Some of you might have been missing irregular, but frequent, updates here on Atomic Insights for the past few weeks. You may have wondered why most comment threads have been closed. You may have even noticed that the Twitter tool in the right hand column didn’t include any new tweets for days on end.
I have a good excuse for my nearly complete silence in the virtual world; since the beginning of July I have been teaching a course in Nuclear Science as part of the Duke TIP summer program. Here is the course description as listed on the organization’s web site.
Nuclear science plays a vital role in the lives of Americans, providing approximately one-fifth of our energy and diagnosing and healing millions of patients with nuclear medical procedures. Nuclear science is used to enhance the food we eat, control pests, track materials flow in industry, date archeological artifacts, and identify chemical compositions. Through hands-on activities, computer simulations, and discussions, learn the science within the atom, study the history of key discoveries in the field, and debate the ethics of nuclear weaponry. Apply Einstein’s famous formula E=mc2, and learn about atomic structure, isotopes, half-life, radioactivity, nuclear reactions, fission, and fusion.
Even with a good level of knowledge, teaching 17 really smart young people for six hours per day, 5 days a week plus 3 more hours on Saturday is a time consuming challenge, especially the first time through. I’m sure I’m not saying anything new to the admirable people who teach others full time, but preps and follow ups add a considerable effort to the 33 hours of face time. I’m glad there is no grading requirement for this kind of summer program.
The term is coming to an end. I’ll have some interesting stories, new ideas, and thoughts to share with you about the experience. For example, have you ever heard of a neutristor? Before beginning my TIP experience, I had no idea that it was possible to hold a neutron generator in the palm of your hand.
I will, of course, be eventually getting back to a more regular publishing schedule, but it might take a few weeks before that happens. It is, after all, still the heat of the summer and everything moves a little more slowly in the southern US during late July and early August.