Possible Topics for Papers/Talks

Searching for topics and references

Science papers suggestions
  Note: only one person per topic; use sentence outline.

These topics are the same as for the talks, but the audiences are different:

paper -- non-technical peers
7/20 minute talk -- classmates in 596

For all three papers (see policy below) you must produce a sentence outline before writing and discuss it with instructors.

Further, the first draft of all papers will be refereed by your class colleagues (and course instructors) to guide your revision of each paper.

Searching for a topic

For short talk, consider a recent scientific idea or discovery as springboard for limiting talk topic. Generally the more concrete and experimental, the better.

For medium paper and talk, the topic must contain both an idea that can be explained to a non-technical audience and enough hard, new science to be interesting to physics majors.

For non-technical audience, imagine a parent, a high-school friend or a (sports) teammate. Such a person should be willing to read a few pages you have written. At the same time, you want them to find something to carry away. The ideal reaction would be

"Wow! I'd heard of the topic, but never thought it could be so simply explained. Thanks."

For your classmates, you want to convey an intriguing, new-to-them idea so clearly, they instinctively ask questions about either the science or a possible application.

Possible sources

From Science, What we don't know: 125 top question
In a more lighthearted vein: NY Times Annual Year in Ideas:

Here are some recent new "physics ideas" in the last few years

  1. Physics News Update See samples.
  2. Physical Review Focus
  3. Physics Success Stories
Alternately, looking at what now counts as a great discovery over a longer time span might stimulate you with respect to recent ideas. At the same time, keep in mind that man has trouble adjusting and using new ideas and technology.

Long -- public policy -- paper suggestions

Policy paper advocates, attacks or defends some specific policy or point of view that leads to an action (or argues against such action) using science-based arguments. The audience of the paper is your classmates. The technical level is that of the talks.

One person per topic
Note: Produce a sentence outline before writing and discuss it with instructors.

Here are some broad areas. Online references are helpful. But don't forget books in the library or any college/university library in the State. While interlibrary loans come quickly (few days), you still should start early gathering references.