Phys 3080 How Things Work

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The general population, including you the student, operate tools, machines, and appliances (sometimes involving a great deal of complexity) without ever knowing, or even thinking about, how these devices work. They are in effect ‘black boxes' with operating instructions. This course will delve into the basic principles behind some of these devices. This is different approach to the 'traditional' way of teaching physics. Instead of working our way through the physics in a linear fashion, we shall pick topics from our everyday experiences, and then find out what is the physics behind them. Sometimes that will mean going back two or three levels before we can understand the topic fully. There will also be discussion of the implications behind the increasing need for energy fueled by our reliance on appliances for convenience, and the hazards that are ever present.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the course you should be able to These are the goals upon which you will be graded.


Since we will be inquiring into a number of different, and sometimes unrelated, topics the internet will likely be our greatest resource. The following will give you some background information.

Library Reserves

I have placed the following books on reserve at the library
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