Course Descriptions

  • PHYS 106: Light, Sound, and Waves
    The behavior of waves, including water, sound, radio, and light. Optics of lenses and mirrors. Lasers and holography. Musical instruments. Three hours of lecture per week; no laboratory.
  • PHYS 107: Chance, Fate and Law
    The development of ideas about causality, space, and time and the three revolutions that have changed these concepts: Newton's classical mechanics, Einstein's theory of relativity, and Heisenberg's uncertainty relation. The first two support, whereas the third undermines, the belief that every event is determined to be the way it is by a rigid network of cause and effect. Three hours of lecture per week; no laboratory.
  • PHYS 109: Astronomy
    The solar system and planetary motion, the nature and evolution of stars, star clusters, and galaxies, and the structure and origin of the universe. Three hours of lecture and two hours of laboratory per week.
  • PHYS 110: Introductory Physics I
    The first half of elementary physics without calculus. Kinematics and Newton's laws of motion for translations and rotations. Conservation principles of energy, momentum, and angular momentum. Oscillations and waves. Three hours of lecture and one laboratory per week. Uses algebra and trigonometry. (Credit may not be earned in both Physics 110 and 120.)
  • PHYS 111: Introductory Physics II
    The second half of elementary physics without calculus. Charge and electric fields; current and magnetic fields. Flux and potential. Circuit elements. Electromagnetic waves. Geometric and wave optics. Three hours of lecture and one laboratory per week. Prerequisite: Physics 110. (Credit may not be earned in both Physics 111 and 121.)
  • PHYS 120: General Physics I
    The first half of elementary physics using calculus. This is the most appropriate first course for students majoring in the physical sciences. Kinematics and Newton's laws of motion for translations and rotations. Conservation principles for energy, momentum, and angular momentum. Oscillations and waves. Three hours of lecture and one laboratory per week. Prerequisite or corequisite: Mathematics 110. (Credit may not be earned in both Physics 120 and 110.)
  • PHYS 121: General Physics II
    The second half of elementary physics using calculus. This is the most appropriate second course for students majoring in the physical sciences. Charge and electric fields; current and magnetic fields. Flux and potential. Circuit elements. Electromagnetic waves. Geometric and wave optics. Three hours of lecture and one laboratory per week. Prerequisite: Physics 120. Prerequisite or corequisite: Mathematics 111. (Credit may not be earned in both Physics 121 and 111.)
  • PHYS 210: Modern Physics
    Introduction to the special theory of relativity and the elements of quantum theory. Theoretical and experimental investigations of atomic, nuclear, and particle physics. Atomic spectra, X-ray spectra, Compton scattering, nuclear counting techniques, half-life measurements, and neutron activation. Three hours of lecture and one laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Physics 121 (or 111) and Mathematics 111 or permission of the instructor.
  • PHYS 240: Electronics
    Methods of circuit analysis. Transistors, diodes, integrated circuits, and their application in electronic circuits. Amplifiers, oscillators, logic circuits, and computing circuits. Electronic instruments and measurements. Three hours of lecture and one laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Physics 121 ( or 111) and Mathematics 111 or permission of the instructor. (Offered in alternate years.)
  • PHYS 250: Analytical Mechanics
    The study of classical mechanics using mathematics at an intermediate level. Mechanics of single particles, systems of particles, gravity and planetary motion, rigid bodies, vibrations, and non-inertial reference frames. Four hours of lecture per week. Prerequisite: Physics 120 (or 110) and Mathematics 210.
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  • PHYS 260: Optics
    Geometric and wave optics at an intermediate level. Topics include interference, diffraction, scattering, polarization, and absorption. Matrix methods. Applications of lasers. Three hours of lecture and one laboratory per week. Prerequisite: Physics 121 (or 111) and Mathematics 111. (Offered in alternate years.)
  • PHYS 310: Electricity & Magnetism I
    Electrostatics and magnetostatics. Specific problems involve the electric fields and potentials from constant arrangements of charge, the behavior of dielectric materials, the magnetic fields from steady currents, and the nature of magnetic materials. Four hours of lecture per week. Prerequisites: Physics 121 (or 111), 250, and Mathematics 210. (Offered in alternate years.)
  • PHYS 311: Electricity & Magnetism II
    Electrodynamics: the transport of energy and momentum by electromagnetic fields. The complete forms of Maxwell's equations are used to describe electromagnetic waves in vacuum and in linear or conducting materials, and to calculate the energy radiated from accelerating charges. An advanced treatment of the Special Theory of Relativity may be a concluding topic. Three hours of lecture and one laboratory per week. Prerequisite: Physics 310 and Mathematics 210. (Offered in alternate years.)
  • PHYS 320: Mathematical Methods
    Applied mathematics for scientists. Topics typically include series approximations to functions, matrices and eigenvectors, vector analysis, special functions, ordinary and partial differential equations, orthogonal polynomials, asymptotic techniques, boundary value problems, and numerical methods. Four hours of lecture per week. Prerequisites: Physics 121 (or 111) and Mathematics 210. May be taken as a tutorial.
  • PHYS 330: Thermodynamics
    The fundamental ideas of temperature, heat, entropy, and equilibrium; the laws of thermodynamics. Macroscopic, phenomenological approach to thermodynamics, followed by the microscopic, statistical description. Kinetic theory. Applications to gases, solids, and chemical systems. Four hours of lecture per week. Prerequisites: Physics 210 and Mathematics 210 or permission of the instructor. (Offered in alternate years.)
  • PHYS 410: Advanced Analytical Mechanics
    Emphasis on using generalized coordinates and the Principle of Least Action. Newtonian, Lagrangian, Hamiltonian, and Hamilton-Jacobi formulations of mechanics. Four hours of lecture per week. Prerequisites: Physics 250 and Mathematics 210. May be taken as a tutorial.
  • PHYS 420: Quantum Mechanics I
    Formal development of the quantum theory. The theory is applied to simple systems for which exact solutions are known. These include single-electron atoms, harmonic oscillators, and systems with intrinsic spin. Four hours of lecture per week. Prerequisites: Physics 210 and 250 and Mathematics 210. (Offered in alternate years.)
  • PHYS 421: Quantum Mechanics II
    Applications of the quantum theory. Approximation methods, such as perturbation theory, variational techniques, and numerical methods allow the quantum theory to be used for complex systems. Examples are multi-electron atoms, atoms in external electromagnetic fields, molecules, and solids. Four hours of lecture per week. Prerequisites: Physics 420 and Mathematics 210. (Offered in alternate years.)
  • PHYS 480: Experimental Methods
    Seminar on techniques that illustrate principles and methods of contemporary physics. Typical experiments are subatomic resonance (NMR and ESR), X-ray phenomena (Moseley's Law, etc.), optical pumping, determination of band gaps in semiconductors, shot noise, Johnson noise, spectroscopy of atoms and molecules, and laser spectroscopy. Students write formal reports and present seminar talks about experiments. Two seminars and one laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Physics 420 and Mathematics 210. (Meets GEC Senior Studies Requirement. Offered in alternate years.)