The "Student" of Student's t-test I had never given much thought to the odd name of "Student's t-test" until I read a brief of mention that William Sealy Gosset used the pseudonym "Student" in order to protect an industrial competitive advantage. That's all it took. With a hint like that, I had to get to the bottom of the story. It's great fun to sketch a real person behind a statistical formulation; and along the way I discovered real pedagogical value in articulating the importance of standard deviation in any collection of measurements.
Copyright 1995 American Association of Physics Teachers. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Association of Physics Teachers.
The article appeared in The Physics Teacher, Volume 33, Number 8 (November 1995).
Close-Up Photography on a Budget This is the text from an article in the November, 1992, issue of Science Probe! magazine.
G. S. Ohm and the mathematization of physics When Georg Simon Ohm published his discovery of the relationship between electrical voltage, current, and resistance, his mathematical elucidation of the discovery, in contrast to his experimental announcement, met with skepticism and resistance stemming from differing conceptual frameworks amongst his contemporaries. The differences were not simply a matter of which framework was "right" and which was "wrong." Understanding such conceptional difference remains relevant today in such areas a dark matter research and the unification of relativity with quantum mechanics.
The Rocket Experiments of Robert H. Goddard, 1911 to 1930 It doesn't take too much scratching below the surface of rocketry history to discover that Robert H. Goddard may have held a lot of fundamental patents but contributed very little to the final realization of spaceflight. Sadly, this unfortunate circumstance is due largely to Goddard's own limitations of character. My article examines Goddard's early work and contrasts it with that of Hermann Oberth. There is plenty of credit to go around to the various pioneers, but in my opinion, Oberth should get the lion's share for originating a line of research that really blossomed into modern spaceflight. The very best account of Goddard's work is: David A. Clary, Rocket Man: Robert H. Goddard and the Birth of the Space Age, 2003.
Copyright 1991 American Association of Physics Teachers. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Association of Physics Teachers.
The article appeared in The Physics Teacher, Volume 29, Number 8 (November 1991) and may be found at: http://scitation.aip.org/dbt/dbt.jsp?KEY=PHTEAH&Volume=29&Issue=8
The Creation of NASA When I wrote this article, all previous accounts of the creation of the space agency relied solely on Congressional records. As a result, they vastly overemphasized the role of Congress, particularly the Senate Committee on Space and Astronautics, in shaping the legislation that created NASA. I was privileged to write at a time when many Executive Branch records were first becoming available to historians. I later expanded this article into my Master's thesis, more broadly examining President Eisenhower's use of science advice as it pertains to the first United States space policy. For that research I reviewed many primary source documents at the Eisenhower Library. For more than a few documents I was the first historian to access them. It is strange now to think that more time separates me now from my research than separated my research from the events it describes!