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Transcript of Rogers Physics for the Enquiring Mind Text

PHYSICS FOR

THE INQUIRING MINDNature, and

The Methods,

Philosophy of Physical Science

JEREMIAH

HORROCKS'PARK.

MOOR

OBStRYATQRY, PRESTON. -*-

PHYSICSFOR THE INQUIRING

MINDTHE METHODS, NATURE, ANDPHILOSOPHY OF PHYSICAL SCIENCEBY

ERIC M. ROGERS

1960

PRINCETON,

NEW

JERSEY

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESSLONDON: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS

Copyright

1960 by Princeton University Press

London: Oxford University Press

ALL RIGHTS RESERVEDL. C. Card 59-5603Publication of this book has been aided

by

grants

from The Rockefeller Foundation, The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and The

Whitney Darrow Publication Reserve Fundof Princeton University Press

Printed in the United States of America

Second Printing 1961Third Printing 1961

Fourth Printing 1962

TO JANET TRAJV ROGERS

PREFACEThis book offers a course in physics to non-physiwho wish to know physics and understand it.

and

for that reason they

form a very important part

cists

of the book's teaching.

Here are the general reading, problems, and laboratory instructionsof

a one-year course given at

Princeton to undergraduates whose chief field of study lies outside technical physics: economists,sciences, and open alike to those who have studied physics before and those who have not. Like that course, this book neitherlifeis

Some problems are dissected into a series of steps, not as spoon-feeding but to take the place of worked examples you should work through those as you

students in humanities and in

many

premedicals.* That course

requires a previous physics course nor repeats in

material or treatment the normal content of high-

school physics

so

it

welcomes

all readers.

This book treats a series of topics intensively: topics chosen to form a coordinated structure of

read the text.** Some problems give necessary preparation for later chapters. Some problems raise general questions whose discussion can do much to advance your understanding. Such general questions ask for opinions as well as reasoning; and they obviously do not have a single, completely right answer. Yet, thinking your way through them and making your own choice of opinion, and discussing other choices, is part of a good education in science.

knowledge. Although mathematics provides the

es-

A NOTE TO INSTRUCTORSThe Originof science of

sential tools of physics, only the simpler parts of

The Courseof us to design

high-school algebra and plane geometry are usedhere.

On the other hand, critical reading, good reasoning and clear thinking are asked for again and again. The problems, which are of primary importance, are not plug-in slots for formulas, but ask for

A dozen years ago, our concern for the good namemoved some

new

courses

for non-scientists:

courses in physical science for

general education in college. In this age of science,

reasoning and critical thinking. In this way, bothtext

and problems ask readers

to learn

by

their

own

educated non-scientists need an understanding knowledge of physics; and they deserve to enjoy that knowledge as part of their intellectual outlookthroughout theirlives.

thinking.

Bankers, lawyers, business

A NOTE TO ALL READERS: THE PROBLEMSThe problemsare an important part of the book's

teaching, because they ask you to discuss and reason

and polish up your own knowledge. There is much discussion and reasoning in physics. To understand how experimental knowledge is fitted with theory and new results extracted, you need to do your own reasoning and thinking. Of course it would be quicker and easier, for both teacher and student, if the text stated all the results and outlined all the reasoning; but it is hard to remember such teaching for long, and harder still to extract a fine understanding of science from it. So, in this book, many of the problems ask you to do your own thinking;* In

men, and administrators of all kinds have to deal with scientists and their work; and educated people everywhere find scientific knowledge offering to influence their interests, outlook, and philosophy. What kind of physics courses could answer such needs? Not the routine training courses in facts and formulas and principles that were designed for future physicists and engineers and that are stilloffered as standard fare.

To many

non-scientists

those courses

fail to

describing

their

physics

requirements,

Deans

of

standing of science and we even hear doubts whether they give professional scientists the best start. Nor does a smorgasbord acquaintance-course of items of information meet the need a course that gives students a temporary sense of satisfaction but cannot convey much lasting understanding. So we designed a "block-and-gap" course that

give an appreciative under-

medical schools now stress thoroughness of understanding more than completeness of coverage. They ask for a course that teaches its material thoroughly and encourages constructive thinking and careful experimenting. So we now welcome many pre-medical students in this course. To cover some extra ground that is important for them, we add classes in acoustics and a series of laboratory sessions with optical instruments, ranging from the eye to the microscope. Those pre-medicals who prefer a more mathematical or "technical" treatment join physicists and engineers in another course.

* Some of the most important problems, which are intended to teach by a series of steps, have been printed in this book as reduced photographs of typewritten sheets. Instructors or Physics Departments can obtain single sample copies of the full-size original sheets from the author, c/o Palmer Physical Laboratory, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J. These specimens may be reproduced by photo-offset, or they may serve as copy for typewriting. Sets of lithographed copies are also available.

)

PREFACEbuilds important blocks of material into a connected

framework.

We taught those blocks carefully to giveshow the building ofusingthatscience as a whole.

added. These additions raise the danger of overcrowding, if users try to cover all the chapters. Onthe other hand, they bring the course of the bookinto line with recent recommendations, such as those of the Carleton Conference.

a sense of genuine understanding; we discussed the connections between one block and another; and

we

tried to

We

were teaching both science and philosophy of

As assurancetopics

that the materialfull

is

lessis

science

without

crowdedof the

forbidding

phrase.

than the traditional

menu, heretrivially

a

list

There was plenty of solid physics (more than half the content of an orthodox one-year course); our treatment was thorough, (within the limitations of mathematical tools); and we aimed for knowledge and a sense of understanding rather than a wealthof information.

omitted or treatedofis

in the

book:

hydrostatics, statics, calorimetry, ray optics, sound,electricity and magnetism. Thus, mainly concerned with dynamics, PLANETARY ASTRONOMY, MOLECULAR THEORY, and PARTS OF ELECTRICITY AND MAGNETISM, AND "ATOMIC physics" interwoven with general discussion. In the Princeton course for which this book is

and parts

the course

The

gaps,

where

topics

were omitted, gave timefor students to learn

for careful teaching

and

reading and thinking things out for themselves; they gave space and time for a developing perspective of science.

by and

used,

we

treat the chapters as

shown

opposite.

(

broken

lines indicate

roughly

and optimistically

The

We

considered the loss of omittedits

the quarter-stages in a year's course.

topics unimportant. If such a course succeeds,

students will be well prepared, in both background

A Word toInits

Critics

fill

and attitude, to read more science on their own, to any gaps they wish. But if it is to succeed, the course must encourage that depth of learning which comes with each student's own reasoning and creative thinking: the course must ask questions rather than hand out results. That is the kind of course for which this book was made.

method of presenting physical science, this makes first moves towards studies of history and philosophy of science. I hope that experts in those fields will pause before condemning ignorance or mistaken judgments in my treatment, and will remember that this is an attempt to teachbookalso

science

itself at first

hand.

Historian, philosopher,

and

scientist:

each

feels

The

Essential Plan of This

Book

that the others are rich in vision but lack

somehis-

To enableits

students and other readers to under-

knowledge of

his field.

To

the historian, the scientist

stand physics as scientists

know

it,

we must show

lacks perspective

and accurate knowledge of

connected framework of knowledge and thoug