About Me

picture of me sept 2014 My name is Franco Normani. I live in Ontario, Canada. I have a bachelor's degree (1999) and master's degree (2004) in mechanical engineering from the University of Waterloo. The reference information for my master's thesis is: "Normani F.V., Analytical modeling of tube bending with hydroforming, Master Thesis, University of Waterloo, 2004". You can view my bachelor's diploma here, and my master's diploma here.

Outside of creating all the content on this website, I have also created hundreds of physics videos for Chegg – a large education technology company – in which I explain solutions to physics problems. Here is my profile page for Chegg. I also have a tutor page here.

I have always done a lot of physics, in school and on my own time. My most proficient subject in physics is Mechanics, and it is the main focus of this website. In fact, Mechanics is one of the main subject areas of mechanical engineering.

Physics, in general, has always been a passion of mine. I've always been fascinated by the fact that you can predict the movement of something when under the influence of something else; namely a force. It wasn't until my senior year of high school that I really started to get into it. To many people, physics is something that just gets harder the "higher up" you go. But to me it just got more interesting, and so it was something I was willing to put the time in to really understand. This trend continued throughout university, and even after graduation. I would always find myself going back to my physics textbooks just to brush up on a concept, or maybe just as a resource to help solve a physics problem I stumbled upon in my daily routine, and was curious to find the answer to.

My view has always been that physics is most difficult to people who don't really like physics. It's like anything, if you don't like it enough you won't have the motivation to get really good at it, and push through the learning curve. As a result, it will always be "too hard". For this reason, I think passion always precedes talent. You got to love it before you can get great at it.

It's not the other way around – you don't love it because you're good at it. You're good at it because you love it.

And so, I created this website because I wanted to convey the world of physics in an appreciable way, one in which you can see for yourself why physics is important. And I do this by showing how physics applies to real world problems, which is one of the best strategies for sparking interest.

This website would not have been possible without Solo Build It! The huge help they provide in creating an online business is the reason I have this website. I did all the hard work in creating all the content, but they gave me a road map on how to go about doing it in a way that works harmoniously with search engines to get me visitor traffic. This is not a product review website, but I'll make an exception for Solo Build It! I give them a full 5 stars for what they helped me accomplish! Read more about them here.

So outside of physics, what else am I interested in? Well, I really like Stirling engines. It is one of my life goals to build one! The work I've done on Stirling engines is cited in several places, such as:

"Design, build and testing of a concentrating solar dish system", Z. Feng, Murdoch University, Bachelor of Engineering thesis, 2017. See reference [44]. Link

"Effect of coupling parameters on the performance of Fluidized Bed Combustor - Stirling Engine for a microCHP System", S. Lombardi et al., Energy Procedia, Volume 75, 2015. See reference [11]. Link

I also like dogs a lot, and have written about them here and here.

I do some science writing on the side for AZoCleantech.

Okay, let's go back to talking about physics :)

In my humble opinion, this website is unique in terms of the type of content it has. Other physics websites typically follow the classroom/textbook model of explaining physics, and as a result end up being a dry read. The physics is not connected very well to the real world, or at least not in interesting ways, and most students fail to engage. The point of this website is to engage people and make it clear where physics is actually used and why it is important. That does not mean that I make the physics easy for everyone (that can't be done anyway), but rather that I give you lots of examples of physics that is relatable to your everyday experiences. The best examples of this are in my physics of sports page.

I go the extra mile when I explain physics. This means that I redo pages over and over again until I get them just right. This means making sure that the physics explanations and diagrams are as accurate as I can make them, and that they are as clear as possible. Now, I certainly don't have the brand-name authority that, say, a college or university website has in terms of its physics content, but I do make it a point of being better than them. To see how, you just have to look at how the presentation of physics compares between this website and a typical college or university website. The latter is often dry and boring with mediocre graphics.

However, at the same time I realize that credibility is important when teaching physics. You don't want to be taught the wrong things after all! I can't easily prove to you that I have a degree in mechanical engineering (although I have done my best to do that here), but it's easier to know with certainty that the physics presented on a college or university website is more credible than my content. But that doesn't mean it's actually better, only that it initially comes across as more credible to the average person. To determine if it's actually better you have to dive into the content on my website and evaluate the quality for yourself. If it helps you do better in physics then that's a plus, otherwise that's a minus.

Right now, there are websites with inferior physics content that get a lot more visitor traffic than me, simply because the search engine algorithms (primarily Google) have determined that they have more brand authority than me, and they deserve to rank better in online searches as a result. That might seem fair, but the problem is that the algorithms can't determine which content is actually better or more accurate, only which content should be better based on its brand authority. The advantage of this is that it helps protect you, the consumer of information, from bad information. The disadvantage is that it denies you access to potentially good information (and sometimes really good information) because its source is not authoritative enough. Furthermore, it denies you a say in the matter, where you get to decide what's good and what isn't. Search engine algorithms used to rely more on how users respond to website content in order to evaluate the quality of their content, and how well they rank for various search queries as a result. Now they rely more on brand authority. There are pros and cons for both approaches, but ultimately I think the greater emphasis on authority and decreased emphasis on user feedback and engagement will lead to a loss of diversity, since smaller less authoritative players will no longer be able to compete for online prominence. The promise of diversity is a big reason why the internet became so popular to begin with, and now it's going the other way, towards authoritative corporate control where you no longer have easy access to alternative information, only censored information perfectly aligned with the corporate mainstream views. The big corporate players don't want competition from the little guy, and Google, not wanting to rock the boat, will march in lockstep with this since they are themselves a self-serving corporate monopoly. My advice: Use an alternate search engine, such as DuckDuckGo.

Another assault on internet freedom is coming in the form of information theft. Search engines have now become information engines as well. They do this by using snippets of information extracted from website content in order to answer online search queries. This means that the question or query is often answered directly by the search engine, and the searcher never has to go to the website (the source of the information) to get the information. This is great for the search engine, but not the website owner who created that content but gets no benefit from it. All the big search engines are engaged in this practice. The benefit to online searchers is obvious, since they get the answer to their questions quickly without having to go to a website and navigate through the content to find the information they want. I've certainly benefited from this, so I understand the user side benefit of this. But website owners are not paid by search engines for using their information in snippets. The result is that websites deliver value, someone else benefits, and they lose visitor traffic as a result. Ask yourself, why should a search-engine platform, such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo, be able to take extracts of information from websites in order to answer search queries, but not have to pay for the use of those extracts? The platforms clearly benefit from this, in addition to already benefiting from the service they provide as search engines, so why should they not pay for the use of this information created by others? They don't, and as a result are earning free money above the value they actually create. It's freeloading, pure and simple. I figure there are probably hundreds of search queries made in Google every day which are answered with snippets taken from my website, and which I get no benefit from. Every website owner is losing visitor traffic because of this, some more and some less, and this is just one other way that the internet is becoming a more hostile place to have an online business. This is especially true if you're a smaller player and have fewer resources with which to cope.

In addition to all this, Google has also become a "walled garden" that privileges Google-owned websites (such as Google Search and YouTube) above non-Google owned websites in the Google search results. Google simultaneously owns the online search marketplace while participating in it, and as a result of its power it privileges its own success above that of everyone else participating in the online marketplace. If you've noticed Google search getting worse over the years, it's no accident. The search results are increasingly geared towards whatever makes Google the most money, which means more spammy search results, and less relevant search results. An easy remedy is just to use another search engine. It's the easiest thing in the world to do as a user. If you're skeptical of these claims look into the current antitrust investigations against Google. They are very revealing.

Despite my disadvantage from being a small player in the internet world, I continue to work on my website, but on a reduced time frame. This means I budget my time carefully, since like everyone else I have to make enough money to live. I would love to spend a lot more time working on this website, but I can't do that given the current situation. As it stands, the ad revenue from this website covers only part of my expenses. I need to do other work to make ends meet. This is the reason that I signed up for Patreon, so I could build a community of supporters who find my physics website unique and valuable enough that they are willing to make a small monetary contribution each month. In exchange, exclusive access to physics content will be offered. And if I get enough supporters I will be able to spend a lot more time working on this website and make it the very best it can be, expanding into more areas of physics and covering more interesting real-world topics. So please check out my Patreon page and consider supporting this website. Thank you.

If you'd like to contact me, you can do so through my contact page.


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