Program Details

This four week summer course is a contemporary prologue to classical physics themes. To quote Feynman, it will be about “a part of physics that is known, rather than a part that is unknown.” The course will present major physics ideas in a broader cultura
Location:
Parma, Italy
Program Type:
Study Abroad
Degree Level:
Undergraduate
Term:
Summer

Program Overview

Program Description:
This summer course is a modern introduction to classical physics themes, primarily for students in the humanities. It will address the following questions: What do we mean by classical physics? Is classical physics subsumed by newer theories – e.g. Quantum Mechanics and General Theory of Relativity? What should a scholar in the humanities know about physics? This course is in part about physics (that is descriptive), and in part in physics as it will include practical applications and aim to develop useful quantitative skills (i.e. dimensional analysis, estimates, problem solving techniques). It is hoped that students will gain awareness of the methods and tools of physics, enabling them to engage in informed discussions with scientists, better understand advances in technology, and have a basis for assessing news of exciting physics discoveries (or claims of such).

This four week summer course is a contemporary prologue to classical physics themes. To quote Feynman, it will be about “a part of physics that is known, rather than a part that is unknown.” The course will present major physics ideas in a broader cultural context, providing historical perspectives and taking advantage of numerous science museums and visits to Italian cities where early modern science has its roots. Simultaneously, it will aim to develop specific, highly practical physics skills, and introduce some problem solving techniques. The course will thus serve as an invitation to consider the power and beauty of physics and its place among the liberal arts.

Lectures will be held in the Department of Physics at the University of Parma. Topics include dimensional analysis and dimensionless numbers, estimates, kinematics, Newton’s laws and their applications, Newton’s gravitational law, Kepler’s laws, conservation principles and symmetry, and possibly elements of thermodynamics and/or chaos theory. Guest lectures on research conducted in the department, with visits to laboratories, and two hands-on experiments are also planned.
Setting Description:
Housing & Meals: Students will stay in hotel accommodations in Parma. Cultural Activities: Day trips to Bologna, Florence, and Milan Physics facilities and places of historical significance for the early science development, including Galileo's grave in Florence. Museum trips include Museo Galilei (Florence); Museo di Palazzo Poggi (Bologna); Museo Nazionale della Scienza e dellaTecnologia (Milano). Visits to art museums and architectural monuments such as medieval Castell'Arquato and/or Castello di Torrechiara (near Parma), UffiziGallery (Florence), and Torre Asinelli built in 1119 (Bologna).
Cost:
$4,432 (estimated cost)

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