Science - 2018-19

PH.12 - Non-Newtonian Physics

The student will investigate and understand that extremely large and extremely small quantities are not necessarily described by the same laws as those studied in Newtonian physics. Key concepts may include

a)  wave/particle duality;

b)  wave properties of matter;

c)  matter/energy equivalence;

d)  quantum mechanics and uncertainty;

e)  relativity;

f)  nuclear physics;

g) nanotechnology;

i)  superconductivity; and

j)  radioactivity.

Bloom's Levels:  Analyze; Understand

Adopted: 2010


  • I can explain how satellite radio works.
  • I can explain the science behind the atomic bombs that ended WWII.
  • I can explain how atomic clocks work.
  • I can explain what might happen to my body if I were to travel at the speed of light.
  • I can explain how and why nuclear energy is useful.
  • I can explain how solids impact technology and its applications.
  • I can explain how nanotubes deliver medicine to certain parts of the body.
  • I can explain how MRIs are produced and used in medicine.
  • I can explain how scientists are able to date fossils.


The concepts developed in this standard include the following:

  • For processes that are important on the atomic scale, objects exhibit both wave characteristics (e.g., interference) as well as particle characteristics (e.g., discrete amounts and a fixed definite number of electrons per atom).
  • Nuclear physics is the study of the interaction of the protons and neutrons in the atom’s nucleus.
  • The nuclear force binds protons and neutrons in the nucleus. Fission is the breakup of heavier nuclei to lighter nuclei. Fusion is the combination of lighter nuclei to heavier nuclei.
  • Dramatic examples of mass-energy transformation are the fusion of hydrogen in the sun, which provides light and heat for Earth, and the fission process in nuclear reactors that provide electricity.
  • Natural radioactivity is the spontaneous disintegration of unstable nuclei. Alpha, beta, and gamma rays are different emissions associated with radioactive decay.
  • The special theory of relativity predicts that energy and matter can be converted into each other.
  • Objects cannot travel faster than the speed of light.
  • The atoms and molecules of many substances in the natural world, including most metals and minerals, bind together in regular arrays to form crystals. The structure of these crystals is important in determining the properties of these materials (appearance, hardness, etc.).
  • Certain materials at very low temperatures exhibit the property of zero resistance called superconductivity.
  • Electrons in orbitals can be treated as standing waves in order to model the atomic spectrum.
  • Quantum mechanics requires an inverse relationship between the measurable location and the measurable momentum of a particle. The more accurately one determines the position of a particle, the less accurately the momentum can be known, and vice versa. This is known as the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.
  • Matter behaves differently at nanometer scale (size and distance) than at macroscopic scale.


In order to meet this standard, it is expected that students will

a)  explain that the motion of objects traveling near or approaching the speed of light does not follow Newtonian mechanics but must be treated within the theory of relativity.

b)  describe the structure of the atomic nucleus, including quarks.

h)  provide examples of technologies used to explore the nanoscale.

a-j) describe the relationship between the Big Bang theory timeline and particle physics.


Updated: Dec 01, 2017