First-Year Studies: Physicists Are People, Too

This is a course from a previous year. View the current courses

When someone introduces him/herself as a physicist, the most frequent response is, “Oh, you must be smart!” But is that all there is to it? Is it, even as a general rule, true? In this class, we will study physicists past and present, real and fictional, from Galileo to Meitner to Feynman. To learn more about physicists—and how to think like they do—we will read technical works and popularizations, as well as plays, biographies and memoirs, and science fiction. We will design and conduct our own experiments—and even compete to have our ideas for a grand project funded. And for those who think the threat of torture may have been a better motivator than the promise of money, we will recreate the trial of Galileo and take on roles as members of the Inquisition! This course does not require prior physics experience.