1.) Course Description and Goals
The goal of this class is to present key insights into the physical world in a semi-rigorous setting that will focus on qualitative more than quantitative understanding. The philosophy of mathematics and physical theory will be covered along with important experimental results. After discussing the basic mathematical underpinnings, the course will mainly focus on three topics within physics: determinism and chaos theory, relativity, and quantum mechanics. These topics will be presented in a way that accommodates both the mathematically literate and illiterate. Extra attention will be paid to quantum mechanics and ensuring that a proper understanding is conveyed, along with comparing and contrasting various interpretations and establishing the scientific validity of any that might be testable. By the end of the course the students should be better equipped to critically engage with scientific ideas in the media, books, and society.
2.) Course Style
Most of the course will be lecture based. However, class discussions regarding philosophical and counter-intuitive topics will be pivotal for thorough understanding. The course style will thus be to first lecture on important physical topics, allow for some time for the material to be digested, and then discuss those physical topics as a class for greater understanding.
There are no prerequisites although familiarity with physics and mathematics will be beneficial (as in David Griffiths’ book Revolutions in Twentieth-Century Physics).
-The class can only be taken as pass/no pass. Attendance at lectures is mandatory and accounts for 40%. Unexcused absences in excess of two will lead to a grade of “NP.” Absences can be made up by attending each week’s office hours.
-Choice of essay/technical writing or problem set: 25%. Students will be given a list of topics for a short work of writing on physics, including topics in the news and debunking nonscientific claims. The problem set will be a both multiple choice and mathematical in content, assessing students understanding of both qualitative and quantitative aspects of physics.
-Final Presentation: 35%. Students can work in a group or individually to present on a topic of interest.
• REQUIRED: The Emperor’s New Mind by Roger Penrose
• RECOMMENDED: Revolutions in Twentieth-Century Physics by David J. Griffiths
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|All Sections||Ethan Klein, Kyle Miller||20||Online||[Th] 2:00PM-3:00PM||09/03/202||Open||34569||24247|