PHILOSOPHY OF THE COURSE
I am teaching this course in a manner that is somewhat different
from approaches that have been used in the past. Since this goal of
the course has always been to present a broad survey, the emphasis
will be to provide conceptual and intuitive insights into the fundamental
basis of natural phenomena. A few of the reasons for doing this
are listed below.
It has been stated that with the advent of modern Quantum theory
we lost all conceptual pictures, and only mathematics remains.
I strongly disagree with this statement, and the course will
attempt to refute this view.
Physics is NOT a way of thinking about Mathematics - Mathematics is
ONE way of thinking about Physics (and sometimes not the best initial
In the current Physics Curriculum, students learn
perhaps too much about strategies for solving contrived problems
and certainly too
little about the conceptual impact of Physics on their
daily lives and on their own fields of specialization.
Attempts will be made to structure the course in a manner that
balances conceptual models with mathematical formulations, with
applications to real physical situations.
The textbook for the course, Atomic Structure and Lifetimes: A
Conceptual Approach, is unique in providing an introduction to this
approach. Although this book was written for use in a graduate course,
the conceptual basis presented in the first five chapters (and in portions
of some later chapters) can be understood at a very elementary level. In
addition, supplementary bridge materials are available on this website.
It should also be noted that, although materials will be
made available at this Website, the primary emphasis of the
course will be interpersonal and not electronic. The purpose of providing
these electronic materials is to free students from impediments
(such as note taking, etc) that could otherwise interfere with direct
interactions with the instructor.
L. J. Curtis
* To make this conceptual approach available to a wider audience, this
offering can also serve as a multipurpose platform to construct
individualized courses at both the General Education and the Graduate levels.
Natural Sciences Core Course Credit can be earned in a tutorial offering of
Physics 1050 "The World of Atoms."
Variable Graduate credit (or provisional Pre-Graduate credit) can be earned
in a tutorial offering "Atomic Structure with Specialized Applications"
offered under the Special Topics number Physics 4/6980.
The course is also eligible for WIC (Writing Intensive Course) credit.
Students (both undergraduate and graduate) who have an
interest in this area but are excluded by the numbering level or
prerequisites of this course should contact the
Instructor or the Department