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TEXT: The Sciences: An Integrated Approach, by J.Trefil and R.M.Hazen.
ADDITIONAL READING: Physics, A World View, by L.D.Kirkpatrick and G.F.Wheeler; Physics, A World View (Physics, a numerical world view to accompany), (second edition), by L.D.Kirkpatrick and G.F.Wheeler; The world as I see it, by A.Einstein; What do you care what other people think?, by R.P.Feynman; The Universe in a Nutshell, by S.Hawking, etc.
The Scientific World is representing a simple way of conversing with nature. Scientists (physicists) ask questions; nature responds. Two of these questions are: “Of what is the world made?” and “What holds it together?”. The first answer is linked with matter structure, and the second one is connected to the fundamental interactions. The other subject is the motion, its concrete presentation. The most part of these questions and answers are also essential to the applied science and engineering.
The animated conversation between scientists and nature goes on and it shows no sign of stopping. But, why does the non-scientist need to know science? First of all, to comprehend the course of events in the whole world – to create a world view. Different of philosophy, in science, the world view is a shared set of ideas that represents the current explanations of how the material world operates. These include some rather concepts and constructs, like gravity and mass, as well as strange sounding ones, like quarks and black holes; some relationships and laws for the structure of matter, different kinds of changes or motions in space and time, different interactions in the universe as a transfer of motion, etc. Of specific importance are also practical and technological applications of all known facts and laws. Let’s take the example of sending a message from the space station (from cosmonaut) to Earth. There are two ways of sending a message. He could enclose the message in a rocket and physically send it to Earth. Or, he could send some type of signal, maybe in the form of radio waves. Information can be sent via matter or waves.
The scientific world view is a dynamic one. Hypothesis, ideas are constantly being proposed, debated, formulated theoretically and tested against the material world. Some survive, some don’t. A powerful idea or axiom has a large number of consequences. If there is no more match between the predicted consequences and the real world, the idea is scientifically worthless. If there is a match, there is hope that the idea has a merit. Although the most basic criteria for accepting an idea are that it agrees with the results of past experiments and successfully predicts the outcome of future experiments. Experimental results can never prove an idea; they can only disprove it. Thus, acceptance as a human activity has subjective aspects, implying, also, opinions. If an idea is very general (having many consequences), it can replace many separate ideas. It is regarded as more fundamental. This is the way of discussing, through concrete knowledge and examples, the general need for science in the process of building the scientific world view, as a kind of “natural and practical philosophy”.
Topics to be covered.
▪ Science: as a way of knowing. The scientific method-myths and reality. (Ch.1). (One homework)
▪ The ordered Universe. A predictive system-Newton’s laws. (Ch.2). (One homework)
▪ Energy. ( Ch.3). (One homework)
▪ Heat and the Second Law of Thermodynamics. (Ch.4). (One homework)
▪ Electricity and magnetism. (Ch.5). (One homework)
▪ Waves and Electromagnetic radiation. (Ch.6). (One homework)
▪ Albert Einstein and the theory of relativity (Ch.7). (One homework)
▪ The atom. (Ch.8). (One homework)
▪ Quantum mechanics. (Ch.9). (One homework)
▪ Atoms in Combination. The chemical bond. Materials and their properties. (Ch.10-11). (Only reading and one homework)
▪ The nucleus of the atom (Chap.12). (One homework)
▪ The ultimate structure of matter (Ch.13). (One homework)
▪ The stars, the Earth and other planets. Plate Tectonics. Earth’s many cycles… (Ch.14, 16-18). (Only reading and one homework)
▪ Cosmology (Ch.15). (One homework)
▪ Ecology, Ecosystems and the Environment (Ch.19). (Only reading)
▪ Strategies of Life. The Living Cell. Molecules of Life. Classical and Modern Genetics, The new sciences of Life, Evolution… (Ch. 20-25) (Only reading).
There will be one in-class exam during the semester and one final exam. They will carry weights of 40% and 60% respectively. The final exam will be comprehensive.
Each exam has 100 points. Coefficient for the first exam is 0.4, for the final one 0.6.
Besides the exams, students will be expected to participate in-class discussions.
They will be graded also on the degree and quality:
2) homework, at maximum 3 points per each chapter, composed, at least, from four answers: – two problems from section: Problems; – one question from section: Review Questions;- one question from section: Discussion Questions (of the respective chapter)[ the best choice: – four problems from section Problems (of the respective chapter)]
3) added points for any composition of supplementary homework.
First exam in the 7-or 8-th week
Final exam in the 15-th week