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Natural Philosophy: A Survey of Physics and Western Thought

David W. Snoke

Third Printing. Access Research Network, (softbound edition), 532 pp., 2003

Item# B072
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ISBN 1-931796-25-4

Intended Audience: Homeschool, Private School, Ages 15 to Adult

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Dr. David Snoke is an Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh. Several years ago he was asked by a homeschool group to teach a physics course for high schoolers. What started as a single class has developed into a new high school textbook and a new integrated approach to teaching physics.

This book is intended for a single year-long course of high school physics or an introductory course of college physics. It presents an overview of the entire subject of physics. This book is not just another version of the standard introductory physics text; it is an entirely new approach to physics. Some educators will find it surprising that the book leaves out, or treats in very brief fashion, several topics that are covered extensively in typical physics books, such as inclined planes, springs, etc. The reason is there are two kinds of physics courses. One type of course answers the question, "What introductory material should an engineer or science major in college study?" A second type of course answers the question, "What should every educated person know about physics, assuming that he or she never studies physics again?" This course is designed to answer the second question. As such, it spends a large fraction of the time on modern physics, the types of questions that modern physicists actually think about.

Some educators will find it surprising that many fairly advanced topics of philosophy and Christian theology are included in this course. Is this appropriate for high school or college students? Absolutely. Why should students be experts in machinery and equations and unlearned in related philosophical and theological questions? Historically, physics and philosophy have interacted strongly, under the name Natural Philosophy, hence the title of this book.

This book is not necessarily only for high school students. If you have already studied physics but never thought about the philosophical and theological issues involved, this book is for you. The interaction of the Bible and science has been a central ingredient of the development of natural philosophy in the Western world, and this interaction still affects the politics of science and education in the United States today. Knowing what the Bible says, and does not say, is essential for understanding this debate. A warning: what makes philosophy interesting is the controversies. Dealing with controversial matter, however, means taking positions that some people will not like. Instead of shying away from these issues, the student is encouraged to study the issues further. Wisdom comes from taking the time to understand controversial issues, not avoiding them.

About the Author
Dr. David Snoke received his Bachelor's degree in physics (magna cum laude) from Cornell University in 1983 and his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1990. He is presently Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh, where he has been since 1994. Before that, he was an Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Physics in Stuttgart, Germany, and worked in industry at various times for the Westinghouse Research and Development Center in Pittsburgh and the Aerospace Corporation in Los Angeles. He has published two books with Cambridge University Press on the physics of Bose-Einstein Condensation, and he has published over 100 articles in refereed scientific journals on his research on the optics of semiconductors and other materials. He is director of the Photonics program at the University of Pittsburgh and directs a laser laboratory funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. He has released a new textbook for Addison-Wesley on general solid state physics theory titled Solid State Physics: Essential Concepts (available on Amazon), and also has a book out with Baker Books titled A Biblical Case for an Old Earth. David Snoke is also a licensed preacher and an elder in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), and has published several articles and a short book on the relationship of science and faith. He and his wife have homeschooled their four children for the past 14 years and are active in the Pittsburgh East Area Christian Homeschoolers (PEACH), their local homeschool support group. Natural Philosophy: A Survey Of Physics and Western Thought was developed from materials originally used in a physics class taught for that group.

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