Physics 1115-010 (Spring 2022)
The main textbook is Physics and Technology for Future
Presidents by Richard Muller.
The book The First Three Minutes by Steven Weinberg
is an optional, extra-credit part of this course.
There will be an optional, online test that you can take to get the
extra credit. Your grade in this course can only rise if you take
You should try to take the quizzes on time and not let them all pile
up in May.
All quizzes and the final exam must be done by Saturday 14 May at
Errors in Muller's book:
On page 369, hydrocarbons should be carbohydrates. Oil is a hydrocarbon; sugar is a carbohydrate.
Pages 384--388: American petroleum engineers have developed hydraulic
fracturing (fracking) as a relatively cheap way to produce oil and
gas in the US.
I have made some videos about the early universe.
In the first video I briefly describe Weinberg's book
and then discuss some things that we learned
about dark energy and dark matter after
his book was published.
This six-minute video is
In the second video, I discuss what we think may have happened
in a few instants just before the Big Bang.
This five-minute video also is on
In the third video, I explain that we use the term cosmic inflation
to denote what may have happened just before the Big Bang.
This one-minute video also is on
I am writing some class notes.
Here they are.
Alan Guth explains inflation on
Nicola Twilley describes the discovery of gravitational waves in this
history of the last 14 billion years.
Here are optional links to some websites that you may find
interesting and may want to look at during this online course or after it:
Steven Weinberg's NYRB article
Trouble with Quantum Mechanics.
Part 1 is of special interest.
The cosmic microwave background radiation
as measured by the Planck satellite of the
European Space Agency.
website on the CMB.
An image (detected by gravitational lensing) of a
huge filament of dark matter
between two clusters of galaxies, Abell 222 and Abell 223.
Nature 487, 202-204 (12 July 2012)
of dark matter (yellow and red) across a huge region of space
in which the black circles are clusters of galaxies.
picture of the
A gallery of Hubble
JPL's website of images from the
image of two interacting galaxies, UGC 1810 and UGC 1813, in Arp 273.
NASA's eXtreme Deep Field
of 5,500 galaxies. There are 2 trillion galaxies
in our universe.
to some lovely NASA images taken
with the Hubble telescope.
to an MIT computer simulation of the evolution of the universe.
to a webpage on the Stirling engine.
A periodic table.
A remote periodic table.
A remote poster of
standard model of particle physics.
The poster omits the Higgs boson which has a mass of 125 GeV/\(c^2\).
Diagram of the apparatus
that Davisson-Germer used from 1923 to 1927 with which they
showed that electrons, like photons, are particles that
go on average where their wave functions tell them to go.
to image of transparency of Earth's atmosphere
from .1 nm to 1 km. The heat of the Earth
leaves at wavelenghs around 10 microns.
of wave motion.
Feynman's demo of electrons going through two slits.
Link to some recently released films of nuclear explosions.
Link to an NYT video about meteor showers.
Link to a website about meteor showers.
Link to a website about total internal reflection,
which is used in the fiber-optic cables of the internet.
Link to a website about antennas.