Office of the Registrar
Campus Address
Hanover, NH
03755-3529
Phone: (603) 646-xxxx
Fax: (603) 646-xxxx
Email: reg@Dartmouth.EDU

Organization, Regulations, and Courses 2021-22


PHYS 82.01 Question Reality

How much can we know of the world? Can we know everything? Or are there fundamental limits to how much science can explain? If there are limits, to what extent can we explain the nature of physical reality? In this interdisciplinary course we will address these questions, exploring how philosophers and physicists from Plato to Einstein and many others have attempted to explain the nature of the world and of reality. We will follow a historical approach, reading as many original sources as possible and focusing on three central themes: 1. The nature of the cosmos: from a closed cosmos to an expanding universe and the multiverse; 2. The nature of matter: from alchemy to quarks and quantum physics; 3. The nature of mind: Godel's incompleteness theorem, mathematics, computers, and the problem of consciousness. The main text will be The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning, by Marcelo Gleiser (Basic Books, Spring 2014). This will be complemented by original and critical texts by Plato, Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, Einstein, John Bell, David Bohm, Rebecca Goldstein, Thomas Nagel, Colin McGinn, and others. The class will be seminar style and has no prerequisites.

Distributive and/or World Culture

Dist:SCI; WCult:W

The Timetable of Class Meetings contains the most up-to-date information about a course. It includes not only the meeting time and instructor, but also its official distributive and/or world culture designation. This information supersedes any information you may see elsewhere, to include what may appear in this ORC/Catalog or on a department/program website. Note that course attributes may change term to term therefore those in effect are those (only) during the term in which you enroll in the course.