Welcome to the Physics and Philosophy of Space and Time course web page. This course is offered Spring Semester 1998. Here we will provide information about the course as well as materials. Both lecture materials and other background materials will be provided as the course developes.
Michael Bradie, Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, 325 Shatzel Hall, Office Hours by appointment: Telephone: 372 8372
This course is an introduction to the philosophy and physics of space and time. Among the topics to be covered are Zeno's paradoxes, the dispute between Newton and Leibnitz on the nature of space and time, the relationship between geometry and physics, a survey of the foundations of the theory of the special theory of relativity, the geometrization of gravitation by Einstein's general theory of relativity and gravitation. The emphasis is on a discussion of the conceptual foundations and a tracing of the evolution of the concepts of space and time from the pre-socratics to the present day. The treatment is essentially non-mathematical with some inclusion of mathematical concepts needed to fill out the development. Among the more philosophical issues, we will examine the relation of models to reality, the role of convention in scientific theories, questions of evidence and testability of scientific models, and questions of determinism and causality.
|Meeting Date||Lecture Topic||Supporting Materials|
|Jan. 13||Introduction||B & D Chapter 1, B & D Chapter 2|
|Jan. 15||Zeno I||B & D Chapter 3|
|Jan. 20||Zeno II||B & D Chapter 3|
|Jan. 22||Zeno III||B & D Chapter 3, Infinities|
|Jan. 27||Zeno IV||B & D Chapter 3|
|Jan. 29||Plato's Universe||B & D Chapter 4|
|Feb. 3||Aristotle's Universe||B & D Chapter 5|
|Feb. 5||Newton I||B & D Chapters 6 , B & D Chapters 7|
|Feb. 10||Newton II||B & D Chapter 7|
|Feb. 12||Newton III||B & D Chapter 7|
|Feb. 17||Leibnitz I||B & D Chapter 8|
|Feb. 19||Leibnitz II||B & D Chapter 8|
|Feb. 24||Absolute vs Relational Theories|
|Feb. 26||Alternative Geometries|
|Mar. 3||Space, Geometry, and Convention|
|Mar. 5||Gauss' 'Experiment'|
|Mar. 10||Spring Break-no class|
|Mar. 12||Spring Break-no class|
|Mar. 17||Mach's Critique of Newton||B & D Chapter 8|
|Mar. 19||Space, Time, and Events||B & D Chapter 9 Term Paper I Due|
|Mar. 24||Primacy of Light||B & D Chapter 10|
|Mar. 26||Special Relativity: Foundations||B & D Chapter 11|
|Mar. 31||Speical Relativity: Effects||B & D Chapter 12|
|Apr. 2||Geometrization of Special Relativity||B & D Chapter 13, Lecture notes|
|Apr. 7||The Principle of Equivalence||B & D Chapter 14, Lecture notes|
|Apr. 9||Geometrization of Gravity I||B & D Chapter 14, Term Paper 2 Refs.|
|Apr. 14||Geometrization of Gravity II||B & D Chapter 15, Lecture notes|
|Apr. 16||Black Holes||B & D Chapter 15 Curvature Field Eqns,Black Holes|
|Apr. 21||Introduction to Cosmology||Second Term Paper Topics|
|Apr. 23||Introduction to Quantum Phenomena|
|Apr. 28||Quantum and Gravity: Challenges|
|Apr. 30||Future Developments in Space and Time||Term Paper II Due|
|May 6||Exam Week||FINAL EXAM DATE: May 8, 1:15-3:15 p.m.|
|May 8||Exam Week|
A knowledge of mathematics at least at the level of high school. Knowing calculus is a plus. Any further study in mathematics would be helpful, but not necessarily a requirement.
There will be two term papers. The first will be due on March 19 and will cover material from the first half of the course. The second paper will be due April 30 and will cover material from the second half of the course. We will hand out term paper topics at a later date, as well as discuss our requirements on the content of the papers.
There will be a number of weekly homework exercises - one or two problems that will test your understanding of the materials. These will be distributed on Thursdays and collected the following Tuesday.
The course grade will be determined from the performance on these two papers along with an assessment of the student's class participation. You are expected to attend class regularly and be prepared to discuss the assigned reading material. The class participation factor may raise your grade but will not lower it.