Reviews of Classes taught by John Boccio of the Physics and Astronomy Department

Name: Omitted Year: 2003 Major: Physics (tentative) Course: PHYS 006 - The Character of Physical Law Taken Fall 1999 Recommends? sometimes

It was an interesting class. I like theoretical physics, and I think relativity and quantum theory are just the coolest things ever, so I liked the subject matter a lot. The class comprises a half-semester introduction to special relativity and a half-semester introduction to quantum theory, both of which are done at a very basic level. It's interesting stuff, but it suffers from its attempt to combine 'physics for poets' with the intro class for physics majors. As a probable physics major, I felt that the class skimped on detail and accuracy because it had to accommodate people who didn't want to do math: for example the relativity portion involved no calculus. It was somewhat helpful as preparation for Physics 7, but I think you could get by pretty easily without it. On the other hand, if you need a fourth class or a natural sciences PDC, it has some distinct advantages. It's not a lot of work (two very easy papers and three labs), and, especially if you're a science person, the material is presented in a relatively simple format. This is not to trivialize the stuff you learn. It's totally mind-bending stuff, which is why I like it, and if you don't like the kind of mind games that make up theoretical physics you probably shouldn't take it. Likewise if you hate simplified versions of things, but then you might just hate science with its necessary simplifications altogether. If you're just doing it for the PDC/your own interest, you might try physics 25, In Search of Reality, but I haven't taken it so you should find someone who has.

There are several people who teach Physics 6. I had John Boccio. He's fun, and I like him, and he loves, but loves this material. he teaches Physics 25, which I think is the more in-depth version of this one, or maybe the more philosophical, I'm not sure. Also a PDC, but no use for physics majors. I have not taken it. You should find someone who has. I hear physics 6 is really different if you have a different professor, but of course I don't know. Peter Collings (head of the department) was my lab assistant and he's wonderful. The physics department in general is great, in my (limited) experience.

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