Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students

Physics in the 21st Century


This course provides an in-depth examination of frontiers of physics research, including fundamental physics, cosmology, and physics of the future. Questions such as: What is the universe made of? What is the nature of space, time, and matter? What can we learn about the history of the universe and what does it tell us about its future? A large part of 20th century was defined by revolutions in physics--everyday applications of electromagnetism, relativity, and quantum mechanics. What other revolutions can physics bring to human civilization in the 21st century? What is quantum computing? What can physics say about consciousness? What does it take to visit other parts of the solar system, or even other stars?

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. No prior knowledge of physics is necessary; all voices are welcome to contribute to the discussion about these big ideas. By the end of the quarter you will be able to explain the major questions that drive physics research to your friends and peers. You will understand how scientists study the impossibly small and impossibly large and be able to convey this knowledge in clear and concise terms.

This course experiences high student demand. Frosh, Sophomores, and New Transfers are encouraged to also consider some of the other IntroSems being offered in this quarter when making their three selections for priority enrollment in the IntroSems' VCA.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Savas Dimopoulos

Savas Dimopoulos, a professor of physics, received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and joined the Stanford faculty in 1979. He is the winner of the 2006 Sakurai Prize of the American Physical Society, and the winner of the 2006 Tomassoni Award in Theoretical Physics. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He proposed the Supersymmetric Standard Model and the Large Dimension Framework, both soon to be tested experimentally.