January 25, 2010

Miller, Amber
[PHYS C1001] Physics for Poets I

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

No. Don't do it!

This course title is misleading and you will be pissed when you sit in the class on the first day and have the professor remind you of that fact. It's for non-science majors, yes. But Physics for Poets sounds cool and the title holds the promise of a certain whimsical, imaginative, mysterious, beautiful and metaphysical foray into the way things work in nature and in space. Uh, No. However, you will feel motivated to write poems in this class, since the constant daydreaming you will do makes for great poetry writing. You should pay a little attention, though, because some of what you're ignoring is gonna be on your homework assignment and you can't submit a poem. If you have to take this class, go to every session our lovely TA Robert conducts and he will give you all the answers you need and he'll even repeat them for you if you had been writing a poem or haiku while he was lecturing on the topic the first time.

The assignments took a lot of time for many of us, maybe those of us less disciplined poets who yearned for metaphors and analogical thinking to help our tender souls make sense of the profundity of nature and the cosmos as it was presented so unimaginatively on those dang power point slides. And the door always had this moaning whooshing sound when closed. Frightened air was trying to blast its way in or out, always a panicked air blowing through that door...

Sometimes when we just sat there looking at Professor Miller with our blank faces, she would say "You guys look tired. Well, how do you think I feel? I have to TEACH this class...". And she was serious. She was mostly serious and rigid when conducting class. When speaking to her face to face, she was kind and very helpful and her pleasant twinkly eyes and a perfect professional crispness didn't seem so harsh up close. She just doesn't seem happy teaching, it certainly isn't her strong suit. And it's obvious to everyone, herself included. So why does she teach this class? Why should Columbia students -- or ANY students for that matter, have to settle for unenthusiastic teachers?

The worst part was the haphazard organization of the course. It was a mess. Miller jumped back and forth through chapters and it was hard to know if you should have known the stuff presented in the chapter before. There's a deadline for grade gripes but somehow, every time I realized a TA had improperly deducted from my answer I realized that my beef was toast since the deadline for said beef had already passed. You should know that your homework gets whisked up into the hands of TAs who NEVER return your homework. It took for. ever. to get my homework back.

Everyone was pretty humiliated after the first midterm was returned. You must take a second midterm and she takes the lower grade of the two. And after the second midterm, still there were some grumbling and 'fuck this' faces. She drops two of your lowest homework grades but that doesn't matter because the final was long and sometimes hard and people were sweating and sighing.

I got a B. Ode to a feakin' B. Others were secretive about their grades so they may have done the same or worse. Or better since they may have been sensitive poets and didn't want to hurt me.

HAIKU

Einstein curved space time
relativity was real
Newton didn't know

Workload:

24 lectures.11 homework assignments. 2 midterms. 1 final exam.