Physics 301: Great Ideas in Science

Physics 301:

A Physicists View of Nature:

The Historical Role of Observation, Argument and Discovery

and the Advancement of Science




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This course will focus on the historical development of science in the context of embedded culture. That is, we will probe the cultural conditions that must exist before scientific theory is accepted. We will concentrate on a few important historical periods to identify and assess various scientific ideas within those periods in the context of both social and technological settings. Throughout, we will attempt to trace the origin, transmission and refinement of scientific ideas from their early inception to their modern manifestation. The intent of this course is to focus on how science is done as well as how science is perceived in a cultural context.

We will consider 4 main historical periods organized in a series of modules. There will be 1 homework assignment per module. These will be in the form of written essays of length 800 - 1000 words. If possible, please submit these essays in Microsoft Word format. While there is no formal textbook required for this course, the book by James Burke, entitled The Day the Universe Changed , will certainly be relevant to the bulk of the course material. The four modules will be oriented around the following historical periods:

  • Early Greek
  • The Renaissance
  • The 19th Century
  • Early 20th Century

ALL HOMEWORK SHOULD BE EMAILED TO:

rdrummon@uoregon.edu

  • Some Internet Resources for This Class


  • Module #1: Principles of Early Greek Science

    Module #2: Renaissance Thought

    FIRST EXAM TO BE TAKEN May 3--5




    Module #3: The Nineteenth Century

    Module #4: Early Twentieth Century


    SECOND EXAM TO BE TAKEN June 2--4