The physics may be theoretical, but the fun is real–Teaching Physics to Medical Students


I was fortunate enough to teach physics this summer to advanced undergraduates making their way to medical school.  One thing that struck me was how how much teaching has so much in common with consulting. 

  1. Rather than talk a lot (which is what most teachers end up doing) , you need to actively listen as well. Listen for doubts, look for puzzled faces, be ready to pause at any moment and address concerns, before taking the next step.
  2. You need to ask a lot of questions.
  3. Also, You also need to come up with creative ways to keep students engaged.  The same is true with clients and prospective customers.

Try some of the puzzlers below for testing your own understanding, and what I subjected my poor students to.

Doppler Effect Sound Waves


Newton’s 2nd law at work


Electromagnetic Waves



doppler   pulleys   waves   Buoyancy

Kinematics and Dynamics

  1. A coin is balanced on the barrel of a rifle. As a bullet is fired, the coin drops to the floor. Which hits the ground first, the bullet or the coin?

  2. A kid in the backseat is holding a balloon, while mom is driving the mini-van. As the Mom brakes, what happens to the balloon? Does it move forward, backward or neither?

  3. Which feels more Force – a 10,000 Kg satellite drifting in outer space or a penny falling (from 10 feet) towards the earth?

Electricity and Magnetism

  1. Does lightning strike an airplane? If so, what happens when it does?

  2. Why can a bird sit on a 10,000 V wire, whereas, if a human touches it, it is catastrophic. How do we repair these Hi Voltage wires without getting injured?

  3. A man stands below a high voltage current carrying wire with a compass needle in his hand. Which way will the compass needle point?

  4. A small piece of paper is balanced on top of a standing coin inside a tumbler (inverted tumbler). How do you knock the piece of paper off without touching the glass or the table or the coin?


  1. Which freezes faster (when placed in a freezer) – hot beer or cold beer? Why?
  2. On a cold day, which is colder – a metallic fence or a wooden fence? How about on a hot day..which is hotter?

Hydrostatics, Hydrodynamics

  1. A river washes away an entire mountain from the sides – but does not do that to the bottom (river bed). Why?

  2. Is there buoyancy in space? Does a floating astronaut in a shuttle, feel a buoyant force?

  3. A heavy iron anchor in a boat is thrown overboard. What happens to the level of the water, does it rise, fall or stay the same ?

  4. An Ice Cube is floating in a glass of water, filled up to the brim. What happens to the water level as the ice melts?

  5. Bernoulli’s Principle is Violated? A top spin on a tennis ball produces higher speed on top (lower pressure) and lower speed at the bottom (high pressure). This should make the ball rise up. Instead, as any tennis pro will tell you, topspin makes the ball stay low. What gives? Is Bernoulli’s principle violated?


  1. What causes the shimmering effect on top of a hot surface (road, car bonnet etc..)?

  2. Why does light reflected from a surface produce ‘glare’? How can you eliminate glare?

  3. What type of lens would you need to correct myopia? Hyperopia?


One of my students was kind enough to take some videos…watch at your own risk 🙂

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