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Physics for Poets

Andrew Fraknoi


Last year, Foothill College's "Physics for Poets" class won the 2005 Innovation of the Year Award from the League for Innovation in the Community Colleges, for finding new ways to explain Einstein's ideas without math. This spring, instructor Andrew Fraknoi is offering this course again, and the college invites everyone with an interest in Einstein and his strange ideas to come and check it out.

Numbered Physics 12 in the Foothill catalog, "Physics for Poets: Everything You Wanted to Know about Einstein's Work but Were Afraid to Ask", will be offered on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6 to 8:30 p.m., April 11 to June 22, 2006.

The non-technical course introduces students to some of the most intriguing areas of modern physics, with a focus on Einstein's contributions. The approach uses humor, analogies, and demonstrations. No background in science or math will be required; the instructor specializes in explaining scientific ideas in everyday language.

The course emphasizes key ideas that form the basis of our modern concepts of space, time, matter, and energy:
* The theory of how atoms work
* Energy, heat, and the arrow of time
* The special theory of relativity: what happens when you travel close to the speed of light
* The general theory of relativity: gravity, space-time warps, and black holes
* Quantum mechanics: the bizarre rules that govern the world inside the atom

For registration information for the Spring Quarter at Foothill College in Los Altos, see here .

For a course syllabus in pdf format, see here.


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