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physics science demonstration atmospheric pressure
Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

A simple sheet of newspaper can produce an enormous amount of force.

Have you ever had a teacher whose enthusiasm for their subject piqued your interest more than the subject itself?

I had a biology professor in college who would talk in a low almost-whisper most of the time, but when she got excited about mitochondria or cellular respiration or the stages of mitosis, her voice would rise into a loud, high-pitched shriek. While her exuberance didn't make me fall in love with cellular biology, it did capture my attention and provide some chuckle-worthy entertainment while I was learning.

For people who don't have a natural inclination toward certain subjects, a passionate teacher can make all the difference.

That's one reason a video of Texas A&M University (TAMU) physicist Dr. Tatiana Erukhimova explaining how atmospheric pressure works is so delightful.


Dr. Erukhimova has been teaching at TAMU for more than 20 years and is the co-author of an undergraduate textbook, "Atmospheric Thermodynamics: Elementary Physics and Chemistry." She is an award-winning educator, and when you see her physics demonstrations shared on TAMU Physics & Astronomy's YouTube channel, it's not hard to see why.

When most of us think of atmospheric pressure, we think about the weather. But Erukhimova demonstrates how atmospheric pressure can give a newspaper the power to break a ruler. (Sort of—the person actually breaks the ruler, but the newspaper is the key to enabling it to happen.) This demonstration would be cool on its own, but Erukhimova's energy is what truly makes the lesson.

Watch and enjoy:

(I may or may not be adding "Did I impress you? NO!" to my regular sayings.)

"Dr. Tatiana" has many similar videos, all of which have the same passion and enthusiasm. Watch her delight in making balloons shrink in liquid nitrogen and then come back to life.

And watch how she describes the "confidence and courage" you need to do a tablecloth inertia demonstration:

So much fun. Three cheers for teachers who make learning fun simply by enthusiastically sharing their wonder at how things work.

And if you want to see more from Dr. Erukhimova, check out her TEDx talk on Physics as a Street Art:

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Dave Steele aka "The Blind Poet."

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