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Indian independence, Doppler effect on a train, contagious science


By Michael Banks

This week India celebrated 70 years of independence. So what better way to mark the occasion than a music video? Step forward 20 or so scientists from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), who dub themselves the Rocket Band. Over the space of 18 months, they worked feverishly to create a seven-minute music video entitled “I am an Indian”. Mostly shot on the coast of the Arabian Sea, the video features the researchers walking along the beach as well as an animation of the Indian flag being put on the surface on the Moon. “We have a lot of talent in ISRO, making rockets comes naturally to many of us while making music is tough but it is not rocket science,” aerospace engineer Shiju G Thomas told NDTV.

What do you need to understand physics a little better? A brass band and a train, according to this video on the BBC. At a Loughborough railway station, the Hathern Brass Band recreated the famous experiment carried out in 1845 by Dutch mathematician C H D Buys Ballot who proved the Doppler effect by using brass musicians and a steam train. The Doppler effect is an increase – or decrease – in the frequency of waves as the source and observer move towards – or away from – each other. The effect, which was first proposed in 1842 by the Austrian physicist Christian Doppler, has many applications, particularly in astronomy where it can be used to measure the speed at which stars and galaxies are approaching or receding from us. Watch the video here.

Is excitement in the science classroom contagious? It is, according to a study led by Zahra Hazari and Geoff Potvin at Florida International University. The researchers surveyed more than 2000 students at 50 colleges around the US, finding that when students see their fellow classmates interested in the class they are more likely to develop an interest in science careers. So physics teachers out there, whip up a science frenzy!

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