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Senior Seminars

The physics group offers senior seminars on a variety of topics. Here are some examples of past seminars.

Renewable Energy and Global Sustainability

The course explores the history of the generation and consumption of energy around the world over the last two centuries, touching on technological, societal, and political developments, as well as explores different scenarios for the coming twenty years with respect to global sustainability. The class includes several field trips to sites around campus and town.


Energy from rotten pineapples: field trip to the digester

Gender in the Physical Sciences

It's tough to identify gender bias. In real-life typically the most we can do is identify differences in outcomes – and those differences are stark. Women on average make less money, work jobs with less prestige, and participate in science differently. In this course we are going to examine the complex relationships between gender, race, and science. Our examination will highlight the theories of gender, implicit biases in gender and race, and the social structures of the sciences. The course will ask us to engage with efforts in education to address gender inequities. Students in this course will engage in critical thinking and discussions of primary source work in the sciences, social studies of science, and theories of feminism.

The History of Computing

The class is going through the history of computing starting with Babbage. The class incorporated programming of arcade games with VPython, hardware assembly from outdated computer components, a visit to the Computer Center to learn about MSU's history in computing, a visit by an expert in early hardware, and role-play on Internet networking and search protocols.

Crawling the web: the inner workings of a search engine

The Modern Physics Revolution

Planck, Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, Schrödinger, Pauli, ...between 1905 and 1945, physics saw the beginnings of both relativity and quantum mechanics. The course explores the physics, personalities, and environments of this modern physics revolution.

Mission to Mars

The course explores the history and future of human space flight with a particular focus on possible missions to Mars, a proposed next step.

Class interview with Mary Roach, author of Packing for Mars