Our lives are so much richer when we understand the functioning of the natural world. Most concepts can be grasped easily without higher mathematics, especially when placed in the historical contexts in which they arose. Physics was born from philosophy and is the mother science, with chemistry, biology, and their progeny born from physics. Human understanding of how the universe works grew by major steps over the centuries, starting with the Babylonians, the Greeks, and the Romans, partly because their clearer skies enabled them to learn more about the heavens than in cloudy northern Europe. The means of understanding the universe were/are observation, deep thought, and experimentation, codified into the perhaps overly maligned scientific method. We will touch upon ancient cosmology, basic and statistical mechanics (in a non-boring way), and the development of knowledge of electricity and magnetism. Then we will turn to modern physics, which includes special and general relativity, quantum mechanics, particle physics and modern cosmology. A non-mathematical, historical, and conceptual introduction to the major achievements of physics should make the course interesting and accessible to non-scientists. At least I hope so.
Tony Fainberg started his career in physics with a doctorate in particle physics from UC Berkeley, and conducted basic research for 15 years at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva. He has worked at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment on the impact of science and technology on society, and in the Executive Branch, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Homeland Security. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has previously taught introductory physics courses to non-scientists.