Most of the presentation slides here are from lectures given at various SFI schools.  Where possible talks are selected which have been given over a span of years, and have been modified in response to student feedback.  Links to video presentations will be added in cases where these are available.  Unfortunately, because slides are primarily intended as queues, they are often too cryptic to be of more than limited use on their own.

The textbook chapters indexed here were composed between about 1989 and 1997, in support of an introductory course on modern physics for liberal arts majors offered by Austin Gleeson at the University of Texas at Austin.  They address several concepts that are core to the structure of physics of the 20th century, but give most space to concepts needed to understand relativity (special and general) and quantum mechanics.  The presentation of relativity overlaps (sometimes in rather close detail) with the excellent introductory text of Taylor and Wheeler, though that work was not used or even known as the chapters were first composed.  For readers who want a more thorough development of general relativity in a similar geometric style of presentation, the quirky but deceptively sophisticated and subtle book by Wheeler in the Scientific American series may be of interest.  For quantum mechanics, Feynman’s small popular book QED gives a more extensive and pedagogical discussion of the sum-over-paths approach, but does not pursue some of the other connections to ordinary and relativistic mechanics developed here.  The treatment of dimensional analysis in these chapters is fuller and more explicit than is common in general introductions, and a dedicated treatment in popular form is hard to provide.  However, J.A. Paulos’s excellent little book Innumeracy does treat dimensions and scaling, and is a good introduction to quantitative thinking in general.


SFI Complex Systems Summer Schools