[physci] SC 130 Physical Science starts Thursday 12 August

A note to those registered in SC 130 Physical Science:

You are receiving this because you are on the pre-registration class list for SC 130 Physical Science fall 2010. Please pardon me if this is in error or if your plans have changed.

Welcome to physical science!

The class will begin on Thursday 12 August 2010 with a laboratory period. We do meet on the first day. I will be introducing the course and some of the philosophy behind the physical sciences.

The twelfth being a laboratory day, the class has sessions at 8:00 and 11:00. In SC 130 Physical Science you have to select the laboratory period that works for your schedule. The 8:00 laboratory ends at 10:55, the 11:00 laboratory ends at 1:55. You have to choose the laboratory period that does not conflict a Tuesday-Thursday class in which you may be enrolled.

If you have no classes from 8:00 to 1:55 on Thursday, then you can choose either laboratory.

If you choose the 8:00 laboratory, be certain that you can arrive on time for the section. The laboratories are the core of the course. The course is built around the laboratories, rather than the traditional approach of the laboratories being an adjunct to a lecture course.

You will need a scientific calculator for this course. The text book is available in the book store. The title is simply Physical Science by Dana Lee Ling.

I also recommend but do not require a ruler. Another recommendation, but certainly not required, is a digital watch with a built in stopwatch. The stopwatch is often called "chrono" for chronograph. A lot of physical science can be done with a ruler and stopwatch. Some of you actually have chronographs built into your cell phones.

A final recommendation is sunglasses. Not for style, even though we are a stylish class. ;-) Sunglasses are useful for viewing clouds and ice bows.

In physical science we study the inanimate world. Physical science includes physics, thermodynamics, earth sciences, vulcanology, geology, meteorology, climatology, sonics, optics, electromagnetism, astronomy, cosmology, and many more fields. There is too much to cover in a single term, and the amount of potential content exceeds what one could learn in a lifetime. Thus this class focuses on process more than on memorized content. Science is a process, a way of exploring the world, not a set of memorized fun facts to know and tell. Science is a way of thinking.

At the core of every science is mathematics, and mathematics will be a regular core feature of the class. Do not be afraid, mathematics is simply another tool science uses. Science often makes math more understandable.

Science is not science unless it is communicated. The course includes writing up laboratory reports for each laboratory using spreadsheet and word processing software. Laboratory reports are graded on content as well as on grammar, vocabulary, organization, and cohesion. This course will demand a lot of writing from you.

The course includes a focus on the potential use of physical science in the elementary and secondary school classroom. Some in the course are either in an education major, the child of a teacher, or will one day be a teacher - even if you do not now plan to do so.

A schedule of the fall term is at:
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Here are some observations and questions to ponder about some of the fundamental quantities in physical science. These questions are "rhetorical" questions, that is, these questions do not necessarily have an answer nor is an answer expected.

  • Space is about choice. Forward, backward, left, right, up, or down. You can go any direction. Up to you.
  • Time leaves no choice. Relentlessly marching ever forward into the future. There is no going back. No left time, no right time. No up, no down. Only one direction. No choice.
  • Mass is the mystery. Mass has no direction. Mass has no forward, no backward. No left. No right. No up. No down. Mass simply exists.

  • Space is the questions how close, how far, which way, where am I, how high, how deep, how wide, how long. Space has lots of questions.
  • Time is the questions when, how old, how young. Time has only few questions.
  • Mass is the question how much. Mass has the fewest questions.

  • Space is near, far, over there, here, on, over, under, above, below, big, small, narrow, tall, short, wide, in front, in back, across. Space has many descriptors.
  • Time is now, never, sooner, later, forever, immediately. Time has a only few descriptors.
  • Mass is a lot, a little. Mass has the fewest descriptors.

Everything else is pure energy.

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