PHY 311: Modern Physics for Nonscientists:
Black Holes, The Quantum, & Cosmology
Class Log

Class Schedule: M W 2pm-3:20pm Professor: Steve Liebling
Classroom: Pell Hall 302 Office:  Pell Hall 210
Thorne's Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy
Vilenkin's Many Worlds in One: The Search For Other Universes
Ford's The Quantum World: Quantum Physics for Everyone
Office Hours: M W 12:30-1:30pm
Web: Phone: 299-3439

Course Objective: The course is intended to convey some of the profound insights into the nature of the universe discovered within the past century without requiring a background in either physics, math, or astronomy. The goals of the course include: Grading Policy: Grades will basically follow the traditional divisions at 90% (A or A-), 80% (B+, B, B-), 70% (C+, C, C-), and 60% (D), with minimal adjustments based on how the class proceeds.
Classroom Work & Participation 10%
Test 1 20%  
Test 2 25%
Final Exam 25%
Project 20%

Class Work & Participation: Everyone starts with 90% participation grade. Subtractions are made for being disruptive (excessive talking, ringing phones, being late, loud yawns, etc) as well as excessive absences. Additions are made for contributing (questions or answers) to class discussions. You also need to keep current with the assigned readings.

Tests: The class will have two tests as scheduled on the syllabus during classtime.

Final: The final will be held during the time dictated by the Registrar during Exam Week.

Project: A project, generally consisting of a paper and an oral presentation, will be due during the last week of classes. A mid-course report on the progress of the project is due as indicated on the syllabus.

Syllabus: Below is the anticipated schedule of what we'll cover. The dates of the tests are fixed; on principle I do not change them so that students can plan for them. Near the end of the semester, I generally have flexibility in what we cover. If you have a preference for what we might cover, please feel free to provide feedback.

Week 1 Sept. 5 Course Overview; Classic Physics
Week 2 Sept. 10 Thorne: Relativity (Chs 1 & 2)
Sept. 12 NO CLASS---Rosh Hashanah  
Week 3 Sept. 17 Thorne: Collapse of Stars (Chs 3-5)
Sept. 19 Movie: Einstein's Big Idea
Week 4 Sept. 24 Thorne: Black Holes (Chs 6-10)
Sept. 26 Thorne: Exotic Properties of Black Holes (Chs 11-13)
Week 5 Oct. 1 Thorne: Worm Holes & Time Machines (Ch. 14)
Oct. 3 Test 1
Week 6 Oct. 8 Ford: Small & Smaller (Chs. 1-3)  
Oct. 10 Ford: Force and Particles (Chs. 3-4)  
Week 7 Oct. 15 Movie:  
Oct. 17 Ford: Quantized not Continuous (Chs. 5-6)  
Week 8 Oct. 22 Ford: Particle Behavior (Chs 7-8)  
Oct. 24 Ford: Quantum Waves (Ch. 9)  
Week 9 Oct. 29 Ford: A Paradox? (Ch. 10)  
Oct. 31 Modern Day Particle Physics  
Week 10 Nov. 5 Review  
Nov. 7 Test 2 
Week 11 Nov. 12 Vilenkin:  
Nov. 14 Vilenkin:  
Week 12 Nov. 19 Vilenkin:  
Nov. 21 Vilenkin: (Project Report Due
Week 13 Nov. 26 Vilenkin:  
Nov. 28 Vilenkin:  
Week 14 Dec. 3 Vilenkin:  
Dec. 6 Out there: Quantum Information Theory
Week 15 Dec. 10 Projects; Out there: Holographic Universe, Branes, Loop Quantum Gravity; the LHC and ILC 
Dec. 12 Projects; Out there: Holographic Universe, Branes, Loop Quantum Gravity; the LHC and ILC  
Week 16 Dec. 17-21 Final Exam Period  

Last updated September 4, 2007.
Steve Liebling (home)