- Enable students to discern how physics connects with broader developments in science, culture and society
- Enable students to discern the implicit philosophy of physics in terms of its impact on and interaction with Zeitgeist and worldview
- Enable students to assess the societal role and responsibility of physicists
Physics as a discipline has had a profound role by shaping the way we understand the world, not only as a discipline in itself, but also in its ‘transformative’ role. During the past decades, we have witnessed a scientific revolution: an irreversible transformation (paradigm shift) in the way in which scientific knowledge is produced, ranging from astrophysics up to the molecular life sciences.
In this process, physicists have played a significant transformative role, also in other areas of research, such as the life sciences (where significant contributions have been made by physicists such as Delbrück, Schrödinger, Wilkins, Crick etc.) , from the discovery of the structure of DNA up to the sequencing of the human genome and the envisioned construction of a synthetic cell. They have changed biology as a research field, for instance via the role of big tools and computational methods, and transformed it into an information science.
But physics has played a transformative role in other recent transdisciplinary developments as well such as nanotechnology, new materials and neuroscience. The ‘physical worldview’ has played a key role in the way the worldviews of other disciplines have evolved. But this exposure to other realms of research has affected physics as well. In this course we will investigate this transformative role on the basis of a number of case studies.