This is a course for those who want to learn about physics as a systems science, and who want to be able to apply physics in their own disciplines.
In order to design a chemical plant, engineers create models based on physical processes. Researchers working in medicine may need to understand dynamical aspects of fluid flow in the cardiovascular system. Ecologists follow the flow of substances, heat, and energy in the environment and consider the interplay of many different physical and chemical processes in complex dynamical systems.
In many of these cases, we have to understand how dynamical systems work. Therefore, this course combines the study of dynamical systems with that of the principles of physical processes. The materials presented here let you learn physics by using it in various applications. You will work on experiments, analyze data, and create system dynamics models. The activities, combined with readings, will help you see processes in nature and in machines through the eyes of a science.
The Subjects chosen reflect the desire to view physics from a systems perspective. Fluids, electricity, heat, substances, and motion constitute the backbone. In each field, dynamical processes are stressed. Last but not least, the interaction of different processes plays an important role in some more demanding Cases.
The approach offered here is one of active and inquiry based learning. To this end, each subject of the course is accompanied by a Case Study. The case can be used to motivate the physics to be learned, and it serves as a relatively complex application of the concepts studied in a chapter.
The case study of a chapter has been used to design Problems and Investigations in the Activities section that lead to an understanding of the processes at work in systems. Working through investigations will prepare you for the case study.
The Readings and Materials sections should further support you as you work through a chapter.
A chapter or subject opens with an Overview. If you like to get a feeling for the subject before you jump into the cold water, continue with Phenomena which provide a vivid view of what you can expect. If you want to know more about how to approach a chapter, read the Guide.
You can choose to continue in different ways. The PSS Environment offers you multiple paths to study a subject. Most likely, you will go back and forth between different approaches, environments, and materials.