Archive for August 21, 2019

A Problem of Dimensions

Posted in Cute Problems, Maynooth, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on August 21, 2019 by telescoper

We’ve more-or-less sorted out who will be teaching what next term in the Department of Theoretical Physics at Maynooth University next term (starting a month from now) and I’ll be taking over the Mathematical Physics module MP110, which is basically about Mechanics with a bit of of special relativity thrown in for fun. Being in the first semester of the first year, these is the first module in Theoretical Physics students get to take here at Maynooth so it’s quite a responsibility but I’m very much looking forward to it.

I am planning to start the lectures with some things about units and dimensional analysis. Thinking about this reminded me that I posted a dimensional analysis problem (too hard for first-year students) on here a while ago which seemed to pose a challenge so I thought I would post another here for your amusement.


The period P for an elliptical orbit of semi-major axis a of  a moon of mass m around a planet of mass M, depends only on the quantities  a, m, M and G (Newton’s Gravitational Constant).

(a). Using dimensional analysis only, determine as completely as possible the relationship between P and these four quantities.

(b). How would the period P compare with the period P′ of a system consisting of a moon of mass 2m orbiting a planet of mass 2M in an ellipse with the same semi-major axis a?

Please submit your efforts through the comments box below.



On The Launchpad!

Posted in Education, Maynooth with tags , , , , on August 21, 2019 by telescoper

As we are approaching the start of the next academic year I’ve spent a little bit of time today preparing for events taking place over the next few weeks. One of the things on the immediate horizon is Launchpad, which takes place from Thursday 5 September to Saturday 7 September 2019 on the Maynooth Campus.

Launchpad is the Maynooth University Access Programme (MAP) orientation designed to support and ease the transition to third level for students who are coming to Maynooth University through entry routes supported by MAP. These groups include under-represented school leavers, mature students, students with disabilities and members of the Irish Traveller community. Incoming students supported by MAP can get to know fellow first years, ask questions and find out advice from existing student ambassadors on how to navigate the University before starting a new course at Maynooth. I will be attending a panel Q&A discussion for Launchpad on 6th September, which I am looking forward to!

Here’s a little video about Launchpad, produced by Maynooth University, which includes some student voices as well as some nice views of the campus:

It’s worth mentioning one specific initiative related to mature students, namely the Certificate in Science, which is a programme for mature students who wish to undertake a foundation year in preparation for degree studies in Science or Engineering. In this one year full-time programme of study, students undertake modules on Mathematics, Engineering Science, Computer Science, Experimental Physics, Mathematical Physics, Biology and Chemistry. Students who do well can progress from this course into one of the science or engineering degree courses on offer at Maynooth.