More about me:

Bio
Publications
Curriculum vitae

Current Courses

Physics 105: Analytical Mechanics
All Department courses

Previous Courses

Physics 1: Intro to PhysicsPhysics 3: Intro II
Physics 60: Modern
Physics 105: Analytical Mechanics
Physics 140: Particle Physics

Flash Simulations

Bead on a Wire 1
Drag the bead
Draw your own function

My list of other people's simulations

Whiteboard "movies"

Vector Cross Product
Euler's Second Equation

Online Textbook

Kinematics
Electrostatics: Coulomb's Law

Experiments

EOS
E895

Professor of Physics

self picI'm a physics professor at Saint Mary's College of California. This year, I'm also Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. I spend most of my time teaching: either in lecture, lab, and office hours with the students, or thinking about how best to teach my students. I have also done research on relativistic heavy-ion physics, and I have been able to involve students in that research. Currently I am spending most of my time figuring out more cool ways to use my iPad for physics instruction. When I have time, I also design and program simulations and visualizations for use in my classes.

Courses, Spring 2012

torque labPhysics 105: Analytical Mechanics This course is typically the first upper division physics course a Saint Mary's student would take. We cover principles of particle dynamics. Topics include Newtonian mechanics, oscillating systems, conservation laws, rotations, Lagrange’s equations, and Hamilton’s principle.

Physics 11L: General Physics II Lab: This is the lab to accompany Physics 11: General Physics II, the second semester of the introductory sequence for health/biological science majors.

 

Courses, Fall 2011

torque labPhysics 1: Introduction to Physics I This course is intended for students who plan to major in Physics, 3+2 Engineering, Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Mathematics. We will cover kinematics, dynamics, energy, momentum, rotational motion, fluids, and thermodynamics. One semester of Calculus is the only prerequisite for this class, and it may be taken concurrently.

Courses, Spring 2011

torque labPhysics 3: Introduction to Physics II This course is intended for students who plan to major in Physics, Engineering, Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Mathematics. We will cover electricity and magnetism, as well as optics. One semester of Calculus is a prerequisite for this class, and the second semester may be taken concurrently.

Physics 105: Analytical Mechanics This course is typically the first upper division physics course a Saint Mary's student would take. We cover principles of particle dynamics. Topics include Newtonian mechanics, oscillating systems, conservation laws, rotations, Lagrange’s equations, and Hamilton’s principle.

Physics Simulations and Demos

Learning physics should be engaging and fun. Okay, maybe not always fun, but not always painful, either. In an effort to make learning physics more interesting for more students, I've been designing and learning to program some simulations and visualizations of things I know give my students trouble. My long-term goal is to write an online textbook. But for now, I'm starting with the fun stuff. I decided to use Flash because it is the most accessible to the most people (at least as I write this.)

The Bead on a Wire visualization is a very basic demo to help the beginning student learn to associate a graph with motion. You can select from three different functions of (one dimensional) position versus time and watch the corresponding motion of a bead on a wire.

The second in that series allows you to Drag the Bead yourself and see the graph that corresponds to the motion that you create.

And finally you can use the mouse to draw your own graph and then "play" the motion with the bead on the wire.

Whiteboard "movies"

I started using my iPad to write some notes (I like Notes Plus.) And then I realized, it would be perfect if I could replay some of these for the students. With the help of Doceri, I found a (complicated) way to make it happen. So far I've only had the time and energy to make two "movies," but I see real potential in this method. For intro classes, I have one on the vector cross product (this one viewable on a mobile device, but small on a computer screen), and from the calculus of variations (in our analytical mechanics class) I have this derivation of Euler's Second Equation.

Experimental Work

EOS logoThe EOS Experiment was performed at the Bevalac at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. The EOS Collaboration consisted of about 45 physicists from seven institutions around the world. At the time, I was a graduate student in the UC Davis Nuclear Group. In this experiment, we studied collisions between various nuclei over an energy range from 0.1 to 1.9 GeV per nucleon. The logo shown here is a picture of charged particle tracks in the Time Projection Chamber (TPC).

E895 logoExperiment 895 (E895) was performed at the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron (AGS) at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, New York. Collisions at E895 spanned a range of energies from 2 to 8 GeV per nucleon. The logos for the two experiments look similar becaseu the same detector, the EOS TPC, was used to acquire data for both experiments. You see many more tracks in E895 since the collisions produced more enegy--which in turn produced more particles. Several students from Saint Mary's worked with me on data analysis of this experiment. Local E895 page.