Unit Coordinator

Assignments Essays
1x 2hour Lecture and
1x1 hour tutorial
Credit Points: 6

Course Content
This unit of study examines the genesis of 'modern' physics in the late 19th and 20th century, primarily the rise of relativity theory and quantum physics, with Albert Einstein as a central figure. These sub-disciplines have not only changed physics itself, but have also been deeply influential for the development of the philosophy of science. We will investigate the history of modern physics in its broader historical context leading up to the development of the atomic and hydrogen bombs, and the philosophical responses to questions raised by modern physics regarding the status of scientific descriptions of reality, the nature of space and time, and causality.

Key questions include:

  • What makes the modern physical sciences 'modern'?
  • What can physics tell us about reality?
  • What has the role of physics been in the twentieth century, and what does it mean to write the history of the physical sciences?