Weber State University
Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns,
so each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization
of the entire tapestry.
Too often the world of science is seen or portrayed as an endeavor in which one has to travel at speeds close to that of light, carry a truckload of highly technical and expensive equipment, enter a black hole at the center of the galaxy and emerge again in a neighbor’s backyard. While that kind of activity would be very exciting, this impression of science is misleading. Much of the most fascinating phenomena of this Universe exists right before our eyes, ears, noses and fingers. The problem is that it is not obvious how we should go about looking for the answers to all of our questions, or even what questions we should begin to ask. This course gives you the chance to learn and experience how to ask and pursue these questions. The class revolves around interactive investigations, with settings that extend the classroom to your home, a local grocery store, the great outdoors, and even the sky above.
Primarily, this course is about science and how it works. This course will attempt to open our eyes to the physical world around us; yet, instead of addressing science as a book filled with facts, we will interact with our physical world and attempt to extract from it as much “truth” as is possible. That is, we will try to inductively discover how our world functions by actually tinkering with it. In addition to actually “doing” science (specifically physics), this course should provide insight and discussion regarding the “nature of science.” Why do we do science? Does science provide us with all of “the answers”? What makes science what it is, and not something different?
Within this course, you should learn some specific things about physics and science in general. I place these into three broad categories that I find helpful:
- Conceptual: You will understand some basic concepts in physics, how they are related, and how they provide a structure for understanding nature. These concepts include ideas about matter, energy, forces, and their systems of organization.
- Epistemological: You will learn about where physics knowledge originates and how it has been constructed into our current understandings. You will also learn how scientific ideas develop and change, how physics concepts work in concert with other sciences, and what distinguishes science from other understandings.
- Societal: You will develop ideas about how physics knowledge is used, both in your personal life and for society in general. You will consider how science and technology are related, what the role of science is in our everyday, and what the purpose of science is.
This site is essentially just the cover page of our course, Physics of the Mundane. The complete details are listed on our course hosting through WSUOnline. This includes the syllabus, assignments, and the like. Students can also contribute to discussions and turn in work through this site, while others can simply access some course materials.
More information about me, the instructor, is on my home page.