Arts & Sciences 1138.03: Freshman Seminar
The Wave Nature of the Universe
General Information

Course Description:
We are surrounded by waves: light waves, sound waves, microwaves, radio-waves, etc. These everyday occurrences play a critical role in how and why our universe is the way it is and how and why we perceive the universe as it is. This course will introduce students to the fundamental nature of waves, their properties, their use in science and art and the consequences associated with living in a wave universe. Specific issues will be addressed such as how wave properties lead to a natural discrete or quantum world and how the properties of waves can be used to create three-dimensional light sculptures in space. Each student will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge of wave principles to create a three-dimensional artistic holographic image.

Readings (typically 1-5 pages) will be provided each week for the topics to be covered. The reading materials used in the course will be available on the course web site. No formal texts will be used.

Students are expected to attend class and participate in seminar discussions. Weekly reading is expected. Each student is expected to bring two or three challenging questions to class each week that is based on the reading so that seminar discussion will be stimulated.

The material discussed in the course is listed below.
  Week  Topic(s) considered
  I Course Introduction and Goals
  II Introduction to Waves
  III Light and Sound
  IV Properties of Waves
  V More Properties of Waves
  VI Interference
  VII Diffraction
  VIII Rules and Scales in Working with Waves
  IX Waves and a Discrete Quantum World
  X The Statistical Nature of the Quantum World
  XI Outcomes of the Discrete World
  XII Lasers and Holograms
  XIII The Making of a Hologram
  XIV More on Making Holograms

Blackboard for the course

Laboratory Time:
At the end of the semester laboratory time outside of class time will be scheduled.