Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
Physics in the 21st Century
In this IntroSem, we will explore the frontier of modern physics through an in-depth examination of two of the biggest physics discoveries of the 21st century: the Higgs boson and Dark Energy. Through studying these discoveries we will explore the big questions driving modern particle physics, the study of nature's most fundamental pieces, and cosmology, the study of the evolution and nature of the universe. Questions such as: What is the universe made of? What are the most fundamental particles and how do they interact with each other? What can we learn about the history of the universe and what does it tell us about its future? We will learn about the tools scientists use to study these questions such as the Large Hadron Collider and the Hubble Space Telescope. We will also learn to convey these complex topics in engaging and diverse terms to the general public through writing and reading assignments, oral presentations, and multimedia projects. The syllabus includes a tour of SLAC, the site of many major 20th century particle discoveries, and a virtual visit of the control room of the ATLAS experiment at CERN amongst other activities. No prior knowledge of physics is necessary; all voices are welcome to contribute to the discussion about these big ideas.