Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Berkeley Professor Richard Muller teaches

Berkeley Professor Richard Muller teaches Physics for Future Presidents, aka Physics 10. I’m no physicist (nor am I a future President, most likely), but this is a pretty fascinating site. I’d say he’s angling to replace Richard Feynman as the people’s physicist, and this site certainly goes a long way to establishing his capabilities.

Prof. Muller’s explanation of the class:

My goal is to make Physics 10 into the most interesting course you have ever taken, and to teach you material that will be useful to you for the rest of your lives. The course will NOT be a watered-down physics course. I believe that students who take this course are smart and interested in — maybe even fascinated with — physics. They read about recent discoveries, and wish that they could understand them better. They enjoy Science specials on TV, even though they don’t fully understand everything. The barrier has probably been the math. Although they did well in advanced algebra, and perhaps even calculus, their main interests have been elsewhere, so their ability to use math as a tool has atrophied. Math has been the barrier to understanding better, but they don’t have the time or inclination to learn the math just so they can understand the physics.
On the left-hand side of the page, you’ll see links to the book he’s writing to accompany the course. I’ve only just started reading it, but I can already say that it’s well worth the time. Where else can you learn that chocolate chip cookies have more energy than a similarly weighted sample of TNT (key fact: the cookie has more energy, but TNT can release it quicker, giving it more power)?

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