Professor: Leanne Doughty
In this course we will explore two areas of modern physics in order to describe the workings of two technological innovations that have a major influence on our everyday lives: GPS and MRI. Not only will we build an understanding of the fundamental physics behind these technologies, but we will also discuss the process of development from understanding to innovation and future possibilities based on current research surrounding those foundations and technologies. Our first exploration will be into Einstein’s theory of relativity, with particular attention to how motion and gravity alter time and its role in GPS. We will also consider the possibilities and constraints this physics provides us for innovations related to travel in space and time. For the second area we will examine the properties of magnets, how atomic nuclei behave in magnetic fields and how that behavior is utilized in magnetic resonance imaging. We can then discuss how ongoing research with fMRI machines might eventually be capable of mind-reading and the ethical implications of such an endeavor. You will have opportunities to practice science process skills (e.g. engaging in hands-on experiments and reading scientific articles), to learn about the nature of science, and to connect physics ideas to areas that are of most interest to you.