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Unformatted text preview: Chapter 1 Introduction 1.1 Purpose of This Course Today, it is apparent that you cannot function in society without contact with science. Not only are the things we use in our daily lives based on the discoveries of science, but also our attitudes and beliefs are derived from conceptual aspects of science. More importantly, the methods used for the acquisition of scientific knowledge are extraordinary and successful; a better system has not been developed. Every student at The University of Texas, in particular, every student in the Plan II program, must be exposed to the basic concepts and methodology of modern science. In addition, it is important that as a part of that exposure, you learn about the concepts of modern physics. Physics has been the most successful of the sciences, and its fundamental methods, based on experimental verification, reduction, and synthesis, has become a paradigm for all the other sciences. This course is a part of a sequence of science courses that is required for all Plan II students. It concentrates on the conceptual foundations of modern physics. This course is different from any other that is taught at The University of Texas at Austin or anywhere else that I am aware of for two reasons. These concepts are very important but difficult to understand. The junior Plan II student has had enough other preparatory material and shown a maturity that makes it possible to discuss these issues. In addition, the students in the Plan II sequence have diverse majors and many will take or have taken a physics course at the university level. For these students, it is important that this course offer new ideas. Fortunately, all these other courses deal with the material at a more applied level and do not treat mod- ern physics in the detail required to understand the basic conceptual ideas. 11 12 CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION Most other physics courses spend almost all of their time developing the concepts of classical physics. This is because so much of our lives is effected by these ideas and concepts. We live in a world that is dominated by the objects that are dealt with in classical physics. Without the foundation of classical physics, it is impossible to understand the ideas of modern physics. In the case of the Plan II students, we are fortunate to be able to assume a reasonable level of understanding of the ideas of classical physics. It is an- ticipated that all students taking this course will have had an introductory physics course in high school or at The University of Texas at Austin. Another feature of most university physics courses is that they serve as a foundation course for subsequent studies of a more specialized nature; therefore, these courses have to cover a certain content. That content is also predominantly based on classical physics. These courses also tend to be dominated by problem solving techniques and preparation for subsequent standardized tests such as the LSAT or MCAT. In this course, in contrast, the primary emphasis will be conceptual. Many of the concepts that will bethe primary emphasis will be conceptual....
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This note was uploaded on 01/20/2010 for the course PHYS 195 taught by Professor Anderson during the Spring '07 term at San Diego State.
- Spring '07