5 Steps to a 5: AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based 2017 (2016)


Table of Information   

The Pantheon of Pizza


You will be given this information as part of the AP Physics 1 Exam. It’s worth checking out the official version of the table at Collegeboard.org —they may use slightly different symbols and layout than you see here.



sin θ = b/c

cos θ = a/c

tan θ = b/a

Mechanics Equations

Electricity Equations

Wave and Simple Harmonic Motion Equations


Pizza is the traditional food of the physics study group. Why? Probably because it’s widely available, relatively inexpensive, easily shareable, and doesn’t cause arguments the way “let’s order bean curd” might.

If you have not yet experienced the late-night physics group study session, you should. Physics is more fun with friends than alone, and you learn more productively with other people around. Ideally, you’ll find a mix of people in which sometimes they are explaining things to you, but sometimes you are explaining things to them. Explaining physics to friends is the absolute best way to cement your own knowledge.

But if you don’t already have a regular study group, how do you go about creating one? Use pizza as bait. “Hey, let’s get together in my mom’s basement to do the problem set” is like a party invitation from Bill Nye the science guy. But, “Hey, we’re ordering seven large pizzas with extra cheese and a variety of toppings, why don’t you come by and do your problem set with us?” sounds more like you’re headed to Encore on the Vegas Strip. 1

Over the years I’ve eaten enough pizza to fill several dozen dumpsters—and dumpsters have been an appropriate receptacle for much of that pizza. Given the choice between a five-star restaurant and a pizza place, I’d usually choose the five stars. Usually. I know of four—just four—pizza places I would prefer to anything recommended by Squilliam Fancyson.

These four make up the Pantheon of Pizza.

Please understand the rules of access to the Pantheon:

  1. I must have eaten at a member restaurant at least twice. This unfortunately rules out the heavenly Pepper’s Pizzain Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 2
  2. I must have such an affinity for their pepperoni-and-extra-cheese pizza that my mouth waters upon the mere mention of a potential visit to the restaurant.

That’s it. It’s my pantheon, so it’s my choice who gets in.

That said, please do send your own corrections, additions, oversights, etc. You can contact me via Woodberry Forest School. If you make a good enough case for a particular pizza place possibly joining the Pantheon, I may attempt to make a pilgrimage.

The Pantheon

  1. Broadway Joe’s Pizza, Riverdale, New York. This tiny shop below the #1 line train station in the North Bronx has everything you could ask for in a New York pizzeria—street noise, no air conditioning but instead a fan running all summer, the Yankees game on the television, and Broadway Joe himself behind the counter. Okay, I’m sure that there are hundreds of such places throughout New York City, all of which probably have tremendous pizza. But Broadway Joe’s is the one I walk to every year during the AP Physics Teachers’ Summer Institute that I run at Manhattan College. Bonus points to Mr. Joe for recognizing me each year: “Hey, you’re the teacher who wants a small3pepperoni and extra cheese.” Ten minutes later, out pops the classic New York–style pie with deciliters of cheese piled on top of a foldable crust. I can never finish the small by myself, but I so, so want to.
  2. Thyme Market, Culpeper, Virginia. When I moved to central Virginia, I initially despaired at the food choices. But then we discovered Pizza Monday at Thyme Market. Even an unjuiced Alex Rodriguez4 could knock a baseball across the length of Culpeper’s Main Street, but it contains the heavenly brick oven from which its $5 pies spring forth each Monday, plus a lot of money for toppings, plus another $5 if you come on a day other than Monday. But it’s well worth the cash and the trip. This is one of the few pizza places ever in which “extra cheese” provides a bit too much gooeyness. The pepperoni itself is the best of any in the Pantheon—just the right size, on top of the cheese, a bit of thickness to it, and baked until the edges begin to get crispy. While you’re in the restaurant, try a bite of the “Culpeper Crack” branded cheese spread that’s always available to sample. The pizza may be only $5 per pie, but you’ll spend an order of magnitude more than that after you buy up multiple tubs of the Crack to take home.
  3. Big Ed’s Pizza, Oak Ridge, Tennessee. I encountered Big Ed’s in conjunction with the United States Invitational Young Physicists Tournament, which was held in Oak Ridge for several years due to the presence of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. My friend and fellow physics teacher Peggy insisted that it was worth waiting in the crowd outside the door for a table, and she was right. The pizza was, of course, fabulous: New York–style foldable crust, with plenty of cheese and a multitude thereof of pepperonis. What sold me on Big Ed’s, more so than even the T-shirts with a cartoony drawing of Big Ed himself, was the Kneeling Bench. The kitchen is separated from the dining area by a high wooden façade. But in the middle of the façade are two holes, with benches underneath. I was instructed to kneel on a bench, cup my hands communion-style, and put them through the hole. Lo, a generous portion of shredded mozzarella was placed in my hands by unknown beneficiaries. I had to go through this ritual a second time—I probably had as much cheese from my trips to the Kneeling Bench as from the pizza itself.
  4. Langel’s Pizza, Highland, Indiana. Most people who sample Chicago-style deep-dish pizza go to the big chains that have sprouted up across the Chicagoland area. Burrito Girl5 grew up in a small suburb in northwest Indiana, and so she is well aware of the famous, fancy chains. Yet the first pizza place that Burrito Girl took me to consisted of about six booths sandwiched between an exotic reptiles store and a sports bar. I ordered, and I endured the requisite progression of helpfulness, skepticism, and then outright horror that waitresses in Chicago pizza places bestow upon me when I order extra cheese. Yes, I want extra cheese, even though the pizza is stuffed with seemingly an entire cow-day’s worth of cheese already. Really. I’ve done this before, and lived to tell the tale. Please?

At Langel’s, the extra cheese oozes and stretches beyond the mere constraints of slices. It takes a full 20 minutes before the cheese is congealed enough to hold the shape in which you cut it. But it’s the sauce that makes Langel’s the best pizza in the known universe. This deep-dish pizza does not come in layers, but rather mixed all about, which means that the sauce can be appreciated throughout every bite. The pepperoni is fine, but I actually recommend just getting a pure extra-cheese pie. You’ll have enough for lunch right now, dinner tonight, and probably breakfast tomorrow. Too bad they don’t deliver within a 1,200 km radius.

1 Sorry. I certainly do not intend to dis Bill Nye the Science Guy. He is demonstrably cool.

2 Now, alas, I hear they’ve closed down for good. Sigh.

3 Don’t be deceived. A “small” pie at Broadway Joe’s could last for three straight late nights of Minecraft. Just one extra-large could sustain the entire rat population along the banks of the East River.

4 … if such a thing exists

5 My wife and sidekick, also known as the mild-mannered Shari.