Associate Professor of Physics
One of his main goals at Hampshire is to create laboratory programs in the physical sciences and sustainable technology to help all students, regardless of their course of study, with their increasingly probable collision with technological obstacles.
Professor Wirth is an active member of the Environmental Studies and Sustainability Program (ESSP) and is happy to supervise projects exploring the design and adaptation of technologies to lessen their impact on the environment. He is also a committed and experienced practitioner of meditation who periodically offers instruction in this discipline.
Physics II is a calculus-based physics course that covers thermodynamics, statistical mechanics and electromagnetism at a basic level. Project-like labs look at the thermodynamics of Nitinol, building circuits with operational amplifiers and measuring environmental electric fields.
Even if we have answers for the basic questions raised by the problem of sustainability, there are still many approaches to determining a proper course of action. The viewpoints of LCA, the "ecological footprint," and "Natural Capitalism" each provide a standard against which to measure any particular program of change or development. We are presently challenged to make policy judgments of vital importance, to develop technologies and systems that increase sustainability, and to design and present these things in ways that ensure widespread adoption. In this course we will employ several case studies to examine these difficult issues. Emphasis will be placed on understanding underlying scientific principles, evaluating evidence available from the technical and scientific literature, and developing innovative approaches and solutions.
The structures and systems of the Hampshire campus have both obvious and subtle effects on our lives as individuals and as a community. In addition, their design, construction, functioning, maintenance and eventual disposal have long-term effects on the environment and the local and global ecology. We will use these systems to examine a number of ways in which technological decisions can be evaluated in a larger context, and, in so doing, develop tools for evaluating proposals for "greening" our campus. Students will work problem sets, write two papers, read and present original literature to the class, and develop original projects in fields of interest. Evaluations will be based on class participation, problem sets and papers, class presentations and a report on the final project.
The beginning of a three-semester sequence in Physics, this course will concentrate mainly on mechanics with applications to astronomy. Topics will include kinematics and dynamics in one and two dimensions, planetary motion, conservation of energy and momentum, rigid bodies and rotation, and relativity. The course is calculus based and makes heavy use of computer modeling to develop realistic examples. It is highly recommended that students take calculus in the same semester that they begin this course. Weekly laboratory/field work is required. The labs are grouped into three major projects. Evaluations will be based on class participation, problem sets, and laboratory project reports. Co-requisite: Calculus I.
All facets of musical performance, the production of sound, its transmission and alteration by the performance space, and its perception by members of the audience, are candidates for study in acoustics. In this course we will develop the physics of vibrating systems and wave propagation and study the measurement of sound. Topics will include: vibrating systems, wave motion, wave analysis, resonance, room acoustics, and the application of these principles to various classes of instruments. There will be weekly problem sets and a class presentation by each student on a topic of interest. A weekly lab will allow students to investigate various acoustical systems and measuring devices. Students will perform simple experiments, learn to operate the lab equipment, and read papers from the original literature. Students will develop an independent project in musical acoustics. Students will present the results of their large project to the class near the end of the semester.
This course is an introduction to fundamental principles of optics as applied to image formation and holography. Each student will have a chance to produce two white-light visible holograms in our lab, as well as to undertake an individual project dealing with three dimensional image reproduction, holography, or more broadly defined optical phenomena. Topics will include geometric and physical optics, the nature and propagation of light, vision and color, photography, digital imaging, the Fourier transform and holography. Aesthetic considerations will be part of the course as well. Class will meet for one hour and twenty minutes twice a week, plus a lab of at least three hours for experimental investigations and holographic imaging. Projects will likely require more laboratory time. Advanced students wishing to help in the labs and pursue independent work should speak with the instructor.