The best way to make the complex concepts of physics come alive for college students is with everyday objects such as Ping-Pong balls and table settings, a University of Rochester physicist says.

Leonard Mandel says he illustrates inertia by whisking a tablecloth out from under a dinner setting, leaving dishes intact. He exemplifies how crystals grow by piling Ping-Pong balls on top of one another."Concepts like these can seem remote, until you explain with analogies taken from everyday life," says Mandel. "But unfortunately some ideas do not lend themselves to familiar analogies."