Colgate University

First-Year Course Offerings — Fall 2022

CORE S194   Electrons and Our Civilization
RestrictionsNo 2024 2023
Core AreaScientific Perspectives

Since the early civilizations, phenomena associated with electric charges in various forms such as the lightning in the sky, static electricity, and northern lights have inspired human minds. However, it was only after the development of the modern scientific methods in the 16th and 17th century that the major discoveries related to electric charges and their flow was understood, which eventually led to the discovery of electrons in the 19th century. Those discoveries spurred humanity's quest to control the flow of electric charges for their own good. With electrons, humans created light without fire, were able to send long-distance messages, and developed computing devices. Within a span of about two hundred years after the first modern inventions associated with electrons, human civilization has completely been transformed. Structured around lectures, discussions, demonstrations, readings, and research assignments, students learn about the human endeavor to understand electrons and how that understanding has shaped our civilization. Following the historical timeline of major discoveries associated with electricity & magnetism, students learn about the process of scientific discoveries and the development of electronics through the stories of individuals behind major discoveries in the context of contemporary sociocultural structures. Furthermore, students learn about the ongoing impact of electronics beyond the consumer market and contemplate the future of electronics and hence, the future of human civilization.