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# Term Project for PH315

#### Create a rich-context homework question

PH315 includes many examples of “rich-context” homework questions. For the term project, you will create your own (both the question, and a model answer). You will be practicing an important skill: how to pose a tractable quantitative question that leads to interesting insights.

Here is an analogy to describe the spirit of this assignment: In the 1700s, European explorers navigated the open seas using simple observations and mathematical calculations. Today, you can still explore the “unknown” (areas of knowledge that are new to you) with simple observations and quantitative reasoning/calculations.

I’m giving you freedom to choose your own topic. Look for a subject that you find especially interesting/intriguing. Within that subject, look for questions where a quantitative result can give important insight. Think broadly about topics: many topics that you encounter outside of the physics classroom are full of interesting physics. Please talk with the instructor about your ideas for a topic.

This is a multi-step, multi-week project. There will be many opportunities to get feedback from the instructor. The main steps are (1) Propose some possible topics and questions. (2) Receive feedback. (3) Write a draft of the question and answer. (4) Receive feedback. (5) Write a revised version of the question and model answer and submit a final portfolio. The final portfolio will show how your project developed, i.e. steps (1) through (5) will be included in the final portfolio.

Once you have completed this project, your question should be posed in a way that is accessible to a well prepared PH315 student. Your model answer should be written in a style similar to a physics text book, explaining your logical steps so that a PH315 student can clearly understand how you constructed your solution.

#### Due dates

To be determined.

#### Example topics:

The physics of…

• Wave energy on the Oregon coast.
• Freeman Dyson's idea for nuclear-blast-powered space travel (project Orion)
• Why some gas molecules are 100 times “more potent” as greenhouse gases
• Third-generation nuclear reactors that are “fail-safe”, for example, the reactors made by NuScale power in Corvallis.
• Using a particle accelerator to drive specific nuclear reactions, thereby solving many of the issues with conventional nuclear reactors, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_amplifier
• Creative solutions to the nuclear waste storage conundrum
• A number of private companies are working on their own fusion reactors, using innovative technology (Physics Today 2018)
• Extracting power from temperature differences in the ocean (Scientific American, January 1987)
• Can medical x-rays be performed with less radiation exposure (are we close to the fundamental limit)?
• Passive cooling below ambient air temperature under direct sunlight (Nature 2014)
• How much time, energy and money does it take to capture 1 ton of carbon dioxide from the air (if we used technology rather than trees) (Nature 2018, Joule 2018)
• Space elevators - why we care and what is needed to build one, Physic World 2011, Nature Nano 2017, American Journal of Physics
• Oil pipelines - for example, pumping oil (and keeping it warm) along the 800 mile Alaska pipeline?
• Comparing the efficiency of photovoltaics to photosynthesis, article in Science magazine.
• Lasers with continuous-wave output power greater than 10 kW might be possible?
• Energy rate associated with the data communication for streaming video (fiber optic attenuation 0.3 dB/km, a few picoJoules used every time one bit of information is received and or amplified Ref).

Term projects from previous years (these links take you to old assignments that are not being used this year).