Space, Time, Matter


A note that was sent to those enrolled in SC 130 Physical Science summer 2012.

In the beginning, nowhere at no time was made of nothing. The perfect symmetry of absence was lost and a singularity became somewhere at some time made of something. Space, time, and matter came into existence.

  • 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. Mass is stuff. Stuff seen and, in the case of dark matter, stuff unseen.



  • Everything else is pure energy. Energy perceived and, in the case of dark energy, not perceived.


SC 130 Physical Science summer term 2012 starts on Monday 04 June 2011 at 9:30 in room A101.

Students in the course will need a scientific calculator for this course. The text book is available in the book store.

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 cell phones have built in chronograph.

A final recommendation is sunglasses. Not for style, sunglasses are useful for viewing clouds and ice bows.

In physical science we study the inanimate world. Physical science includes physics, mechanics, statics, 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 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.

The summer session moves quickly and is demanding. There are a number of ways in which you can contact me - via email, cell messages, even social media. Do not hesitate to use these ways to ask questions and get assistance! Some students use Google docs, let me know if you do, there are some limitations to Google docs that we can work around.

Student learning outcomes information: what you will know, or be able to do at the end of the course
The student will be able to:

  • Write a clear, well-organized paper using documentation and quantitative tools when appropriate. 
  • Present and interpret numeric information in graphic forms. 
  • Define and explain the concepts, principles, and theories of a field of science. 
  • Perform experiments that gather scientific information and to utilize, interpret, and explain the results of experiments and field work in a field of science 

1. Demonstrate core scientific skills
 1.1 Explore physical science systems using scientific methodologies Laboratory reports.
 1.2 Generate mathematical models for physical science systems
 1.3 Write up the results of experiments in a formal format using spreadsheet and word processing software

2. Perform experiments in mechanics
 2.1 Determine the relationship between time and space for an object undergoing linear motion
 2.2 Determine the relationship between time and space for an object undergoing accelerated motion
 2.3 Measure momentum and determine whether momentum is conserved in a collision
 2.4  Calculate forces, determine whether a material is linear elastic

3. Perform experiments in material and earth sciences
 3.1 Determine the relative heat conductivity of different materials
 3.2 Determine the electrical conductivity of different materials
 3.3 Calculate the relationship between minutes of longitude/latitude and meters
 3.4 Identify different types of precipitation and clouds
 3.5 Identify whether solutions are acidic or basic

4. Perform experiments in wave based phenomena
 4.1 Determine wavelength, frequency, period, amplitude, for waves and measure the speed of sound
 4.2 Determine the relationships for optical depth behind a mirror and below the surface of water
 4.3 Identify continuous and discrete spectra, list the orders of colors in spectra, and explore the combinations of primary colors of light used to produce secondary and other colors of light.
 4.4 Determine the relationship between current and voltage for an electrical circuit

COURSE CONTENT
1. Measurement
2. Motion
3. Momentum and energy
4. Force
5. Temperature and heat
6. Planetary place and time
7. Weather and climate
8. Sound and waves
9. Optics
10. Electricity
11. Chemistry
12. Astronomy
13. Cosmology


  • In the end there will be only dark energy, dark matter, and black holes with singularities at their center. 

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