I intend to run these two courses jointly, with the same
requirements (described below) for both.
The aim of these courses is to provide you with an opportunity
to learn in more depth about a topic in physics or a physics-related field
that interests you, and at the same time gain experience in doing
literature research, preparing a scientific presentation, and writing
a scientific article.
My role as instructor will be to help you choose an appropriate topic,
help answer questions that come up as you research this topic,
and provide feedback on the drafts of your paper and your presentation.
My intention is to provide detailed feedback
on not only the scientific content of your paper, but also its style
and use of language. I will give you comments on your initial draft and
then reread the revised version (the latter being
what the grade will be based on).
The paper should be submitted as either a PDF file
or put up as a web page. It should be "scientific" in style,
an abstract, introduction, the body, and then a conclusion
and references. But what matters to me more than the precise style is
the clarity and accuracy of the presentation.
Presentations should be created on the
computer (e.g. in powerpoint or whatever other software you want).
They will probably be 15-20 minutes long, with 10 minutes for discussion.
You should practice your talk beforehand
(on friends or, failing that, on a blank wall!).
My present idea is that
the final papers, as well as presentations,
will be posted on the class web page as they are completed,
although each student needs to agree with the posting of his or her
You may either work individually or in pairs. The paper for an individual
should contain at least 5 "normal" pages of text
(excluding figures and references); that for a pair should be twice as long.
Please make sure to write all the text yourselves. Of course,
links to web pages or other information are good as appropriate.
I have found in my previous experience teaching this class that
most students are very good at collecting and organizing material,
mainly from the web, and at giving presentations. The most challenging
part for most students is understanding and explaining the
underlying physics. This is, however, at least as important as
being able to write and present well. I want you to learn how to
dig down into a topic to the point that you have a good understanding
of the physics, and can explain it to others.