Hiram College

FSEM 183: Quarks to Quasars: Making Sense of Modern Physics

Instructor: Mark Taylor

Office: Gerstacker 118
Phone: 569-5241
email:   taylormp@hiram.edu

Office Hours:

MTWF 1:00-6:00, Sun. 3:00-6:00 … or … just stop by.

Also, feel free to call me or send me email.

Meeting Times:

TR 9:40-11:40, Gerstacker 123


  1. “The Particle Odyssey” by Close, Martin, and Sutton  (2002)
  2. “Dark Side of the Universe” by Iain Nicolson (2007)
  3. “The Fabric of the Cosmos” by Brian Greene (2004)

Other short reading selections will be distributed throughout the course.

Writing Assistant: Shady Hamdallah (HamdallahSA@hiram.edu)

Sakai Site: https://sakai.hiram.edu/portal

Course Overview:

The frontiers of physics were dramatically extended in the twentieth century as experimentalist began to probe nature on both the subatomic and extragalactic scale.  Quantum mechanics and Einstein’s theory of general relativity set the stage for a new world view of the universe.  This new picture is summarized by two “standard models”, one of particle physics and one of cosmology.  Both of these models lie beyond our “standard” intuition as they include objects outside our direct experience (e.g., quarks and quasars).  In this course we will try to make sense of what these standard models are and what experimental evidence we have for them.  We will then explore the current attempts to go beyond these models, venturing into the hypothetical realm of strings, branes, and dark energy.  Beyond learning about some cool science, a goal of this course will be to examine how science really works. Our ultimate goal is to improve your writing.

PreClass Reading Questions:

Class 01 Class 07 Class 13 Class 19
Class 02 Class 08 Class 20
Class 03 Class 09 Class 15 Class 21
Class 04 Class 10 Class 16 Class 22
Class 05 Class 11 Class 17
Class 06 Class 12 Class 18

Links to pdf files:

Course Information & Syllabus Course Calendar


Paper #1 Short Writing Assignment #1
Paper #2 Short Writing Assignment #2
Paper #3 Short Writing Assignment #3
Paper #4