Spring 2020 Syllabus Physics 33200

Physics 33200



Required reading: Dr. Kaku’s Physics of the Impossible, and Hyperspace.

Office hours: Tu, Th 3:30-4:30 in MR312.


  1. Intelligent Alien Life in the Universe


  1. Drake equation and alien civilizations                                          Jan. 28

Miller experiment, exobiology, SETI, Fermi paradox                              

  1. Classification of alien civilizations                                                Jan. 30

Kardashev scale, Type I,II,III civilizations, origin of intelligence              

  1. UFOs and extraterrestrials                                                           Feb. 4

Hypersonic drive drones, Von Neuman probes

Read Chapter 8 in Impossible


  1. Exploring the universe                


  1. Building a moon base                                                                   Feb. 6

Newton’s laws, space elevator    

  1. Colonizing Mars and the solar system                                          Feb. 11

Terraforming Mars, oceans of Europa                                         

  1. Mining asteroids and exploring exoplanets                                  Feb. 13

Physics of asteroid impacts, discovering exoplanets


  1. Science Fiction Hardware


  1. Lasers, light sabers, ray guns, jet packs                                        Feb. 18

Electromagnetic force, coherent radiation, plasma fields

Read: Chapter 3 in Impossible

  1. Invisibility, teleportation, replicators, force fields                       Feb. 20

Metamaterials, plasmas

Read Chapter 2 in Impossible

  1. Telepathy + telekinesis                                                                 Feb. 25

Brain-computer interphase, brain net

Read chapter 5 in Impossible                                           


  1. Robots and AI


  1. Digital vs neural network                                                              Mar. 3

Turing machines, thinking machines

Read Chapter 7 in Impossible

  1. Jobs and the future of robotics                                                     Mar. 5

Asimov’s laws; robots in society

  1. The Singularity: will they take over?                                            Mar. 10

       Breakdown of Moore’s Law, Self-aware machines


  1. Nuclear Force


  1. E = mc2, fission, and fusion                                                          Mar. 12

Atomic physics, critical mass, nuclear reactors

  1. Star ships                                                                                       Mar. 17

Ram jet fusion and Anti-matter engines 

Read Chapter 11 in Impossible                                        

  1. Quantum mechanics and parallel universes                                Mar. 19

Everett’s Many Worlds theory; quantum computers     

Read Chapter 13 in Impossible    

Review                                                                                          Mar. 24

Midterm                                                                                       Mar. 26


  1. Relativity and Beyond


  1. Special relativity and twin paradox                                              Mar. 31

Minkowski space, Lorentz transformation

  1. General relativity and space warps                                             Apr. 2

Read chapter 4 in Hyperspace

  1. Stellar evolution and black holes                                                  Apr. 21

Life and death of stars, Schwarzschild radius

Also reach Chapter 10 in  Hyperpace

  1. Wormholes and Time travel                                                         Apr. 23

Exotic energy, Time paradoxes, closed time-like curves CTC

Read Chapter 12 in Impossible

Also read Chapter 11 in Hyperspace


  1. Frontiers of Science
  1. Multiverse and string theory                                                        Apr. 28

Cosmology, Inflation theory, LHC, unification


Read chapter 6 and Epilogue in Impossible

  1. Cosmology                                                                                    Apr. 30

Big Bang, microwave background, nucleosynthesis

Also read chapter 14 in Hyperspace


  1. Beyond Science


  1. Digital and genetic immortality                                                    May 5

Connectome brain project, telomeres, sirtuin genes

  1. Parapsychology and psychic phenomena

Near death experience, CIA studies, are psychics real?

Read Chapter 15 in Impossible

  1. St. Thomas’ Aquinas proofs of god and Type IV civilizations       May 12

Teleological, Ontological, and Cosmological proofs

Anthropic principle

Review for Final                                                                                 May 14