I. Introduction and Background
Session 1: Introductory Lecture
No assigned readings
Session 2: Faraday, Thomson, and Maxwell: Lines of Force in the Ether
- James Clerk Maxwell, Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1998), vol. 1, v-xii, 155–68. ISBN: 9780198503736.
- Bruce J. Hunt, The Maxwellians (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991), 73–107. ISBN: 9780801426414.
Session 3: Worldviews, Wranglers, and the Making of Theoretical Physicists
- Jed Buchwald, “The Hall effect and Maxwellian electrodynamics in the 1880s, Part I: The discovery of a new electric field,” Centaurus 23 (1979): 51–99. Read esp. pp. 51–64.
Session 4: Waves in the Ether
- Albert A. Michelson and Edward W. Morley, “On the relative motion of the Earth and the luminiferous ether,” American Journal of Science 34 (November 1887): 333–345.
- Optional: David Kaiser, “Lecture Notes: Electrodynamics for Maxwell and Lorentz (PDF),” September 2018.
II. Einstein: Relativity, Quanta, and the Philosopher-Scientist
Session 5: Einstein and Experiment
- Albert Einstein, “On the electrodynamics of moving bodies,” translated and reprinted in Arthur I. Miller, Albert Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity: Emergence (1905) and Early Interpretation (1905–1911) (Reading: Addison-Wesley, 1981), 392–6. ISBN: 9780387948706.
- Amanda Gefter, “When Einstein tilted at windmills,” Nautilus (December 2016).
- Peter Galison, “Einstein’s clocks: The place of time,” Critical Inquiry 26 (Winter 2000): 355–89.
- Optional: David Kaiser, “Lecture Notes: E = mc2 (PDF),” September 2020.
- Optional: Michel Janssen, “Appendix: Special relativity,” in The Cambridge Companion to Einstein, ed. Michel Janssen and Christoph Lehner (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 1–19.
Session 6: Reception of Special Relativity
- Andrew Warwick, “Cambridge mathematics and Cavendish physics: Cunningham, Campbell, and Einstein’s relativity, 1905–1911. Part I: The uses of theory,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 23 (1992): 625–56.
- Optional: Michel Janssen, “Appendix: Special relativity,” in The Cambridge Companion to Einstein, ed. Michel Janssen and Christoph Lehner (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 19–44.
Session 7: A Political History of Gravity
- Albert Einstein, “What is the theory of relativity?,” in Ideas and Opinions, ed. Carl Seelig (New York: Crown Publishers, 1954), 227–32. ISBN: 9780517003930.
- David Kaiser, “General relativity primer: Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love curved spacetime,” unpublished manuscript, 2006.
- Loren Graham, “Do mathematical equations display social attributes?,” Mathematical Intelligencer 22, no. 3 (2000): 31–36.
- Optional: David Kaiser, “General relativity: An informal primer,” unpublished manuscript, 21 October 2011.
Session 8: Rethinking Light
- Emilio Segrè, “Planck, unwilling revolutionary: The idea of quantization,” in Emilio Segrè, From X-Rays to Quarks: Modern Physicists and Their Discoveries (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1980), 61–77. ISBN: 9780716711469.
- Thomas Kuhn, “Revisiting Planck,” Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences 14 (1984): 231–52.
- Optional: David Kaiser, “Lecture Notes: Blackbody radiation and Compton scattering (PDF),” September 2020.
Session 9: Rethinking Matter
- John Heilbron, “Bohr’s first theories of the atom,” in Niels Bohr: A Centenary Volume, ed. A. P. French and P. J. Kennedy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985), 33–49. ISBN: 9780674624153.
- Megan Shields Formato, “Crafting quantum theory: Margrethe Bohr and the labor of theoretical physics,” The New Inquiry (15 March 2018).
Session 10: Matrices and Uncertainty
- Werner Heisenberg, “Quantum-theoretical re-interpretation of kinematic and mechanical relations,” translated and reprinted in Sources of Quantum Mechanics, ed. B. L. van der Waerden (New York: Dover, 1967), 261–6. ISBN: 9780486618814.
- David Cassidy, “Heisenberg, uncertainty, and the quantum revolution,” Scientific American 266 (May 1992): 106–12.
Session 11: Waves and Probabilities
- Walter Moore, Schrödinger: Life and Thought (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 191–200. ISBN: 9780521354349.
- Niels Bohr, “The Bohr-Einstein dialogue,” in Niels Bohr: A Centenary Volume, ed. A. P. French and P. J. Kennedy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985), 121–40. ISBN: 9780674624153.
- Optional: David Kaiser, “Lecture Notes: The double-slit experiment: An adventure in three acts (PDF),” March 2011.
Session 12: Quantum Weirdness: Schrödinger’s Cat, EPR, and Bell’s Theorem
- Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky, and Nathan Rosen, “Can quantum-mechanical description of reality be considered complete?,” Physical Review 47 (1935): 777–780.
- David Kaiser, “Life-and-death: When nature refuses to select,” in Quantum Legacies: Dispatches from an Uncertain World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020), 29–38. ISBN: 9780226698052.
- David Kaiser, “Spooky actions at a distance,” in How the Hippies Saved Physics (New York: W. W. Norton, 2011), 45–67. ISBN: 9780393342314.
- Optional: David Kaiser, “Lecture Notes: Bell’s inequality and quantum entanglement (PDF),” October 2020.
III. Oppenheimer: Physics, Physicists, and the State
Session 13: Physics under Hitler
- Maria Popova, “How pioneering physicist Lise Meitner discovered nuclear fission, paved the way for women in science, and was denied the Nobel Prize,” The Marginalian.
- Peter Galison, “Marietta Blau: Between Nazis and nuclei,” Physics Today 50 (Nov. 1997): 42–48.
- Operation Epsilon: The Farm Hall Transcripts, ed. Charles Frank (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 70–91. ISBN: 9780520084995.
- Recommended: A BBC video production of Michael Frayn’s play Copenhagen, directed by Howard Davies, produced by Richard Fell et al., BBC Worldwide (2002).
- Optional: David Kaiser, “Lecture Notes: Energy from Nuclear Fission (PDF),” October 2020.
Session 14: Radar and the Manhattan Project
- Lillian Hoddeson, “Mission change in the laboratory: The Los Alamos implosion program, 1943–1945,” in Big Science: The Growth of Large-Scale Research, ed. Peter Galison and Bruce Hevly (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992), 265–289. ISBN: 9780804718790.
Session 15: Film: The Day After Trinity
- Note: In lieu of the class session, please watch the documentary film, The Day after Trinity (1981).
- Robert Serber with Robert Crease, Peace & War: Reminiscences of a Life on the Frontiers of Science (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), 121–44. ISBN: 9780231105460.
Session 16: Secrecy and Security in the Nuclear Age
- Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy, “Development of a Super Weapon,” hearing typescript dated 9 January 1950, declassified.
- David Kaiser, “The atomic secret in red hands? American suspicions of theoretical physicists during the early Cold War,” Representations 90 (2005): 28–60.
Session 17: Film: Containment
- Note: In lieu of the class session, please watch the film Containment (2016), directed and produced by Peter Galison & Robb Moss.
- Peter Galison with Jamie Kruse, “Waste-Wilderness: A Conversation with Peter L. Galison,” FOP News (21 March 2011).
Session 18: The Cold War Classroom: Teaching Quantum Theory in Postwar American Physics
- Philip Morrison, “The laboratory demobilizes,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 2 (Nov 1946): 5–6.
- Evelyn Fox Keller, “The anomaly of a woman in physics,” in Working It Out, ed. Sara Ruddick and Pamela Daniels (New York: Pantheon, 1977), 77–91. ISBN: 9780394735573.
- David Kaiser, “Training quantum mechanics,” in Quantum Legacies: Dispatches from an Uncertain World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020), 116–135. ISBN: 9780226698052.
Session 19: Counterculture and Science
- David Kaiser and W. Patrick McCray, “Introduction,” in David Kaiser and W. Patrick McCray, eds., Groovy Science: Knowledge, Innovation, and American Counterculture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016), 1–10. ISBN: 9780226372884.
- David Kaiser, “Zen and the Art of Textbook Publishing,” in Quantum Legacies: Dispatches from an Uncertain World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020), 136–151. ISBN: 9780226698052.
IV. Feynman and Postwar Theory
Session 20: The Conservative Revolution: QED and Renormalization
- Robert Mills, “Tutorial on infinities in QED,” in Renormalization: Lorentz to Landau (and Beyond), ed. Laurie M. Brown (New York: Springer, 1993), 57–88. ISBN: 9780387979335.
- Richard Feynman, QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985), 77–101. ISBN: 9780691164090.
- David Kaiser, “Physics and Feynman’s Diagrams,” American Scientist 93 (2005): 156–165.
Session 21: Teaching Feynman’s Tools: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics
- Geoffrey Chew, “Impasse for the elementary-particle concept,” in The Sciences Today, ed. Robert Hutchins and Mortimer Adler (New York: Arno, 1977 ), 366–99. ISBN: 9780405071737.
- David Kaiser, “Nuclear democracy: Political engagement, pedagogical reform, and particle physics in postwar America,” Isis 93 (2002): 229–268.
Session 22: Quarks, Gauge Fields, and the Rise of the Standard Model
- David Kaiser, “Something for nothing” and “Higgs hunting,” in Quantum Legacies: Dispatches from an Uncertain World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020), 165–173 and 174–182. ISBN: 9780226698052.
Session 23: The Birth of Particle Cosmology
- David Kaiser, “When fields collide,” in Quantum Legacies: Dispatches from an Uncertain World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020), 183–201. ISBN: 9780226698052.
- Leandra Swanner, “Instruments of science or conquest? Neocolonialism and modern American astronomy,” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 47 (2017): 392–319.
Session 24: The Big Bang, Cosmic Inflation, and the Latest Observations
- Alan Guth and David Kaiser, “Inflationary cosmology: Exploring the universe from the smallest to the largest scales,” Science 307 (11 Feb 2005): 884–890.
- David Kaiser, “Elegant Wiggles: Why the Universe is Lumpy,” Huffington Post (22 May 2012).
- Optional: David Kaiser, “Cosmic inflation: An informal primer,” unpublished manuscript, 23 November 2011.
Session 25: String Theory and the Multiverse
No assigned readings