Science isn’t simply an academic subject, something that lives only in schools and universities. Science is a central part of everyday life and people who do not understand science will find themselves limited in many significant ways. Most of modern technology is based on science and important societal decisions and public policies are informed by science. Without some background in science, it’s difficult to build many things or fix them when they break.
This web site is intended to explain science in general and physics in particular. It grew out of a course I created in 1991 at the University of Virginia, entitled How Things Work (PHYS 1050/1060). That course is essentially case-study physics: it looks at everyday objects and finds physics in the context of those objects. How Things Work has been quite successful and I have taught it to more than 10,000 students at UVa and 100,000 students online at Coursera.com. As part of that course, students ask me questions about everyday objects and I explain the science behind those questions. Initially, I did the explaining in class, but I soon migrated onto the web. This web site contains those questions and answers. Once the site was on the web, questions began coming in from across the globe and I did my best to answer ones that seemed of general interest.
The relentless pressures of academia slowed my work on this site in about 2000 and I let it languish for a long time. I am hoping to renew my effort, however, as I try to refocus on doing what is good and important, rather than on what is rewarded and recognized. There is more to life than publishing research articles on basic science. So here is How Everything Works, newly reformatted as a modern blog and ready for action!