rich

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  1. Have you considered sending your daughter to a Magnet school? I have done very little research on this type of institution, but from what I've heard, Magnet schools are 1) public [which, I infer, means you'll pay nothing in addition to the tax dollars you already pay] and 2) specialized [they are based heavily on math/science/engineering, or fine arts, etc. and accept only the most accomplished]. I once knew a guy who was an excellent math teacher, but was not the type of person who could control a typcially rowdy class of high schoolers one often encounters in public schools. He opted to teach at a Magnet school so that his efforts would not be wasted on academic slackers. I don't know how old your daughter is, but this could be a solution for her sometime in her life.
  2. Thanks for the link, I'll check it out soon. I had been taught years ago (in high school, I think) that water is polar because oxygen has a greater affinity for electrons than does hydrogen. But, this would not explain how why H2O is nonlinear.
  3. Polar, polarized -- call it what you will, the point is that the oxygen and hydrogen atoms that make up water do not share their valence electrons equally. Oxygen keeps the valence electrons for a greater share of time than the hydrogen atoms do, and so the molecule as a whole has a slightly positive end, and a slightly negative end. I'm sure we both agree on this. And I've imagined clouds having this same feature -- a slightly positive end, and a slightly negative end, but neutral as a whole. I don't know how this would arise in the first place, as I've stated. But assuming it does occur, then I was thinking that if two clouds meet with their oppositely charged ends facing one another, then the attraction would be great enough to rip off some electrons, resulting in an electric current. But now, I realize, this is probably not physically reasonable, because as you said, polarization does not lead to a charge imbalance. So I'm still not sure what's going on with the clouds.
  4. Maybe I wasn't clear enough. The water molecules themselves are already polarized; water molecules are polarized naturally, and each water molecule can be thought of as a tiny dipole. What I meant was, the water molecules as a group may be ordered in such a way as to polarize the cloud. In other words, somehow all the H2O molecules at the bottom of the cloud might have their O atoms pointed toward the earth, and their H atoms pointed away from the earth. I don't know how this might occur in the first place. There is, of course, the earth's natural magnetic field, but its strength is only of the order of 1 gauss, so I doubt it would effect the water molecules significantly. Polarization, though, would account for lightning's jumping from one cloud to another, I think. If the positively polarized part of one cloud drifts near the negatively polarized part of another cloud, a strong electric field will arise -- eventually resulting in dielectric breakdown of the air in between the clouds, i.e., lightning.
  5. I've read two accounts as to why clouds become attracted to the earth's surface, which is of course a precursor to lightning. One hypothesis is that a cloud's water molecules, being polarized (oxygen atom carrying an effective negative charge and the two hydrogen atoms carrying an equal effective positive charge), all align inside the cloud with their oxygen atoms pointed toward the earth and the hydrogen atoms pointing away from the earth. This creates a large polarization of the cloud, that in turn polarizes the surface of the earth. Another hypothesis is that as clouds move through the air, the friction between cloud and air knocks electrons off of the cloud, giving the cloud a net positive charge, creating a polarization on the earth's surface. The first hypothesis assumes that clouds are not charged, but polarized; the second assumes they are indeed charged, and does not discount the possibility of polarization being present also. One of these hypotheses has to be wrong. Anyone know which one?
  6. Lying on Job Interviews

    As I've said in my latest post in this thread, I've decided that it is not moral to lie in a job interview. But, I never gave my reasoning, so I'll do so now. Hopefully, listing my thought process gives everyone a new perspective on this topic. First, some preliminaries: Lying/deception/fraud are forms of force. If I am hired under false pretenses, then I am effectively taking my employer's money without his permission. Which is force -- almost by definition. Now, since lying is a form of force, I may use it only in retaliation against a party that initiates the use of force against me. That is, a party that seeks to harm my values. And if I'm on an interview, then obviously no value of mine has been threatened by the employer; how can he take my job from me, when it isn't even my job yet? So I have no justification for initiating the use of force. Lying would make me an initiator of force. Hence it is immoral to lie on job interviews. This reasoning is nice and tidy, but solid, I believe.
  7. Lying on Job Interviews

    No set-in-stone occupation yet, I would simply like to work in a technical position (e.g. engineer, physicist, etc.) for a company. Teaching is not for me, and working at a government job is a last resort. Industry is where I want to be. I've had 4 interviews with 2 companies so far, and each time, questions arose regarding what I do in my free time. In all honesty, I don't think I'll be expected to volunteer at the jobs I apply for. Nor do I think my private life will be meddled into once I have a job. What worries me, is that many hiring managers do their hiring based on non-work related criteria. Some examples: An engineer I know landed her co-op because she played on her university's softball team. Another friend of mine, with a business background, said his interviewer was impressed that he had worked as a camp counselor years earlier. And one woman, fresh out of college with her Economics degree, said all she talked about on her job interview was weddings! (she got the job) If what I mentioned above are the standards employers go by, then I definitely cannot "compete" for a job. This is why I was tempted to lie.
  8. Lying on Job Interviews

    I've done a lot of thinking about this matter today, and I've decided that I can't justify lying. A company has the right to set any hiring criteria it wishes, however irrational or silly. But it is horribly frustrating to be turned down for a job I know I am qualified for, because of reasons completely unrelated to the job. In the future it will be extremely difficult for me to tell an employer, in the most polite way possible, to keep out of my private life. I have no desire to be a martyr; and, for awhile, I thought that I'd rather be a liar than a martyr. The temptation to lie is very real. As for the myth that socialites, or people with diverse interests, make better employees than loners: I think the notion is ridiculous. Did the Chicago Bulls draft Michael Jordan because he volunteered at Red Cross? If you're deciding among 5 neighborhood boys to hire to mow your lawn, do you pick the one who has an interest in opera?
  9. I just graduated with my M.S. degree in physics, and I'm currently interviewing for jobs with companies. Here is my problem: On every interview I've been on so far, someone (usually a Human Resources person, but also other scientists) asks me what I do in my spare time, what my extra-curricular activities are, what my non-scientific hobbies are, etc. Often, they ask more questions about my personal life than my academic/career qualifications. I have no idea why they would be interested in such insignificant details about my personal life; I would like to think that they're interested in what I'll be doing on company time, not my own time. Friends of mine have told me that many companies are impressed if applicants are involved with charity work, for example, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. Others have told me that companies are impressed not just by an applicants' volunteer work, but by their general social activities; if an applicant has organized a weekend tennis club, for example, companies are more likely to hire this applicant. Being a very busy person, and also having logged zero hours of formal volunteer work in my life (and no desire to begin doing so), I tell my interviewer the truth: aside from working out, and the occasional night out with my friends/girlfriend, I spend what little free time I have reading, or working on other science-related projects. And, based on my interviewer's body language/tone, I usually infer that they are disappointed about something I have said. So my question: Would it be moral to lie when asked what I do in my spare time? I don't want to be penalized because I don't volunteer at the local hospital, or because I don't enjoy rock climbing on the weekends. But, the purpose of my lying would be to gain a value (the job) -- so is lying definitely wrong in this case? Would my lying be a form of force, if I am hired under false pretenses? I know this post is long and meandering, but I've done my best to condense it.
  10. I've read the threads you directed me to, and you have said that nobody can state the "real" difference between mass and energy. Would it be better to say, not that energy has mass, but that energy has inertia? What I mean is, energy (a light beam, for example) is gravitationally attracted to mass -- but this is by no means saying that energy is a form of mass? Perhaps it'd be better to say, energy and mass both have inertia -- but mass is mass and energy is energy, and mass is not energy and energy is not mass? I'm thinking of an analogy. Consider the relationship between temperature and average kinetic energy of a classical ideal gas: (1/2)*m*v^2 = (3/2)*k*T, where k is Boltzmann's constant. This relationship does not say that temperature is a form of kinetic energy, nor that the temperature is merely the kinetic energy, multiplied by a few constants. It is simply an equality that holds for classical ideal gases. In other words, it is not a definition. The definition of temperature, is [the partial derivative of entropy with respect to energy], inverted. Should we think of E = m*c^2 the same way? Not as a definition, but merely an equality that holds for massive particles?
  11. What about the phrase, "conversion of mass into energy"? This phrase is commonly printed, in places from newspaper articles to textbooks. But A is A, and mass is mass, so how can mass become energy? Mass and energy don't even have the same units!
  12. Einstein and Kant

    While we're on the subject of Einstein's social beliefs, I have wondered for a long time: could Einstein possibly have been Rand's motivation for the character Dr. Robert Stadler in Atlas Shrugged? In Atlas, Stadler is said to be the only one who truly betrayed the public, because Stadler "had a mind to know better" than to promote socialistic ideals, as Einstein did. In an essay from The Voice of Reason, Rand says something about having intended Stadler to illustrate the importance of philosophy to scientists in general. But, since Stadler was as big a celebrity scientist as Einstein was, and also as brilliant, I've always thought that Stadler was Rand's depiction of Einstein.
  13. Math and Physics Books

    Would someone studying under this kind of curriculum, from the perspective of the TEW, even know what a "wave" is at first? I mean, would he have an everyday example of a wave (such as an electromagnetic wave) to keep in mind as a visualization? Also: when would this person eventually begin studying the "mundane" topics the Feynman Lectures were designed to circumvent, such as balls rolling down inclined planes or boundary value problems in electrostatics? Toward the end of their undergrad career, or would they even have to wait until they got into graduate school? I imagine learning the TEW would take quite a bit of time, and I know that learning relativistic quantum mechanics certainly is no walk in the park. Could your approach be extended to a mathematics curriculum? I have never taken a course in abstract algebra, but someone told me that it is even more fundamental than the algebra that is learned in junior/senior high school. Would students learn abstract algebra, with all its complicated theorems and proofs, before they learned basic, everyday algebra? Would they study general tensors before they studied vectors and scalars?
  14. Electric Dipoles

    Thank you for the very informative response, ewv. I have a lot to think about now. I have never heard of the term "dipole distribution", but I will read up on it. Any two opposite charges in any configuration? Is a charged capacitor then technically a dipole?
  15. Math and Physics Books

    Not to get too far off subject of textbooks for realitycheck44, but I have never been a fan of physics authors' presenting the math needed for a topic along with the topic itself. I have always preferred to concentrate on the physics exclusively, and learning new mathematics at the same time has always given me, and many of my fellow students, a lot of frustration. (This is why I recommend R. Shankar's book for learning quantum mechanics: all the math needed for the whole book is presented in the first chapter, allowing the student to learn the math first, and then be free to focus solely on the physics.) Also, in regards to the Feynman Lectures: Feynman himself, in one of the books' prefaces, says that a central aim of the Lectures is to provide a more "interesting" approach to learning physics, by introducing students to relatively recent topics(such as relativity and quantum theory) early on. But, doesn't this approach go against the "hierarchy" principle that is emphasized by Objectivist teachers? Particle kinematics, electrostatics, and finding moments of inertia may not be as "exciting" as relativity or quantum theory, but they are fundamental topics. Shouldn't they be taught first, not because they came first historically, but for hierarchy's sake, in other words, teaching "from the ground up"?