…actually, busy couple of months. I just finished reading “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” by Richard Rhodes, and I can’t recommend it highly enough; it’s an amazingly engaging bit of history, well-researched and exceptionally written. And, of course, rather creepy to read.
It’s also got me thinking about an idea for a sophomore or junior-level physics course in nuclear physics, that would try to combine serious theory, engineering, experiment, and history; essentially following the early development of the subject, actually doing all of the major experiments (it’s one of the few fields of physics where that’s possible in a classroom setting), and getting the students up to the point where they understand both the technical and ethical issues associated with their field. I suspect it could be a great way to both really draw in the very serious students and to give them a much-needed parallelism of experiment and theory in a class.
(I remember that I didn’t get my first really interesting experimental physics class until my senior year. That was the year I got thrown in a lab with a bunch of spare parts and told to measure things. I remember building a gamma spectrometer and spending hour after hour looking for interesting things I could examine with it… and had I had a class like that a few years earlier, my life might have turned out very differently. Oh well… thus the urge to teach it to others.)
Also: It looks confirmed, my cousin Sharon is getting married in early June, so I’m going back to Israel for a few weeks. (Finally!) And my grandmother promised to teach me the basics of wood sculpture while I’m there. (And if it weren’t for the wedding being in June, I would probably go much sooner… dammit, I need a trip. Right now a few weeks in Israel and a few days on the side in Paris sounds really, really appealing)