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«Physics for the 21st Century An 11-part multi-media course in modern physics Produced by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Physics for ...»

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Annenberg Media

Facilitatorʼs Guide

Physics for the

21st Century

An 11-part multi-media course in modern physics

Produced by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Physics for the 21st Century

is produced by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

© 2010 Annenberg Foundation

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 1-57680-890-4

Funding for

Physics for the 21st Century

is provided by Annenberg Media

Annenberg Media (a unit of the Annenberg Foundation) advances excellent teaching by funding and distributing multimedia educational resources (video, print, and Web based) to improve teaching methods and subject-matter expertise. Resources are distributed to schools and noncommercial community agencies, as well as colleges and universities, for workshops, institutes, and course use. Annenberg Media makes its entire video collection available via broadband through www.learner.org. This Web site also houses interactive activities, downloadable guides, and resources coordinated with each video series. To purchase video series and guides or learn more about other courses and workshops contact us by phone or email or visit us on the Web.

1-800-LEARNER® info@learner.org www.learner.org Table of Contents About the Course Course Overview ………………………………………………………………. 1 Course Components …………………………………………....... 2 Online Text, Videos, Interactive Labs Facilitator-Led Components: On-Site Sessions ……………………………………. 8 Hints for Facilitators and Independent Learners………………………… 13 Materials ………………………………………………………………………… 16 Connection to National Standards and Nature of Science Themes … 22 About the Contributors ………………………………………………………. 28 Introductory Unit ……………………………………………………………………. 31 Unit 1: The Basic Building Blocks of Matter ………………………………… 51 Unit 2: The Fundamental Interactions ……………………………………….. 65 Unit 3: Gravity ………………………………………………………………………. 79 Unit 4: String Theory and Extra Dimensions ………………………………. 97 Unit 5: The Quantum World …………………………………………………….. 117 Unit 6: Macroscopic Quantum Mechanics …………………………………… 133 Unit 7: Manipulating Light ……………………………………

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Course Overview New tools and techniques have allowed physicists to probe the extent of the physical universe—from particles smaller than we can imagine to the outer reaches of the universe. Powerful, precision instruments—such as the most powerful particle accelerators ever created, finely-tuned atomic freezers, or galactic surveys providing terabytes of data about the universe—have opened the landscape of physics, allowing us to answer age-old questions about what makes up the universe, and how it works. As many questions as we have answered in recent decades, however, ever more crop up to be explored.

This course begins with an exploration of what is currently known at the very smallest realm—the fundamental particles, and the forces that they create and with which they interact (Units 1 and 2). Open questions regarding the nature of the most familiar force—gravity—and the potential of string theory to resolve these questions will be detailed in Units 3 and 4. The following three units (Units 5, 6, and 7) will cover quantum mechanics, and the surprising behaviors physicists have revealed through the manipulation of atoms and light. Looking at larger scales, Units 8 and 9 examine the collective behavior of individual pieces which give rise to new material properties and open up the frontiers of biophysics. With Units 10 and 11, the course concludes with an examination of the physics of the cosmos—the mysterious substance that created the structure in the universe, and the energy that is pushing it apart.

We intend this Facilitator’s Guide to be used by a facilitator running an on-site professional development course for high school physics teachers. Thus, these materials are designed to be used by a facilitator in shaping such a course, rather than used directly by practicing teachers, although many of the activities are quite suitable for use in a high school classroom setting. Further, although designed for use in a professional development course, independent learners may also find the Facilitator’s Guide valuable.

Each unit consists of:

• An online text written by an expert in the field;

• Video case studies describing two current research programs in that topical area;

• An interactive lab; and

• The written activities in the Facilitator’s Guide.

(Note: Some units also include an extra video segment.) For more information about receiving graduate credit for participating in this course, either in on-site synchronous sessions or as an independent learner, please visit http://www.learner.org/workshops/graduate_credit.html.

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Course Components Online Text, Video, Interactive Labs Introduction to the Online Text by Christopher Stubbs For centuries, physicists have been trying to figure out the world around them. The accumulated work of these physicists is traditionally passed on to new students in a roughly historical sequence. It takes most people years to make the progression from mechanics to electromagnetism to quantum mechanics, and many leave their physics studies before even learning about the current research frontier of physics. The approach in Physics for the 21st Century is different. We jump directly to “the new stuff” by highlighting some of the fascinating topics currently studied by the physics community. The choice of topics in this course is representative, and is meant to convey the excitement, the mystery, and human aspects of modern physics.





Unit 1. The Basic Building Blocks of Matter by Natalie Roe

In this unit, we explore particle physics, the study of the fundamental constituents of matter. These basic building blocks lay the foundation for all of the ambitious projects detailed throughout this course. Dramatic discoveries over the last century have completely changed our view of the structure of matter.

Video: Matter's basic building blocks have been linked together into a theoretical framework—the Standard Model—that has been very successful in making predictions that were later confirmed by experiment. Even so, there are hints that the Standard Model is incomplete, and that a deeper theory lies behind it, waiting to be teased into the open. Learn how the Standard Model was developed and what it explains—and where it falls short—tantalizing 21st century physicists.

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Interactive Lab: Discovering Neutrino Oscillations. Explore how the basic properties of neutrinos affect their oscillations, and design an experiment to learn more about the quantum behavior of this elusive particle.

Unit 2. The Fundamental Interactions by David Kaplan This unit takes the story of the basic constituents of matter beyond the fundamental particles that we encounter in Unit 1.

It focuses on the interactions that hold those

particles together or tear them asunder. Today we recognize four fundamental forces:

gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Detailed studies of those forces suggest that the last three—and possibly all four—were themselves identical when the universe was young, but have since gone their own way. But while physicists target a grand unification theory that combines all four forces, they also seek evidence of the existence of new forces of nature.

Video: Key to physicists' search for a new underlying theory of the physical world is a better understanding of the fundamental interactions. One starting point is to investigate the microscopic description of forces: electromagnetism, gravity, the strong nuclear force, and the weak force. Such microscopic theories also explain other diverse Physics for the 21st Century -2- About the Course Course Components phenomena, from the existence of solid materials, to all of chemistry, to the shining of stars and radioactivity. Discover how clues from echoes of the Big Bang and today's particle accelerators are driving the search for the unification of the fundamental interactions in a new theory of supersymmetry.

Featured scientists: Ayanna Arce (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) Srini Rajagopalan (Brookhaven National Laboratory) Interactive Lab: Discovering Neutrino Oscillations. Explore how the basic properties of neutrinos affect their oscillations, and design an experiment to learn more about the quantum behavior of this elusive particle.

Unit 3. Gravity by Blayne Heckel Although it is by far the weakest of the known forces in nature, gravity pervades the universe and has played an essential role in the evolution of the universe to its current state.

Newton's law of universal gravitation and its elegant successor, Einstein's theory of general relativity, represent milestones in the history of science and provide the best descriptions we have of gravity. Current research is attempting to improve the precision to which the laws of gravity have been tested and to expand the realm over which tests of gravity have been made. Gravitational waves, predicted by general relativity, are expected to be observed in the near future. The unit reviews what we know about gravity and describes many of the directions that research in gravitation is following.

Video: How can gravity, which in many ways is the dominant force in the universe, be at the same time by far the weakest of the four known forces in nature? See how physicists are approaching this question through topics of intense research in gravitational physics today: short scale measurements of gravity, the study of black holes, the search for gravitational waves, and the search for clues to the composition and evolution of the universe.

Featured Scientists: Eric Adelberger (University of Washington) Nergis Mavalvala (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Video Extra: Wolfgang Rueckner of Harvard University demonstrates a tabletop version of the Cavendish Experiment to confirm Newton’s law of gravitation for small masses.

Interactive Lab: Discovering Neutrino Oscillations. Explore how the basic properties of neutrinos affect their oscillations, and design an experiment to learn more about the quantum behavior of this elusive particle.

Unit 4. String Theory and Extra Dimensions by Shamit Kachru One area of active work in physics is the effort to develop a “theory of everything” that brings all four forces of nature under the same conceptual umbrella.

The most prominent aspect of that effort is the family of string theories that envision the basic units of matter as minuscule stretches of threadlike strings rather than point particles.

The unit introduces string theory in the context of quantum gravity and explores the relationship of string theory to particle physics. The unit also details links between string theory and cosmic inflation, and, finally, summarizes the understanding that string theory brings to our fundamental understanding of gravity.

Video: In the 20th century, twin breakthroughs, quantum mechanics and general relativity, provided fresh insight into phenomena at the sub-atomic and cosmological

–  –  –

scales, respectively. Yet physicists are still struggling to develop a consistent theory that bridges quantum mechanics and gravity. One approach to "quantum gravity" is string theory, a mathematical description of particles and forces at scales 1031 times smaller than a proton. So far, however, observational evidence for string theory has been elusive. Find out how string theory extends the Standard Model and where physicists are looking for the hard evidence needed to support it: from microscopic hidden dimensions to large-scale cosmological structures Featured Scientists: Juan Maldacena (Institute for Advanced Study) Henry Tye (Cornell University) Interactive Lab: Laser Cooling. Learn the basics of how to manipulate atoms with light, and cool a hot atomic beam to a few millionths of a degree above absolute zero.

Unit 5. The Quantum World by Dan Kleppner This unit covers a field of physics that is simultaneously one of the most powerful, transformational, and precise tools for exploring nature and yet, for non-physicists, one of the most mysterious and misunderstood aspects of all science.

Developed early in the 20th century to solve a crisis in understanding the nature of the atom, quantum mechanics has laid the foundation for theoretical and practical advances in 21st century physics. The unit details the reasoning that led to ever-deeper awareness of the nature of particles, waves, and their interrelationships; provides a primer on present-day understanding of the field; and outlines ways in which that understanding has led to significant applications today.

Video: We are in a new quantum age in which the

Abstract

concepts of the quantum revolution have become concrete due to rapid advances in controlling and manipulating atoms, molecules, and light. Practical applications, from lasers and atomic clocks to telecommunications and mp3 players, are only part of the story. Find out how laser cooling and trapping prompted the discovery of a new form of matter, the Bose-Einstein condensate, and how recent experiments are extending the frontiers of our understanding of how matter behaves.

Featured Scientists: David J. Wineland (National Institute for Standards and Technology) Martin Zwierlein (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Video Extra. John Lowe of the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) discusses atomic clocks.

Interactive Lab: Laser Cooling. Learn the basics of how to manipulate atoms with light, and cool a hot atomic beam to a few millionths of a degree above absolute zero.

Unit 6. Macroscopic Quantum Mechanics by William P.



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