Rogers Physics for the Enquiring Mind Text
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THE INQUIRING MINDNature, and
Philosophy of Physical Science
OBStRYATQRY, PRESTON. -*-
PHYSICSFOR THE INQUIRING
MINDTHE METHODS, NATURE, ANDPHILOSOPHY OF PHYSICAL SCIENCEBY
ERIC M. ROGERS
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESSLONDON: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
1960 by Princeton University Press
London: Oxford University Press
ALL RIGHTS RESERVEDL. C. Card 59-5603Publication of this book has been aided
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.
for that reason they
form a very important part
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
premedicals.* That course
requires a previous physics course nor repeats in
material or treatment the normal content of high-
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
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
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
educated non-scientists need an understanding knowledge of physics; and they deserve to enjoy that knowledge as part of their intellectual outlookthroughout theirlives.
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.
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
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
were teaching both science and philosophy of
that the materialfull
than the traditional
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
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
were omitted, gave timefor students to learn
for careful teaching
reading and thinking things out for themselves; they gave space and time for a developing perspective of science.
treat the chapters as
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
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
itself at first
Essential Plan of This
that the others are rich in vision but lack
students and other readers to under-
the historian, the scientist
stand physics as scientists
we must show
and accurate knowledge of
connected framework of knowledge and thoug