Out of order science?

General Questions is for questions with factual answers. IMHO is for opinions and polls. This thread is more opinion than fact. So I’ll move it to IMHO for you.

DrMatrix - GQ Moderator

Ok, I was just kidding about the freshman thing…sort of.

In Texas, there actually IS a freshman level physics class. It is called IPC (Integrated Physics and Chemistry–formerly known as Physical Science). It’s a semester of basic physics and chemistry concepts. In my opinion, this CAN be a very useful class, but the fact is that it is now largely treated as a throw-away class, or a place to put only very low-performing students who will likely not take chemistry or physics. Students who are “on track” may not take IPC at all. One problem is that many colleges don’t recognize IPC when counting science credits for applicants, so it is more advantageous for most kids to take the standard Bio, Chem, Physics and then maybe an elective science (A&P, Bio2, Chem2, Phys2)

When things are broken they are called “Out of Order”, so when they are fixed why are they not called “Out of Chaos”?

You may well be correct; my knowledge of physics is pretty darned good, while my knowledge of chem and bio are less so. Basically, what I know of chem and bio require virtually no math, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the basics of chem and bio are less math intensive than the basics of physics; I just may not know the basics of chem and bio that well. (To be fair, though, I took a community college chem course that involved precious little math, and also a community college physics course that involved lots of calculus.)

Can you give some examples of chem and bio topics that are on the same level as something like basic kinematics (ie, just as simple, and just as fundamental) that require a comparable level of math (ie, basic calculus) to achieve a good understanding?

Even US students can learn physics in middle school (about ages 12-14), as this critique of middle school physic texts suggests: http://www.physicstoday.org/vol-56/iss-5/p50.html

I do know some biology, chemistry and physics. All three can be taught with essentially no mathematics at all - our colleges abound with “Physics for Poets” classes that require less math than most high school physics courses. Our colleges also abound with “Physics for Biologists” classes, which do not rely on calculus and use math of no greater sophistication than biologists see in other courses.

I have read a few of Leon Lederman’s “call-to-arms”. IIRC, his main points are that biology and chemistry students could get more out of their classes, if they had physics first, and that most students find mathematics easier to learn if it is taught concurrently with “real world examples”, which physics naturally provides.

Think about it. How much from your biology class transferred to your physics class? None? Of course, if you just used the same books in reverse order, very little physics would transfer to your biology class. It has little to do with which science is “more fundemental”. Describing a organism’s physical environment is helped considerably by understanding physics. And, of course, physics and mathematics are excellent ways to teach logic.

Right or wrong, Lederman makes good points. But you’re not going to resolve this here!

Never heard of emergent systems, have you?

How much physics did I use in biology? So little that what I had formally studied was essentially irrelevant.

What biology did you take?