Weekly Colloquium

Most weeks during the semester, we host a scholar for a one-day visit. The visit culminates with a public talk on a topic of contemporary physics or astronomy. Students are welcome to these talks, and seniors are required to attend at least nine over the course of a year. Near the end of each semester, honors thesis students give public lectures on their work.  We gather before the talks for tea, coffee, and cookies at 3:45, Ground Lobby of Science Center followed by the talk at 4:00 pm in A011.

Our Astronomy program is part of the Five College Astronomy Department, which hosts its own colloquium series Thursdays at 3:45 pm at UMass in LGRT 1033. 

  • If you would like to be mailed seminar announcements, please send an email to physics@amherst.edu.
  • Contact colloquium organizer Alice Simmoneau (asimmoneau@amherst.edu) with any questions about colloquia.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Tue, Feb 26, 2019

Associate Professor Takeuchi Tatsu, Virginia Tech: "Proposal of a New Terminology for Newton's Third Law: From Force-centric to Momentum-centric Pedagogy of Newton's Laws"

Newton's Third Law, aka the action-reaction law, can be quite confusing to many students, instructors and even to some textbook writers as well. The main reason for this is the unfortunate choice of terminology by Newton in his Principia. Many people think that what Newton meant by "reaction" is the reaction to "action" (which it isn't), and this misunderstanding is prevalent not only in the classroom but in popular media as well. I propose that even though "action" and "reaction" are the terms used by Newton himself (they are the same in Latin), it is high time we abandoned them for better ones that would aid in our own and our students' understanding. I will present my own proposal in this talk, though I suspect there may be better ones, and also propose a new pedagogy which emphasizes the concept of momentum above force in teaching Newton's Laws.