A Concise Introduction to the Principles Governing The Transformations of Matter and Energy and How They Relate to Our Environment.
Mastery of fire was just the beginning. After fire came kilns, then furnaces, then steam engines, then nuclear reactors. Since our humble beginnings, the story of the development of our species has featured a nearly ubiquitous and insatiable appetite for energy, most commonly in the form of combustible fuels and the heat they provide. But what is heat and what makes such a seemingly familiar and mundane phenomenon such a driving force for human activity? And as traditional sources of heat become scarce, what alternatives exist? These questions provide the framework for this course and the context for examining the foundations of chemical and physical science. The answers provide insights into the nature of heat, energy, and matter, their limitations and possibilities. The environmental, economic, and political challenges that face all countries are deeply intertwined with the scarcity of energy, making an understanding of how it is obtained, harnessed, and lost, of critical importance to all citizens and especially for future leaders and policy makers.
This course will include two weekly lectures with occasional lab exercises to be conducted in class, reading assignments, short papers, review assignments, and a project. Students will publicly present their project work at the end of the term.