Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

Wednesday, 20th December 2006

  • Stephen Smith
  • 20 Dec 06, 05:18 PM

veil203b.jpgExploring the extraordinary allegation that Britain's most wanted man slipped out of this country using his sister's passport, wearing a niqab. Could it really have happened? And does the government really have a clue who enters and leaves the country? Also: bungs report analysis; and political correctness and Christmas.
Comment on Wednesday's programme here.

Science Student sits his mock

  • Stephen Smith
  • 20 Dec 06, 05:11 PM

stevesmithtree203.jpgHe's making a list, checking it twice. Gonna find out who's naughty and nice. That's right - Fumbi, my Physics teacher, has been marking the mock A-level paper that his students sat the other day.

I went into the exam hall with a new calculator and a stylish wipe-clean wallet of protractors, and most of all with an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. You'd never guess it to look at me, but it's been many years since I was last injuncted to write on one side of the paper only, and to answer all the questions.

In case you haven't been following my progress - and we won't hold it against you - I've been studying physics in an effort to find out why so few of our young people are doing the same, notwithstanding our matchless heritage in engineering and technology. We've been looking at dams in Scotland and wrestling with giant magnets and meeting the charming and brilliant Kathy Sykes, of TV science fame.

But all along I knew that there would be a reckoning in December, that the festive season would find me scribbling equations alongside my Christmas cards. Tune in tonight to find out how I got on.

But please I beg of you - don't judge me too harshly, gentle viewer! I haven't actually completed all the course work yet - Young's Modulus, for example, remains a tantalising enigma to me.

If I may, I'd like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the way my colleagues have helped me shoulder the burden, especially Newsnight's exotic and multi-garlanded cameraman Antoine de Joliffe. When a few were quite prepared to mutter behind my back about how few marks I'd score, he bravely went out on a limb and said that I'd get none at all.

Find out tonight if he'll have to eat crow, or at least his favourite Tottenham Hotspur bobblecap.

Can you do my mock exam?

  • Stephen Smith
  • 20 Dec 06, 04:26 PM

stevesmith203.jpgHere are a couple of questions from the paper, set one term into my physics A-level. Good luck!

1. (a) (i) Define the moment of a force.

(ii) State the principle of moments.

(b) The diagram below shows a pillar (lying horizontally) made of two uniform sections X and Y each of cross-sectional area 3.5 x 10-2. m2. The sections are made from two different materials. The weights of X and Y are shown acting through the centre of gravity of each section.


Show that the average density of the pillar is about 1800 kg m-3. .

(c) The pillar in (b) will balance horizontally supported vertically below the point P.

(i) Show, using the principle of moments, that the point P is 1.2m from the end B.

(ii) State the significance of point P.

2. (a) (i) Explain the concept of work and relate it to power.

(ii) Define the joule.

(b) A cable car is used to carry people up a mountain. The mass of the car is 2000 kg and it carries 800 people, of average mass 60 kg. The vertical height travelled is 900 m and the time taken is 5 minutes.

(i) Calculate the gain in gravitational potential energy of the 80 people in the car.

Gravitational potential energy gain = ……….J

(ii) Calculate the minimum power required by a motor to lift the cable car and its passengers to the top of the mountain.

Power =…..… unit………..

The exam questions were taken from an OCR past paper from 2001. If readers want to attempt more exam papers for fun, there are some specimen papers available at the OCR website.

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