Modern Physics for the Curious
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.
- Mar.14: Essay 3 is posted. It is due by 14:00h on Wed.28.Mar.2018.
- 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.28a: the final exam schedule is posted (finally!).
- Feb.07b: Essay 2 is posted. It will be due at 2:00pm 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 2:00PM 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 2:00PM 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 2:10pm in McLennan Physics MP606, which is in the tall Burton Tower section of our building. I look forward to meeting you then.