PS11 Course Description

Physical Sciences 11: Frontiers and Foundations of Modern Chemistry: A Molecular and Global Perspective

Harvard College/GSAS: 24022
Spring 2011-2012
Meeting Time: M., W., F., at 10 and a weekly section and lab to be arranged.
Instructors: James G. Anderson and Gregory C. Tucci

Course Description

Current university graduates face coming to terms with a number of questions: What technical forces are shaping the modern world? Where are the frontiers of innovation and what implications do those advances hold for professional endeavors, not just in technology, but also in international economics, government, ethics, public health, law and education. Revolutionary developments in the union of chemistry and physics hold the key to solving unprecedented problems at the intersection of science, technology, and an array of rapidly emerging global scale challenges. Each section of the course is initiated by a Framework that sets the context and the imperative in place before presenting the concepts that form the molecular and global scale understanding of the following:

Course Content

  1. Energy: Conceptual Foundations and Governing Transformations 
  2. Atomic and Molecular Structure: Energy From Chemical Bonds 
  3. Thermochemistry: Development of the First Law of Thermodynamics 
  4. Entropy, Free Energy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics 
  5. Equilibria and Free Energy 
  6. Acid-Base Control of Life Systems 
  7. Electrochemistry 
  8. Quantum Mechanics, Wave-Particle Duality and the Single Electron Atom 
  9. Quantum Mechanics of Multi-Electron Systems 
  10. Theories of Molecular Bonding I: Valence and Shared Electron Structures 
  11. Theories of Molecular Bonding II: Quantum Mechanically Based Theories 
  12. Kinetics and Photochemistry 
  13. Structure, Properties and Technology of Materials 
  14. Nuclear Chemistry

Following the section core, Case Studies are presented that are designed to develop quantitative reasoning on the one hand, and a through grasp of energy at the global and molecular level on the other. The depth of the development of both the context and the scientific principles are gauged to provide the student with the preparation needed to compete successfully today and in the future in the international scientific and societal arena.