Well, I’ve got to say goodbye to another excellent group of students from my undergraduate electromagnetism class. We had the final today (starting at 8:00am – ack!), and given the lack of rioting, tears, and throwing of rotten fruit during the exam itself, I assume that it was not too bad an exam to sit. Of course, the real measure of what they thought will be how they did in the actual answering of questions, and I’ve not looked to see how that has turned out yet.
Again, I feel a bit sad since it was a good group of students and it was fun to teach them this material. While it is certainly good to move on to other things (I’ve too many projects I want to work on, as usual), I will miss the twice weekly classes with them. Highlights this year include (in no particular order):
(1) The thing I love to do when we are studying dipole radiation – taking the class outside (surprising them somewhat) to look up at the blue sky and connect why it is blue to the computation we just did, including understanding the pattern of the blueness you see in the sky. (Hmmm, just found this page, which is a nice collection of some of the things we talked about, actually.)
(2) The decaying dead songbird just outside the window – checking in on its progress every week (often mid-sentence in a lecture), as it became more and more unrecognizable. It was in an inaccessible part of the building’s surrounding due to construction work, and so stayed there, neglected. Strangely fascinating to watch this slow arc, I must declare. One or two of the students noticed me noticing one day and then it became a regular thing. It disappeared eventually, since they finished the construction and cleaned things up.
(3) Some great discussions about applying things we’d learned to real systems that resulted in everybody (sometimes including me) getting a bit confused, and then all agreeing to go look up more about it because there’s a lot of interesting nuance. Examples include the discussion that started with me telling an anecdote about being a little boy listening to short wave radio and noticing that you get better reception from stations way across the planet during night time, connecting this to the variation in the “plasma frequency” of the ionosphere, among other things. This related to propagation of electromagnetic waves in interesting media. Of course, it is not clear that they could relate to this much. Does this generation actually listen to radio at all? They probably stream all their “radio” stations on the web!
Well, there were others, but I’d better rush off now and attend a faculty meeting.