Investigations in Theoretical and Experimental Physics

Open to students entering grades 11 or 12 or freshman year of college in the fall
I - June 29–July 17, 2020
Days & Time:
Monday-Friday, 10:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m. and 1:30–4:00 p.m.
Timothy Halpin-Healy

A year of physics required, as well as some familiarity with basic derivatives and  integrals; most importantly, a desire to see more advanced mathematics in action.

“Some of the experiments I’ve done were unforgettable, and I learnt patience, precision, and cooperation." – Zixin Z. | Shanghai, China

Course Description

In this challenging course, students join members of Columbia's Physics Department for explorations of contemporary physical theories and for work on experiments in the university laboratories.

Morning lectures introduce participants to the fundamentals of classical mechanics, waves, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, relativity, and nuclear and elementary particle physics. New mathematical concepts are presented in detail. Afternoon laboratory work focuses on experiments and computer simulations in both classical and modern physics.

Please note that, because the meeting times for this course overlap with the midday activities schedule, participants are not able to take part in midday extracurricular activities. Further, the morning lectures occasionally meet for an extra fifteen minutes so as to accommodate student questions.


Timothy Halpin-Healy

Tim Halpin-Healy received his doctorate in physics from Harvard University in 1987, following an A.B. from Princeton University in 1981. He’s been a research fellow at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences; Cambridge University, England; as well as the Departement de Physique, Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris. He is currently Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Physics at Barnard College, Columbia University. His scientific research concerns the dynamics of complexity, where the competing effects of order and disorder delicately balance, producing some of nature’s most beautiful pattern formation phenomena. The technical tools of his trade involve quantum field theory, the renormalization group, fractals and chaos.

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Specific course detail such as hours and instructors are subject to change at the discretion of the University. Not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course.