Making the Bomb
We will begin by reading Making the Bomb, by Richard Rhodes. We will
then read another book or two, and/or some articles. The direction we go
depends on the interests of the class and the themes that emerge during
our discussion of Rhodes' book.
I have three main goals for this course:
- I want you to learn some of the history behind the Manhattan
Project, including a qualitative understanding of some physics and
- I want you to gain experience thinking critically about science
- I want you to gain a greater understanding of how the "institution"
of science "works".
Your evaluation will be based on the following:
I will assign grades (for those who so opt) by following the guidelines
on page 8
of the COA Course Catalog. I do not have any quota of A's, B's, etc.
- Class Participation: 30 percent.
- Journal and Related Exercises: 30 percent.
- Final Project: 40 percent.
I will expect you to keep a journal throughout the course.
- You should write 2 (or more) entries per week. Each entry should
be at least one page.
- You may write informally. I don't care about grammar or spelling
or syntax (within reason). I'm mainly interested in witnessing you
thinking and engaging the material.
- I will collect journals periodically.
- You may keep the "journal" electronically if you wish.
- I may occasionally assign or suggest certain topics to write on.
- By the end of the first week, you should form study groups of
4 people each.
- These groups should meet at least one time a week for around an
- Groups will be asked to bring ideas and questions to class.
- Can take many forms -- need not be a paper.
- Should be on some topic that's interesting to you.
- Must be more than a "book report." You should do some analysis
and/or consult primary sources.
- I'll have a list of possible ideas for projects up on the
course web site by the beginning of week 2.
- Can be done collaboratively.
- A rough draft is due by the end of week 7.
Other Policies and Stuff
- This course does not fulfill the QR requirement. It does satisfy the
- The final version of the syllabus will be on the course webpage.
- All course work must be completed by the end of the term. I will
not grant an incomplete except in extreme circumstances.
- I expect you to attend class and study group meetings.
- We will see at least two films. These may require evening attendance.
- We may need to schedule a few extra classes during the last two
weeks of the term.
- Academic misconduct -- cheating, plagarizing, etc. -- is bad. Any cases
of academic misconduct will result in a judicial hearing, as per
pp. 14-15 of the COA handbook. Possible consequences range from
failure of the assignment to expulsion. For more, see the revised statement on academic
integrity passed by the faculty last winter.
[ Dave ]
the Bomb ]
[ COA ]
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