From Newton to Nanotechnology: History and Applications of Physics

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This course is under review for 2021. Course registration will open to accepted students once courses are confirmed.

Course Description

You've heard of Einstein, Marie Curie, and Newton, but who really were the men and women behind physics' most famous discoveries? What's their story? Why is their work so famous, anyway? How do we use the concepts they explored today? Together we will learn and discuss the work of some great physicists and many other famous scientists. Understanding the lives of these figures allows us to discover along with them how they were able to make the groundbreaking discoveries that led us to the current day.

This is a course for students who want to learn physics while understanding how physics got to where it is today. We will learn the history of humankind's ideas about our universe as well as how physicists go about their work today. We will talk about the complex path by which some of these ideas shaped, including the many mistakes made by scientists, all the way to modern ideas on nanotechnology and biophysics—things that would never have been imagined just 200 years ago. We will look at how scientists have often changed their views for scientific and non-scientific (cultural, religious, and political) reasons.

Meanwhile, we will cover the basic of any introductory physics course in high school and college, including Newton's law's, velocity, force, energy, etc., and formally summarize each day's concepts the end of the class. This course will provide a foundation for work in more advanced science courses by introducing a number of basic skills, including interpretation of graphs, problem solving, and some of the basics of laboratory work. We may visit a nano-physics laboratory to look at tiny DNA molecules through a microscope and how in modern day, we apply physical concepts to study biology.

Students will gain appreciation of where physics has come from and insight into the lives of great physicists and how they made their discoveries, and will have a deeper understanding of the physics concepts themselves. By the end of this course students will understand that science is an advancing venture rather than a set of proven facts and "correct answers".

Prerequisites: No physics or math prerequisite. A prior course in physics is is helpful. Any mathematic or physical concept required will be introduced during the course, but always in a manner that focuses on physical explanations rather than complicated definitions.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEPI0921
  • Length: 2 weeks

Program Information

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Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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