A Dialogue Between Physicists and Poets

Professor: Michael Gold

Fall 2018
Honors 301 and Physics 400 Seminar
Tu Th 12:30-13:45
Honors College Rm 9
CRN 46745
relativity mediaquantum artchaos fightingrelaivity televisionquantum healthchaos industriesquantum view


Professor Gold is an elementary particle experimentalist.  He has worked in electron-positrion collider physics, proton-antiproton collider physics (including discovery of the top quark), high energy cosmic rays and direct dark matter searches.  His current research interests are in properties of neutrinos.

The traditional "physics for poets" course is aimed at teaching students the introductory college physics curriculum but at a simplified level with the aim of teaching students to do simple physics problems.  The aim of this course is quite different.  Here we focus on key concepts in physics (e.g. relativity, chaos, uncertainty) that have found there way into our literature (poems, stories, plays, novels) and the broader culture (e.g. visual art).  These ideas also have major implications for our society that have been explored in particular in literature. 

The course consists of guided discussion on major ideas in physics at a conceptual level, and discussion of these ideas as elucidated in the reading assignments.  We focus on ideas that have resonated broadly in our culture as reflected in literature.  The concepts will be introduced through readings from two of the greatest teachers of physics to general audiences: Gamov and Feynman. These concepts are paired with literature that explore the implications for culture and society.  The overall theme will be the relation between physics and culture and the responsibility of physicists to society.

Topics:  gravity, relativity, thermodynamics, chaos, quantum mechanics, cosmology



Readings and Texts:   see  Syllabus

Requirements:  three papers, final presentation.

Grading:  participation in class discussions, tests, final paper and presentation.