New Secret Sign of the Physicist

For years I’ve struggled with the best way to teach force on a moving particle in a field. Tom Balanowski first introduced me to the “slap” method and this year with the help of the 2016-2017 Higher Physics Group we have got it sorted!


Use the Left-hand Slap Rule where the four fingers of the left point in the direction of the magnetic field B and the thumb points in the direction of the moving charge or current, the direction of slapping would be the direction of force F on the conductor.

So how to deal with positive and negative charges. We decided that this method can be used for both. If the charge is negative the slap is the way the palm points. If the charges are positive then use the back of the hand, which is far more Painful

Pain = Positive

Thanks to Amy for these! Note the arrow for the force, should really be coming out of the hand or the way the slap goes; Amy drew this on her hand before I had told her about the × and • -kinaesthetic learner!


Secret sign1

secret back hand



Particles and Waves Resources

Powers of Ten- this was high tech when I was at school!

Since then a few things have moved on, not least with the physics as well as the graphics.

Orders of Magnitude

The class of scale or magnitude of any amount, where each class contains values of a fixed ratio (most often 10) to the class preceding it. For example, something that is 2 orders of magnitude larger is 100 times larger; something that is 3 orders of magnitude larger is 1000 times larger; and something that is 6 orders of magnitude larger is one million times larger, because 102 = 100, 103 = 1000, and 106 = one million

In its most common usage, the amount scaled is 10, and the scale is the exponent applied to this amount (therefore, to be an order of magnitude greater is to be 10 times, or 10 to the power of 1, greater).

Orders of magnitude are generally used to make very approximate comparisons and reflect very large differences. If two numbers differ by one order of magnitude, one is about ten times larger than the other. If they differ by two orders of magnitude, they differ by a factor of about 100. Two numbers of the same order of magnitude have roughly the same scale — the larger value is less than ten times the smaller value.

Source: Boundless. “Order of Magnitude Calculations.” Boundless Physics Boundless, 26 May. 2016. Retrieved 23 Jan. 2017 from

A proton is 3 orders of magnitude larger than a positron or electron.

Below are the current course notes for this section. Currently the book is divided into the Standard Model, Forces and Particles and Nuclear Radiation in Part 1 and the waves part will be in part 2, which I have yet to finalise. If you want a colour copy, then you’re welcome to print it out at your own cost.

Particles & Waves 1.9.pdf pdf version

Particles & Waves 1.9 word word  version

P&W Part 2_19 pdf version of the second part of the unit

P&W Part 2_19 word version of the second part of the unit

P&W ANSWERS Now most of the notes are complete I can start working through the answers. I have got these in a jotter, but will plod through them as quick as I can. They are very slow to type up in equation editor.

Introduction to Particle Physics

The following two documents are a wonderful summary of the Particles and Waves topic from the Revised Higher course courtesy of George Watson’s College, which is very much the current CfE Higher Course.

Particles & Waves

Other resources

Orders of magnitude cut out base

quantum model of atom

quantum model of atom answers

Sorting the Fundamental Particles

Standard Model Street

Standard Model Tweet



quantum model of atom Mrs Physics’ model of energy level, to help you remember, not necessarily to teach you Physics!

quantum model of atom answers Mrs Physics’ model of energy level answers. Don’t look at these until you’ve tried them yourself!

How to tell a MESON from a BARYON (Stewart, K (2017))

MESON- two syllables = 2 quarks

BARYON- three syllables = 3 quarks

These are the tweets from the higher class this year. Describe in under 140 characters the following words. Let us know if you can do better.
#ANNIHALATE Process in which a particle and antiparticle unite, annihilate each other, and produce 1 or more photons. Energy and momentum are conserved.
#ANTIMATTER Matter consisting of elementary particles which are the antiparticles of those making up normal matter.
#BARYON A subatomic particle which has a mass greater than or equal to that of a proton.
#BOSON A subatomic particle, such as a photon, which has zero or integral spin. All the force carrier particles are bosons.
#COLOUR Particle has 3 apparently identical quarks but have different properties categorised by colour to satisfy Pauli Exclusion Principle.
#ELECTROMAGNETIC FORCE 1 of 4 fundamental forces. influencing electrically charged particles. Responsible for electricity, magnetism and light and holds p+ and e- together
#ELECTROMAGNETIC FORCE Affects electrically charged particles. Responsible for electricity, magnetism, & light;holds e- and p+ in atoms; allows atoms to bond to form molecules. Causes objects to be solid
#EXCHANGE PARTICLE Particle that carries forces for strong force – gluon, weak force – W and Z bosons, electromagnetic – photon and gravitational – graviton.
#FERMION Matter particles e.g. proton, neutron and electron that have a half-integer spin and are constrained by the Pauli Exclusion Principle.
#FUNDAMENTAL FORCES Fundamental forces: interactions that cannot be reduced. There are 4 types. The forces keep all matter together in the universe.
#GLUON A supposed massless subatomic particle believed to transmit the force binding quarks together in a hadron. They mediate the strong force.
#GRAVITATIONAL FORCE 1 of 4 fundamental forces. A force that attracts any object with mass. Hypothetical graviton exchange particle for this force.
#HADRON A particle made of quarks. Two families: baryons – made of 3 quarks & mesons – made of 1 quark & 1 antiquark. Protons & neutrons are baryons
#LEPTON Elementary particles, the basic building blocks of matter. Six leptons are in present structure.  Varieties are called flavours.
#MESON Are intermediate mass particles that are made of a quark- antiquark pair. Mesons are bosons and could be hadrons.
#MUON A particle similar to the electron, with an electric charge of −1 e and a spin of 1/2, but with a much greater mass. It is classified as a lepton.
#NEUTRINO A neutral subatomic particle. Mass close to zero. Half-integral spin.Rarely reacts with normal matter. 3 types of neutrino are electron, muon and tau.
#POSITRON Positron= antielectron =the antiparticle of the electron has an. Its electric charge is +1 e, a spin of 1/2, same mass as an electron.
#QUARK Quark: a fundamental particle. Quarks combine to form composite particles called hadrons. The most stable hadrons are protons and neutrons.
#SPIN All particles have spin. Can be up or down & has a fixed value which depends on the type of particle. Particles can be right or left handed.
#STANDARD MODEL Theory concerning electromagnetic, gravitational, strong and weak nuclear interactions and classifying all known subatomic particles.
#STRONG FORCE Binds quarks together to make subatomic particles e.g. protons and neutrons. Holds together the atomic nucleus. Causes interactions between particles that have quarks.
#WEAK FORCE A force that plays a role in things falling apart, or decaying.
Dr Aidan Robson (Glasgow University)
Hope no one gets to this stage!

It is not as Mrs B said Mrs H’s Bohring Model, but it is more like a Stewart method of remembering the Bohr model!

quantum model of atom

quantum model of atom answers

Photomultipliers- what the heck are they?


Here are three links to some cracking simulations for this topic

PhET Interactive Simulations
University of Colorado Boulder

Rutherford Scattering

Click to Run

Anderson High school Shetland Notes

With grateful thanks to Ms Nancy Hunter from Anderson High School in Shetland. Apparently these have been voted as the best Higher notes.



Online simulations

There is a great simulation from Phet Colorado Physics. It is fantastic and we must support this great site.

PhET Interactive Simulations
University of Colorado Boulder

Photoelectric Effect

Click to Run


This is a great little introduction to Chapter 7 Interference and Diffraction.

Scholar Notes