8. Relativity and the Quantum Revolution

Summary:

In this module, we will survey the general ideas about general relativity and quantum theory and place them in their social context.  Looking at physics in its social context, we will be particularly interested in examining the life of Albert Einstein, and the relationship between science and morality between WWI and WWII.  In the final section of class, we will discuss the homework project, which asks students to review a series of online timeline tools.  We will choose a timeline tool to collaboratively create an online timeline for this course.

Readings:

Reading Questions:

Assignments:

  • You will review several timeline tools (listed below) and come prepared to discuss them in class.  You should focus on the same parameters as any piece of historical work.  What is the theme?  What is the argument?  How does its creator use sources to make an argument?  How does is it situated within a wider historiographical context?  What are its strengths and weaknesses?  How would you improve it?

    Please visit the following sites and find common features to all of these tools.  Ask yourself, what does a timeline do, and what are the basic features that it needs to have? How can it serve as a source for conveying ideas?  After you have asked yourself these questions, identify which unique features each timeline has.  What are the strengths and weaknesses?  Which features would you consider most useful for conveying a historical argument?

  • Find an example of one timeline that you find particularly effective and be ready to present it to the class.  The timeline can by dynamic or static.  Also, keep in mind that timelines can include other forms of visualizations, such as geographic coordinates.  Here are some examples:
  • Undergraduates: Write up the results of your timeline tool analysis in a 500-750 word essay that you will post to the Oncourse Dropbox and to the Assignments Tool.  Keep in mind the writing guidelines that I have given to you in class.  Each essay will need a thesis and evidence.
  • Graduate: Write up the results of your timeline tool analysis in a 500-750 word blog post that you will post to the the course blog.  Keep in mind the writing guidelines that I have given to you in class.  Each essay will need a thesis and evidence.  In order to write to the blog, you will have to accept the invitation that I send to you, so look for it in your email.  If you have not blogged before, please read my introduction to blogging here.

Keywords:

  • relativity, quantum theory, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, special theory of relativity, general theory of relativity, uncertainty principle

Notes:

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