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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

E. Norval Fortson
PHYS 214
Seattle Campus

Light and Color

Compares past explanation of certain familiar natural phenomena with present understandings. Lamps and lighting, outdoor light, optical devices, color vision, perspective, paints, and pigments. Quantitative comparison critical to the course, but college-level mathematics background not required. Intended for non-science students.

Class description

Modern scientific understanding of color, cameras, the eye, paints, polarized light, and what light and color tell us about atoms, stars, and the universe.

Student learning goals

Nature of light and color

The eye and color vision

Combining colors

Lenses and images: cameras, microscopes, and telescopes

The physical world revealed by light and color, from atoms to the expansion of the universe.

General method of instruction

Three lectures per week, one discussion hour, and one workshop hour in small groups. Workshops will deal with color mixing, lenses, shadows, reflections, polarization, images, illusions, lasers.

Recommended preparation

Basic high school mathematics will be helpful (ratios, triangles, etc). College level mathematics background is not required. Previous college level physics courses are not required.

Class assignments and grading

A weekly homework assignment will include problems and observations. A term project will be due at end of quarter.

Grades will be based on the homework, two mid-term exams, term project, workshop, and discussion participation.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by E. Norval Fortson
Date: 05/10/2010