Mythbusters: Sail on a Boat

Back in the section on Newton’s First Law, I mentioned one of the classic examples of internal forces: a fan on a sailboat. It has since been pointed out to me a few times, usually in a somewhat smug and conclusive tone of voice, that Mythbusters busted that myth a long time ago.

mythbusters episodes
Smugly awesome.

So why did their boat go forward, as in the video below? I’m a big fan of the show, but I do think Grant’s explanation (at around 4:16) is a bit misleading.

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Cartoon: PhD Comics Explains the Higgs Boson

I urge you to watch this video. I also urge you to skip ahead to the animation, because that’s where it gets good. Learning about the Higgs Boson was one of the main events that got me interested in physics in the first place. And by the way, there are actually more than the twelve … Read more

TEDx Talk: How to Save the Earth from Asteroids

Here’s a TEDx Talk by astronomer Phil Plait (who also blogs for Discover Magazine at Bad Astronomy) about some of the asteroids that have already collided with Earth and what we can do if another big one heads our way. He briefly mentions the fact that blowing the thing up with a nuclear bomb (as … Read more

Feynman on Explaining Physics

Here’s a video of physicist Richard Feynman describing why it can be problematic to use physics to “explain” phenomena. It takes him a while to get to the point he’s trying to make, but I recommend that you stick around until the end. The goal of physics is to answer “why” at deeper and deeper … Read more