Symmetry and Aesthetics in Contemporary Physics

Schedule of Topics and Assignments ~ Spring Quarter, 2016

Reading assignments are from Fearful Symmetry by A. (Tony) Zee
and the Course Reader, available through the AS Window adjacent to the Multicultural Center. The syllabus, assignments, and list of topics are printed for your convenience in Reader.

The syllabus in pdf format is available HERE . This is the list of expectations, art assignments, and reading assignments with RR prompts, which is also in your course reader. For each reading assignment, I'd like you to turn in a Reading Reflection (RR) . For each week there is an "RR prompt" which is designed to get you started thinking and writing. You may choose to address a question of your own choosing, but what I do not want is simply a rehashing of the article.

Note: Each class is nearly 3 hours long. Your attendance and participation for the full period, as well as your arrival ON TIME, are crucial to the enjoyment of the class for everyone. To facilitate your wakefulness, it is my tradition to provide COOKIES and other goodies for you. You are, of course, welcome to bring other comestibles, for yourself and/or to share with others.

NOTE: This schedule is subject to adjustments during the quarter!

Date In-Class Topics Readings Due Today HW Due Today
April 1, First Class Introduction and Overview of the Course
Seeing patterns in Nature; What is reality and how do we know? What is the nature of math, and why does it seem so ingrained in nature? What is art?
April 8 Presentation of drawings; perception and reality; intro to Symmetry as the basis for making sense out of Nature Reader #1: Einstein, "Physics and Reality" RR #1 about the reading, AND Art Project #1: Drawing of your visual interpretation of Einstein's description of the process of doing physics, with written explanation
April 15 What considerations motivate the search for fundamental laws in Physics? Reader #2: Hartle, "Theories of Everything and Hawking's Wave Function of the Universe" RR #2 about article
April 22 Introduction to Symmetry: a bit of Galois Theory, classifying *things* by their group interactions Reader #3: Livio, TWO chapters from his book "The Equation that Couldn't be Solved" first sratting on p. 36, second on p. 50 RR #3 about both chapters AND
Art Project #2: Symmetry demonstration PLUS short written description of how your art is a representation of the concept of symmetry, as we have defined it in mathematically.
April 29 Symmetry & Physical Laws Readings: 1) Fearful Symmetry, Chapter 2,
and 2) Reader, #4: Feynman, "Symmetry in Pysical Laws"
RR #4 about both readings
May 6 Broken Galilean Symmetry leads to a new Symmetry: Special Relativity Fearful Symmetry: Chapters 3 and 4 RR #5 about both chapters
May 13 Symmetry and the Shape of Spacetime Reader #5: Feynman, "Curved Space" RR #6 about Feynman; and
Art Project #3: Artistic explorations of spacetime concepts
May 20 More about General Relativity and its Implications
Fearful Symmetry: Chapters 5 & 6 (/td> RR #7 about both chapters
May 27 Looking for Clues about the Origin of our Universe
Special Guest Lecture on String Theory by Dr. Andrea Puhm, post-doctoral scholar with Professor Gary Horowitz
Reader: #6: Efstatiou, on the CMB and fundamental parameters; #7: Linde, on the self-reproducing inflationary universe; and #8: Miller, on the discovery of the Higgs boson. RR #8: Reflect on these three articles as they relate to the search for broken symmetries and deeper symmetries in Nature
June 3 Presentation of your final Physics Works of Art
Meet in Rm. 1312 in the Library to mount works, and present to each other.
Please bring a TYPED explanation of your art work, to be displayed. Final "Exam:" At 4:30 we will have a public reception in which you will present your physics work of art to the public. Food will be provided!

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Lecture Slides

Final Project