Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2003 12:48:49 -0400

Author: "Warren Hein"

Subject: AIP Moments of Discovery


New Web / CD Materials Teach Science with Firsthand Accounts of Discoveries

A new Web exhibit, "Moments of Discovery," uses the actual voices of leading scientists to explore how major discoveries are made, teaching some science along the way. The material is designed for classroom use (with presentation and discussion taking one or two days), but is also suitable for individual study. It is the latest addition to the award-winning online "Exhibit Hall" of the Center for History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics, and is also available on CD-ROM. Extensive Teachers' Guides are included to help instructors use the modules, chiefly in science courses at the secondary-school or beginning college level.

One of the exhibit's two modules, "The Discovery of Fission," weaves together excerpts from oral history interviews and other tape recordings of the voices of Albert Einstein, Otto Hahn, Lise Meitner, Enrico Fermi, and many others, in a professionally narrated story of the historical turning-point when nuclear energy first came into view. It emphasizes the social process: how an odd phenomenon was glimpsed by experimenters, tentatively explained by theorists, and confirmed around the world. The other module, "A Pulsar Discovery," focuses on a few days of intellectual ferment. A narration by physicist-educator Philip Morrison is interwoven with excerpts from tape-recorded interviews with the two astronomers who first detected a pulsar in ordinary light. Students can witness the moment of discovery itself, for during that night at the telescope, the two young scientists happened to run a tape recorder, and it preserved their excitement and their arguments as they struggled to find out if what they were seeing was real.

Users with slow internet connections who wish to hear the voices without tedious delays can get both modules at cost on a CD-ROM. "Moments of Discovery" may be viewed at (where there is also information on how to purchase the CD-ROM, or you can write to: Moments of Discovery, Center for History of Physics, One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740 USA).

From Wed Sep 10 12:59:10 2003