2012-2013 Courses


Spring 2013 Courses

ASTR 123    Galaxies and the Expanding Universe
Astronomy 123 introduces students to the structure and evolution of our galaxy and the Universe. Galaxies similar to the Milky Way, and those much different, are studied, leading to an understanding of the position of our galaxy in the vast Universe. The course includes an introduction to the theories of the forces of nature as they pertain to this study. The place of humankind in the Universe is examined. The search for extraterrestrial life is discussed.
Scott Fisher,  4 credits

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BI 407/507    Seminar: Teaching Science
We will read, discuss, and apply a variety of techniques from science education literature to improve science education. Students will be active participants in the exploration of scientific teaching. Using concepts and information introduced in class, students will develop and teach an activity to be used in an undergraduate science course.
Elly Vandegrift and Mark Carrier , 1 credit

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GEOL 110    People, Rocks, & Fire
We will build understanding of how past societies adapted to widespread and often dramatic changes in their foods and fuels, and more importantly, how our current society can learn from their successes and failures in addressing contemporary global energy questions. Principles of thermodynamics, geology, and ecology establish a scientific context for consideration of coal and petroleum formation, the dilemmas faced by ancient agricultural societies, the usefulness of fossil fuels in creating mechanical energy and the resulting explosion of growth in the Industrial Revolution, and the transformation of industrialized societies into city-dwelling populations. These considerations lead us to the present day, in which developed societies utterly depend on fossil energy, limits to petroleum and impending climate change are widely acknowledged, and volatile debates pit environmental preservation against natural gas, oil, and coal extraction.
Alan Rempel and Andie Rempel, 4 credits

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PHYS 171    Physics of Life
What are you made of? This simple question both puzzles and fascinates scientists. It is easy to list you “components” – cells, bones, muscles, etc. – but this is neither interesting nor illuminating. What is it about your flesh that makes you “squishy?” Would you be better off with a skeleton of wood rather than bone? If you shrank a whale to the size of a bacterium, could it swim the same way? These questions bring together concepts from a variety of disciplines, mixing together biology, chemistry, and physics. Students will explore topics in biophysics and biomaterials using readings, discussions, and hands-on activities to study the physical properties of biological materials, as well as the constraints these properties place on living organisms.
Eric Corwin, 4 credits

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Winter 2013 Courses

BI/CH 140    Science, Policy, and Biology
Students will assess how policy decisions affect the types of research that can be conducted, and the potential ramifications for human health and the environment. The course will be topical, based around items of particular interest in the news. Topics may include stem cells, genetically modified foods, human genetic testing, trans-fats, spread of E. coli in the food supply, the basis of scientific controversies, or other current biological issues. Because the underlying biology of topics covered by this course are derived from biological and biochemical research, students may register for either Biology or Chemistry credit.
Judith Eisen (Biology) and Andy Berglund (Chemistry), 4 credits
Winter 2013 Syllabus

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CH/PHYS 157    Information Quantum Mechanics and DNA
What is information, and how is it measured? How is information stored in and transferred between biological molecules? How does this relate to compressing music files onto a compact disk or into an mp3 format? Students will explore how the concept of information in physics describes complex systems such as gases and liquids, how a theory of information improved communications technology (including computer and Internet technology), and how DNA encodes complex molecular processes leading to life and heredity. This is an interdisciplinary course focusing on the atomic and molecular basis of the DNA molecule and how this molecule stores and transfers information. Students may register for either a Chemistry or Physics credit.
Michael Raymer (Physics) and Marina Guenza (Chemistry), 4 credits

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Fall 2012 Courses

GEOL/PHYS 156    Scientific Revolutions
This course will examine scientific revolutions that have dramatically altered the ways in which we view the world. Our discussions will explore major concepts (including quantum mechanics, evolution, plate tectonics, and chaos theory) central to a diverse group of scientific disciplines. Discussions will focus on understanding what these revolutions were, and what views they superseded. Students will gain an understanding of how science generates questions and defines the questions it investigates, while considering scientific revolutions in their respective historical contexts. We will also explore the technological and societal consequences of these revolutions, in order to understand the role of scientific discoveries in shaping our lives.

This course will satisfy the requirements of “Science Group” courses. It introduces students to foundational constructs found in several interrelated scientific disciplines—plate tectonics (geological sciences); quantum mechanics (chemistry, physics); evolution (biology, biophysics); and chaos theory (essentially all sciences). It will develop students’ scientific reasoning abilities, introduce basic methods of data visualization and mathematics. It is not restricted to science majors. It is not a laboratory-only course.
Raghu Parthasarathy (Physics) Samantha Hopkins (Geology), 4 credits

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PHYS 152    Physics of Sound and Music
This course explores the science of sounds and music all around us. Through demonstrations and class activities students will explore the science behind waves, resonance, overtones, enclosures (e.g. instruments) to amplify and focus waves, human hearing, pitch, musical temperament, and simple electronics. The material is especially useful to students interested in music creation and performance, recording, sound synthesis, and optimization of room and auditorium acoustics. We will also apply these concepts to specific families of instruments. Descriptions involve elementary math and simple algebra. Students will leave the course able to apply these concepts to their everyday experiences with sound and music.
Daniel Steck (Physics), 4 credits
Fall 2012 Syllabus

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PHYS 155    Physics Behind the Internet
We will explore the Internet as a network of millions of computers capable of exchanging data files containing information. The technology that makes this possible is the result of the efforts of tens of thousands of physicists, engineers, and computer scientists over more than a hundred years. The development of the Internet is an amazing story of the transformation of fundamental physics discoveries into practical systems. We will introduce the physical concepts that explain how information is stored, transmitted, processed, and retrieved.
Benjamin McMorran (Physics), 4 credits
Fall 2012 Syllabus

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