cupcake physics


About This Blog

Over my career, I have come across a lot of different problems in physics. And while tackling these problems I remember a lot of the struggles that I had with the material - the little misconceptions that I wish somebody had highlighted when I got stuck. My goal is to create an online resource that gives good explanations of some of the problems and research papers that I have struggled with over the years.

You have to be willing to read through some math (sometimes a lot of math) in order to get the full meaning of each post. I have labeled each post with a one, two, or three cupcake difficulty depending on the sophistication of the math involved. Posts ranked with one cupcake are considered introductory physics problems. These are the types of problems you would see in an AP physics class or introductory college level science program (algebra or basic calculus might be needed). Two cupcakes signify medium difficulty. These are problems that are generally seen in an undergraduate physics curriculum (sometimes even engineering curricula). Finally, three cupcake problems are those that are seen in graduate school or later. You generally need sophisticated math techniques, a deep understanding of the material, or a lot of patience to work through these problems.

I will always do my best to provide correct explanations, but every once in awhile, you may notice a mistake. If you do, just leave a comment at the bottom of the post, and I will fix it as soon as possible.

A Note About Solutions

I have worked through a veritable mountain of problems over my physics career. I know how tempting it is to pull up a solution online and read it over instead of mucking through the work yourself. You all know what I am about to say here - don't do it.

Studies have shown that simply reading through a solution is one of the worst ways to learn. If you really want to understand physics, you have got to sit down, pull out a pencil and paper, and tackle difficult problems. That is going to take time and effort - there is no way around that. Thus, if you are referencing these pages for your homework, always try the problem by yourself first. Take some chances with your analysis and try out a few different strategies. Then (and only then) should you refer to these solutions.

A Note About Comments

A blog just isn't a blog without comments! If you have any questions or comments, please leave a note at the bottom of the post. All of the comments on this blog are managed by Disqus. I have enabled the Guest Comment feature, so you should be able to leave messages, even if you are not a registered Disqus user. I will try to answer comments as soon as I can. If your comment is particularly good, I might even expand it into a new post.

A Note About Smaller Devices

Some of the posts contain a lot of math with long lines of symbols. This is especially true in some of the more advanced posts involving derivations. Although I do try to format the site appropriately for all device types, it is easier to view long equations on larger screens. Some of the equations may not display well on a cell phone screen.

A Note About Javascript

This website uses Javascript all over the place. The equations are generated by MathJax. The graphs are generated by D3. Make sure that you have Javascript enabled if you want to make full use of this website. Most modern browsers do this automatically, so it should not be a problem for the average Cupcake Physics user.