Frequently Asked Questions
Physics of Astronomy - updated 28.Nov.2005

Q: I haven't had calculus. Can I take this program?

A: If you did well in precalculus, you can take this program as part of the Math A group. You will also learn calculus as part of this program, taught by the EWS prof. See homepage for details.

Q: Is the calculus an extra four credits?

A: No, the calculus is included in our total 16 credits. You can register for 4 credits of calculus, and 12 credits of Physics of Astronomy.

Q: Which calculus should I take, Beginning Calculus or Calculus I?

A: Ask the Vauhn Foster Grahler in the Math Lab (QUASR) or Rachel Hastings, the EWS calculus prof, which you are prepared for.

Q: I have already had calculus. Will this program be too easy for me?

A: You can be in the Math B group, which will do more challenging work. If you think it's too easy, let Zita know and we can always ratchet it up a notch for you.

Q: How many upper division credits can I get?

A: Students who consistently do good quality work, on time, both quarters, can get a total of 32 UD credits. Upper division credit is available only to students who do both quarters.

Q: How does this progam fit in with the rest of the physics curriculum?

A: This program is comparable to Matter and Motion (for Math A students), and comparable to Physical Systems Lite (for Math B students). Our unifying theme of Astrophysics involves an introduction to astronomy, at a more mathematical level that Astronomy & Cosomologies. Next year we are offering Physical Systems, our most advanced program, and the following year we'll offer Energy Systems (or something like it), which is an intermediate physics program.

Q: Will this program prepare me for the Physics GREs?

A: This is the best program available at Evergreen for Physics GRE prep until Physical Systems next year. We will work with over half the topics on the physics GRE, to some extent. See the syllabus for details. Let's discuss as a group how we can work together to help you prepare for GRE - if you would like to make GRE prep problems part of homework, that would be one option.

Can I take this program for partial credit, e.g. just Electromagnetism?

A: The material in this program is very tightly integrated, so if you wanted to just take E&M, it could fall on different days and different times from week to week. That is likely to be difficult to coordinate with any other academic program, especially in winter. Partial credit options will be easier to coordinate in spring.

Q: Where and when do we meet on the first day?

A: Please see the syllabus.

Q: What books do we need for the first day of class?

A: See the last column of the Texts list to find out which texts you need. They will be expensive, totaling several hundred dollars, and you will use them all year (and perhaps the rest of your life). Do not count on financial aid to be available! Experience has shown that students who are unable to buy required texts during the first week have a very difficult time catching up. In case of emergency, you can photocopy your classmates' texts chapter by chapter.

Q: What should I read to prepare for class?

No pre-reading is required, but the quarter will be easier if you either get a head start on the seminar readings. You might also want to review your familiar old physics and calculus textbooks. Be sure to order the Thursday seminar journals in advance.

Q: Can I get out of seminar?

A: Why would you want to do that? To take Spanish or yoga? Possibly - ask Zita.

Monday Star Trek seminar will be fun, and we get to apply our new learning to actually calculate how much energy it takes to reach warp speed or get beamed up... Thursday journal seminar will be an important source of ideas for your research project in spring.

Q: Will the texts bethe bookstore?

A: Sometimes bookstore has difficulty getting the right texts in on time. You can get them on time and at a lower price online - do be sure to order by the first week of December.

Q: Will it be fun? Will it be a lot of work?

You bet, on both counts! You will learn some of the most beautiful and powerful thinking and problem-solving methods known to humans. It will take about 50 hours per week including in-class time. Details available at the first class.

Q: Will you cover the special topic I'm interested in?

A: Yes - we can learn about it together, via your research project.

Q: Do I need a calculator?

A: You can get by without one, but you do need an Evergreen email account. Every registered student gets one automatically. Please learn to use it before class starts - ask the nice folks in the Computer Center or CAL. They can also show you how to forward Evergreen email to your hotmail or other account that you may use more often.

Q: What special materials should I get?

A: Plan to get a good pair of 10x50 binoculars in spring for observing the night sky. (You should be able to get a good pair for $150-300). With a tripod, you can see the moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, and details of nearby clusters and galaxies.

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Maintained by  E.J. Zita