COURSE GOALS: The objective of the course is to encourage students to ponder about physics and to help them in placing their own profession within a wider historical, philosophical, cultural and social context. The course presents physics, as a human activity, and the physical knowledge, as a product of that activity, as a philosophical problem, i.e. as a subject of a historical, philosophical and sociological investigation.
LEARNING OUTCOMES AT THE LEVEL OF THE PROGRAMME:
This course helps students to be able, upon completing the degree, to:
1. KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
1.3 demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the most important physics theories (logical and mathematical structure, experimental support, described physical phenomena);
2. APPLYING KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
2.2 evaluate clearly the orders of magnitude in situations which are physically different, but show analogies, thus allowing the use of known solutions in new problems;
3. MAKING JUDGEMENTS
3.2 develop a personal sense of responsibility, given the free choice of elective/optional courses;
3.3 comprehend the ethical characteristics of research and of the professional activity in physics;
4. COMMUNICATION SKILLS
4.1 work in an interdisciplinary team
4.3 develop the written and oral English language communication skills that are essential for pursuing a career in physics
5. LEARNING SKILLS
5.1 search for and use physical and other technical literature, as well as any other sources of information relevant to research work and technical project development (good knowledge of technical English is required).
LEARNING OUTCOMES SPECIFIC FOR THE COURSE:
On completion of this course successful student will be able to:
- outline and interpret the main characteristics of physics in different historical periods;
- outline and critically evaluate the role of technology, mathematics and philosophy in the creation of modern physics;
- outline and critically evaluate the impact of social factors on the development of physics;
- outline and critically analyse the main models of the development of science;
- discuss with arguments about the nature and development of physics.
- Introduction. The origin of physics - circumstances. Natural philosophy and modern physics.
- The nature and the achievements of the antic and medieval natural philosophy.
- The origin of modern physics: changes in the worldview and methodology.
- Development of the ideas on space and time. Space and time in classical mechanics.
- Ontology of classical physics: particles and fields.
- The emergence of the theory of relativity.
- Determinism and probability in classical physics. The structure of matter - various theories.
- The emergence of quantum mechanics.
- Logical empiricism and the cumulative model of the development of physics.
- Popper and falsificationism. Duhem - Quine thesis.
- Kuhn: paradigms and scientific revolutions. Physical knowledge as a social construct.
- Lakatos: research programmes. Feyerabend and scientific method.
- Natural and instrumental experience (in classical and quantum physics). The role of technology. The philosophy of experiment.
- The alternative models of the development of physics. Realism and instrumentalism.
REQUIREMENTS FOR STUDENTS:
Students are required to regularly attend classes, read the weekly texts and prepare for the seminar discussion topics in advance and write a seminar paper.
GRADING AND ASSESSING THE WORK OF STUDENTS:
The exam is oral, at the end of the course. A student is evaluated on the basis of the knowledge demonstrated at the lecture and seminar discussions, knowledge demonstrated at the exam, and on the basis of the seminar paper grade.
- J. Lelas, Teorije razvoja znanosti, Zagreb, 2000.
- J. T. Cushing, Philosophical Concepts in Physics: The Historical Relation between Philosophy and Scientific Theories, Cambridge, 1998.
- D. C. Lindberg, The Beginnings of Western Science: The European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context, 600 B.C. to A.D. 1450, Chicago, 1992.
- P. Rossi, The Birth of Modern Science, Oxford, 2001.