The University of Maryland Department of Physics

The Physics Question of the Week

Click here for a list of all past Questions of the Week by physics topic.

Click here to view the Chinese translations of many of the Questions of the Week by Professor Fu-Kwun Hwang, Ph. D. graduate of the University of Maryland Physics Department and currently Professor of Physics at the National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan. (NOTE: Requires Chinese Big5 font.)

Comments on questions from the University of Maryland Question of the Week, by David J. C. MacKay, Professor of Natural Philosophy, and Gatsby Senior Research Fellow, Department of Physics, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge.

Physics is filled with an almost infinite variety of problems and questions. Of course, in physics it is not sufficient to simply "guess" the answer, correct or not. In fact, one may even learn more about physics during the process of working through a problem even if the wrong conclusion is reached. A good argument about an interesting physics problem is one of the ways to learn the most about physics, and also helps to prepare you for marriage.

We will try to select questions that require perhaps more than the minimal amount of thought, in that there may be good reasons why any of the possible answers might be correct. The way to form a conclusion about such problems is to try to figure out what ideas or laws of physics are relevant, then try to figure out how they might be applied.

Each week a new question will be posted and the answer for the previous Question of the Week will be shown. The questions involve real experimental physics, so part of the answers will be photographs and short videos of the experiments carried out in determining the results.

Ask your friends about these questions, discuss them, try to come to a conclusion, and see what you can learn about physics. To see the questions and solutions click your mouse on the links below.

The final column is a link back to the demonstration description in our demonstration file; references for each demonstration (if any) are linked to this demonstration description.

As always, we solicit your comments and corrections, and especially your suggestions for new and different questions that we might be able to adapt to this format.

Archive 1: Questions 1-20

Archive 2: Questions 21-40

Archive 3: Questions 41-60

Archive 4: Questions 61-80

Archive 5: Questions 81-100

Archive 6: Questions 101-120

Archive 7: Questions 121-140

Archive 8: Questions 141-160

Archive 9: Questions 161-180

Archive 10: Questions 181-200

Archive 11: Questions 201-220

Archive 12: Questions 221-240

Archive 13: Questions 241-260

Archive 14: Questions 261-280

Archive 15: Questions 281-300

Archive 16: Questions 301-320

Archive 17: Questions 321-340

Archive 18: Questions 341-366

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