Physical/Life Science Exploration
Portable electronics, especially smartphones, are arguably the technologies that have had the greatest impact on the life and experience of individuals and society in the 21st century. Introduced only about 15 years ago, these devices cram some of human kind’s most advanced materials, electronics, electromagnetics, sensors, communications, signal processing, computing, and imaging technologies into packages so small as to be nearly unimaginable even 20 years ago. When combined with ubiquitous internet supplied by cellular and wi-fi data connections, they have helped to reshape how individuals spend their time and attention, how education, medicine, banking, and business are carried out, and overall, how societies function. This course uses these ubiquitous devices as a launching point for student-led explorations into the science, technology and engineering of smart mobile devices as well as how they are affecting societies in the US and internationally in terms of issues like material resources, sustainability, ethics and social justice. This course will also develop skills and habits of applying quantification and comparison to develop perspective on and make decisions about complex societal questions. We will use 5G and 6G technologies as examples, but these skills apply to other complex issues as well.