Life Long Learning


What Are We Made Of? A Study Of The Very Basic Ingredients Of Matter And Energy


Dr. Kevin Giovanetti, Professor of Physics

Monday 1:00-3:00

Sept. 12, 19, 26, Oct. 3, 10


Dr G will take this opportunity to try and explain some of the interesting ideas developed over the past 100 years to explain the strange world of sub atomic physics.  What scientists have discovered is that the world that we live in seems to offer us a limited set of experiences on which to base our scientific intuition. When one tries to establish the rules for small scale behavior or high speed reactions our intuition fails. Classical physics has a remarkable track record. It explains so much of what we see.  It completely fails, however, when applied to atoms unless we add some relationships that continue to create queasy feelings when first examined by scientist.  We will spend time thinking and discussing some of these ideas.


 Sub Atomic Physics è  Qunatum Mechanics: Bohr, Schrödinger, Dirac, Feynman (many others)

 High Speeds è Relativity: Einstein (many others)


After several weeks of discussion I would like to remind students that these topics are not easy to understand. There are numerous pedagogical books, articles, panels and discussions on these topics.  I have not found anyone who thinks these topics are simple. There are indeed many scientists that struggle with the meaning of these ideas and discussions often erupt in journals that revisit the core ideas of Quantum Mechanics and Relativity.  This weekend I enjoyed reading a book “Simply Einstein”. It attempts to demystify the ideas of Einstein and covers in a very nice way some of the topics we discussed in class.


Simply Einstein: Relativity Demystified

Wolfson, Richard  (2003)
ISBN: (0-393-32507-5)
paper back, Price: $ 13.95 online.