PHYS 1905 W - How Things Work: Physics in Everyday Life

Web course

Intended for students with little or no background in Science. Examination of the physics behind everyday objects to learn about the basis for our modern technological world. Topics may include cell phones, microwave ovens, sustainable energy, weather, dance, music, hockey, and skiing. Faculty of Science students may only take this course as a free elective.

CRN for section W: 34269

Instructor: Peter Watson

Peter Watson

About the instructor: I have taught introductory physics courses for years and they all tend to suffer from a "top-down" approach: write down the basic principles of physical theory and then find some applications. Particularly for students outside science and engineering, this does not work, so I wanted to provide a course where we start off with questions about the world we live in, such as why can't we fly to the moon as easily as we can fly to Europe? How does a cell phone work? Is global warming real?

To answer these questions, this course provides the physics on a "need-to-know basis." I do no derivations of equations, instead I present the formulas as a kind of distilled common sense. A novel course requires novel teaching: the material is provided in 10 to 20-minute segments which often looks at just a single concept, and is followed by some simple application.

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