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Registration: Interim

Interim 2009

Physics & Astronomy

ASTR W10 Astronomy in the Southwest.  Because of the high elevation and dark, clear skies of the American Southwest, astronomy here has been recognized as a natural resource and developed accordingly.  Add to this the geological features that exhibit the history of the crust of our own planet, and the Southwest provides unique opportunities for the study of astronomy.  This course will pursue these topics both using Calvin's own observatory in Rehoboth, New Mexico, and through a series of site visits through Arizona and New Mexico.  Visits will also be made to some sites of interest to Native American astronomy, such as Chaco Canyon.  Students are evaluated on a presentation, the making of a web page and participation in discussions. Course Dates:  January 7 - 27. Fee: $1722. L. Molnar.  Off campus.

CANCELED PHYS W10 Game, Set, Match: History, Game and Play of Tennis. This course gives students the opportunity to develop an in-depth understanding of the sport of tennis and to enhance their own skills on local indoor courts.  Roughly half of the course takes the form of an academic, "classroom" exploration of the history of the sport's rules, equipment, and cultural influence; the physics of balls, rackets, and court surfaces; and the biomechanics of shot-making, muscle conditioning, and tennis injuries.  Discussions also focus on social and institutional aspects of tennis, including international support for the sport, the worldwide professional circuit, January's Australian Open, opportunities for persons with physical disabilities,  and issues of ethnic, racial and gender equality.  The remainder of the course is devoted to skill development, physical conditioning, mental focus, court strategy, and match play; these activities will be pursued at one of the local health clubs (less than a mile from campus).  The course is intended for beginners and intermediate level players.  Evaluation is based on exams, a presentation, a written analysis of a professional match, and class participation. Tennis shoes and racket required. Fee: $50-100. M. Walhout.

PHYS W60 Biophysics.  Biophysics is a growing discipline in which the tools of physics are used to elucidate biological systems.   We’ll investigate a number of topics, including why ants can easily lift many times their own weight, how bees fly, why the cells of an elephant are the same size as those of a chipmunk, and why cats have a higher survival rate when dropped from taller heights. An additional feature of the course is that no calculators are used.  All results will be achieved by approximation and will help students develop estimation skills. The class is highly participatory and the hope is that students will make the art of estimation and the application of physical reasoning to biophysical systems their own, so that they can draw on these skills in the future.   In addition to the above items, there is also a section devoted to the construction of simple biophysical simulations using Mathematica, though no previous experience is required.  The course is designed to be accessible to any student with at least a semester of algebra based college physics or a year of algebra based high school physics. Evaluation is based on homework, tests and labs. P. Harper. 2:00 to 5:00.