From Newton to Nanotechnology: History and Applications of Physics

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Course DatesLengthMeeting TimesStatusFormatInstructor(s)CRN
June 21, 2021 - July 21, 20216/21 - 7/214 WeeksOnlineCancelledOnlineShady Shayan Lame

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 basics of any introductory physics course in high school and college, including Newton's law's, velocity, force, energy, etc., This course will also provide a foundation for work in more advanced science courses by introducing a number of basic skills including interpretation of graphs, problem solving, and will discuss some of the basics of laboratory work.

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, however a prior course in physics 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

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences for students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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