SUBJECT MATTER

   
Physics is the study of the fundamental laws of nature that underlie all of science. Physics is an experimental science in that the laws of nature were deduced from experimental observations. The goal of P114 is to introduce you to the basic laws of nature that underlie science and medicine. Most scientific topics evolved from basic studies by physicists, such as studies of electricity and magnetism, as well as molecular, atomic, and nuclear quantal systems. Many of the basic instruments of the life and physical sciences such as lasers, X-ray machines, magnetic resonance scanners, oscilloscopes, particle accelerators, etc. are a direct consequence of physics research.

The beauty of physics is that, for each branch of physics, the laws of nature can be condensed into just a few fundamental concepts or laws. Once you have mastered these basic concepts you will have a valuable insight into even the most complicated applications. The course will emphasize these underlying physical principles rather than rote memorization of a mass of facts and formulae. It is important that you first understand the basic laws and then learn how to apply them. A roadmap of the topics to be discussed in P114 is shown schematically below

 

 

 

Electromagnetic binding of the atom

1; Electricity and magnetism

Electricity and magnetism will be the topic discussed during the first part of this course and will underlie much of this course. The fascination and beauty of this subject is that the behavior of electricity and magnetism is unified into a one topic, called electromagnetism, that can be condensed in four laws of nature, the Maxwell Equations. You are familiar with the role of electromagnetism in providing electric power, electronics, computers, radio, television, automobiles, electromagnetic waves such as light, radio waves, X-ray, gamma rays, etc. Electromagnetism plays a key role in life, it is electromagnetic radiation that transmits, from the sun, energy needed to support life on earth. It is electrical forces that bind together atoms, molecules and matter. Nerve cells, the senses of smell, touch, vision all ultimately are electromagnetic in nature. Electromagnetism, as epitomized by Maxwell's equations, led to the theory of relativity, the understanding of optics, as well as binding of atoms, molecules and matter that underlies most of the life sciences.

2; Optics

The discussion of electromagnetic waves, as manifest by light, leads to an introduction to wave aspects, geometrical optics, and optical instruments. Optics features prominently in the study of the life sciences.

3; Modern physics

The remarkable scientific developments during the twentieth century will be introduced, namely, Einstein's Theory of Relativity and the development of quantum physics. The introduction of wave-particle duality and the wave equation has had profound implications on all sciences as will be discussed for atoms, molecules, and nuclei. The course will end with a discussion of the unity of physics ranging from the fundamental building blocks and forces to cosmology and the origin of the universe.