Introduction to physics

lphys1000  2019-2020  Louvain-la-Neuve

Introduction to physics
Note from June 29, 2020
Although we do not yet know how long the social distancing related to the Covid-19 pandemic will last, and regardless of the changes that had to be made in the evaluation of the June 2020 session in relation to what is provided for in this learning unit description, new learnig unit evaluation methods may still be adopted by the teachers; details of these methods have been - or will be - communicated to the students by the teachers, as soon as possible.
4 credits
30.0 h + 15.0 h
Main themes
Depending on the audience's interests, the course introduces to some of the important ideas of physics, to be chosen from among Newton's mechanics, Maxwell's electromagnetism, Einstein's theories of special and general relativity, quantum physics, the physics of condensed matter or the theories of the elementary particles. It concludes with some of the challenges left unanswered by modern physics. No detailed mathematical formulation is developed. Rather, emphasis is put throughout on a discussion of the basic concepts and their actual significance. Applications of these fundamental sciences to advanced modern technologies are also highlighted.

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

1 The fundamental natural sciences, and especially physics, are as much part of the common cultural heritage of humankind as are the arts and the humanities understood in the broadest terms. Indeed, within its specific methodology physics itself attempts to grasp the basic meaning of the Universe and Man's place within it. From the perspective of an exposure to the general culture of science offered to students in the humanities, with only little use of the mathematical language the course discusses the basic and essential significance of the concepts underlying the "revolutions" of physics having led to modern physics. Some common advanced technologies stemming from these advances are also described. The course closes with some of the open challenges of which the possible resolutions will define the physics of the XXIst century.

The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
Teaching methods
This course will be fully presented on a blackboard.

Notes are under construction but references such as
  • La nature de la physique (R. Feynman)
  • Sept brèves leçons de physique (C. Rovelli)
will be given according to the themes addressed.
Evaluation methods
The student will submit a personal work to present during the oral examination.
Other information
Prerequisites: Basic physics and mathematics concepts at the high school level.
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Minor in Scientific Culture