17. Smashing Neutrons, Supporting Non-Specialists and Surviving No Practicals

Thomas and Robin chat about Kilonova (neutron star collisions that create heavy elements), ways of supporting non-specialists and what to do when practicals fail.


  • Neutron Stars and Kilonova @ 2:45
  • Science(ish) Podcast and their episode “Is LIGO right?” @ 4:05
  • Flywheels for energy storage @ 5:22
  • Faking being a Physics Specialist @ 5:54
  • Tips for non-specialists @ 8:20
  • Practicals going wrong – ripple tanks @ 10:42
  • Practicals going wrong – cloud chamber @ 13:17
  • Dealing with practicals that go wrong @ 15:44
  • Teaching Physics with no practicals @ 17:09
  • Send us your tips @ 23:29


Physics in the news this week talks about Neutron Stars and how their collisions (Kilonova) create the heavier elements through neutron bombardment. This leads on to LIGO and the controversy around whether its results are right or not. Science(ish) Podcast has covered this in depth in their episode “Is LIGO right?”. Thomas reports on the Vacuum cannon sales (6 at the time of writing) and gets sidetracked on to talking about some research he did in to flywheels. Robin muses about how you can use the Physics in the News to fake being a Physics Specialist and Thomas and Robin discuss their lack of knowledge outside physics (Nose-buds anyone?) and suggest tips for non-specialists to make their knowledge appear deeper than it is. Thomas reports back on his failed practical work last week and begs the listener for advice on using a ripple tank or making a cloud chamber. Finally, Thomas reports that Patrick Kaplo has challenged the podcast to support lessons with no practicals. The thought of this has Thomas in full panic mode, but Robin calms him down.

Where is the diffraction? Are you a believer?

Ways to teach… Distance, Speed and Acceleration

Episode 20 (assuming we make it) will be all about ways to teach distance, speed and acceleration (or displacement, velocity and acceleration). How do you do it and what works best for you?

Join in!

Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, Twitter @physicstp, email using  the address given in the podcast (if we remember), you could even email us an autio file if you are feeling really keen.


The music is used under the Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License