Pushing Back: The Inertia Property

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Thursday, October 31, 2019
When: 5:00pm - 6:30pm
Harman Academy, DML 241
Thursday, October 31, 2019 - 17:00

A Special Family Trojan Weekend Event [parents, siblings, grandparents--everyone is welcome!]


“Nothing happens until something moves.”

--Albert Einstein


Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to any change…

Imagine the great polymaths--Aristotle, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Einstein—each wrestling with the property of inertia.  They observed its existence, investigated its origin, and sought its action in the universe.  Galileo, inspired by Copernicus' findings, modified Aristotle’s initial conclusions, postulating that a “body moving on a level surface will continue in the same direction at a constant speed unless disturbed.”  Newton refined these conclusions, which manifested as his first law in his Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica: “The vis insita, or innate force of matter, is a power of resisting by which every body, as much as in it lies, endeavours to preserve its present state, whether it be of rest or of moving uniformly forward in a straight line.”  Einstein, “standing on the shoulders of these giants,” confirmed Galileo and Newton’s inertia theories in his Theory of Special Relativity.  But through the process, he recognized inherent limitations in the principle, which lead to his epic General Theory of Relativity.  We humans, physical objects that we are, also wrestle with inertia, the resistance to change.  Please join Professor of Physics and Anatomy Gene Bickers in conversation about this unchanging property in our universe that may inspire movement in our lives. 

Gene Bickers, Professor of Physics and Astronomy

Professor Bickers studies condensed matter theory and the strongly correlated electrons in solids. He received B.A. in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Virginia and his PhD in Theoretical Physics from Cornell University. His research interests center on the theory of strongly correlated electrons in exotic solids, including high-temperature superconductors. One of Bickers' primary goals is to help improve the teaching of introductory and lower division courses in science and mathematics.