This course is comprised of a six-quarter sequence of classes that will explore the essential theoretical foundations of modern physics. The topics covered in this course sequence will include classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, the general and special theories of relativity, electromagnetism, cosmology, and black holes. While these courses will build upon one another, each course also stands on its own, and both individually and collectively they will let students attain the “theoretical minimum” for thinking intelligently about modern physics.
Quantum theory governs the universe at its most basic level. In the first half of the 20th century physics was turned on its head by the radical discoveries of Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and Erwin Schroedinger. An entire new logical and mathematical foundation—quantum mechanics—eventually replaced classical physics. We will explore the quantum world, including the particle theory of light, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and the Schroedinger Equation.