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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.

Refer to the 2016-17 Arts & Science Timetable for the schedule information of each offering.

PMU 199H1F: The Physical and Mathematical Universes (5): 2016 Fall Offerings | View All

Section Number Title College
L0111 Great Astronomical Issues  
L0112 Astronomy at the Frontier  
L0161

Computational Thinking

 
L0291 Mathematics in the News for Social Science Students  
L0341 Emergence in Nature  
L0411 Simulation: A Valuable Tool in Understanding Statistical Concepts (with TUTORIAL)  

PMU 199H1S: The Physical and Mathematical Universes (5): 2017 Winter Offerings | View All

Section Number Title College
L0111 Great Astronomical Issues  
L0112 Astronomy at the Frontier  
L0131 The Quantum World and Its Classical Limit  
L0132 Climate Change  
L0161 Computational Thinking  
L0291 Aha! Mathematical Discovery and Creative Problem Solving  
L0292 Magic and Mathematics  
L0293 Mathematics in the News for Humanities Students  
L0341 Modern Physics for the Curious  
L5131 Chiral Drugs and Catalysts  

 

PMU 199H1F: The Physical and Mathematical Universes (5): 2016 Fall Offerings

PMU 199H1F | Section L0111
PMU 199H1S | Section L0111
                                                               

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, and 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 – R. Hlozek & Winter – H. Yee
Breadth category: 5 The Physical and Mathematical Universes

PMU 199H1F | Section L0112
PMU 199H1S | Section L0112
                                                               

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 – R. Abraham & Winter – H. Neilson
Breadth category: 5 The Physical and Mathematical Universes

PMU 199H1F | Section L0161
PMU 199H1S | Section L0161

Computational thinking
Computational thinking supports problem solving across all disciplines. This seminar will introduce some of the key elements of computational thinking, including the following.
* Abstraction: identifying/defining the principles behind how things work, generalizing from instances, or parameterization. For example, you are in line at the airport and there are several check-in windows with lines of different lengths in front of them; which line do you join: the shortest one or the one that seems to move the fastest?
* Pattern recognition: observing patterns, trends, and regularities in data. For example, how would you summarize today's news in a few sentences? What about last year's news for a retrospective?
* Decomposition: breaking down data, processes, or problems into smaller manageable parts. For example, think of the game of "20 questions": how many questions would it take to be able to confidently guess any species on earth?
* Algorithm design: providing step by step solutions for solving a group of similar problems. For example, you are planning a road trip through every major city in a certain region: what is the shortest route possible to save on the cost of fuel? How would you figure it out?

We will explore each idea through examples from several different subject areas. The examples will be tuned to the specific group of students that attend the seminar. Moreover, students will have the opportunity to apply these ideas to sample problems from their subject areas as part of their coursework. By the end of the course, students will learn new ways of thinking about problems and how to solve them.

Instructor: A. Farzan, Computer Science
Breadth category: 5 The Physical and Mathematical Universes

PMU 199H1F | Section L0291

Mathematics in the News for Social Science Students
Mathematics has been key to many spectacular discoveries of our times. Mathematics is fundamental to creating and analyzing many of the models we use to understand the world around us and to invent new technologies. From managing business risk to designing medical diagnostic equipment, mathematics provides insights inaccessible by other means. This seminar will be a discussion of important advances as presented in popular journals and the internet.
Evaluation will be based on presentations, reports and tests.

Prerequisite: High school algebra, geometry and calculus.
Instructor: N.A. Derzko, Mathematics
Breadth category: 5 The Physical and Mathematical Universes

PMU 199H1F | Section L0341                                                               

Emergence in Nature
The universe is not a rigid clockwork, but neither is it formless and random. Instead, it is filled with highly organized, evolved structures that have somehow emerged from simple rules of physics. Examples range from the structure of galaxies to the pattern of ripples on windblown sand, to biological and even social processes. These phenomena exist in spite of the universal tendency towards disorder. How is this possible? Self-organization challenges the usual reductionistic scientific method, and begs the question of whether we can ever really understand or predict truly complex systems.

Instructor: V. Deyirmenjian, Physics
Breadth category: 5 The Physical and Mathematical Universes

PMU 199H1F | Section L0411                                                                     

Simulation: A Valuable Tool in Understanding Statistical Concepts (with TUTORIAL)
Applied statistics is often guided by theoretical results that hold exactly only for an infinite amount of data. Simulation can be used to determine how results from realistic small samples deviate from those expected based on asymptotic theory. The computer can create 100,000 or more analyses based on small sample sizes to verify the validity of various statistical analyses. This course also stresses the use of language in interpreting data. All SAS programs used to carry out simulations are given to the student.
Prerequisite: High school math, enjoying games is a plus.

Instructor: P. Corey, Statistical Sciences
Breadth category: 5 The Physical and Mathematical Universes.

PMU 199H1S: The Physical and Mathematical Universes (5): 2017 Winter Offerings

PMU 199H1S | Section L0111: Great Astronomical Issues - see above

PMU 199H1S | Section L0112: Astronomy at the Frontier - see above

PMU 199H1S | Section L0131                                                               

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.
Enthusiasm and interest in Physics and Mathematics is desirable.

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

PMU 199H1S | Section L0132                                                               

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 L0161: Computational Thinking - see above

PMU 199H1S | Section L0291                                                               

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

Magic and Mathematics
In this course we will look at magic tricks! Not just any magic trick, but ones that involve only Mathematics and maybe a flair for the presentation.
Some magic tricks involve only elementary Mathematics, others involve very deep Mathematics. In the discussions, we will talk about the tricks and the Mathematics behind them.
Students will be expected to participate in class, and to give a presentation in lecture

Instructor: B. Galvao-Sousa, Mathematics
Breadth category: 5 The Physical and Mathematical Universes

PMU 199H1S | Section L0293

Mathematics in the News for Humanities Students
Mathematics has been key to many spectacular discoveries of our times. Mathematics is fundamental to creating and analyzing many of the models we use to understand the world around us and to invent new technologies. From managing business risk to designing medical diagnostic equipment, mathematics provides insights inaccessible by other means. This seminar will be a discussion of important advances as presented in popular journals and the internet.
Evaluation will be based on presentations, reports and tests.

Prerequisite: High school algebra.
Instructor: N.A. Derzko, Mathematics
Breadth category: 5 The Physical and Mathematical Universes

PMU 199H1S | Section L0341                                                               

Modern Physics for the Curious
Have you wondered about the origin and workings of the natural world around us? Have you found physical science interesting but inaccessible because it was too full of math and jargon? Have you felt a pull to become more science-literate? If so this seminar course is for you -- or for anyone interested in understanding more about the universe, including our planet, seen through the lens of modern physics. Ideas on the menu will include: particle physics, space and time, relativity, black holes, quantum physics, unification of forces, string theory, and big bang cosmology. The intriguing story of these integrated phenomena unfolds over a wide distance and a long time. No prior experience with physical science will be required, but familiarity with Grade 10 mathematics will be assumed. Students from diverse academic backgrounds are warmly welcome.

Instructor: A. Peet, Physics
Breadth category: 5 The Physical and Mathematical Universes

PMU 199H1S | Section L5131                                                               

Chiral Drugs and Catalysts
Life without chirality is unimaginable. From the simplest forms of life to humans we all share the same basic chiral building blocks of life including amino acids, proteins, carbohydrates and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). Understanding the origin of life would not be complete without understanding homochirality of amino acids in life. This course will start with fundamental concepts of chirality and advance to origin of chirality in life and case studies of chiral drugs and chiral catalysts. Some examples of how chiral drugs and catalysts are prepared and how they work will be discussed.

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