Energy Materials and the Environment
Course #: 01:090:265:01

Meeting day & time: Mondays  11:30-2:30PM

NOTICE: the first lecture will take place on Monday September 14th

Location: Brett Hall Seminar Room - College Avenue Campus

                                          Instructor: Prof Gabriel Kotliar


The energy  problem is an interdisciplinary   many-facet problem involving

 Earth Science, Physics, Chemistry, Economics, Political Science, Materials Science and Public Policy  

If you have any enquiries about this seminar class   contact me via email  at 

Office hours:   Contact me by email to set a time


Grades will be determined on the basis of  1) take home assignments  2) participation in class  3) student’s presentations

No Finals. No Midterm. Lunch will be provided to facilitate informal discussion.

The Students are expected to abide by the code of honor and have signed

the Rutgers Integrity Pledge.


Course Description:
Will we run out of energy in the next century?  How  will nations
deal with  the increasing competition for scarce  natural
resources ? As  the world standard of living and the energy
consumption per capita increases can we avoid  destroying our own
habitat ? Is there a  technologically viable solution to the
current energy crisis  or is the  survival  of our  human species
dependent on technological breakthroughs that have not yet  taken
place?  How should we prioritize the use of scarce resources ?
We really do not know the full answers to  these pressing
questions but  we can learn  about  the physical ideas connected
to the field of energy,  and we can  discuss the constraints
imposed by the laws of physics  when addressing  these questions.

In this seminar we will look at these questions from a broad interdisciplinary
perspective. The course  will start by asking the  question of what is energy . It will  then describe the different
forms that energy can take, such as nuclear, solar, chemical,
electrical, chemical and mechanical. We will discuss  the issue
of conversion between the different forms energy, how efficient
can  this energy conversion be,    and what are  the effects that
energy conversion has on the environment. The physics that relate
to these  topics will be presented at an  elementary level.
It should be  suitable for a motivated  non-science major with a
good high school science education.

The goal of the course is to learn about the topic of energy and  elicit
discussions about the current options that  we have, as a society,
to deal with   the sustainability crisis. These topics involve  energy, climate, water, food, national security,

and a  basic scientific understanding of the underlying science   is  prerequisite

for addressing them. The aim of the course will be to develop critical thinking, quantitative thinking,

and the ability to carry out qualitative analysis of complex problems from a broad systems perspective,

using these important topics as motivation.

About the lecturer:


Gabriel Kotliar  is a theoretical physicist  with interests in materials

science. He is currently a   Board of Governors Professor at Rutgers University.

Kotliar received  the 2006 Agilent Technologies Europhysics Prize for his

work on strongly correlated electron materials.

He was  also  a  recipient of a  Presidential Young Investigator,

a Guggenheim and a Sloan fellowship. He is actively engaged in  basic research

in theoretical physics and education, two activities which are   key for the future of society.


His research interests are in the theory of materials. The goal in this area

of research is   to develop the concepts,  methodologies, algorithms and

computer programs to understand and predict the properties of complex

materials. Particularly interesting materials are the strongly correlated

electron systems (materials which have extraordinary properties due

to the strong Coulomb correlations among the constituent electrons),

which require a new framework beyond band theory for

their description.  For this purpose he uses quantum field theory methods, algorithms and

computer simulations.


The results of basic research will   speed up the discovery of materials with useful properties, just

in time to meet the sustainability challenges of the twenty first century.

Course Outline:







  Reference Textbook  for the Course  
Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air” David MacKay
(Local Copy)

Additional  Reading Materials:

 Easter Island

                        Conservation of Energy : Richard Feynman

                        Skepticism on effects of global warming: Freeman Dyson 

             Plans for Energy Independence in the US    T. Boone Pickens


             Controversy over the Skeptical Enviromentalist  Back and Forth


Materials Charts






                                                                     Students with Disabilities

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