This outline is part of an educational experiment initiated by the Commission on College Physics. The Commission has undertaken to highlight the need of college curriculum development in various areas of modern physics. One of these areas is the field of plasma physics. Difficulties in preparing a course in this particular field result from the fact that it has grown from fairly disparate areas of physics, including gas discharges, magnetohydrodynamics, and fusion physics. Synthesis of these various fields into a single course in plasma physics has not taken place spontaneously throughout the country and to look into this problem, the Commission set up a Plasma Physics Study Group to advise it as to what should be done. After considerable discussion, the Study Group decided to run a small working conference to prepare a course outline. This Working Group convened at MIT for a week during the summer of 1962 at which time the members of the group lectured to each other on those areas of their particular competence and at a level commensurate with the training of senior undergraduates in physics and electrical engineering. The notes prepared at that time, and subsequently edited in great detail, have been brought together in the form of the present outline.

The Study Group wanted to differentiate clearly between a finished textbook and an outline designed to guide teachers in preparing a course. This outline clearly bears the marks of this decision. It is not a finished production and it is not supposed to be. Rather than spend the large amount of time and labor necessary to produce a book, it is felt that a detailed outline, rapidly produced and circulated, would have more effect in persuading teachers to introduce plasma physics courses than might be the result of a carefully edited and maturely polished textbook. We hope that this type of effort is successful in stimulating a maximum number of teachers to use this outline material.

The next step in this experiment to introduce such a course with the maximum speed and efficiency is to await positive feedback by teachers who use this material in actual classroom teaching. The Commission would like to know not only about courses of this nature which are being taught, but would like further to receive criticisms and suggestions for improvement of this course outline. Please address your suggestions and criticisms to the Chairman of the Plasma Physics Study Group, Professor Sanborn C. Brown, Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 39, Massachusetts.

This content is only available via PDF.
AAPT members receive access to the American Journal of Physics and The Physics Teacher as a member benefit. To learn more about this member benefit and becoming an AAPT member, visit the Joining AAPT page.