May The Force Be With You: Physics for the Ages

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Course DatesLengthMeeting TimesStatusFormatInstructor(s)CRN
July 12, 2021 - August 18, 20217/12 - 8/185 WeeksOnlineOpenOnlineSantanu Banerjee

Course Description

Physics with Force is a central theme that ties a lot of the major Physics concepts together. The course begins with an understanding of the current and historical concepts of Force. From a historical viewpoint, the Aristotelean and Biblical view of Physics matched, creating an unbreakable bond of stagnation in the understanding of Physics in the western world, which led to 1500 years of dark ages in the progress of Physics. During the renaissance period, Galileo and Newton ended this blockade, along with the proliferation of exceptional progress in all forms of science and the arts. The differential personal outcome of Galileo and Newton are quite fascinating as well.

Viewing Physics from a Force-centric point of view is quite intriguing yet comprehensive. In this course, we develop a conceptual foundation of the Newtonian laws of motion, which illuminates the properties of Forces. After developing an understanding of Force, we try to develop a systematic yet simple mathematical approach to Force, which leads to an understanding of a wide range of Physics concepts. In this approach, the simplest model of Force is no force, which leads to an understanding of equilibrium. The next simplest model is a constant Force, which leads to an understanding of kinematic equations and free-fall motion, including projectile motion. This is followed by the model of linear restoring Force, which corresponds to an understanding of springs, pendulum, and molecular vibrations as well. Thereafter, we look at the inverse square Force, which explains gravity, electricity, magnetism, and atomic structure. We will also provide a conceptual understanding of why these few models are as useful in describing as much of Physics.

In addition to this understanding of Force and its applications, we will describe how Force is central in leading to the concepts of Energy and Momentum and how these other quantities may be alternately modeled to have a primary role. Finally, the course will conceptually discuss why trying to combine the four fundamental forces of Gravity, Electromagnetism, along with weak and strong Nuclear Forces, into a yet unattained single theory, has been a holy grail of Physics since the beginning of the 20th century. Throughout the course we intersperse the conceptual understanding with problem solving and experimental simulations.

Prerequisites: Basic Algebra background from High School is required. A prior Physics background is not necessary. Simple Trigonometry concepts will be introduced to the students during class.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEPI0929

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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