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Program Description - Physical Systems FWS 2002-03 - Dr. E.J. Zita 30 July 03
In Fall Physical Systems, we spent 4-5 hours in class per week on each of four areas: Introduction to Electrodynamics (Griffiths), Analytical Mechanics (Cassiday and Fowles), Differential Equations (Blanchard, Devaney, and Hall), and Seminar (see below for detail). Integrative themes included oscillations and energies; the development of mathematical techniques (especially differential equations and separation of variables) to describe and analyze physical systems; and the process of scientific discovery. In Winter quarter, we focused on Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (Griffiths) and Modern Physics (Ohanian). In Spring quarter, we studied Modern Astrophysics (Carroll and Ostlie). Differential Equations and Seminar continued all three quarters. Students were also expected to plan (in winter) and carry out (in spring) significant individual research projects. In all areas, students were expected to do extensive weekly homework and peer instruction, in addition to participating in interactive lectures, workshops, and discussions. In each section, students were given biweekly quizzes and two in-class exams (closed-book, open-homework) per quarter.
Students learned Differential Equations with Dr. Don Middendorf's Math Methods program, with weekly homework, one quiz, and one exam (in class, closed-book) per quarter. We covered analytic, qualitative, and numerical techniques for solving differential equations, focusing on logistic equations, oscillations and nonlinear systems, including chaos. While students had solution manuals for DE homework, they were also expected to do, in groups, several formal lab write-ups integrating their learning each quarter.
Science Seminar included reading, writing, and discussion of physics, math, and astronomy. Students were expected to meet in groups of three to discuss their completed reading the day before seminar; as a group, to post on Web-X three key points and three good questions to motivate the seminar discussion; write one-page essays in fall and respond online to peers' writing; and participate actively in seminar discussions, including occasional facilitating. We had a very diverse class, with most Science Seminar students not enrolled in any other science program. In Math Seminar, we learned about infinities, set theory and history of mathematics in The Mystery of the Aleph by Aczel; and we read Chaos by Gleick and Mathematics and Humor by Paulos. In Physics Seminar, we learned about the history of the development of electromagnetism in Hidden Attraction by Verschuur; we explored modern physics via The Physics of Star Trek by Krauss, and we read about quantum mechanics in Heisenbergs Physics and Philosophy and Gilmores Alice in Quantumland. In spring, we read history of astronomy in Ferris Red Limit and string theory in Greenes Elegant Universe. Students were also encouraged to read occasional articles from magazines such as American Journal of Physics, Scientific American, and Physics Today.
Details about the Physical Systems program (including Science Seminar) are available online at:
HYPERLINK "http://academic.evergreen.edu/curricular/physys2002/home.htm" http://academic.evergreen.edu/curricular/physys2002/home.htm.
Equivalencies: (upper-division credit)
4 cr Electromagnetism
4 cr Analytical Mechanics
4 cr Quantum Mechanics
4 cr Modern Physics
8 cr Astrophysics and Cosmology
12 cr Differential Equations
8 cr History and philosophy of math and science
4 cr research project
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