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A few First-Year Seminars give preference during the first round of enrolment to students with membership in the college offering the course - if this is the case, the college name will be listed beside the course title. During the second round of enrolment, first-year students at any college may enroll if space is available.

PMU 199H1F: The Physical and Mathematical Universes (5): Fall Offerings

Section Number Title College Time
L0111 Great Astronomical Issues   Timetable
L0112 Astronomy at the Frontier   Timetable
L0291 Mathematical Explorations   Timetable
L0292 Math: Here, There and Everwhere   Timetable
L0341 The Poetry of Physics and the Physics of Poetry   Timetable
L0342 The Poetry of Physics and the Physics of Poetry   Timetable
L0411 Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics   Timetable

PMU 199H1S: The Physical and Mathematical Universes (5): Spring Offerings

Section Number Title College Time
L0111 Great Astronomical Issues   Timetable
L0112 Astronomy at the Frontier   Timetable
L0131 The Science of Energy Choices and their Impact on the Environment   Timetable
L0132 Climate Change   Timetable
L0133 The Quantum World and Its Classical Limit   Timetable
L0291 Aha! Mathematical Discovery and Creative Problem Solving   Timetable
L0292 The Universe in Zero Words   Timetable
L0411 Business as Unusual: Post-Crisis Market and Regulation Of Insurance and Finance   Timetable

 

PMU 199H1F: The Physical and Mathematical Universes (5): Fall Offerings

PMU 199H1F        
Section L0111                                                               
Timetable

PMU 199H1S       
Section L0111                                                               
Timetable

Great Astronomical Issues

There are some fundamental questions which humankind has asked itself over the centuries. Many of these involve astronomical origins, events, and objects. Astronomers now have the tools with which to attempt to answer some of the most fundamental questions, such as "Where did it all begin, where are we in space and time, are we alone, and who and what are we?" This seminar will explore some of these great issues. The selection of topics will be made initially by the instructor, but will be modified by the seminar participants at the first class meeting. Topics could include: stellar evolution and the future of the Sun, origin of the elements, origin and future of the Universe, origin of the Earth, origin of life, extinction of the dinosaurs, global warming, the scientific method, astronomy and the public. Participants will be expected to join actively in lively discussions and to prepare and lead some of the seminars.

Instructor: Fall – P. Rodriguez & Spring – H. Pfeiffer, Astronomy
Breadth category: 5 The Physical and Mathematical Universes

PMU 199H1F        
Section L0112                                                               
Timetable

PMU 199H1S       
Section L0112                                                               
Timetable

Astronomy at the Frontier

This seminar series aims at building up general scientific literacy, by discussing selected topics in current astronomy, cosmology, and space science. We will delve into the physical foundation behind the questions being asked and how the answers are being sought. Students will have an opportunity early in the course to select topics of particular interest to them and this will govern the choice of readings as well. Topics could include: formation of stars; lives and deaths of stars; stellar corpses: white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes; planets around other stars; recent results from Hubble and other telescopes; architecture of the solar system; exploration in the solar system; the invisible universe: dark energy and dark matter; first light; formation of galaxies; the age and future of the universe. Participants should be comfortable with basic mathematics and quantitative reasoning. Students will be expected to do independent research for essays, presentations, etc.

Instructor: Fall – S. Mochnacki & Spring – M. Reid, Astronomy
Breadth category: 5 The Physical and Mathematical Universes

PMU 199H1F        
Section L0291                                                               
Timetable

Mathematical Explorations

This course is meant to develop an appreciation for, and an understanding of, the subject of mathematics.  The course will feature a variety of mathematical topics accessible to those who are interested in mathematics and who did well in it in secondary school, but who are otherwise not pursuing it further at the University level.  The topics may include infinity, the "fourth dimension", Mobius strips, golden rectangles, secret codes, puzzles, fractals, and so on.  The history of mathematics, the ways in which mathematicians communicate ideas, and the perception of mathematics in the public-at-large and in the media may also be explored.  Apart from problem-solving and experimenting with mathematical ideas, students will be expected to write brief non-technical papers and/or make a presentation on some aspects of mathematics.  Students already taking calculus will not be permitted to take the course.

Instructor: S. Rayan, Mathematics
Breadth category: 5 The Physical and Mathematical Universes

PMU 199H1F        
Section L0292                                                               
Timetable

Math: Here, There and Everywhere

In this course we will investigate the application of quantitative analytical thinking in a wide variety of both “real world” practical situations as well as more fanciful, light-hearted contexts. We will draw our applications from such topics as financial planning, economic forecasting, index construction, gambling, puzzles and games. In our discussions we will focus on logical reasoning and the development of sufficient evidence to be convinced of our findings. In this way we will attempt to demonstrate the ubiquitous nature of mathematics and that not only is it useful, it is often interesting and even can be fun!!
Prerequisite: Grade 12 math

Instructor: S. Tanny, Mathematics
Breadth category: 5 The Physical and Mathematical Universes

PMU 199H1F     
Section L0341                                                                     
Timetable

PMU 199H1F     
Section L0342                                                                     
Timetable

The Poetry of Physics and the Physics of Poetry

This seminar explores the role of science and the humanities in modern society and the ways in which the arts and science influence each other. The nature and origin of abstract science is examined. Science is shown to be a form of language which is part of an evolutionary chain of languages linked to speech, writing, mathematics, computing and the internet. The parallels between science and literature, as well as models and metaphors are examined. Examples include: Creation myths and cosmology; pre-socratic philosophy and modern physics; the metaphysical poets (Donne) and Renaissance physics; Locke, Pope, Blake and Newtonian physics; Kierkegaard and Bohr’s theory of the atom; Einstein-scientist and humanist; Relativity; Quantum Physics and Modern Art; Thermodynamics and Ecology; Nuclear Physics and the Pugwash Movement.

Instructor: R. Logan, Physics
Breadth category: 5 The Physical and Mathematical Universes.

PMU 199H1F        
Section L0411                                                               
Timetable

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Both Mark Twain and Benjamin Disraeli are rumoured to have said "There are three types of lies. Lies, damned lies, and statistics". Can you really prove anything with statistics? This course will consider how statistical thinking gets used in a many fields of science, social science, business, and public policy. Some questions that will be addressed include: Why do newspapers report a "margin of error'' for poll results? What does "statistically significant" mean? How do Netlfix recommendations work? What is "5-sigma", and why was this important for the 2013 Nobel Prize in physics? 

Instructor: N. Reid, Statistical Sciences
Breadth category: 5 The Physical and Mathematical Universes

PMU 199H1S       
Section L0131                                                               
Timetable

The Science of Energy Choices and their Impact on the Environment

This course considers the energy choices that are available to society and the environmental consequences that arise from their use.   This is a topic of significant current interest as we move forward from a world where cheap oil was readily available to one where alternative energy sources are being increasingly considered, along with expanded use of coal, natural gas, and nuclear power.  In addition, the environmental consequences of different energy choices are now more readily apparent. Emphasis will be given to the development of a sound scientific understanding of the sources of energy that exist in our natural world and of the manner by which this energy can be transformed from one form to another. Discussion will be framed within the context of the current energy requirements of society and of the impact that our energy choices have on the environment.  We will also consider the feasibility of alternative energy sources, and their environmental impacts.

Instructor: J. Abbatt, Chemistry
Breadth category: 5 The Physical and Mathematical Universes

PMU 199H1S       
Section L0132                                                               
Timetable

Climate Change

Recently, the news reported that the ice caps have melted to their lowest areas ever.   Such stories appear in the news from time to time, and one cannot help but wonder - is this due to climate change? What are the evidence and arguments for and against climate change generally? What exactly are the predicted consequences?  What are the potential challenges and opportunities from the point of view of science, technology, economy, politics, society, etc?  In this course, we will learn about how to critically appraise information and how to use the scientific method; and then we will use these tools as well as the scientific and non-scientific literature to explore these and other related topics from a non-scientist's perspective.

Instructor: A. Dhirani, Chemistry
Breadth category: 5 The Physical and Mathematical Universes

PMU 199H1S       
Section L0133                                                               
Timetable

The Quantum World and Its Classical Limit

Quantum Mechanics provides a reliable description of behavior of atoms, molecules and photons, but is characterized by a variety of conceptual problems resulting from its non-intuitive predictions.  Using lectures, computerized visualizations, written essays, etc. we will discuss aspects of quantum mechanics and its classical limit, focusing first on its manifestations in nature and then on fundamental issues such as uncertainty, interference, entanglement, and decoherence. Students will be expected to interact with the Writing Centres at their college to gain strength in essay writing.
Required texts are "The New Quantum Universe" by Hey and Walters, and "The Strange World of Quantum Mechanics" by Streyer. A strong background and interest in Physics and Mathematics is needed.

Instructor: P. Brumer, Chemistry
Breadth category: 5 The Physical and Mathematical Universes

PMU 199H1S       
Section L0291                                                               
Timetable
  

Aha! Mathematical Discovery and Creative Problem Solving

This course is an exploration into the creative process and use of imagination as they arise in the context of mathematical problem solving. The problems, which are all at a pre-calculus level, are chosen primarily by the criterion of aesthetic appeal, and emphasize reasoning rather than technique. Still, many of them are quite challenging, and substantial independent thinking will be required, the course is therefore appropriate for students from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines. Its goal will be to hone each participant’s creativity and mathematical problem-solving skills while guiding them towards the “Aha!” experience which accompanies independent discovery.

Instructor: R. McCann, Mathematics
Breadth category: 5 The Physical and Mathematical Universes

PMU 199H1S       
Section L0292                                                               
Timetable

The Universe in Zero Words

This course examines equations that are important in the history of mathematics and their applications. These will range from the simple 1+1 =2 to the famous Einstein equation of relativity and the Black-Scholes equation for financial derivatives. Students will discuss the notation, the concepts involved, its historical context, and its practical significance for each equation. Where suitable, we will illustrate the equation with some sample calculations. Only grade 12 math will be assumed.

Instructor: D. Burbulla, Mathematics
Breadth category: 5 The Physical and Mathematical Universes

PMU 199H1S            
Section L0411                                                               
Timetable

Business as Unusual: Post-Crisis Market and Regulation of Insurance and Finance

If you haven’t caught up on thousands of Op-Eds written about the recent financial crisis, this course starts by offering you an overview of that historical meltdown. You are then invited to explore some of the most curious and pressing issues of our economic and social life. How can we navigate the increasingly hybrid finance markets, where insurance and investment are becoming indistinguishable? What are the regulatory responses on both sides of the Atlantic, and how do they coincide and differ? What do mysterious concepts like “derivatives” and “hedging” have to do with your day-to-day life? Equipped with new-found finance literacy, can you envision a relationship between financial markets and regulation that would minimize the risk of future economic Armageddon?

Instructor: V. Zhang, Statistics
NEWBreadth category: 5 The Physical and Mathematical Universes