Arthur Schawlow Stream

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Angela Esterhammer

The Arthur Schawlow Stream for Physical and Mathematical Sciences is named after the inventor of the laser, and Nobel Laureate, who graduated from Victoria College with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics in 1941. Arthur Leonard Schawlow (1921-1999) had an illustrious career in Physics, which culminated with the award of the Nobel Prize in 1981. In addition to his work in laser spectroscopy, carried on while working as a professor of physics at Stanford University, Arthur Schawlow established a centre for autistic people. Earlier in the 1950s, while working at Bell Laboratories, he collaborated with Charles Townes on microwave spectroscopy, a field that was developing very rapidly with the invention of the maser. This work led to the invention of the laser in 1960. The laser is at the core of today’s technology, essential in internet communications, materials processing, manufacturing, biomedical sensing, and a host of other applications. Lasers can make the most precise distance measurements, and so are used in searches for gravitational waves, and can produce the fastest events that we can make, leading to the field of atto-science.

The Arthur Schawlow Stream provides a strong foundation for those wishing to pursue studies in the natural sciences, with a multi-disciplinary focus on the nature of the physical sciences, the factors that enable scientific progress, and the environment in which science is performed today and applied in technology and entrepreneurship. The Stream is ideal for those wishing to study the physical and mathematical sciences, but its material is also valuable to students wishing to acquire a broader background in general sciences. It welcomes students from all sciences and disciplines.

Students in this Stream will develop the skills needed by scientists, such as critical thinking, interpretation of research results, technical communications, and an understanding of how science advances today. Together with the other courses in a first-year science program, students will develop the necessary analysis and synthesis skills, forming a strong base for a career in science and technology, as well as an understanding of the philosophical foundation for such an undertaking. Students are encouraged to think about the use of science in our society and our social responsibilities as scientists.

Among other activities, students will be actively engaged in the discovery and dissemination of science, participating in events that present science to the general public, will discuss the connections between science and the high-technology world through the transformation of scientific discoveries into products on the market, and will develop their own understanding of the multi-disciplinary nature of scientific progress today. Interactions with scientists outside of class time, including graduate students in the sciences, is encouraged and facilitated.

Who should apply to the Schawlow stream of Vic One?

This all means that the program is designed for students who are not afraid to go a bit further, and are looking forward to do so in small groups, together with some of the best students at the University of Toronto.

As part of their first year studies, students enrolled in the Schawlow stream are required to take the two Vic One seminar courses: VIC 172Y and VIC 173Y as well as a full course equivalency co-requisite selected from first-year offerings in the sciences (must include a half course in PHY or CHM). VIC 172Y satisfies a 1 FCE breadth requirement in category 3 (Society and its Institutions) and VIC 173Y satisfies a 1 FCE breadth requirement in category 2 (Thought, Belief, and Behaviour).

Future Students