PHYS 440A.H01: Searching for our Place in the Universe: The Foundation and Limits of Certainty in Physical Science




According to the prevailing narrative, in the beginning of the modern era, the physical description of gravity and the development of astronomy integrated observations of the planets and mathematical models of a Sun-centered solar system, culminating in Newton’s Principia. Natural philosophers such as Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Descartes, and Newton played foundational roles in inaugurating modern physics, building from the scientific developments of diverse cultures before them. This course is the physical science component of an honors symposium, “The Copernican Lens”, in which we discover the beginnings of the modern physical philosophy and its development from the Renaissance into the modern era. By exploring the interplay among language, history, philosophy and science in this multicultural narrative, The Copernican Lens will help to make science more accessible and interesting to non-scientists; it will also highlight the value and relevance of the arts and the humanities to science.