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The term “God particle” tends to rankle physicists. The flippant reference to the recently discovered particle believed to be the Higgs boson was coined by Leon Lederman, the former director of the Department of Energy’s Fermilab and Nobel Prize winning physicist. But, says Ken Krane, nuclear scientist and emeritus professor of physics at Oregon State University, had it not been for the name, the discovery might not have generated such headlines in July. It was good, he adds, to see physics in the news.
Walk into an upper-level college physics classroom almost anywhere in the country, and you’ll see students sitting down, listening to the professor and taking notes. Despite years of education research showing that students learn better by being active, the common curriculum for juniors and seniors in physics still emphasizes passivity. At Oregon State University, advanced physics instruction has already made the transition.