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Dickinson is remote for the fall. Prospective students may contact our admissions office and schedule a visit. Campus buildings are closed. Face coverings are required on campus.

Additional Information.


Faculty Profile

Hans Pfister

Professor of Physics; George Wesley Pedlow Chair in Pedagogy (1991)

Contact Information

on sabbatical Spring 2021

pfister@dickinson.edu

Tome Scientific Building Room 211
717.245.1307

Bio

As an advocate for the environment he encourages sustainable living, supports sustainable technology, and embraces renewable energy sources. With the help of a 2006 Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) Seed/Assistance grant he was able to turn one of his visions, a sun-tracking solar concentrator, into a reality. This prototype will soon make some of the hot water for the students living in Dickinson’s Center for Sustainable Living. A 2009 Innovation Transfer Network (ITN)/KIZ Seed/Assistance grant enabled him to design and build a concentrating solar collector, which converts solar energy directly into electricity, using a thermoelectric converter (TEC). A 2007 ITN/KIZ grant supported the design and construction of a dental device, which removes temporary crowns and bridges by a series of micro pulses, applied to the backside of the dental appliances. Over the course of the semester he devotes time as a plasma physicist to work with senior physics majors on his design of a plasma propulsion device known as a Hall thruster. With another group of seniors he built a solar powered Stirling engine. Over the course of the past 18 years he has developed numerous kinesthetic physics experiments, incorporating his students into the experiment, thus allowing them to feel the forces and accelerations on their own body. Three of his inventions, a Kinesthetics Cart for Motion in 1-D, a Kinesthetics Cart for Motion in 2-D, and a Thermodynamic Engine and Ideal Gas Law Demonstration Apparatus are being used at over a thousand colleges, universities, and high schools. Some of his other interests include physics puzzles, tricks, and toys, as applied to the physics classroom.

Education

  • Staatsexam, Eberhard Karls Universitat, 1981
  • Ph.D., University of California at Los Angeles, 1991

2019-2020 Academic Year

Spring 2020

PHYS 114 Climate Change/Renewable Energ
An introduction to the physics of global climate change and a hands-on exposure to several types of renewable energy. The first third of this project-centered course introduces the basic physical principles of global climate change with a focus on radiative equilibrium, greenhouse effect, energy balance, and entropy. Since the energy sources of an energetically sustainable future will consist of renewable energies and possibly thermonuclear fusion energy, the remaining two thirds of the course is devoted to an exploration of wind turbines, solar concentrators, thermoelectric convertors, and photovoltaic systems. This course will not count toward major requirements in physics. Offered every two years.

PHYS 550 Independent Research