Syllabus |Laboratories | Carlos | Physics | Cabrillo

Physics 10L

Do you learn by doing, touching, experiencing and observing first hand? Then you're a natural scientist, and you're going to love this course!

Maybe you've heard that “physics is hard” or that only “math and science types” should tackle physics. While it is true that physics is challenging at advanced levels (after all, understanding our universe is probably mankind's greatest intellectual challenge), you will find that learning how the world works in a lab environment is exciting, fun and much easier than trying to “learn by being told.”


What really makes this course great is that you will be doing real science: hands-on experiments to test your mental models (i.e., your ideas about the way the world works) against reality so you can discard the models that don't work and solidify those that do. To make this learning process work most effectively, I will be asking you in each week's experiments to:

1. Use your own ideas to predict in writing
2. what will happen in a given experiment before you actually do it. Discuss
3. Make careful observations when you do an experiment, write down the important details, and and compare your predictions and ideas with those of your lab partners. compare them with your predictions.

Note that “getting your prediction right” is not necessarily the best outcome of an experiment--in fact, the most interesting experiments are often those in which your observations do not match your predictions. These experiments force you (like all scientists) to seek better models of reality― models that often lead to new insights into your world.


Physics is a Game
Physics is a game. Any number may play. The object of the game is to discover the rules of nature. The playing field is the entire universe. Any device, physical, conceptual, or computational may be used. Players may score points but can never win. The game is never over. Players score points by discovering a Rule of Nature. The greater the number of phenomena explained by a proposed Rule of Nature, the greater the number of points awarded. Bonus points are awarded if the proposed rule predicts previously unobserved, and especially unexpected, phenomena. An untested candidate for the status of Rule of Nature shall be called a hypothesis. When a hypothesis has described many phenomena, it may achieve the status of theory. Especially well-tested theories that explain much may, by agreement of the players, be awarded the exulted state of law. Any player may challenge any hypothesis, theory, or law at any time. All disputes will be settled by experiments, mutually agreed upon by the players. The decisions of Nature, as revealed through experiments, are final