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Christopher Root

PHYS 1010 Schaffer


E-Portfolio Reflective Writing
2016-11-17

A Return to Physics
As a high school student over a decade and a half-ago, I was involved a
number of advanced physics courses, including two years of AP courses. I never felt
like I fully understood the material and often found myself memorizing formulas and
trying to deduce answers, not through logic and common sense but rather through
knowing different units of measurement and plugging in numbers. The reason I took
this course, outside of being a General Education requirement, was to fill the
knowledge gap that caused a fundamental lack of understanding toward the science
of physics. This course gave me the opportunity to take a conceptual view and try
to actually understand the interactions, and the basic philosophy behind it is that if
more people understand the basics then they will have a deeper interest in
progressing further. I truly wish I had taken this course before being thrust into
formula memorization because I have always found the subject matter fascinating.
The signature project was broken into four sections, including identifying
properties of stars within constellation Lyra, analysis of Einsteins famous equation
on relativity and energy, focus on a law or principle of physics (of which I chose
Newtons iconic Third Law (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction),
and learning about the Rare Earth Hypothesis. While each section was interesting
and informative, the Rare Earth Hypothesis was definitely the most interesting to

me, and the science of extraterrestrial life has always been a fascinating subject to
me.
The most challenging section to me was analysis of Einsteins theory of
relativity. While it seems simple enough on the surface, the underlying concept goes
to the edge of human understanding and questions posed related to negative mass,
energy, were things I had never considered previously. Everyone knows E=mc^2
but I have never been asked to define, identify, and actually understand what it
means. I was struck by the fact that this widely known equation is not understood
by such a large number of the population, and that the possibilities if this
knowledge were more commonplace are boundless.
Ive always had more than a little interest in science, both physical and
biological. As I have said previously, I was looking forward to a semester where I
could take this course. I would have to say that it has increased my interest in
Physics and given me a better, more conceptual understanding of the physical
world around me, and in particular, the famous intellectuals who have changed the
course of human history in a fraction of our existence.
As far as learning outcomes are concerned in relation to SLCC, I would say
this course contributed greatly to my ability to think critically and creatively. The
demonstrations which forced you to analyze the physical nature of objects, such as
balls rolling down hills, gravitational effects on different masses, and rotational
inertia forced me to analyze from a creative perspective, attempting to eliminate
preconceived notions and use logic through numbers and common sense. One of
the most interesting exercises throughout the assignment mastery was ordering,
usually greatest to least. Ordering objects based on acceleration from different

heights, different masses at different angles that are seen in regular everyday life
but often overlooked for their simplicity. It honestly should fascinate everyone that
all the interactions of life and the physical world can be described using a very small
number of very simple equations. The fact that we can describe the nature of the
universe with these equations is mind-boggling.
While my career and future lies in information technology, the field of physics
directly impacts advancements there as well. To have a better understanding of the
quantum aspects of electromagnetism to the conduction of metal and interactions
between particles allows a different perspective on my entire field. We plug in
computers and expect them to work, but generations of individuals have spent
entire lifetimes perfecting the technology discovered through these simple
equations and after taking this course, it seems highly unlikely to think that further
discoveries and breakthroughs will not occur. Those resistant to that type of
discover will surely fail as did those who ignored the brilliant minds before us in
holding on to traditional thoughts that were proven incorrect.