Schoolboy Physics

Remarks by Norman Page

July 17, 2015

Good to hear from Norman Page in Texas. The teaching of the non Newtonian forces is indeed confused and has completely bewildered generations of students. The easiest way of dealing with this problem is to realize that the forces are generated simply by the use of cylindrical polar coordinates for a planar orbit, or spherical polar coordinates for a non planar orbit.”

The teaching of mechanics was certainly confused in Welsh grammar schools of the sixties, if Ron’s incredibly naive views are typical. Among real physicists, centrifugal force is as annoying a concept as is ‘quantum leap’. They are forced to use it just to be able to talk to engineers … and chemists. Ron is now entirely at sea, and is mixing up fictitious forces, real forces due to general relativistic effects, the use of linearized GR (which resembles Maxwell’s equations in form) and ‘neat’ (but fundamentally meaningless) analogies between fictitious forces and Maxwell’s equations. By the way, Ron, NASA does not send ‘satellites’ to Pluto or anywhere else; it sends ‘probes’.  


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