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Contents of the May/June 1997 issue of Quantum


Feature articles

On Kaleidoscopes

by E. B. Vinberg

A look at kaleidoscopes that takes you well beyond the simple tubular toy—into hyperbolic space, in fact!


Does Elementary Length Exist?

by Andrey Sakharov

The great Soviet physicist and human rights activist discusses one of the basic questions in the field of particle physics: is there, in principle, a limitation on the applicability of modern science’s basic ideas about space and causality?


Irrationality and Irreducibility

by V. A. Oleynikov

The ancient Greeks knew that the square root of 2 is irrational. Later it became clear that the polynomial x2 – 2 = 0 is irreducible. What’s the connection?


A Clock Wound for All Time

by V. I. Kuznetsov

The Earth is a timepiece that can measure its own age—almost!


Departments

Kaleidoscope: Let’s Not Be Dense About It!

by A. A. Leonovich

“It” here is the concept of density. How well do you understand it?


Physics Contest: Color Creation

by Arthur Eisenkraft and Larry D. Kirkpatrick

How “thin film interference” affects how colors are created in soap bubbles and oil slicks, and how they differ from those produced by a prism or raindrop.


Cowculations: Slipping Silage

by Dr. Mu

Someone was stealing the hay. He was caught, but the insurance company wants to know how much was stolen. Can you help figure it out?


At the Blackboard I: Magnets, Charges, and Planets

by Albert Stasenko

Investigating an analogy between magnetism and gravity.


Toy Store: Rubik Art

Huge patterned cubes formed from many Rubik’s Cubes—a pastime of physicist Hana Bizek of Argonne National Laboratory.


At the Blackboard II: Adding Angles in Three Dimensions

by A. Shirshov and A. Nikitin

Taking a theorem for plane figures into the realm of polyhedrons.


In the Lab: Why Doesn’t the Sack Slide?

by Alexey Chernoutsan

Using the notion of impulsive vs. nonimpulsive forces to help explain a variety of phenomena (knocking a block from under a glass of water, or “sticking” a landing in gymnastics).

Collage
Collage by Vera Khlebnikova

At the Blackboard III: Fair and Squared!

by Boris Korsunsky

What to do when a physics problem has been “reduced” to a math problem involving a quadratic equation.


Math Investigations: Farewell to JCMN

by George Berzsenyi

A fond look at the James Cook Mathematical Notes and its creator, Basil Rennie.


How Do You Figure?: Challenges in Physics and Math


Brainteasers: Just for the Fun of It!

Check out this sample!


Happenings

The Quantum Bulletin Board.


Crisscross Science

Scientific crossword puzzle.


Answers, Hints & Solutions


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