Phys and Consciousness
We will explore basic quantum physics (theory and modern technology), as well as the link to quantitative thinking and areas of consciousness and brain research. This will include phenomena in classical and quantum physics, the nature of physical measurements, observation, the role of the observer, the role of the human mind in interpreting reality and consciousness. Brain imaging studies enabled by physical phenomena may be used to support certain theories of how we process information. The course will review cutting edge physical phenomena and be as quantitative as possible. We will explore related areas of psychology including the area of emotions and try to explore new links between them and the limits of quantitative approaches in these topics. We will explore decision making and links to quantum theories. For example, the making of a decision has been hypothesized to collapse "a thought wave into a particle". Much of human thinking is probabilistic in nature and we will link this to physics. We will explore quantum entanglement, quantum computing, information, and free will. We will explore work showing that quantum models were able to predict effects shown in national surveys. We will explore how the physical reality works, including how the brain works, how this is linked to ways of thinking and deciding, as well as psychology (develop useful methods for rational living).
Every Other Term
Your department or program fields a variety of courses to meet distinct educational needs. Please explain how this course fits into your department's plan for participating in the general education curriculum of the College. The sector panel will want to know what is distinctive about this course along with the other courses your department lists in the sector that makes them suitable for the sector requirement.
Course usually offered in Fall term
Natural Science & Math Sector
This course can be useful for any major, as well as for the physics major as we can go as deep as possible and some topics/assignments can be tailored for individual student level (especially if we have fewer than 30 students). To me this course may have some similar flavor to Physics 016, where you have students from different schools at Penn, including advanced physics students. Some students asked me if this can replace quantum mechanics 411 and i said no. We will have a different take on quantum mechanics here, more motivational/historical and related to other fields, rather than immerse ourselves in calculations right away, like it's done in typical more advanced quantum textbooks but we will also be much more quantitive than in popular books on quantum physics (in time i can develop a mini-textbook for the course, like there is for Physics 016).
My objective is to introduce students to cutting edge quantum physics ideas, experiments and theories. I plan to do this by teaching them the basic principles of quantum physics. I will start by briefly reviewing the world views through centuries that lead to the 20th century and present. My goal is two-fold: to teach students the most impactful topics in modern physics and related mathematics, as well as to practice quantitative thinking, ability to discuss and question existing worldviews and science by having strong background physics knowledge. My objective is also to have students understand the great ramifications of (quantum) physics on everyday world including our economy as well as on our ways of perceiving the world and ourselves, by exploring our physical intuition and how it fits the experimental reality.
Weekly homework including quantitative and qualitative-thinking questions.
One in-class midterm (80 minutes) and one final exam (2 hours).
Depending on the class size (if below 30) we will do in-class student presentations.
Sector II - History and Tradition