Mr. Mikan's Science


Astrophysics: Course of Study 2016-17

Essential Questions to be addressed this year:

1. What is the composition of the universe?

2. How do stars, galaxies, & universes form & evolve?

3. What is matter & how do we think it came to be?

4. What is the origin of life & the possibility for other sentient beings out there?

5. Why can we call our universe, "Einstein's Universe"?

6. How does the study of astrophysics give a clear picture of how science is done?

7. What information must be learned & skills practiced in order to be called a "Stargazer 1st class"?

9. How has humankind been & still is connected to the stars & other celestial bodies?

10. How do astronomers collect & interpret data which generates our current theories of how the universe works?

11. Why is Sagan's book, Cosmos, still a very appropriate vehicle for studying astrophysics?

12. Who are some of the greats who helped unravel the mysterious cosmos?

13. Which fundamental physics concepts are used in astrophysics?

Topics to be investigated this year:

A. Modern astrophysics:

1. the universe -- its creation & future fate

2. matter -- the standard Model & new revelations from particle physics

3. nucleosynthesis of the elements

4. life -- its origin, evolution, & possible haunts in the galaxy

5. stars & galaxies --- formation, types, evolution

6. major physics concepts used in astrophysics

7. concept of time & time travel possibilities & paradoxes

8. Einstein's theories, experimental evidence & their role in understanding the universe

9. mythological & other ancient connections with the stars (archaeoastronomy)

10. our evolving view of the cosmos throughout history & its affect on us

11. parallel universes, Star Trek, & other far out ideas

B. Observational Astronomy:

1. learning the night sky throughout the seasons (Star Atlas work))

2. prediction of when & where to find celestial objects (Mag 5 Atlas)

3. making planetary & lunar observations & learning major lunar features

4. making safe solar observations & tracking the movement of sunspots

5. use of various charts, reference books, atlases in learning the location of facts about celestial objects

6. familiarity with various astronomical terms used in observational astronomy

7. recognition & use of various types of telescopes & other devices

8. construction of a Newtonian reflecting telescope (the Starbeam Project)

Astrophysics: Fall Term Syllabus 2016

Topics To Be Investigated:

Introduction to astrophysics: Why Study the Stars?; some opening readings & ideas; Star atlas – a beginning; Sagan & Cosmos-an adventure

Summer constellations; star names, myths & the night sky; some basic parameters of the heavens (Greek alphabet, star ID, coordinate system); use of star & planet finder; monthly planet plotting; Skygazer’s almanac use; predicting locations & celestial time; zodiac & astrology; Mag 5 use

Journey to Palomar

Star types; stellar magnitude scale (abs & app); stellar measurements; objects of night sky;

Deciphering messages from the stars: a bit of physics; how do we use light to tell us about the stars; nature of light; distances; Wien’s Law & thermocouples; Stephan-Boltzman Expt.; measurement of wavelengths of light; spectroscopy; distance modulus derivation & use; Doppler effect & derivation; Leavitt & others

The Sun –the nearest star; solar observations; all about our star & how it affects our world & us; sunspot observations; fusion processes ( PP1 & CNO); fission & fusion; derivation of Special relativity & E=mc^2

The wonderful neutrino & a bit of the Standard Model; example of how science is done.

Lives of the Stars – stellar evolution; nucleosynthesis; dwarfs & giants; neutron to neutrinos; GRBs & the well with no bottom; nova & supernova; black holes & pulsars; escape velocity derivation

Some Readings:

Cosmos: Chapters 1,9 Cosmic Ecology Carl Sagan’s Coming of Age

Peltier’s Lecture Frost’s Star-splitter Labor day

Assorted articles on neutrinos Assorted articles on stellar evolution

Astrophysics: Syllabus Winter Term 2016-17

Topics To Be Covered:

Time: What is time?; time travel ala Einstein in fact and fiction; more Einstein with gravity and time; experimental verification of Einstein effects on time; Minkowski diagrams & travel into past & predestined future; a German image of time; problems with time travel into past with Hollywood; the Illusion of Time; Einstein’s Dreams; parallel universes; Germans running Wild, monkeys everywhere; parallel universes & Star Trek

Einstein’s Universe: tests of special relativity; general relativity; gravity & acceleration connection; tests of general relativity; what is space?; predicted gravity effects- waves, lensing, redshift; Inside Einstein’s Mind

Some constellation work: winter stars-Orion,Taurus, Perseus, Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Canis Major, Cetus – myths, key stars,patterns, neat objects; Skygazer’s Almanac; Mag 5; planet plots

Myths: purpose & reality; Jason & the Argonauts; Star of Bethlehem

Archaeoastronomy: Stonehenge & Chaco Canyon—our connections with the heavens

Some Readings:

Cosmos – Chapters 6 & 7 some short stories from science fiction

Einstein’s Dreams Einstein’s Universe (1-16) Jason & the Argonauts

Articles on Einstein articles on special & general relativity readings on Time & Time Travel


Geology: Course of Study 2016-17

Essential Questions to be addressed this year:

1. What are the essential components of the earth?

2. What geologic processes act to create earth materials & the earth's features?

3. What roles do cyclicity and uniformitarianism play in the evolution of the earth?

4. How do geologists unravel earth's history?

5. How has the Theory of Plate Tectonics been developed and how does it explain earth changes & the evolution of life?

6. How closely does human history correspond to geological forces?

7. How has the earth evolved over the last 4.6 billion years?

8. How does the study of geology give one a new perspective on the earth & our relationship with it?

9. Why is it important to include the study of geology in any science curriculum?

Topics to be investigated this year:

A. Physical Geology:

1. earth materials: minerals & rocks

2. volcanism & megavolcanism

3. structure & composition of the earth's interior

4. seismicity, earthquakes, & tsunamis

5. Hutton, Wegener, Umbgrove & Cloos -- early heroes of geology

6. Plate Tectonics -- its origin, manifestations, & supercontinent cycle

7. geologic environments, processes & landforms

8. fundamentals of structural geology

9. basics of aerial photographic, topographic & geologic map interpretation

10. geologic events which changed us & influenced our cultural development

B. Historical Geology:

1. key principles used in deciphering the past from rocks & fossils

2. stratigraphic concepts & use in interpreting earth's history

3. Lyell, Lamarck, Darwin, & Agassiz -- more early heroes of earth history

4. introduction to paleontology & review of Darwinian evolution

5. mass extinctions; causes & results for life on planet Earth

6. dinosaurs -- their development, diversity, & demise (?)- an example of evolution

7. evolution of the earth -- North America in general &Texas in detail

8. ice ages, global warming, & Us

Geology: Fall term Syllabus 2016

Topics To Be Covered:

Introduction to the earth; Why Study Geology; the Grand Canyon Region– rocks & lessons; development of rock classification & testing system; some human notes & readings; uniformitarianism & other basic principles of geology; earth processes & patterns; geologic time scale; a geologic section with proper format; notebooks & organization; on becoming a geologist – Hans Cloos; the Grand Stairway through the Mesozoic. rock recognition practical

Ancient Life in the Rocks: fossils an introduction & identification; a bit of evolution theory; Dinosaurs- an example of the study of ancient life. Four Winged Dinosaur & Arctic Dinosaurs

Introduction to Mineralogy; Why study minerals?; mineral identification (small set); use of identification key; the Jolly & Hanneman Balance; the silicates, R.L.N. Bowen; other mineral groups; crystals, crystallography & crystal growing – use of a goniometer: Mineral Box #1; Mineral Practical

Gem: identification (gem box), testing & their influence; all about diamonds; diamond issues—jewelry, gem testing & gem business(store visit & questions); Splendid Stones; Blood Diamond; meteorites – gifts from the gods! ; ID and origins. Some lapidary work: jewelry & bolo ties

Gold & the Rush it caused; role of gold in our world; the gold standard; the Golden Shaft

Minerals, mining & the Bible (King Solomon’s Mines)– mining in ancient times; mining in general today; silver mining; Comstock Lode; conservationists vs miners (a debate); industrial mineral I

Introduction to Petrology; rocks—an overview; rock cycle review; igneous, sedimentary, & metamorphic rock study: what rocks can tell us. Rock Practical

Some Readings:

Ship’s wake (Cloos) Prologue

Evolution of Minerals Beacons on the Way Out

Diamond Wars Subterranean Landscapes(Cloos)

Down A Mine (Walks & Talks in Geology) Sphinx Erongo (Cloos)

The King of Metals & Solidified Sunlight The Return

Project: Introduction to the Lapidary Arts(tumbling, cutting & polishing stones)

Geology: Syllabus Winter Term, 2016-17

Topics To Be Investigated:

Silicate Minerals- the foundation of the crust; Bowen & his series

Lapidary Adventure: raw minerals to Bolo ties

Igneous, Metamorphic & Sedimentary Rock - identification & review; key minerals & textures; “reading the rocks” (possible stream table study)

Earth Processes: Hutton & his rock cycle; surface processes - weathering, erosion & deposition;

Volcanoes: Kraffts; volcano types; Mt. Toba & supervolcanoes; volcanic eruption prediction; Thera & Exodus

Interior of the Earth: structure and waves; temperatures, densities, & composition; how we know; magnetic field & our survival; magnetic storm is coming; how it forms – dynamo theory (a little bit of physics); Mars as a model planet for interior changes & its evolution

Earthquakes: Loma Prieta; earthquake basics – types, causes, locations, effects, prediction, & preparation; four classic earthquakes – an analysis; other historical quakes; Japan 2010 & tsunami; Pacific northwest – Seattle and the coming doom; Biblical earthquakes & history

Tectonics: a few examples from around the world; Loch Ness, New York, Hawaii


Rocks under the Pillow Rhine Journey To A Former Student

Northland & the Knot Return Soldier in Oil War

Volcanoes at Work(Krakatoa) Among Volcanoes (1886) New York

Mountains in the Jungle Assorted articles on volcanoes & earthquakes

Advanced Physics II

Advanced Physics: Course of Study 2016-17

Essential Questions to be addressed this year:

1. What is the fundamental character of a physical law?

2. What is the role of equations in physics?

3. How are the major concepts of physics derived from experiment?

4. Why is Einstein such a prominent figure in modern physics?

5. What is our modern theory of matter and how did we arrive at it?

6. What are the interrelationships between the major topics of physics?

7. What are some of the historical foundations of modern physics?

8. How is physics a very human endeavor

Topics to be investigated this year:

A. Classical Physics:

1. kinematics in one & two dimensions

2. dynamics & Newton's Laws

3. circular & rotational motion

4. momentum, work & energy relationships

5. static equilibrium

6. fluid, sound & wave behavior

7. laws of thermodynamics, KMT, & heat

8. statics & current electricity with DC circuits

9. magnetism & electromagnetism

10. nature & behavior of light with some work on optical instruments

B. Modern Physics:

1. special & general relativity theory & experimental evidence

2. quantum theory: development & usefulness

3. nuclear physics & nuclear energy (fission & fusion)

4. elementary particles: development of our theory of matter

(atmos to quark)

5. current research areas in physics

C. Historical Aspects of Physics:

1. Einstein & Bohr

2. Fermi & Meitner

3. Feynman, women , African-Americans & a bunch of other guys who nobody outside of physics knows

Fall Syllabus 2016-17

Advanced Physics: Fall Term Syllabus 2016

Topics to be Investigated:

Some Investigations & Some Review; some brief notes & problems; units/significant figures/uncertainty; Fermi Questions & Figuring Out Physics; a bunch of puzzling demonstrations

Some Interesting Investigations - free-fall; water & holes; two cans; bar code mystery; dart guns; working with equations; deriving relationships & graphing analysis; Greek science

motion in one & two directions; projectiles & derivations; moving targets; bombing Hitler; shooting Napoleon; strobe lights & water spouts; vectors; force boards

A little rocket science – principles & applications; Bernoulli; Goddard-von Braun; Torricelli’s Tube; Venturi’s discovery; sail boats with & without sails; escape velocity derivation; engine dynamics, construction & launching of rockets; high speed effects—a little Einstein discussion

Newton’s Laws Review; vectors & forces; inertial balance –a new view of things

Free-body diagrams, friction & inclines; weight; uniform circular motion & acceleration; rotational inertia & momentum

A few greats –Galileo, Brahe, Kepler, & Cavendish; a little murder mystery –maybe; planetary motion & big G - the Great Experiment; simple harmonic motion; torque; Newtonian Synthesis & its legacy; satellites & Newton; escape velocity

Canadians – Frame of Reference; Foucault & Coriolis; Einstein again

Some Readings:

The Pleasure of finding Things Out –Feynman Close Reasoning

The Sense of the Mysterious –Chapters 1, 2 Nature of Science

The Character of Physical Law – Chapter 1, 2 Value of Science

Feynman Adventures The Moment

Project -- Rockets

Winter Term 2016-17

Winter Term Syllabus

Topics To Be Covered:

Some Interesting Phenomena: momentum –elastic & inelastic collisions; explosions; HPP strobe photo analysis; ballistics; Loop-de-Loop adventure; swing things; ramps; pendulums;

Gravity & Mass – serious stuff: inertial balance; Canadians in a Circle; acceleration and gravity; What is Gravity – Newton, Einstein, Higgs; elevators, falling punctured water bottles, spinning trays, Foucault, Coriolis, & Einstein

Energy Transfer: particles & waves; waves-types, superposition, Chladni & standing waves; resonance-sound,rods, Kundt, oscilloscope; air, water &vacuum

A Little Thermodynamics: Absolute Zero-the quest for Cold; refrigeration, gas laws, KMT; entropy; chains & least energy principle; Monte Carlo madness; some engines (heat, 2 & 4 stroke)

Electrostatics: tapes & invention of charges; electroscope; types of charging; polarization; snake & ball; Faraday’s ice pail; electrophorous; the Racing Ball; oscillating balls; Jacob’s Ladder; Van de Graff & his generator; Leyden Jars & a real shocker!; capacitors; Wimhurst’s Devilsh Device (WDD); Professor Rogers -- his wonderful workshop and the little girl; Faraday’s Cage & Coulomb’s Law; lightning & Ben Franklin’s Kite Mischief!

Some Readings:

Feynman- Character of Physical Law: Chapter #2 (Math in Physics); Chapter #3(Conservation Laws); Chapter #4 (Symmetry)

Lightman – Sense of the Mysterious: Metaphors in Science; Inventions of the Mind; The Contradictory Genius

Higgs and his boson What is is Mass?

Gravity by Gamow