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Marshall Scholarship Essay Example 2 - Proposed Academic Program

Propose Academic Program for Study

If I receive the Marshall Scholarship I will study the history and philosophy of science at Cambridge University. Spending two years at Cambridge would improve the quality of the teaching and research that I plan on doing as a professor of physics. It would give me the knowledge and expertise to make my teaching interesting to students from a wide range of backgrounds by incorporating historical information. It would also gain me the background necessary to face the problems of modern theoretical physics.

While at Cambridge I would complete the third year of the undergraduate program and then the one-year research MPhil in the Department of History andPhilosophy of Science and Medicine. The first year would broaden my knowledge and understanding of both the history and philosophy of physics. I already have a strong base in the subject. I have taken four classes in the philosophy of science and related topics atMythic University and my undergraduate honors thesis is concerned with the history and philosophy of science at it applies to physics education. I have also done independent reading in the subject. My first year at Cambridge would be an extension of these studies, under some of the most prominent researchers in their respective fields.

My second year at Cambridge would serve to consider questions in the philosophy of measurement more deeply. I wish to focus primarily on the measurement of temperature in the nineteenth century, from both historical and philosophical perspective. In considering history, I am concerned with the discussions within scientific circles during the nineteenth century about controversial principles of measurement. In addition, I would investigate the methods undertaken by instrument makers to ensure that temperatures measured with different types of devices could be reliably compared. I would focus on the transition during the century away from the traditional mercury thermometers to more modern thermocouple devices, and how these two devices were compared at the time. Philosophically, I am interested in our definitions of fundamental units, such as length and mass. I want to address questions of fundamental importance to quantum mechanics, which will have bearing on my future work in physics.

Given my aspirations described above, the program at Cambridge is an excellent fit for me. It is unique in allowing one year of intensive study followed by an independent research course. The department of interest to me is the largest of its kind in the UK, and combines both historians and philosophers together. In addition, the department is built around the Whipple Museum, which houses a fine collection of original scientific instruments for study, including thermometers from the nineteenth century. I have read and admire the work of Dr. Simon Schaffer and would love the opportunity to work with him. Spending two years at Cambridge would allow me to pursue a balance between history and philosophy that is difficult if not impossible elsewhere. Finally, I feel it is necessary for my development as a researcher and teacher.

Original Source: Penn State



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