Physics 260-261 is a two-semester course in introductory physics taught at a sophisticated level; it is intended for students who plan on majoring in the physical sciences, mathematics, and philosophy with advanced training in physics and mathematics.
What makes Phys 260-261 innovative is the content. Every faculty member who teaches this course has designed and chosen topics according to his or her own field of study. By teaching the professor’s own scientific interests and passions, the goal is to show the students how exciting physics can be. For this reason, Phys 260-261 presents a different environment than the other intro courses. While the course will showcase some topics but not others, if the student has a genuine interest in physics, they will finish the semester eager to learn more. In fact many of the students taking Phys 260-261 engage in summer research projects based on what they studied in the course.
Professor Charles Baltay has taught Phys 260-261 over the past few years. He teaches an interesting blend of topics in physics, each discussed at depth with all the necessary mathematical framework. The first semester covers Mechanics and Lagrangian formalism, special relativity, and E&M fields. The second semester continues with E&M fields to light and quantum mechanics. At the end of the course, Prof. Baltay discusses the topics closest to his own research, unveiling the beauty of general relativity and cosmology.