Last week I got a most charming phone call. A Physics student from West High School in Salt Lake City called to ask me about traveling to Gliese 581g. It seems that his Physics teacher had assigned the class a final project: figure out the travel time to the Gliese 581 system using special relativistic effects as seen by the travelers. As you may recall, I’ve done this calculation in a fair bit of detail in this blog. The students had found my post and wanted to skype with me to discuss the physics. It was one of the most intellectually stimulating discussions I’ve had in a long time. The students were astoundingly precocious, and my hat’s off to the teacher for broaching not just time dilation and length contraction, but non-Newtonian acceleration and numerical integration as well. I’m just annoyed that most of the class were seniors, and thus have already committed to colleges. I’d love to bring them to Drexel.
And if any of the students from the class are reading this, I’d love to see the final results of your project.