Ph 11 Beyond Physics
This unique 6-unit course explores how scientific research ideas arise and how these ideas are tested and developed. A small group of students meet weekly with the faculty instructors to explore and discuss current research from across science. Ph 11 aims to develop skills that are invaluable in scientific research: creativity, curiosity and tenacity.
Only a small group of students are permitted to enroll in Ph 11 each year. Entry into the course is granted by creatively solving questions, called hurdles.
This course is open to Caltech freshmen. It takes place in the second and third terms of freshman year and the first term of sophomore year. Support for summer research will be provided to all Ph 11 students making satisfactory progress in their research project. Funding for Ph 11 summer support is provided by the Baker, Brewer, Selove and Tombrello Prizes. This course is graded pass/fail.
"It is not and never was physics."
- Dr. Dave Stevenson (2017, Caltech News)
What should you expect in the course?
The Ph 11 class meets once a week to discuss current research covering a range of topics. Students are expected to read assigned papers (examples here) and come prepared to discuss them with each other and the faculty instructors. Guest speakers, including graduate students, post doctoral scholars and former Ph 11 students, may also be invited to the class to discuss their education, life experiences and scientific career.
The small class size allows each student to interact closely and build relationships with each other, the teaching assistant, faculty instructors and guest speakers. The impact of this course will last well beyond freshman year, and often beyond your time at Caltech.
"Life isn't problem solving, right? Life is the process of searching for the answer."
- Ph11 student Connie Chang (1994, LA Times)
Ph 11 Publicity
Article from the Caltech News, January 2017 about Ph 11 and the history and development of the course.
Article from The California Tech, April 2009 about Grayson Chadwick, a former Ph 11 student and his remarkable freshman research.
Article from the Los Angeles Times, October 1994 about the creation of Ph 11.