Sunday, April 28, 2013

The End of an Era...

Greetings everyone,

            I want to use this post to reflect on my recent struggles with one of my classes, multivariable calculus. You could say that mathematics and I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with each other. Last semester I was actually feeling rather fond of math and even considered the idea of pursuing a math minor. I was taking linear algebra at the time, which was refreshingly different from all the trig and calculus that had been crammed into my brain in the prior few years. Linear algebra deals mostly with vectors and certain sets of vectors called “vector spaces” and the axioms by which they must abide, as well as linear transformations (functions between two vector spaces) and some interesting aspects of matrices, determinants, and eigenvectors and eigenvalues. I’m sure much of that last sentence was completely foreign to many people, and, in a way, that’s the point. Linear algebra was so new and different and brought some excitement into my math life.

            As I said, this semester I am taking multivariable calculus. It has been a very harsh reminder

Monday, February 18, 2013

My first day of observation at UPCS!!!

Hey everyone,


            I’ve written before about one of the classes I’m taking this semester called “Complexities of Urban Schools”. It’s an introductory level education class here at Clark that casts a critical eye on the U.S. public education system. It’s a diverse class in which, typically through assigned readings and in-class discussions, we examine the many problems that socioeconomically disadvantaged children and/or minority children face when it comes to schooling, how the current public system perpetuates these problems, and what we can do to hopefully fix the problems. We also occasionally use documentary films and collaborative team projects to examine these problems. One additional way through which we study the education system, though, is by sitting in and observing an actual class in a local public school in the Main South neighborhood of Worcester.

            Our weekly observation hours are an integral component of the experience that this unique class offers. Everyone in the class gets assigned to a local elementary or secondary school based on

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

It's all Relative

Hey everyone,


            I want to take this time to talk a little bit about the physics class I’m taking this semester, ‘Quantum Physics and Relativity’. As the course title implies, the class covers two different, and quite distinct, topics of physics. The first month or so of the class is devoted to the study of special relativity, which is a corrective theory of mechanics for situations in which classical Newtonian physics breaks down. The rest of the course from there surveys various areas of quantum physics. Also a correction to classical physics, quantum physics is a comprehensive treatment of the submicroscopic universe. It turns out that the laws of chemistry and physics are completely different at the quantum level. The quantum physics portion of the class will introduce the basics of quantum mechanics and then move into atomic, molecular, nuclear, and solid-state physics.

            The part of the class on special relativity, which we’re doing right now, is mostly what I’d like to discuss in this post, specifically the history behind the emergence of modern physics. Physicists generally take the time-threshold from classical physics to modern physics to be around the start of

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Good, the Bad, and the Physics

Hello all,


The primary reason that I am pursuing a degree in physics is so that I can teach it at the secondary level. In high school, physics is considered by an overwhelming amount of students to be the most difficult subject to understand. This is usually because it not only involves its own conceptual difficulties but also relies very heavily on mathematics, and we all know how notorious math is for being despised by most every student in school.

Given my hopes of being a teacher it should be of no surprise that I’m also pursuing a degree in education (Clark University has an outstanding 5th year M.A. program for education students!) One of the classes I’m taking this semester is an education class called ‘Complexities of Urban Schools’. So far it’s an awesome class. The professor does an amazing job (Prof. John Ameer), and the subject content is just beyond fascinating. In a nutshell, the course examines the more or less failing

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Oscillations, Waves, and Optics

Hello all and thanks for reading!

So tomorrow I have an exam in my physics class, Oscillations, Waves, and Optics (PHYS 130). This class covers, as the course name implies, several topics within physics. First we covered oscillatory motion, a special type of motion in which an object moves cyclically and returns to a fixed point after each full cycle (the fixed time interval in which the object completes one full cycle is defined as the period T of the object's motion). One specific case of oscillatory motion is simple harmonic motion (SHM), which is the basis for the behavior of waves.

And so the study of SHM leads directly into the second part of the course, which is about waves. A wave, in the simplest sense, is the transfer of energy through a medium via a pulse (also called a disturbance). There are several basic concepts about waves

Friday, November 2, 2012

First Post: a bit of my academic history

Hello all,

Given that this is my first post, let me start with some quick basic information. My name is Dan Rillovick. I'm a sophomore (class of 2015) at Clark University (in Worcester, MA) and am majoring in physics. I was born in Salem, MA and lived in Wakefield, MA until the age of nine when I moved to New Hampshire, which is where my home is today. I chose Clark University because I wanted to return to the city after having spent the entirety of my teenage days in the rural backdrop of northern New Hampshire. Why I chose to study physics is a much more complicated question and thus has a much more complicated answer. And although I do talk briefly on my profile page about my motivations, I'd prefer not to discuss why I am studying physics just yet.

I'd like to use this post to share a bit of academic history. I think my reasons for studying physics, when I do discuss them further, will carry much more meaning if you know my story and how I got to where I am.