Jun 01-Aug 07, 2020
Credit: 3 graduate
Tuition & Fees: $835.50
Instructor(s): Mingzhen Tian

Course Description

Registration begins on March 23rd - register for CRN 10221.
Can quantum mechanics be made SIMPLE? What lies behind wave functions and Schrödinger’s wave equation? How is the microscopic world really put together? Can one explore the peculiar quantum world without resorting to complicated mathematical treatment?

In his popular little book, QED, The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, Richard Feynman reduces the rules of quantum mechanics to a simple command for the electron and the photon: Explore all paths. In 1948 Feynman proved that this command leads to all the same results as the usual quantum wave mechanics.

Our course studies the command "Explore all paths" and its consequences. Using hands-on software, you experiment with the quantum world illustrated in Feynman's book. You excise the rules of the quantum mechanics to explain real world observations. On the on-line forum, you discuss with other participants the deep paradoxes of quantum mechanics. But deep does not mean mathematical: NO EQUATIONS until one-third of the way through the course. Without needing equations, you watch the quantum wave function emerging as a natural consequence of the command "Explore all paths.

Some comments from teachers during previous semesters: "The reading was incredible...I really get a kick out of Feynman's totally off-wall way of describing this stuff...Truly a ground-breaker!...He brings up some REALLY interesting ideas that I am excited to discuss with the rest of the class...Feynman does a great job of explaining a post graduate physics topic in nearly everyday language...I enjoy reading him because he seems so honest about what he (and everyone else) does not know...Man, it made me feel good to read that Feynman couldn't understand this stuff either...I was very pleased to have Feynman tell us that what we will learn is absurd."

"This course is pretty addictive! I find myself constantly thinking of the concepts presented in the reading as well as the items brought up (in the on-line discussion)...I find it similar to a good novel. Hard to put down or out of my mind...I am learning SO MUCH from all of you. That's one of this course format's strongest features...I'm learning twice as much as I ever hoped to, and we have just scratched the surface...I got an A in my intro qm class without having even a fraction of the understanding I have now...I find the power of this weekly conferencing unmatched by any course or book I have read. This medium allows us all to resonate and reflect our views of Physics."

"As I breeze through Feynman, it occurs to me that the reading is easy because of the software simulations we have run...It is very nice to have these computer programs to "experiment" with...This all makes so much more sense now, and I owe a large part of that to the software."

Meeting Place and Times

Teachers log into the course at a time of day that best fits their schedule. It is necessary to connect at least 4 - 6 times per week and spend 10 - 12 hours each week while the course is in session, either online or offline working on course related assignments, to stay current and successfully complete this fast paced 3 credit graduate course.


Mingzhen Tian, PhD. in Physics from University of Paris-Sud. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at George Mason University. Her research interests mainly focus on laser atomic spectroscopy, nonlinear and quantum optics, and quantum information. Research activities include experimental investigation and theoretical modeling.


An introductory physics course and a working knowledge of elementary differential and integral calculus.

Target Audience

High school science and mathematics teachers.

Time Commitment:

12-14 hours per week. If you are unfamiliar with this field of study and/or method of delivery, you may require more time.

Tuition and Fees

Teachers are responsible for purchasing the required text for the course on their own. It is inexpensive and is listed below.

Required Books/Materials

  • Feynman, R., QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter (2006 Edition).
    The 1988 edition will also work.
    You can find it for under $20 on Amazon.

Teachers are responsible for purchasing the required text for the course on their own before the course begins.

Computer Requirements:

  • Internet access
  • A device and browser that pass the system check for Brightspace LE, MSU's learning management system.
  • Participants must have access to a PC with an operating system (Windows or Mac) that can install or has installed Java 6 or later version to run simulation software.

This course uses a learning management system. You will learn more closer to the course start date.

For More Information

For questions regarding registration, please contact Kelly Boyce by phone at (800)282-6062 or (406)994-6812, or by email at

For questions regarding course content, please contact Mingzhen Tian at

How to Register

Call the Office of Continuing Education at (406) 994-6683 or toll free (866) 540-5660.