PhySci 137

Summer 2009 Course Syllabus

Instructor:   Laurence E. Heglar, PhD.
Time:  Monday through Thursday, 13:30-14:50
Location:   Room: VEL
Office Hours (Student Services Office, 1st floor):   By appointment
Phone:   676.406.071
This syllabus is online at

Bronowski, J. (1992). The Ascent of Man. London; Warner Books.
Book of Readings: (The book and readings are provided as photocopies and are available for purchase from the instructor).

Alternative Text: Hjorth, L.S., Eichler, B.A., Khan, A.S., Morello, J.A. (2008). Technology and Society: Issues for the 21st Century and Beyond.

Course Description:

This course aims to consider, from a historical perspective, the activity of science and its effects on society as a whole. The objective is to explore humans as inquiring animals and the methods and perspectives we have used to adapt to, and understand, our environment. The history of humanity, focusing on scientific and technological achievements, will form the basis of the course. As related topics, we will discuss the interrelationships between:


Grading will be based on the following scheme:
    Midterm exam:   40%
    Final exam:         40%
    Science Report:  20%

Science Report

At the beginning of the semester each student will be assigned an area of science in which they are interested, and will be expected to keep up to date on current events in this area. Students will be asked to give a brief oral report during midterm week (not graded). At the end of the couse students will be required to turn in to the instructor copies of the articles they read, and a brief 4-5-page summary of recent issues in their chosen field. This "project" will be worth 20% of the final grade.
The focus for the report should be to summarize what scientists DON'T know in a given field. What are, in other words, the frontiers of knowledge? What questions are scientists currently trying to answer?
A marking scheme for this report will be provided in class.
A reference page of science links on the internet is available at


The University requires that student's attend class regularly, and I will take attendance during every class period.


Science & Society

June 8 Introduction: The Meaning of Science as a Human Activity
June 9 Man: The Inquiring Animal Bronowski, Ch. 1
Gould - A Matter of Degree
Gould - The Child as Man's Real Father
Jared Diamond
The Great Leap Forward
(.pdf file)
June 10 Man: The Inquiring Animal Bronowski, Ch. 1
Becoming Human Documentary
Origins of Humankind Website
The Great Leap Forward - Jared Diamond
Notes on Human Evolution
June 11 Holiday
June 15 Human Evolution and Adaptation - Tools Gould -- Piltdown Revisited
Piltdown Man Web Site
June 16 Human Settlements and Agriculture Bronowski, Ch. 2
Harris -- The Origins of Agriculture
June 17 The World Food Shortage Harris -- Mother Cow
Bass -- The Voice of the Ear
June 18 The Construction of the Human Environment Bronowski, Ch. 3
Pirsig -- Reading from Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
June 22 The Hidden Structure: Chemistry Bronowski, Ch. 4
June 23 The Music of the Spheres: Mathematics Bronowski, Ch. 5
Russell -- The Rise of Science
June 24 The Scientific Revolution: Copernicus & Galileo Bronowski, Ch. 6
Boyle -- Historical Background
Nicolas Copernicus: "De Revolutionibus"
The Galileo Project
June 25 The Scientific Revolution: Isaac Newton Bronowski, Ch. 7
June 29 The Scientific Revolution: Albert Einstein Bronowski, Ch. 7
June 30 The Industrial Revolution: Energy Bronowski, Ch. 8
Boyle --Energy
July 1 Midcourse Science Reports A short, non-graded report by all students about their topic area.
July 2 Midterm Exam
July 6 Energy Crisis Harris -- The Industrial Bubble
Harris -- The Hydraulic Trap
July 7 The Biological Revolution
Darwin's theory of evolution
Bronowski, Ch. 9
Gould -- Darwin's Delay
Evolution for Teachers
July 8 The Biological Revolution: Evolutionists vs. Creationists Video
Gould: Evolution as Fact and Theory
July 9 Video Discussion
July 13 Modern Physics Bronowski, Ch.10
July 14 Modern Physics: Knowledge or Certainty Bronowski, Ch. 11
July 15 Sociology of Science Boyle, C., Wheale, P.(1984) -- Philosophy and Sociology of Science.
July 16 Genetics Bronowski, Ch. 12
July 17 Genetic Engineering Gould -- Racist Arguments and I.Q.
July 21 Reprise: Science and Society Bronowski, Ch. 13
July 22 Review
July 23-24 Final Exams