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Northwestern State faculty member writes book on basic astronomy
Jul 18, 2012 | 1540 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dr. Chris McMullen
Dr. Chris McMullen
A Northwestern State University professor of physics and astronomy has produced an eBook that provides a visual introduction to some basic astronomy concepts, such as explaining the phases of the moon and earth-based evidence of the heliocentric model. “Basic Astronomy Concepts Everyone Should Know” is the latest book by Dr. Chris McMullen that trails a long list of titles he authored that explore several branches of science and mathematics as well as McMullen’s hobbies that include puzzles, word scrambles, golf and chess.

“Basic Astronomy Concepts Everyone Should Know” includes large images of the sun and each planet with a brief table of basic information about each, such as size relative to earth, orbital radius relative to earth, mass relative to earth, density, surface temperature and number of moons. The book provides an overview of the solar system and explains lunar phases, solar and lunar eclipses, the seasons, Ptolemy’s geocentric model and retrograde motion.

The book is not a comprehensive introduction to all astronomy concepts but educators may find the material useful in the classroom, McMullen said.

Producing books is not unusual in the McMullen family. McMullen’s wife Reema, who is also a science instructor at Northwestern State, authored a book on how to write the Hindi alphabet. McMullen has collaborated with his mother and his daughter to produce puzzle and word scramble books, as well as math flashcards for the Kindle. He has also published several physics books, including “An Advanced Introduction to Calculus-Based Physics,” “A Guide to Thermal Physics,” “A Research-Oriented Laboratory Manual for First-Year Physics” and some books of creative physics problems. Workbooks in his Math Fluency series offer practice in arithmetic, fractions, algebra, calculus and trigonometry and are appropriate for students learning or reviewing those skills.

McMullen noticed while teaching physics that some of this students lacked fluency in math.

“I looked at workbooks that were available and thought I could create a better one,” he said. His books often present subject matter using monkey illustrations and rhyming problems to make topics more accessible.

“Physics is hard and intimidating. This makes it a little less evil,” he said.

McMullen is a California native who earned his Ph.D. in physics at Oklahoma State University in phenomenological high-energy physics (particle physics). His doctoral dissertation was on the collider phenomenology of superstring-inspired large extra dimensions, a field in which he has coauthored several papers. He taught at the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts for several years before joining the faculty at Northwestern State. His books are available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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