The First Science
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Title Page, Copyright
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The world is a wonderful place. Our aim is that working with this book will help you to be more aware of it than you were before and to see it more fully, both the aspects that are visible and those that are hidden...
Additional Notes, Primarily for the Instructor
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We want to change the way physics is taught and
the way it is perceived.
We think there is too much rote learning, too many formulas, with too little thought, meaning, and overview. There are too many problems that have no existence outside the elementary physics class, too many that are more like games that the instructors like to play than searching investigations...
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We would like to thank our colleagues at Rutgers University for their support and encouragement, especially Premala Chandra, Eugenia Etkina, Charles Glashausser, Noémie Koller, Paul Leath, and Alan Van Heuvelen. Alan Van Heuvelen pioneered the use of multiple representations, including energy bar charts. Some of the examples and problems had their origin in the...
Chapter 1 - Atoms to Stars: Scales of Size, Energy, and Force
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As we look around us we see a world that is marvelously ordered and organized.
Outward from the earth we see the moon, the planets, and the stars. Light comes
to us from them, and other kinds of radiation, signals that tell us how they look,
how big they are, and what they are made of.
We can also go in the other direction, down to smaller and smaller sizes, until we come to pieces that are too small to see directly.They too can be studied by the radiation that they give off, or through microscopes, or, more indirectly, by...
Chapter 2 - Some Tools of the Trade: Numbers, Quantities, and Units
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So far we have used words, almost exclusively.We have talked about size, force, and energy, but mostly without using numbers, although a few times they almost forced themselves on us. But most of the time we have to know how big a distance is, or a force, or any other quantity, and that requires numbers and units. We also want to describe relations between different quantities, and do that with symbols, such as E for energy, and M for mass...
Chapter 3 - There Is No Rest: Describing Motion
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There was a time when physics meant mechanics, and perhaps it should still. The word comes from the Greek for machine. We understand a piece of machinery when we know each of its parts, all the gears and levers, and their functions and interplay. That’s really the program of all of natural science, to know the pieces of which the world is made and how they connect and work...
Chapter 4 - Forces and Motion: Newton’s Framework
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What does it take to get something to move?You have to push a book to make it start to slide along the table. You have to throw a ball to make it leave your hand to fly through the air.The push on the book and that of your hand on the ball as you throw it are the forces that determine the motion.The book’s motion depends not only on how hard you push, but also on the table and how smooth it is.The ball’s motion also depends on forces other than that of your hand. Once...
Chapter 5 - Laws and Their Limits: The Organization of Scientific Knowledge
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The word science comes from the Latin to know, and if we follow that origin it should include every kind of knowledge. Instead it is usually used as synonymous with natural science, the study of the natural world, and that is the way we will use the word here: a statement of science has to have some relation to the world around us, as we observe it and as we experiment to explore it...
Chapter 6 - Energy and Its Conservation
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When you drive a car you have to stop from time to time to add fuel to the tank. In a house or apartment a bill arrives each month from the electric company. And all of us have to keep breathing and eating. In each case we use energy that is never created or destroyed, only transformed from one kind to another...
Chapter 7 - Materials and Models
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We have applied Newton’s laws of motion to the objects they were meant for: objects that are large enough to see or feel. In this chapter we use them to describe the mechanics of atoms and molecules. As we do that we have to keep in mind that Newton’s laws and classical mechanics apply in the microscopic realm only to a limited extent, and that the ideas and methods of quantum mechanics...
Chapter 8 - Electricity: It Is Everywhere
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We think of the phenomena of mechanics as being everywhere around us, while electricity is more remote and unusual. It turns out instead that it is the electric force that dominates almost everything that impinges on our lives, although in ways that we are not so immediately aware of...
Chapter 9 - More on Electricity: From Force to Energy, from Field to Potential
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To describe the forces between charges at rest there is only Coulomb’s law (or its equivalent, Gauss’s law). But by using the concept of energy instead of that of force we gain two great advantages, just as we do when we go from gravitational force to gravitational potential energy. One is a mathematical advantage, the...
Chapter 10 - Magnetism: Electricity’s Traveling Companion
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Magnetic forces have been known since iron-containing rocks were found in antiquity. The magnetic compass was known in China in the second century, and later made possible Columbus’s visit to America, but it was not until 1600 that Gilbert suggested that the earth was itself a giant magnet. Today current-carrying coils can produce magnetic fields that are much stronger than those of...
Chapter 11 - Waves: Mechanical and Electromagnetic
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When we think of transporting mechanical energy, we might first think of a ball or bullet.The kinetic energy that we give one of these projectiles at one end of its path is available at the other end. There is another way. Think of a group of people standing close to each other. Someone pushes the first one, let’s call him Robert.That makes him lean over and push the person next to him, who, in turn...
Chapter 12 - Quantum Physics
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While it is never safe to affirm that the future of Physical Science has no marvels in store even more astonishing than those of the past, it seems probable that most of the grand underlying principles have been firmly established and that future advances are to be sought chiefly in the rigorous application of these principles to all the phenomena which come under our notice...
Chapter 13 - The Nucleus: Heart of the Atom
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The existence of the atomic nucleus was discovered in 1911.The next quarter of a century saw the flowering of nuclear physics, with a gradual growth in the understanding of nuclear structure, nuclear radiations, and nuclear reactions. The composition of the nucleus was seen to determine the element to which an atom belongs.With the possibility of nuclear transformation, elements no longer...
Chapter 14 - Energy in Civilization
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We say that we generate energy, but we know that we can only transform it from one form to another.The source of our energy is overwhelmingly the internal energy of the fossil fuels, coal, oil, and natural gas, whose carbon content consists of the remains of living organisms built up over millions of years.There is also the internal nuclear energy of uranium in our reactors, and the energy...
Chapter 15 - Atomic Physics Pays Off: Solar Cells, Transistors, and the Silicon Age
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Solid-state devices, of which the transistor is the most important, have had an enormous impact on our civilization. Their development was made possible by our knowledge of atomic structure and of the motion of electrons in solid materials. The understanding of the process of electric conduction is one of the triumphs of twentieth-century physics. It depends crucially on the quantum...
Chapter 16 - There Is No End
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Some Constants, Astronomical Quantities, and Masses
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About the Author
Page Count: 416
Publication Year: 2011