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Contents of the May/June 1996 issue of Quantum


Feature articles

Cutting Facets

by Vladimir Dubrovsky

Quantum’s Russian Field Editor for Math stumbles upon a rather nondescript problem in an old issue of Kvant and finds a remarkable variety of solutions based on different useful and instructive ideas. The problem, it turns out, was a “diamond in the rough.”


The Play of Light

by Dmitry Tarasov and Lev Tarasov

Everyone who has taken elementary physics knows that the speed of light is constant in a vacuum, but differs in various transparent media. But what if it were everywhere the same? It would be a strange world indeed!


Surprises of the Cubic Formula

by Dmitry Fuchs and Irene Klumova

Enough about quadratic equations, already! How about a formula for solving cubic equations? Well, there is one, but there are reasons why it’s not so handy for everyday use. (But it did play a significant role in the history of mathematics.)


Against the Current

by Alexander Mitrofanov

We don’t pay much attention to the resistance the air put up as we walk through it. But as we ride a bicycle through it, or drive a race car through it—then we can’t help but notice it. What is “fluid resistance” and how can we take it into account?


Departments

Kaleidoscope: How Enlightened Are You?

Some of the greatest minds in science struggled with the nature of light. How much of their legacy have you assimilated?


Follow-up: Queens on a Cylinder

by Alexey Tolpygo

A treatment of nonstandard chessboards and chess pieces that builds on earlier Quantum articles (“Torangles and Torboards” [March/April 1994] and “Signals, Graphs, and Kings on a Torus” [November/December 1995]).


Looking Back: A Brewer and Two Doctors

by Gennady Myakishev

A brief look at three men who were instrumental in discovering the law of conservation of energy—none of them a physicist by training.


At the Blackboard I: A Pivotal Approach

by Boris Pritsker

Tips on using rotation in problem solving.


Quantum Smiles: The Mathematician, the Physicist, and the Engineer

A sampling from a collection of science jokes on the World Wide Web.


Physics Contest: Moving Matter

by Arthur Eisenkraft and Larry D. Kirkpatrick

A classic method for measuring the speed of a bullet transmogrifies into a problem featuring Tarzan and Jane!


Math Investigations: The Conductor of a Set

by George Berzsenyi

No, it doesn’t have to do with railroads. It comes from a book with the tongue-in-cheek title Generatingfunctionalology (yes, it’s all one word!).


At the Blackboard II: Physics in the News

by Albert A. Bartlett

Using the laws of scaling and the author’s candidate for Most Useful Equation in Differential Calculus to cast a news story in a new light.


Toy Store: Why Won’t Weeble Wobbly Go to Bed?

by L. Borovinsky

The physics behind a certain toy’s contrary behavior.


How Do You Figure?: Challenges in Physics and Math


Brainteasers: Just for the Fun of It!

Check out this sample!


Happenings


Crisscross Science

Scientific crossword puzzle.


Answers, Hints & Solutions


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Copyright 1996 National Science Teachers Association
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