There are many different ways of obtaining knowledge. Knowledge in physics and chemistry is essentially linked to experimental work in the laboratory. Through the continual process of analyzing experiment in terms of theory and of testing theory through the discovery of new phenomena, some of the most far-reaching, universal, and magnificent discoveries about the nature of the world have been made. Observational sciences, such as astronomy or geology, create knowledge and discover truth in a related, but different, fashion. In these sciences the goal is to learn about majestic themes such as the nature of the earth, the solar system, or indeed the universe itself. Such knowledge is gained not primarily in the laboratory using equipment and samples that are interchangeable, but rather through observations on a single sample that is too big, too old, too distant, and too unique to duplicate: namely, the earth and cosmos themselves. Field trips or telescopic observations allow one to observe what happened. The data collected is then interpreted in light of other observations. But one can never redo the entire experiment again and recreate the planets and the galaxies. Mathematics provides a third, and nonempirical, form of knowing along with a crucial tool for formulating and analyzing the discoveries of the other sciences. All of these disciplines strive for a knowledge that is of a different nature than that found in humanistic or social scientific discourse. One aspect of the general education courses in the physical sciences is to introduce the student to these different ways of knowing and these different visions of truth.
The physical sciences sequences (along with the first half of the natural sciences sequences) provide a way for students in the humanities and social sciences to satisfy the general education requirement in the physical sciences. There are four sequences in the physical sciences, each of which introduces the student to a different discipline and to different aspects of scientific knowledge. Two quarters of physical science, two quarters of biological science, and one quarter of mathematical sciences is required. A sixth quarter may be taken in any one of these three areas.
Physical Sciences 109-110; Physical Sciences 134-135; and the courses in the Natural Sciences are open only to first- and second-year students and first-year transfer students, with enrollment preference given to first-year students. These courses are in general less mathematical than Physical Sciences 111-112 and 119-120. NOTE: Only the more mathematical courses are open to third- and fourth-year students.
General Education Sequences
During 1999-2000 returning students may choose whether to fulfill their requirements for physical, biological, and mathematical sciences according to the new rules or according to those in force prior to this year. To satisfy the old requirements, students take one of the three-quarter physical science sequences listed below and would then also have to satisfy the old requirements in the mathematical and biological sciences (two quarters of mathematics and three quarters of biology). If they elect to take the new curriculum, students may register for one of the following doublets in the physical sciences:
PhySci 111-112 (version A or B)
Along with one of these two-quarter sequences in the physical sciences, students would register for at least two quarters of an approved biological sciences sequence and at least one quarter of an approved mathematical science. A sixth quarter must be taken in any one of the three areas: physical science, biological science, or mathematical science. This sixth course can be the third quarter of any of the physical sciences sequences described below. NOTE: To get general education credit for calculus, two quarters must be taken; this will count as two quarters towards fulfilling the science general education requirement.
In the following course descriptions, L refers to courses with laboratory.
108-109-110. Science and the Earth. PQ: Math 102 or 106, or placement in 131 or higher. Open only to first- and second-year students and first-year transfer students. A student who has previously taken any two of the courses PhySci 108-109-110 may complete the general education requirement in the physical sciences under the old rules by taking PhySci 134. PhySci 134 has limited enrollment.
108. Geology and Human Welfare. This class covers the evolution of industrial technology during the Stone, Bronze, and Iron ages with emphasis on metals, alloys, and ores. We consider the evolution of agriculture, the petroleum and fine chemical industries, war and nuclear weapons, minerals in the human body and other biological organisms, and energy sources. Good and bad consequences of volcanoes, earthquakes, comet/asteroid impacts, floods, and landslides are discussed. We emphasize the enhanced greenhouse effect and air pollution in relation to atmospheric physics and chemistry. Four labs cover the crystal structures of metals, selected oxides and sulfides, diamond, graphite, and zeolites. An afternoon field trip (two hours) on evolution of the Chicago lakefront, and an all-day Sunday field trip to northwest Indiana on geology, industrial activity, early settlement, and dune ecology is required. J. V. Smith. Spring. L.
109. The Ice-Age Earth. We study the ice age as a means to understand the varied processes that determine the stability of the earth's climate system. Our study begins with the history of how the ice age was discovered. Next, we explore the nature of glacier flow, glacier mass balance, and the landforms that are created by glaciers both today and in the past. The terrestrial and marine record of climate change is then investigated to set the stage for the most important part of the course: an investigation of theories for the glacial cycle. The lab exercises come in two parts. One deals with computer-aided analysis of the climate system. The other deals with topographic maps. The second part includes analysis of glacial land forms in Yosemite National Park in California and glacial land forms in Illinois. A day-long field trip to ice-age sites near Chicago is required. D. MacAyeal. Autumn. L.
110. Environmental History of the Earth. Topics emphasize how geologic history has determined the physical and biological environments we experience on earth today; history and diversity of life as seen in the fossil record; the role of organisms in environmental change; the effects of such change on organisms; and extinction as an evolutionary process. S. M. Kidwell. Winter. L.
134. Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast (=EnvStd 123, GeoSci 134, NatSci 123). PQ: Math 102 or 106, or consent of instructor; some knowledge of chemistry or physics helpful. This course presents the science behind the forecast of global warming to enable the student to evaluate the likelihood and potential severity of anthropogenic climate change in the coming centuries. It includes an overview of the physics of the greenhouse effect including comparisons with Venus and Mars; an overview of the carbon cycle in its role as a global thermostat; predictions and reliability of climate model forecasts of the greenhouse world; and an examination of the records of recent and past climates such as the glacial world and Eocene and Oligocene warm periods. D. Archer. Spring. L.
134-135. The Science of Global Environmental Change. PQ: Math 102 or 106, or consent of instructor. This course sequence fulfills the general education requirement in the physical sciences under the new rules (but not for those electing to satisfy the old curriculum requirements). Courses have limited enrollment. In this two-course sequence fundamental chemistry and physics are used to study the major issues associated with global change occurring in the earth's atmosphere. The factors which make the planet habitable for life, and how that environment is changing, are considered.
134. Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast (=EnvStd 123, GeoSci 134, NatSci 123, PhySci 134). PQ: Math 102 or 106, or consent of instructor; some knowledge of chemistry or physics helpful. This course presents the science behind the forecast of global warming to enable the student to evaluate the likelihood and potential severity of anthropogenic climate change in the coming centuries. It includes an overview of the physics of the greenhouse effect including comparisons with Venus and Mars; an overview of the carbon cycle in its role as a global thermostat; predictions and reliability of climate model forecasts of the greenhouse world; and an examination of the records of recent and past climates such as the glacial world and Eocene and Oligocene warm periods. D. Archer. Spring. L.
135. Atmospheric Chemistry and Air Quality (=EnvStd 121, NatSci 121, PhySci 135). PQ: Math 102 or 106, or consent of instructor. This course considers: (1) the chemical, physical, and radiative processes that determine the composition of the atmosphere, and (2) the effects that increasing global industrialization and agriculturization are having upon the atmosphere. Particular attention is given to stratospheric ozone depletion, the chemistry of the global troposphere, the quality of urban air throughout the world, and the formation of acid precipitation. The extent to which locally-released pollutants affect the atmosphere on a global scale is addressed. J. Abbatt. Autumn. L.
111-112-113. Foundations of Modern Physics I, II, III. PQ: Math 102 or 106, or placement in 131 or higher. Must be taken in sequence. The first two quarters of this course sequence fulfill the general education requirement in the physical sciences. The third quarter must also be taken if this sequence is being used to satisfy the requirements under the old rules.
111. Foundations of Modern Physics I. This course presents an introduction to Newton's laws, with special emphasis on their consequences for the motion of the planets and stars. The course also includes a discussion of wave motion as applied to sound, water, and light, and treatment of some basic aspects of special relativity. (The choice of and emphasis on various topics may differ between Section a and Section b depending on the instructor; students may wish to consult the course outlines for each section, which will be available on the Department of Physics Web site in autumn 1999.) Section a: H. Frisch; Section b: D. Muller. Winter. L.
112. Foundations of Modern Physics II. PQ: PhySci 111. With the advent of quantum mechanics, physicists were forced to abandon the classical laws of Newton and adopt a completely new philosophy concerning the laws of physics. In this course, we explore the philosophy of quantum mechanics, including such novel concepts as the quantization of energy, the indeterminacy of physical events, and fields. We also examine systems where quantum mechanical effects are not subtle, such as the substructure of common matter and high-energy particle collisions. To this end, we discuss the particle accelerators and experiments capable of producing such systems in the lab. (The choice of and emphasis on various topics may differ between Section a and Section b depending on the instructor; students may wish to consult the course outlines for each section, which will be available on the Department of Physics Web site in autumn 1999.) Section a: H. Frisch; Section b: M. Shochet. Spring. L.
113. Science, Pseudo-Science, and Policy. PQ: PhySci 112. In this class we apply the knowledge and the methods of science to the exploration and critical analysis of a variety of topics in technology, social policy, and popular culture. The emphasis is on what we can say from the point of view of physical science, but the course includes some interdisciplinary study in statistics, biological sciences, social sciences, and the arts. Topics include science versus science-fiction, human space exploration, UFO's, the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, claims of the paranormal, scientific ethics of weapons production, radioactivity, the effects of electromagnetic radiation, and science funding and policy in the United States. C. Covault. Autumn.
119-120; or 119-120 and 122 or 123 or 124 or 125. Introduction to Astrophysics. PQ: Math 102 or 106, or placement in 131 or higher. Must be taken in sequence. This course sequence fulfills the general education requirement in the physical sciences. PhySci 122 and 123 have limited enrollment. Students wishing to take a two-quarter physical science core should register for 119-120. Those wishing to take a third quarter may extend this by taking one of the four options 122, 123, 124, or 125.
119. Stellar Astronomy and Astrophysics. This course explores the observational and theoretical bases for our present understanding of the structures and evolution of stars. After a brief introduction to descriptive astronomy and a survey and interpretation of the relevant observations, we develop the theoretical principles governing the physical properties and dynamics of stars. Subsequently, we apply such observational and theoretical methods to studies of the formation of stars and their planetary systems, the life and death of stars, and the formation of the chemical elements. P. Vandervoort. L: E. Kibblewhite. Autumn.
120. The Origin of the Universe, and How We Know. PQ: PhySci 119 or consent of instructor. The universe is made of galaxies, which are made of aggregates of stars. Stellar aggregates allow us to map the positions of the galaxies in the universe. Studies of galaxy motions and of supernovae allow us to explore the nature of space to the edge of the visible universe. Our description of space allows us to build falsifiable models of cosmology, the origin of all that exists. The course consists of exploring how we know what we know about cosmology and why our perceptions have gradually changed over 2000 years. The fundamental theories and observations on which our knowledge rests are explored in detail. D. York. L: E. Kibblewhite. Winter.
122. Measuring the Expansion of the Universe. PQ: PhySci 120 or consent of instructor. The empirical basis for the expanding-universe concept--Hubble's relation between distance and redshift for galaxies--is rediscovered from observations of galaxies obtained during evening lab sections. The lab sections include an introduction to practical aspects of astronomical data acquisition and image analysis. Supplemental information needed to demonstrate the expansion of the universe is obtained from original research papers. Topics covered in the lectures include the structure, contents, and dynamics of the Milky Way and other galaxies; clusters of galaxies; gravitational lenses; dark matter; and the cosmological test of measuring the deceleration of the rate of expansion. R. Kron. L: E. Kibblewhite. Spring.
123. Exploring the Universe with Radio Telescopes PQ: PhySci 120 or consent of instructor. This course covers the basics of radio waves and their use in astronomy with an emphasis on reviewing the major results from radio astronomy. We use the 4.5-meter radio telescope on the Samuel Kersten, Jr., Physics Teaching Center to explore the universe. Topics include surveying the radio sky, weighing the Milky Way, the large-scale distribution of matter in the universe, the problem of dark matter in the universe, the expansion of the universe, the Big Bang, and the cosmic background radiation. J. Carlstrom. L: E. Kibblewhite. Spring.
124. The Birth of the Universe. PQ: PhySci 120 or consent of instructor. Extending the study of cosmology in PhySci 120, this class studies the origin, evolution, and structure of our universe based on selections from original papers, review articles, books, and other nontechnical, nonmathematical accounts. Topics include a history of scientific cosmological thought (Galileo, Newton, Herschel, Kant, Einstein, Hubble, and Hawking), the modern view of the birth of the universe in a big bang, the expansion of the universe, the large-scale distribution of matter in the universe, the problem of dark matter, the cosmic background radiation, the synthesis of chemical elements in the Big Bang, and galaxy formation. E. Kolb. L: E. Kibblewhite. Spring.
125. Comets and Asteroids. PQ: PhySci 120 or consent of instructor. Anyone who has seen a bright comet cannot help but be struck by the strangeness of the sight. Biblical references to flaming swords in the sky, with hindsight, sound like references to comets. The other minor bodies of the solar system, asteroids, are faint; even the brightest was not discovered until well into the telescopic era. This course follows an historical approach progressing from early views of the nature of comets through recent studies of comet Hale-Bopp and anticipating what is to be learned by contemporary space probes to comets and asteroids. P. Palmer. L: E. Kibblewhite. Spring.
181. The Milky Way (=Astron 181, PhySci 181). PQ: Any 100-level general education sequence in chemistry, geophysical sciences, physical sciences, or physics. In this course we study what is known about our galaxy, the Milky Way. We discuss its size, shape, composition, location among its neighbors, motion, how it evolves, and where we are located within it, with an emphasis on how we know and what we know. Not offered 1999-2000; will be offered 2000-2001.
182. The Origin and Evolution of the Universe (=Astron 182, PhySci 182). PQ: Any 100-level general education sequence in chemistry, geophysical sciences, physical sciences, or physics. This course discusses how the laws of nature allow us to understand the origin, evolution, and large-scale structure of the universe. After a review of the history of cosmology, we see how discoveries in the twentieth century (the expansion of the universe and the cosmic background radiation) form the basis of the hot Big Bang model. Within the context of the Big Bang, we learn how our universe evolved from the primeval fireball. A. Olinto. Spring.
185. The Lives and Deaths of Stars (=Astron 185, PhySci 185). PQ: Any 100-level general education sequence in chemistry, geophysical sciences, physical sciences, or physics. We study the observed properties of stars and the physics that enables us to understand them. Star formation, stellar evolution, and the deaths of stars are discussed. D. Lamb. Autumn.
187. Impacts and Catastrophes: Dynamics of Small Bodies in the Solar System (=Astron 187, PhySci 187). PQ: Any 100-level general education sequence in chemistry, geophysical sciences, physical sciences, or physics. This course explores aspects of the dynamics of asteroids and comets which are probably relevant to terrestrial cratering and mass extinctions. Such aspects include the fundamentals of celestial mechanics, order and chaos in the motions of bodies, and the mechanisms that transfer asteroids and comets from reservoirs of such bodies into the inner solar system. The question arises as to whether or not impacts of asteroids or comets on Earth pose a significant threat at the present time. P. Vandervoort. Winter.