November 14, 2011

The original Veritasium?

I have four videos I want to remember for potential future use. I've been reading about and discovering the wonders of the work of Julius Sumner Miller. I discovered him when I was rummaging through our department's kit of "Physics of Toys". I had asked our lab coordinator if we had the manual for the kit, and he pulled out the book Physics Fun and Demonstrations which is essentially the manual for the kit. It seems like Professor Miller was the Paul Hewitt of his day.

Or maybe he was the Derek Muller of his day:

Notice that with the exception of rushing a bit at the start of that clip through the question of what the other person will predict, he starts by eliciting the misconception of the concept he is about to demonstrate. Also, he asks the other person (and therefore, the audience) to make a prediction before the demo is done.  Channeling Eric Mazur or Interactive Lecture Demos?

Not all the Miller videos are so pedagogically sound.  Here's a video that Miller did of his toys series, which he rushes through all the demos and skips over some of the explanations.   I picked one of the series to show here, but there are several other in the series to watch.  They are good for experts in physics, but not so much for novices.

I had no idea that Miller became a commercial spokesman for a candy company in Australia toward the end of his life.  Can you imagine a company hiring a physicist today and blending physics concepts with ad copy?  (I'm not sure the ads do anything to get people learning or thinking about physics, but it's interesting to think "what if" nonetheless.)

Finally, someone remixed a few clips of Prof Miller to come up with a re-imagined video (explicit lyrics warning!) of a classic Cypress Hill jam:

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