5 More Physics Misconceptions Among Students
- Oct 19, 2016
- Sudipto Das
In our previous article, we discussed 5 common physics misconceptions among students. In this article, we are going to add to that list with 5 of the same. Let’s begin.
There’s zero gravity in outer space
Well, you might even be a little surprised to see this point in the category of misconceptions. But the truth is, it definitely IS a misconception. Gravity is present in outer space although it’s far lesser in magnitude when compared to that of the Earth. Astronauts orbiting the Earth do not experience gravity. But that doesn’t mean that the outer space is void of the same. Astronauts do not experience gravity because they are in a state of free-fall. All satellites inclusive of the moon, as well as the planets, are in a state of free fall.
When a body is in a state of free fall, it becomes weightless. The same case is applicable here.
All planets move in circular orbits round the Sun
Planets move in elliptical orbits round the Sun. The Sun is the focus of the ellipse. Do remember that this is the 1st of Kepler’s three laws of Planetary Motion.
Another misconception that’s fairly related to this is the occurrence of seasons. Many students believe that the proximity of Earth with respect to the Sun dictates the seasons. This means when the Earth’s closest to the Sun, we experience summer and when the Earth’s farthest from the Sun, we experience winter. This concept is not entirely true. The seasons are actually caused by the tilt of the Earth’s axis.
Gravity is the force of attraction between 2 objects having mass
This concept was actually correct once and was widely accepted by the scientific community, courtesy to one of the greatest physicist of all time- Sir Isaac Newton. But soon afterwards this concept was again proved wrong by another celebrated physicist- Albert Einstein. Einstein showed that gravity, itself isn’t a force. It’s a consequence of the space-time curvature.
According to Newton’s principles, light should not be affected by gravity since it doesn’t have any mass. But as per Einstein’s General Relativity, it can be said that light should also be affected by gravity. This was ultimately confirmed by Sir Arthur Eddington’s experiment.
Newton’s gravitational ideas are still taught in the school curriculum because the concept is a decent approximation of gravity. The concept fails only if there’s an involvement of large forces.
Electrons move around the nucleus in the same way planets move around the Sun
Electrons are contained within shells inside atoms. They exist due to the standing wave of probability in shells. That’s due to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. Heisenberg’s principle states that “one cannot predict with 100% precision the position as well as the momentum of an electron”. Bohr’s model places the electrons in separate orbits round the nucleus, with a persistent speed. The last statement is a direct violation of the law.
Running out of energy
This is actually not a misconception. It’s basically just a problem of speech or something like that because most students are aware of the “law of conservation of energy.” The law of conservation of energy states that energy can neither be created nor be destroyed. It transforms from one to another. This, it can be said from this law alone that you’ll literally NEVER run out of energy.
That brings us to the end of this article. Hope you had a good read.
Sudipto writes technical and educational content periodically for wizert.com and backs it up with extensive research and relevant examples. He's an avid reader and a tech enthusiast at the same time with a little bit of “Arsenal Football Club” thrown in as well. He's got a B.Tech in Electronics and Instrumentation.
Follow him on twitter @SudiptoDas1993
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