Physics & Society – Physics 3650 – Brooklyn College of CUNY

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Physics 3650 – Physics & Society

Syllabus – Spring 2013

Prof. Micha Tomkiewicz –

Required Reading:

Output Documents:

Miriam Webster Dictionary – science that deals with the structure of matter and the interactions between the fundamental constituents of the observable universe. long called natural philosophy (from the greek physikos), physics is concerned with all aspects of nature, covering the behavior of objects under the action of given forces and the nature and origin of gravitational, electromagnetic, and nuclear force fields. the goal of physics is to formulate comprehensive principles that bring together and explain all discernible phenomena.

The objective of the course is to discuss whether man can now be considered to be part of nature and to explore career opportunities beyond the usual boundaries of textbooks that include human activities. The anchor throughout the semester will be a report that was recently issued by the US National Intelligence Council titled “Global Trends 2030: Alternative World. The attempt in this report is to analyze the state of the world and state of the United   States based on extrapolation of the important driving forces that they are presently identifying.

These driving forces include:

  • Population      growth
  • Economic      growth
  • Income      distribution
  • Governmental      practices – power distribution
  • Environmental      impact
  • Climate      change
  • Science      & Technology
  • Energy
  • Water
  • Food
  • Meta – correlations between the forces.

Every student will adopt a specific driving force and will search for information to identify specific aspects that requires specific quantitative attention that can form a productive seed to attract the attention of physicists (or future physicists). Examples (taken mainly from climate change which illustrates the instructors ignorance on the other topics) can include Gini Coefficients (Income Distribution), Tipping points (Climate Change), Climate sensitivity (Climate Change), Demographic distribution (Population growth), Frequency of extreme events (Climate Change). Class work will be dedicated to the mutual dependence of the forces, again searching for issues that might benefit from attention of physicists.

One of the objectives of the course will be to keep the syllabus flexible and adaptive to the changing World. The class will spend some time investigating the airways (including the blogosphere) to investigate other efforts on this line.

The main output tool that the class will create is an open blog. In the blog, students will discuss the quantitative aspects of their specific forces and everybody else will have the opportunity to comment on each other’s effort and invite comments from the World at large. Projects that will show promise will be documented (optional) as posters in Science Day (end of the semester) or an article in the Brooklyn College undergraduate journal

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