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MPhys Physics with Astrophysics / Course details
Year of entry: 2021
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Course unit details:
Physics and Reality
|Unit level||Level 4|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 2|
|Offered by||Department of Physics & Astronomy|
|Available as a free choice unit?||No|
Physics and Reality
|Unit title||Unit code||Requirement type||Description|
|Quantum Physics and Relativity||PHYS10121||Pre-Requisite||Compulsory|
|Applications of Quantum Physics||PHYS30101||Pre-Requisite||Compulsory|
|Mathematical Fundamentals of Quantum Mechanics||PHYS30201||Pre-Requisite||Compulsory|
Physics was originally an attempt to understand the "nature of things", but nowadays this tends to be overshadowed by our ability to make accurate predictions, often with theories whose implications about "the real world" are obscure. Quantum mechanics, as pointed out by Schrödinger, may not even be consistent with our everyday world in which things are either here or there, and cats are either dead or alive (but not both at once). In this course we will explore a number of issues in the interpretation of physical theories that do not seem resolvable by experiment (even in principle), and so can be labelled as metaphysics.
1. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different interpretations of quantum mechanics;
3. Compare and contrast the philosophies of time of Augustine, Newton, Leibniz, Einstein, and modern quantum gravity;
4. Distinguish between different "arrows of time" and relate them to each other;
5. Relate different areas of physics to the common mathematical paradigm of the gauge transformation;
The course consists of three topics, each taught over a four week period, where each week consists of a lecture followed by a seminar.
There will be three short student talks in each seminar, apart from in the first week. Students will be assigned a topic to speak on, and will be expected to answer questions from the audience.
The topics discussed will be chosen by the lecturers. They will always include some subjects from the foundations of quantum mechanics and cosmology.
Students will be asked to write an essay. The essay will be set a deadline early in week 11, and will be assigned based on preferences from a set of titles covering the first three topics taught.
Students will be asked to answer questions in the exam on a topic where they neither gave a talk nor wrote an essay on.
|Written assignment (inc essay)||45%|
Feedback will be provided through the seminars, and on the essay or talk.
There is no single text for this course, nevertheless it is essential that students read extensively. During the course students will be issued with study packs containing a number of key passages (e.g. chapters of books) for each topic. The lectures will develop the ideas discussed in these texts, which students are expected to read before the lectures and seminars. Students who extend their reading around the essential passages will improve their chances of doing well in the assessment.
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Assessment written exam||1.5|
|Independent study hours|
|Tobias Galla||Unit coordinator|
|Justin Evans||Unit coordinator|
|Ahsan Nazir||Unit coordinator|