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Life in the Universe & The Laws of Physics

We are no longer admitting high school students to the 2018 Summer Session.

This course treats our current understanding of the role that the laws of physics play in the development, existence, persistence, and prevalence of life in the universe. Starting with the big bang theory, we will explore how the laws of physics guided the evolution of the universe through the processes most likely to have produced life on earth as it exists today. We will then consider what the laws of physics have to say about life elsewhere in the universe, including an analysis of the prospects for life on other bodies in the solar system, especially Mars, and the physics behind the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and the feasibility of human interstellar and intergalactic spaceflight. Through discussion- and group-based learning as well as laboratory exercises, we will study fundamental interactions and the early universe; nuclear, atomic, and molecular structure; Newton's laws and the formation of stars, galaxies, and planetary systems; thermonuclear fusion in stars; the physical origin of the chemical elements; the laws of electricity and magnetism and electromagnetic radiation; the laws of thermodynamics, atmospheric physics, and physical processes on primordial earth; optics and electromagnetic communication; rocket propulsion and advanced propulsion systems; and the theories of special and general relativity,  quantum physics, complexity, and emergence.  

Course Code

PHYS 11000




High School Students



Class Day(s)

Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri

Class Start Time


Class End Time


Primary Instructor

David Reid


Session I

Orientation Date(s)

Start Date

End Date


  • Students who apply will be admitted using rolling admission and require a $50 application fee.
  • The Summer Session application deadline is May 1, 2018. Students may apply after this deadline, but will be required to pay an additional $100 rush processing fee.
  • For all courses still open, international students must submit all application materials before April 9.
  • For domestic students, rolling admissions will typically close by early May; this may be earlier for specific programs that fill.

Additional Details

  • This course is open to high school students only. PQ: students should have a solid understanding of high - school algebra and trigonometry

Cost & Aid

Total Cost (includes Tuition, Housing and Dining, and Fees): $6,500.

Complete Cost & Aid Information (including housing and other fees) for high school students can be found here.
Complete Cost & Aid Information (including housing and other fees) for undergraduates can be found here.