Great Debates in Physics

In this course, we will examine a range of controversies, both within physics and between the physics community and the larger society. Examples of controversies we might consider include: is light a wave or a particle? Should scientists believe in atoms they cannot see? Should electricity be transmitted via direct or alternating current? How vulnerable is the electric grid to space-weather?  Should we use federal research funds to support the search for extraterrestrial intelligence?  Is cold fusion real?  Does evidence support the claim that climate change is caused by human activity?  We will all bring to bear our critical thinking skills and scientific reasoning, including investigating the physical world through lab activities, to help us think through the evidence invoked in these questions, and in the process help you develop successful learning strategies for all of your college-level courses. Written and oral assignments will expose you to various kinds of scientific literature, develop your capacity to communicate scientific information clearly for different audiences, and teach you to formulate arguments based on various kinds of evidence.

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