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Course Descriptions

Physics Course Listings - Spring 2013

Physics 107N.  Astronomy
4 credits
Fleisch, Dan

Pre-requisite:  Minimum Math Placement 22.
The subject matter of this course spans the entire Universe, from our earthly environment to the farthest reaches of space and time.  We begin by examining the sky using only our eyes, just as humankind has done for thousands of years. We then study the contributions of the great astronomers and physicists of the last 400 years, including Galileo, Copernicus and Kepler.  Moving outward from the earth, we will learn about each member of our solar system, from scorching Mercury to ice-covered Pluto, and we’ll consider the question, “What exactly is a planet?”  We’ll consider asteroids, comets, and meteoroids, and discuss the probability and consequences of collisions with our planet.  Next on our agenda is an overview of the birth and death of stars, after which we proceed outward through our galaxy and into the deep cosmos, toward the edge of the known Universe and the beginning of time.  We conclude with a discussion of the beginning and possible destiny of the Universe, and we consider the possibility that we are not alone.  This course is accompanied by periodic observing sessions at Weaver Observatory.  This is a math-intensive course.

Physics 200B.  Mechanics & Waves
5 credits
Hoffman, Ian

Pre-requisite:  Placement into Math 201 is required.  Math 201 is strongly suggested as a co-requisite.
The study of classical mechanics and waves.  Topics include kinematics (the description of motion), dynamics (forces and Newton's laws), work and energy, impulse and momentum, statics, rotational motion, and waves.  There will be 3 class meetings and one 3-hour lab each week.  This is the first course in various introductory physics sequences designed for science majors and pre-health students: PHYS 200B & PHYS 205 for pre-health, biology, and geology; PHYS 200B & PHYS 218 for chemistry and math/computer science; PHYS 200B, PHYS 213, PHYS 214, PHYS 215, PHYS 218, & PHYS 220 for physics and pre-engineering majors.

Physics 213.  Thermodynamics and Optics
2 credits, 1st half
Williams, Jeremiah

Pre-requisite:  Physics 200;  Suggested co-requisite:  Mathematics 202.
This course builds upon the foundation laid in Physics 200 for understanding the nature and behavior of heat and light. Specific topics include the ideal gas, heat and temperature, energy and entropy, thermodynamic processes, mirrors, lenses, and interference and diffraction of light.  Applications to the efficiency of engines, thermal insulation and energy conservation, reflecting and refracting telescopes, and the human visual system will be discussed.

Physics 214.  Intermediate Physics Laboratory
1 credit
Williams, Jeremiah

Pre-requisite:  Physics 200;  Required co-requisite:  Physics 213.
This laboratory course provides the opportunity for students to conduct experiments that elucidate and extend the concepts presented in Physics 213 and 215.  Specific topics include heat and temperature, thermodynamic processes, mirrors and lenses, diffraction and interference, and some modern physics experiments. 

Physics 215.  Special Relativity and Applications
2 credits, 2nd half
Williams, Jeremiah

Pre-requisite:  Physics 200;  Suggested co-requisite:  Mathematics 202.
Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity revolutionized our understanding of space and time. This course introduces the student to Special Relativity as well as its consequences and apparent paradoxes. Concepts such as energy and momentum are redefined.  Other modern developments in our understanding of the nature and structure of matter will be discussed.

Physics 220. Modern Physics
5 credits
Williams, Jeremiah

Pre-requisite:  Physics 218.  Co-requisite:  Physics 215.
An introduction to quantum mechanics with applications from atomic, molecular, condensed matter, nuclear, and particle physics.  The lab will include experiments that illustrate the ideas of quantum mechanics as well as experiments that introduce you to contemporary research laboratory equipment and techniques. The course is writing intensive, so an emphasis will be placed on communicating scientific ideas and experimental results in writing.

Physics 325.  Astrophysics
2 credits
Hoffman, Ian

Pre-requisite: Physics 213, Physics 214, and Physics 220 or permission of the instructor.
This course addresses the study of physical phenomena that cannot be produced in a terrestrial laboratory.   For example: the quantum mechanics and thermodynamics of fusion stars, white dwarves, and pulsars; naturally-occurring gas lasers; the dynamical evidence for dark matter in our Galaxy and other galaxies like it; the three pillars of evidence for a Big Bang cosmology.  These topics are examined in order to broaden the students’ base of study and to provide perspective on the fundamental topics addressed in the core curriculum. 

Physics 332.  Electromagnetism
4 credits
Fleisch, Dan

Pre-requisites: Physics 311 and Math 212 or by permission of the instructor.
Mathematical theory of electric and magnetic fields.  Emphasizes three-dimensional boundary value problems for evaluating the physical behavior of electric and magnetic fields.  Maxwell's equations are developed in both the differential and the integral forms and are used in the analysis of electromagnetic phenomena. 

Physics 350.  Advanced Laboratory
1 credit
Fleisch, Dan
Williams, Jeremiah

Pre-requisites:  Physics 220
A laboratory course emphasizing experimental design, laboratory techniques, analysis and interpretation of data, and written reports of experiments. A variety of advanced physics experiments will be performed.

Physics 360.  Junior Seminar
1 credit
Williams, Jeremiah

This course, intended for upper-level physics majors, has the following goals: to develop the skills required to make clear presentations on technical topics; to learn to use reference materials pertinent to physics; and to get a feel for what is currently interesting and important in physics and related fields, including societal, ethical, and career issues.  CLAC option available.  Please consult the Language Department Course Descriptions for more specific information.

Physics 460.  Senior Seminar
1 credit
Willliams, Jeremiah

This course, intended for upper-level physics majors, has the following goals: to develop the skills required to make clear presentations on technical topics; to learn to use reference materials pertinent to physics; and to get a feel for what is currently interesting and important in physics and related fields, including societal, ethical, and career issues.  CLAC option available.  Please consult the Language Department Course Descriptions for more specific information.

Physics 490.  Independent Study
variable credit
Staff

Physics 491.  Internship
variable credit
Staff

Course reserved for supervised research during summers or while off campus.

Physics 498.  Senior Thesis
variable credit
Staff

Writing intensive.  Offered on demand.

Physics 499.  Senior Honors Thesis
variable credit
Staff

Writing intensive.  Offered on demand.

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