GEOL130 - THE NATURE OF SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY
Steve Lund and Scott Paterson

Fall, 2000


This course is designed for anyone with an interest in physical science. The course considers our current scientific understanding of the 'natural world', the nature of scientific inquiry which has led us to that level of understanding, and the relationship of science to other aspects of human knowledge and experience. We will explore how science is done, how new scientific paradigms (broad scientific hypotheses) are developed (and older paradigms junked or augmented), and what are the limitations of science. Examples of scientific ideas and paradigm shifts will come from the realm of physical science (physics, chemistry, earth sciences) with modest use of mathematics. By the end of the semester, we hope that all students acquire a more 'modern' scientific view of the natural world around us, both what we know and what we don't know, and also develop a more questioning attitude with regard to the learning process and observation of the world around us.

Schedule
Week 1 (Aug. 28) Introduction
Week 1 (Aug. 31) Topic 1: What is Science?
Week 2 (Sep. 05) Topic 2: The Origin of Science in Ancient Greece
Week 2 (Sep. 07) Topic 3: How Do We 'Do' Science?
Week 3 (Sep. 12) Topic 4: Greek Science After 500 Years
Week 3 (Sep. 14) Topic 5: Paradigms and Paradigm Shifts
Week 4 (Sep. 19) Topic 6: The Dark Ages of Science?
Week 4 (Sep. 21) Topic 7: The First Revolution - Astronomy of Copernicus/Galileo
Week 5 (Sep. 26) Topic 8: The Second Revolution - Motion from Galileo to Newton
Week 5 (Sep. 28) First Midterm Exam (Topics 1-8)
Week 6 (Oct. 03) Topic 9: The Nature of Light and the Special Theory of Relativity
Week 6 (Oct. 05) Topic 10: The General Theory of Relativity
Week 7 (Oct. 10) Topic 11: Changing Perspectives on Age of the Earth and Solar System
Week 7 (Oct. 12) Topic 12: Big Bang, A New Dynamic Universe
Week 8 (Oct. 17) Topic 13: Earth Structure/Plate Tectonics
Week 8 (Oct. 19) Topic 14: Cultural/Historic Influences on Paradigm Shifts
Week 9 (Oct. 24) Topic 15: The Origins of Ideas About the Nature of Matter
Week 9 (Oct. 26) Topic 16: Ideas About the Nature of Matter - the Bohr Atom
Week 10 (Oct. 31) Second Midterm Exam (Topics 9-16)
Week 10 (Nov. 2) Topic 17: A Real Quantum Mechanical View of Matter
Week 11 (Nov. 7) Topic 18: The Double-Slit Exper., Causality, and Schroedinger's Cat
Week 11 (Nov. 9) Topic 19: Black Holes, QM, and the Universe
Week 12 (Nov. 14) Topic 20: The Effects of 20th Century Science on 'Non-Science'
Week 12 (Nov. 16) Topic 21: Chaos Theory - A Paradigm for the 21st Century
Week 13 (Nov. 21) Topic 22: Fractals - One View of Chaotic Behavior
Week 14 (Nov. 28) Topic 23: Chaos - One Face of Nonlinear Dynamics
Week 15 (Nov. 30) Topic 24: The (Nonlinear) Dynamic Earth - Examples of Chaos
Week 16 (Dec. 5) Topic 25: 'Whither Goest Thou' - 21st Century Developments?
Week 16 (Dec. 7) Third Midterm Exam (Topics 17-24)


Required Readings
Gamow, G., and R. Stannard, the New World of Mr Tompkins, Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Gleick, J., Chaos - Making a New Science, Penguin Books, 1987.
Gribbin, J., In Search of Schrodinger's Cat, Bantam Press, 1984.
Hawking, S., A Brief History of Time (the updated and expanded tenth anniversary edition), Bantam Press, 1996.
Wolpert, L., The Unnatural Nature of Science, Harvard University Press, 1992.

Reading Assignments
Topic 1: Wolpert, Ch 1, 2.
Topic 2: Wolpert, Ch. 3.
Topic 3: Wolpert, Ch. 4-7.
Topic 7: Hawking, Ch. 1.
Topic 9: Gribbin, Ch. 1; Gammow/Stannard, Ch. 1.
Topic 10: Hawking, Ch. 2; Gammow/Stannard, Ch. 2.
Topic 12: Hawking, Ch. 3; Gammow/Stannard, Ch. 3-5.
Topic 15: Gribbin, Ch. 2, 3.
Topic 16: Gribbin, Ch. 4; Gammow/Stannard, Ch. 8, 11-13.
Topic 17: Gribbin, Ch. 5-7; Hawking, Ch 4, 5; Gammow/Stannard, Ch. 9.
Topic 18: Gribbin, Ch. 8-11.
Topic 19:Hawking, Ch. 6-10; Gammow/Stannard, Ch. 13, 14, 17.
Topic 20: Wolpert, Ch. 8, 9.
Topic 21: Gleick, Ch. 1-3.
Topic 22: Gleick, Ch. 4-8.
Topic 23: Gleick, Ch. 9-11.
Topic 25: Hawking, Ch. 11; Gammow/Stannard, Ch. 15, 16.

Grading
3 Midterm Exams (23.3% each) 70%
Lab 30%
Total = 100%

Steve Lund Office Hours: 8:00-9:30 M Tues/Thurs.
Office: SCI-225, 740-5835; Main Labs: SCI-B17, SCI-B24, 740-5816
email: slund@usc.edu

Scott Paterson Office Hours:
Office: SCI-306, 740-6103
email: paterson@usc.edu

Students requesting academic accommodations based on a disability are required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP when adequate documentation is filed. Please be sure the letter is delivered to me (or to your TA) as early in the semester as possible. DSP is open Monday-Friday, 8:30-5:00. The office is in Student Union 301 and the phone number is (213) 740-0776.

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