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Brainteaser Physics

Challenging Physics Puzzlers


Publication Year: 2007

Does a glass of ice water filled to the brim overflow when the ice melts? Does the energy inside a sauna increase when you heat it up? What's the best way to cool your coffee—adding the creamer first or last? These and other challenging puzzlers provide a fresh—and fun—approach to learning real physics. Presenting both classic and new problems, Brainteaser Physics challenges readers to use imagination and basic physics principles to find the answers. Göran Grimvall provides detailed and accessible explanations of the solutions, sometimes correcting the standard explanations, sometimes putting a new twist on them. He provides diagrams and equations where appropriate and ends each problem by discussing a specific concept or offering an extra challenge. With Brainteaser Physics, students and veteran physicists alike can sharpen their critical and creative thinking—and have fun at the same time.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

Solving problems and coping with challenges are human traits. Many of us do these things just for fun. Crosswords and chess problems are found virtually everywhere. Recreational mathematics problems is a genre with a vast literature. Much less common are recreational physics problems—the theme of this book. Here I present...

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1. Ten Hits

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pp. 1-30

For well over a century the popular scientific literature has included braintwisters with solutions that are applications of simple physical ideas. Many of these problems have become classics and have been published over and over again. Some classic problems that require more of mathematics are found in introductory physics textbooks....

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2. No Math Required

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pp. 31-54

This chapter contains problems of increasing difficulty for which only qualitative answers are required, although simple mathematics may give additional insight....

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3. Are You Sure?

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pp. 55-78

The problems in this chapter may seem simple. But beware. For some readers the answer could be a real surprise. The last problem may baffle even a physics professor....

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4. Forces and Currents

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pp. 79-107

This chapter contains problems that assume familiarity with mechanics and electricity at the level of introductory college courses, but several of them may challenge even those with a deeper knowledge of physics....

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5. Not Exact but Still Relevant

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pp. 108-126

Many realistic problems cannot be given an “exact” answer, but an approximate answer is good enough. That is the theme of this chapter....

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6. Challenges for Your Creativity

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pp. 127-145

This chapter contains problems in which the solution requires an element of creativity before the knowledge of physics is applied....

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pp. 146-147

A main theme in this book has been to use challenging problems to illustrate how physicists think. In schoolbooks the end-of-thechapter problems are almost always to be solved through a direct application of the theory and principles just dealt with. This is an important training that should not be frowned upon. But real life may...

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Further Reading

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pp. 149-155

Several of the problems in this book have been treated in scholarly journals, which are mainly devoted to the pedagogical aspects of physics. Works published in American Journal of Physics and European Journal of Physics are usually intended for teaching at the university level, whereas The Physics Teacher and Physics Education are concerned with more...


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pp. 157-162

E-ISBN-13: 9780801891700
E-ISBN-10: 0801891701
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801885129
Print-ISBN-10: 0801885124

Page Count: 176
Illustrations: 65 line drawings, 6 halftones
Publication Year: 2007