Saturday, December 5, 2009

Physics2000 - Relativity First!

Continuing my investigation into the idea of teaching modern physics before classical, I've come across a website called Physics2000. Here's a description:
Physics2000 is a college level introductory physics course that begins with special relativity, ends with quantum mechanics, and in-between covers the usual topics with a 20th century focus. This approach eliminates the great divide between classical and modern physics.


Introducing Einstein’s special relativity in Chapter 1 means that you cannot rely on the usual mathematical techniques because no mathematics has been discussed yet. You have no choice but to focus on the physical ideas like the behavior of clocks and measurements of distance. The result is that you remove the mathematical fear factor usually associated with the subject. The only mathematics you need is the Pythagorean theorem.
According to the website, the Physics2000 course can be ordered on CD, including the text (there are calculus and non-calculus versions) and videos, for $10. Several of the chapters are available to preview online. It looks worth checking out.

NOTE: There is also an old, apparently unrelated website from the University of Colorado called Physics 2000. It contains online interactives on modern physics from a conceptual viewpoint.