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PHYS 107 A: Physics Concepts for Non-Scientists

Meeting Time: 
MTThF 12:30pm - 1:20pm
Location: 
PAA A110
SLN: 
21889
Instructor:
Miguel Morales

Syllabus Description:

Video details

Zoom meeting room

Please feel free to unmute and call out questions. If you are just listening please leave your audio muted to avoid unintentional and embarrassing background noises. Whether you turn on video or not is up to you, but it is easier to understand you if your video is on. 

Do you need still need to attend class (virtually)?  Yes, it is part of your class participation grade.

 

Welcome

We live in a technological world surrounded by machines of nearly magical ability. For your grandparents knowing where you were to within a mile or two required specialized equipment and training—now you just take out your phone. And if they were injured doctors used radioactive minerals and silver salts to look inside the body instead of an MRI machine. But how do GPS and MRI machines work?

It turns out that relativity and quantum mechanics have become the foundation of much of modern technological life. In this class we will explore how our modern technological world depends on relativity and quantum mechanics, and along the way we will explore the history of quantitative knowledge—how we know what we know.

Embarking on a modern physics class can be intimidating—few things trigger more fear than “a simple introduction to physics.” But to the intrepid and brave, I will make a few promises before we start:

  • No math. While the language of relativity and quantum mechanics is written using fairly advanced math, I don’t believe one has to read Japanese before you can appreciate Japanese art. Our journey will focus on the beauty and elegance of the physical world.

  • No philosophy. There has been a fascination with the ‘meaning’ of quantum mechanics and relativity, but we’ll leave that discussion for pints down at the pub (someday). Here we will focus on what we see.

  • Everything we encounter will be experimentally verified. While some of the results might be surprising, nothing we encounter will be speculative. This is how our world works.

Grading

Grades will based on homework, quizzes, midterms (Feb 1 & Mar 1), class participation, and a final paper (due March 13). There will be no final. In general the early part of each week will concentrate on understanding how the physical world works, with the end of the week looking at how that impacts our lives and the history of quantitative understanding. Homework will be due Saturday night each week, and extra credit on homework will always be available for creativity or extra effort. Reading load will be modest, but much of the reading will be difficult (must be read slowly). Quizzes will be assigned along with the reading assignments. 

 

Pandemic

When we are in person:

  • You are required to wear a well-fitting mask at all times.  
  • If you are symptomatic with COVID, flu, or another illness, please do not attend in person. Video recordings of all lectures will be linked below on the syllabus.
  • It is highly recommended you join the Husky Coronavirus Testing program and sign up for WANotify if you have not done so already.  If you test positive for COVID or are in close contact with someone who does, notify covidehc@uw.edu.  Please get a Vaccine Booster (3rd shot) as soon as you are eligible.

When class is remote

  • Please be understanding of connectivity issues - should the speaker's internet go out during class, please stand by for 10 minutes before logging out.
  • You may not share video or audio of this class.

 

Office hours

Miguel Morales:  TBD, email

Syllabus

Week 1

M:  Introduction; ice breaker; Eratosthenes; slides

T:  What time is it?  Earth rotation, sidereal, analema, solar and stellar elongation; slides

Th: Where am I?  Lattitude & Longitude; ancient way finding; slides

F:  The Longitude Problem; slides

 

Reading: History of Clocks

Homework: Sun dials

 

Week 2

M:  Introduction to Waves. Wavelength, amplitude, speed, transverse, compression, restoring force; slides

T:  Let there be light; slides

Th:  Moving like a wave and hitting like a particle; slides

F:  Electromagnetic spectrum & telescopes across the spectrum; slides

 

Reading:   Chapter 1

Homework:  Double slit

 

Week 3

M:  MLK

T:  Speed of light, starting with the Galilean moons, moving to measurements; slides

Th:  Special Relativity. Concentrate on everyone thinks they’re right. Non-additive speed; slides

F:  Surveying & Geodimeter; slides

 

Reading: 

Homework:

 

Week 4

M:  Particle Melting Pot; slides

T:  Better clocks. Quartz, atomic, optical. Variation of earth’s spin and redefining time. UTC & atomic time.; slides

Th: GPS; slides

F:  Midterm review; slides

 

Midterm topic guide

2020 midterm, 2021 midterm

Reading:  Chapter 2

Homework:  Relativity & Particle Mixing

 

Week 5

M:  Midterm review; slides

T:  Midterm 1 (Feb. 2nd)

Th:  History of computation. Abacus, mechanical calculators, looms, people; slides

F: Computers, tubes, machine language, modern developments. Theme is computers don’t understand anything, are just clever sets of switches and levers (no recording). slides

 

Reading:  History of computing reading, Chapter 3  

Homework: Midterm #1 correctionHistory of computation

 

Week 6

M:  World is made of notes; slides

T:  Particle introverts & extroverts; slides

Th:  Spectrum allocation and VNA show and tell; slides

F:  Communicating music. Music notation, player piano, records, CDs, MP3+; slides

 

Reading: Chapter 3

Homework:  Final Paper Proposal

 

Week 7

M:  Looking at the sky; slides

T: Hanbury Brown & Twiss; slides

Th: Interferometers, science & applications; slides

F:  Why the Caged Bird Sings (trapped waves); slides

 

Reading:   Chapter 4

 

Week 8

M:  President’s Day

T:  Atomic Traps & Quantum Dots (no recording); slides

Th:  Wearing sunglasses at night; slides

F: Quantum Spooks; slides

 

Reading:  Chapter 5; Chapter 6

Midterm guide

2020 midterm; 2021 midterm

 

Week 9

M:  Midterm review

T:  Midterm review

Th: Midterm 2 (March 1st)

F: No Class (work on your final project!)

 

Week 10

M:  Gravity waves; slides 

T:  Power generation:  livestock, water… to superconductors; slides

Th:  Quantum electronics; slides

F:  Medical imaging:  x-rays to MRI; slides

 

Reading: Last Chapter

 

 

Accommodations

Most accommodation requests will be handled through Disability Resources for Students, including special testing requests on the midterms. 

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy (https://registrar.washington.edu/staffandfaculty/religious-accommodations-policy/). Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (https://registrar.washington.edu/students/religious-accommodations-request/).

Catalog Description: 
Overview of physical science, from subatomic particles to cosmology. Intended to help students understand the importance of scientific research in society with emphasis on basic ideas about how the universe operates. Readings from popular books by leading scientists for non-science majors. For students without high school physics or with limited mathematics background. Offered: W.
GE Requirements: 
Natural World (NW)
Credits: 
5.0
Status: 
Active
Section Type: 
Lecture
Last updated: 
December 31, 2021 - 11:55pm
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