Have you wondered about the origin and workings of the natural world around us? Have you found physical science interesting but inaccessible because it was too full of math and jargon? Have you felt a pull to become more science-literate? If so this seminar course is for you -- or for anyone interested in understanding more about the universe, including our planet, seen through the lens of modern physics.
Ideas on the menu will include: particle physics, space and time, relativity, black holes, quantum physics, unification of forces, string theory, and big bang cosmology. The intriguing story of these integrated phenomena unfolds over a wide distance and a long time.
No prior experience with physical science will be required, but familiarity with Grade 10 mathematics will be assumed. Students from diverse academic backgrounds are warmly welcome.
Discussion-based seminar classes are held on Wednesdays from 1410-1600h in MP606 (our classroom). Office hours will be held on Wednesdays from 1610-1800h in my office, MP1118.
Announcements will be listed here in reverse chronological order to make the latest ones easiest to find.
Apr.23: Final marks have been submitted and approved. (Please note: it is strictly forbidden for professors to give students any information about their final grade before it appears on ACORN, so please do not ask us.) It was a tremendous privilege and pleasure having you in my course this year, and I hope you had some fun learning about aspects of modern physics along the way. I wish each and every one of you all the best for your future studies and for other plans.
Apr.04c: I have just sent out emails with a full summary of grades so far: Essay 1, Essay 2, Fall Oral (draft and presentation), Attendance, Participation. (I sent the information in an attached image, which is a snapshot of your entry in my grading spreadsheet.) The weighted total number on the right was calculated using the formula described here; so far the theoretical maximum you could have accumulated is 57%. Once Essay 3 is graded, that will rise to 67%. The remaining 33% of the grade will come from the Final Exam.
Apr.04b: My Skype office hours this weekend will be held on Sunday 8th April from 15:00-18:00h.
Apr.04a: Thank you to everyone for such a super-awesome mini symposium this afternoon! I was really proud to hear all of your talks, about such an interesting variety of topics. ☺️ Overall, it has been very rewarding and an immense pleasure to teach you all about some aspects of modern physics, and I wish you all the best for all your upcoming exams and after that as well. Remember that if you need a recommendation letter from a professor in future, say for a scholarship or job application, I can provide one -- all I need is three weeks' advance notice.
Mar.27: I look forward to seeing you all in class tomorrow (Wed.28.Mar.) to discuss our Week 11 topic: superstring theory. This is the class in which we unify together all the aspects of physics discussed throughout the semester, and the topic will be tested on the final exam. Note: I will be the one in the hot seat for most of tomorrow's class, and I will be happy to indulge any remaining questions you may have about our tour through modern physics. (Our final week of class, next week, will be our mini-symposium of student oral presentations.)
Mar.20: Our final exam is three weeks away, and it is time to begin studying if you have not already done so. To help you study, here are some selected past exam questions to you to practise on. Our exam will have five questions, each with two parts, all equally weighted, covering material from Week 2 through Week 11 classes. That means you will have up to ~15 minutes to read and answer each part-question worth 10 marks, for a total of 100 marks. To help make the exam less scary, I allow you to bring in a one-page aid sheet with writing on both sides. So I recommend that while studying, you summarize the key physics ideas from each Week's material onto one-fifth of your aid sheet, to help jog your memory during the exam. If you have any questions about studying, or about answering the practice questions, plan on coming to office hours. Here are the remaining office hours sessions I will hold before the final exam:-
Wednesday March 21st, in MP1118, from 16:15-18:00h
Wednesday March 28th, in MP1118, from 16:15-18:00h
Feb.28b: Oral Presentation assignments are posted. In two weeks, please hand in your draft notes for what you will say in your presentation (in .rtf or .pdf format). Your notes do not have to be tidy, but I do want to see evidence that you have (a) found some sources and started to figure out what you want to say, and (b) thought about how much material you can fit in 3.5-4 minutes. If you would like some help in understanding pertinent concepts or tracking down reliable sources, please plan to visit me in office hours, which are from 16:15-18:00h each Wednesday after class in MP1118.
Feb.07b: Essay 2 is posted. It will be due at 14:00h on Feb.28 [you get Reading Week for free!]. Please remember to turn in your essay and academic integrity checklist to me by email and to upload your essay to turnitin.com.
Feb.07a: Oral Presentation topics are posted. Please peruse the list, and email me to let me know your top five choices by 14:00h on Feb.14. (If you did some physics in high school, please mention that in your email -- it will help me do a better job of matching topics to students.)
Jan.24: I really enjoyed talking with you today about Newton's Laws of motion and gravitation, which systematized for the first time the physics of how things move and feel gravity. I also enjoyed discussing with you some of the flaws in Newton's ideas that Einstein later superseded with his Theory of Relativity. We will learn more about Einstein's influence next week.
Jan.17: It was fun discussing the Standard Model of Particle Physics with you all. Here is Essay 1 on the LHC and the Higgs boson, which will be due by 14:00h on Jan.31. Feel free to consult me if you would like help figuring out what to write and how.
Jan.14: This is a note for any student who might be worried about any aspect of the course grading scheme. I am here to help you, and in a class this small I can give individual attention to everyone who needs it. Please feel free to drop by my office hours to discuss anything course-related that is on your mind, no matter how big or small.
Jan.10: (a) It was brilliant to meet all of you today and learn a little bit about you. I look forward to seeing you in class next week. Please remember to bring a card/sign with your first name in big font -- it helps me learn your names. (b) I just sent you an email with the Turnitin.com registration information, and also a link to a quick anonymous survey to help me do a better job of teaching you. Please fill out the survey before class next week. Thanks!
Aug.03: Welcome! This website contains all the information students need to know for my PMU199H-S-LEC0341 course. Please read all of it carefully. Our first class will meet on Wednesday 10th January 2018 at 14:10h in McLennan Physics MP606, which is in the tall Burton Tower section of our building. I look forward to meeting you then.