Other Sources of Physics Challenges


Only a very few of the Duke Physics Challenges were invented by me, most are problems (or variations of problems) that I have heard or read about. The following are references and links to similar kinds of problems:

Volumes I and II of Physics for Entertainment by Yakov Perelman are enjoyable easy-to-read books that discuss many applications of physics to interesting day-to-day phenomena in a non-technical way. Volume I is available for free download here.

The book Mad About Physics: Braintwisters, Paradoxes, and Curiosities by Christopher P. Jargodzki and Franklin Potter (John Wiley & Sons, New York, 2001) is an excellent collection of about 400 science puzzles, most of them oriented at the high school and early college level. (Some of my Physics Challenges assume that you have taken some of the courses typically taken by an undergraduate physics major.) The book provides solutions and references for most of the problems.

At about the same level, the book Thinking Physics: Questions with Conceptual Explanations by Lewis C. Epstein and Paul G. Hewitt (Insight Press, San Francisco, 1981) can be recommended. This book has short koan-like problems that emphasize conceptual thinking rather than detailed calculations. These kinds of problems help to remind people that physics has insights that are distinct from (and sometimes simpler than) any related mathematics.

An outstanding collection of problems and questions can be found in the book The Flying Circus of Physics, 2nd Edition Jearl Walker (Wiley 2006). This book is particularly good at increasing one's awareness of the world all around and how scientific problems arise from this awareness. Readers of this book should be warned that many of the problems are not physics problems or challenges in the sense that they can be solved with a moderate amount of thinking or experiment. Many of the problems are in fact extremely hard and remain unsolved. Still, nearly every question is interesting and fun to think about. The author has provided references (many of them technical) for the problems.

The following are links to sites with similar kinds of scientific problems and puzzles: Miscellaneous other good sources of problems are: My list of web sites related to physics education has many sites that discuss simple conceptual and experimental problems and projects.

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