Update on the quantum mechanics experiment

Some of you may have noticed a dearth of quantum mechanics posts in the past month. The project isn’t dead, it’s simply been delayed due to a great deal of other work piling up in the time which would normally go into it.

However, I’ve also been looking through the past posts in the sequence, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the approach needs to be overhauled. Teaching with and without a room full of students is a pair of very different propositions; I may have underestimated how much of what I do is normally based on the back-and-forth with people, and being able to see in real-time what is and isn’t being communicated well. As it stands, I can’t follow all of my own arguments in some of those posts (the derivation of the Uncertainty Principle being one of the worst offenders). Clearly some rethinking is in order to improve coherence.

So, the project will continue, but in a somewhat modified form and at a slightly later date. Stay tuned.

Published in: on November 3, 2010 at 11:30  Comments (2)  


  1. I recently found your quantum mechanics project. I find this interesting, being extremely interested in the subject myself. I’m a physics student graduating this May. As a part of my final semester, I’m taking a class in science communication. A large part of the grade is maintaining a science blog. The topic I have chosen is explaining quantum mechanics to a layperson with little to no math or physics background. My approach is certainly very different than yours, but I definitely think I have a lot to learn from your posts. I’d really love to get some input from you on what you think of my methods.

    I think physics is best taught as a discussion. A teacher can bark at you all day about what to do, but the majority of the physics I’ve learned has not been from homework, reading, or lectures, it has been from discussion. I think many of your posts seem to come across as lectures, and people may lack motivation to go through it. This is the same issue I’ve been running into. I definitely look forward to seeing your future revisions of your project and hope to hear from you at my blog.


  2. Yup; the whole lecture versus discussion issue is what made me pause the experiment here, as well. When I’m teaching in a classroom it’s normally much more two-way; I need to figure out a way to mimic that in a blog setting. (Which you would think would be easy, but it really isn’t — I think people have a fairly high barrier to commenting compared to their barrier to looking confused in a class)

    I will definitely take a look at your blog; general-public QM is a really interesting subject to teach as well, and I’m interested to see how you make progress on it. Thanks for the link!

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