SectionNews_July2013 - page 11

AAPT Section News, July 2013
—Page 11
Southern California Section
On April 20, over fifty members of the Southern California
Section gathered at Santa Monica College (SMC) for a day
full of informative presentations and lively discussions.
SCAAPT thanks Nuria Rodriguez, Jacob Morris and
Steve Paik, who hosted the meeting at SMC, and Bradley
“Peanut” McCoy, who served as Program Chair of the
meeting. The meeting was called to order by SCAAPT
President James Lincoln.
Thanks to several invited speakers from the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, this meeting had a strong astronomy
emphasis. James Bauer shared results of his work where he
studies “primitives” in the solar system—comets and other
outer solar system objects. Dr. Bauer also described his
work with NEOWISE, the Near Earth Object component of
the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer telescope. Because
dark asteroids re-radiate strongly in the infrared, NEOWISE
observations can often provide better estimates for NEO
diameters than can optical telescopes. He also suggested to
attendees that they mark their calendars to look for comet
ISON in early to mid-December. Since its perihelion distance
will be 1.7 solar radii it’s expected that people should be
able to view comet ISON with the naked eye, perhaps even
during the daytime.
Bonnie Buratti presented the latest findings from Titan,
the only known celestial body, other than earth, that has
standing liquid. This moon of Saturn has conditions are near
the triple-point of methane. Cassini has observed erosion
features and lakes the size of Lake Superior. The atmosphere
is remarkably like earth’s as it has similar pressure and
composition (large component of nitrogen). There also
seasonal cloud patterns and a methane cycle similar to the
water cycle on earth. In fact, Titan could be considered
another planet as it is larger than Mercury. In addition to her
scientific work, Dr. Buratti is also passionate about science
education, which has lead her to run summer institutes for
science teachers. In her presentation, she showed some of the
class activities that she shares with those teachers.
Amy Mainzer studies asteroid belt looking for answers
to questions such as: How have these objects, which have
been around for billions of years, now been kicked out
of their stable orbits and toward earth? In discussing the
recent impact near Chelyabinsk Russia, Dr. Mainzer shared
information on the scale of meteors. For example, while the
meteor in Russia was 17-20m across, most of the “shooting
stars” that are observed are much smaller, closer to a grain
of rice. Despite their small mass, their kinetic energies are
several mega joules thanks to their high velocities.
In the final invited presentation, Erick Wolf of Airwolf3D
demonstrated the latest in 3D printing technology and
discussed classroom applications. Airwolf3D sells not only
assembled printers, but also kits, which can in of themselves
become classroom projects. Mr. Wolf pointed out that the
printers are now lower price than before. Contributing to 3D
printers affordability is the fact that it is now possible to use
open-source software when preparing the files. During the
discussion, SCAAPT member Joe Wise mentioned that the
necessary file to print out your own 3D version of the Vesta
asteroid is available on JPL’s website
During the Business Meeting, members congratulated
Mary Mogge on her recent election to Vice-President of
AAPT and thanked her for twenty years of service to
Several other SCAAPT members also gave engaging
contributed talks:
• Jacob Morris, SMC - Circuit Voltages and Magnetic Flux
• Gary Reynolds, Santa Ana HS - Physics and the Next
Generation Science Standards
• Walter Gekelman, UCLA; Pat Pribyl, UCLA; Joe
Wise New Roads School; Bob Baker, University High;
Nathan Agmon (student), North Hollywood High;
Camie Katz (student), Harvard Westlake; Chris Ha
(student), Palos Verdes High - Using resonance cones
to produce plasma jets
• James Lincoln, Tarbut V’Torah HS - 10 Demonstration
Experiments with a Plasma Ball
• Martin Simon, UCLA - Can Cell Phones Cause Cancer?
• Bernard Cleyet, UCSC (retired), Is Popping Corn
Kernels an Example of the Poisson Distribution?
The ever-popular Show ‘n’ Tell featured demonstrations by
Steve Paik, SMC; Harry Manos, Los Angeles City College;
Beth Stoeckly, CSU Channel Islands; Raymond Gilmartin
(student) and Dean Papadakis, South Pasadena High School.
The meeting ended with the World Famous “Order of
Magnitude Contest.” This meeting’s question was: How
many carbon atoms are tied up in all the diamond jewelry
now possessed by all the people on earth? which was
submitted by Bill Layton.
SCAAPT thanks its corporate sponsors – Edmund
Scientific and Arbor Scientific– for their support and
donation of door prizes. (Be sure to check out ideas for
using a plasma globe, much like the two that were awarded
as door prizes, at
The Southern California Section will hold its Fall
Meeting in late October or early November. Please
bookmark the SCAAPT URL <
> and
check for more information in early Fall.
New Physics Teacher Workshop (NPTW)
SCAAPT has been organizing interactive workshops for
new physics teachers in Southern California for the past
two years and has recently received addition support that
will ensure that they continue for years to come. NPTW
has grown in popularity and serves approximately 30 new
teachers at each of the three annual workshops. These
meetings involve four master teachers (James Lincoln,
1...,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 12,13,14,15,16
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