinahurley at gmail.com
>
>
>
> Apologies, Arran, but I don't think your response helps.
>
> I'm not sure how to respond to someone who seemingly has little
> understanding of teaching/learning and developmental progression, or of
> communication fit for audience and purpose.
>
> We are referring to a 4 yr-old in this instance but my comment holds good
> for other levels too. I've actually written such activities.
>
> ...and I'll refrain from responding to your generalised comment about
> teachers; I tend to be bit sensitive at this time of the morning!
>
>
> Anne
>
>
> Sent from my ASUS MeMO Pad
>
> austscicomm13.bloodnok at recursor.net wrote:
>
> Hi,
>
> I can't post to the list unfortunately.
>
> I definitely agree with Anne that we need good science teachers; but
> explaining _how_ mirrors work is probably beyond the (technical and science
> communications) abilities of many physics graduates; it's unlikely a
> schoolteacher would have the background to explain it.
>
> Most science teachers can probably give the (descriptive) laws of optics,
> but explaining why these laws hold requires a good knowledge of quantum
> electrodynamics (QED).
>
> If I recall correctly, Feynman gives a good explanation of mirrors, using
> QED, in the *Feynman Lectures on Physics*.
>
> Hope that helps.
>
> Cheers,
>
> Arran
>
>
>
> On 8 December 2013 21:24, Anne - asemple at netspace.net.au <
> austscicomm13.bloodnok.3403a58e7f.asemple#netspace.net.au at ob.0sg.net>wrote:
>
>> ...another good reason why we need good teachers who can teach science &
>> of course hands on!
>>
>> Sent from my ASUS MeMO Pad
>>
>> Chris Forbes-EWan <forbes-ewan at tassie.net.au> wrote:
>>
>> Or you could take the angle of Star Trek technical adviser Michael Okuda
>> when he was asked by Time magazine: ‘How does the Heisenberg compensator
>> work?’
>>
>>
>>
>> He responded: ‘It works very well, thank you’.
>>
>>
>>
>> Chris Forbes-Ewan
>>
>>
>>
>> 19 Hedley St
>>
>> Scottsdale Tas 7260
>>
>>
>>
>> *From:* ASC-list [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] *On Behalf
>> Of *Justin Coleman
>> *Sent:* Sunday, 8 December 2013 12:46 AM
>> *To:* asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
>> *Subject:* Re: [ASC-list] A science communication challenge
>>
>>
>>
>> Indeed, a tricky one to answer, Marina.
>>
>>
>>
>> My angle for these incidents is usually self-reflection.
>>
>>
>>
>> Cheers
>>
>> Justin
>>
>>
>>
>> Dr Justin Coleman MBBS FRACGP MPH
>>
>> President, Australasian Medical Writers Association
>>
>> +61 433 824931
>>
>> president at medicalwriters.org
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> Message: 1
>>
>> Date: Sat, 7 Dec 2013 12:10:22 +1100
>>
>> From: Marina Hurley <marinahurley at gmail.com>
>>
>> To: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
>>
>> Subject: [ASC-list] A science communication challenge
>>
>> Message-ID: <EBB444D0-6F65-42EC-B8CD-889F63C75A2D at gmail.com>
>>
>> Content-Type: text/plain;            charset=us-ascii
>>
>>
>>
>> Hi there,
>>
>>
>>
>> Yesterday my 4 year old grandson asked "how do mirrors work"? Any takers?
>>
>>
>>
>> Cheers
>>
>>
>>
>> Marina
>>
>>
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> ASC-list mailing list
>> list at asc.asn.au
>>
>> http://www.asc.asn.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=97&Itemid=115
>>
>
>
>
>
> --
> Dr Marina Hurley
> Lecturer & Consultant
> *Writing Clear Science *
> Visiting Fellow, Faculty of Science, UNSW
> P.O. Box 2373
> Richmond South
> Victoria 3121
> Mobile +61-416-09-7979, Fax +61-3-9421-3472,
>
> info at writingclearscience.com.au
> www.writingclearscience.com.au
> marinahurley at gmail.com (alternative email contact)
> au.linkedin.com/in/marinahurley/
> www.facebook.com/writingclearscience - ideas, thoughts and tips on
> science writing
> ------------------------------------------------
>
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