Using MOOCs to Create a Flipped Classroom

Universities, community colleges, and high schools can use MOOCs to create an environment to enhance student learning.  Last fall a professor at San Jose State used recorded MOOC lectures in an introductory electrical engineering course to create a flipped classroom.  Students passed at a much higher rate than usual—91%, compared with 59% and 55% in two other, more traditional sections of the s

The Martian Chronicles: New Discoveries on the Red Planet, by Burkhard Bilger

One could argue that the technological triumphs embodied in our robotic explorations of Mars far exceed those that put men on the moon.  Missing, however, is the drama of putting human life at risk, and the ease with which our imagination can put us in the shoes of the explorer. That is not to say that there is not a human element.

Life's Ratchet: How Molecular Machines Extract Order From Chaos

Peter Hoffman is a physicist and materials scientist, and he brings those perspectives and sensibilities to the description of how life converts chemical energy into order and motion.  The "Ratchet" in the title is Feynman's Ratchet, a gedanken experiment described in Feynman's "Lectures on Physics" and reminiscent of Maxwell's Demon.

Gas Laws HD Lite

Gas Laws HD Lite is a free iOS app that allows students to discover the relationship of Boyle’s Law and Charles Law.


iGasLaw is a free iOS app that provides useful tools for studying properties of gases and gas laws.

The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know has an Expiration Date

Samuel Arbesman, a mathematician and network scientist, uses the idea a half-life as an analogy for the changes in human knowledge that science brings. He discusses both the changing rate at which new science is done and the speed at which old results are replaced by newer ones. The analogy is far from perfect, but it emphasizes some critically important aspects of the processes of science.

The Signal and the Noise

New York Times blogger Nate Silver demonstrates how probability and statistical thinking can be used to analyze practical problems in our society. A lively, practical, and informative book!