Posted by Matt
My first post on this blog described what I saw as a major flaw in the undergraduate physics curriculum at Chicago: it made little attempt to acquaint students with current research.
Last week one of my
spies undergraduate friends told me that a course has been added to address this issue. Jeff Harvey and Sid Nagel are teaching it (a good sign, getting one high-energy physicist and one condensed-matter physicist for broader coverage). Here's the catalog entry:
28000. Current Research Topics in Physics. PQ: PHYS 23500. This course covers several research topics of current interest in physics. Topics, which are chosen by the instructors, may include neutrino masses, the quantum Hall effect, dark matter and dark energy, the physics of grains and glasses, the search for supersymmetry, and nanophysics, as well as other topics. The course is intended to acquaint students with forefront research in physics and to show how ideas from different areas of physics are combined in dealing with real-world problems. Autumn.
This certainly looks like a step in the right direction. I hope that it requires students to do careful and critical reading of new papers.
[Note to anyone at Chicago who might be reading: I notice that quantum mechanics 2 is required as a prereq, and I wonder if students taking it simultaneously would be ok. Physics 234 should give them the basics of quantum mechanics, and requiring 235 will mean that mostly only fourth-years take the course (since both are fall-quarter courses). Hopefully there is enough interest among just fourth-years, but I think taking such a class two years in a row could be a good thing as well.]
(I wonder if all of my grousing at the "town meeting" contributed to this, or if people just decided on their own that it was a good idea.)
My other major complaint: I hope some sort of steps are also being taken to make sure people don't get to the classes on intermediate classical mechanics or quantum mechanics without knowing what an eigenvalue is. (I found myself giving an impromptu lecture on this to some 185 students last winter.)Posted by Matt at September 27, 2004 12:51 PM