January 02, 2005

Evans, Harold
[PHYS C1001] Physics for Poets I

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Definitely one of the best instructors I had this year. If you've ever wanted to understand (at a very basic level) the thinking behind, say, the special theory of relativity, but thought you lacked the mathematical training to approach it , Evans proves you wrong, by being incredibly patient in his fielding of questions and his knack for finding ways to visually illustrate the answers to those questions. (That patience manifests itself into a modesty that is truly refreshing; for example, when one student asked him how Aristotle responded to a possible flaw in his 'laws' of motion, Evans didn't hesitate to say 'The short answer is, I don't know.' and try to offer possible explanations. This is a guy who does proton-antiproton collision experiments at Fermilab and CERN admitting that he doesn't know the answer. Awesome.)

His lectures take a linear a-b-c approach, not just a tour of "hey, here's ANOTHER aspect of physics"; by the end of the first semester, you realize it's all been leading up to helping you understand the theories of relativity, step by step. Lectures really ARE necessary in this course, and you'll have to do a little extra work to get back on the path if you miss a few. Overall, though, if you have an interest in this topic, this approach is excellent.

In addition to the almost-novel-like lecture structure, another plus is his accessibility. I've come in outside of posted office hours to just ask a question about something I didn't perfectly understand, and he's completely accomodating, taking time to answer any question. Nice guy, great instructor.

Workload:

Just two midterms and a final, problem sets you don't have to hand in, and optional lab/paper...if you can do all the problem sets you shoud have no problems with the exams.