Courses in Physics (Division 444)

Since the Physics Department discourages students from changing midstream from Physics 140 to Physics 125 or from Physics 240 to Physics 126, it is important that students choose the first course of a physics sequence with care. Prospective engineers, physicists and chemists should elect Physics 140/240 rather than Physics 125/126 because concentration programs in these areas require the Physics 140/240 sequence. In the case of some departmental concentration programs (zoology, biology, etc.) or in special individual circumstances, students can elect or are encouraged to elect the Physics 125/126 sequence. Some advisors will advise all students who have had calculus to elect Physics 140/240. Physics 140/240 can be elected by all students who have had calculus, but it should be elected only by students who enjoy solving difficult problems and who think that they will be good at it.

125. General Physics: Mechanics, Sound, and Heat. Two and one-half years of high school mathematics, including trigonometry. No credit granted to those who have completed 140. (3). (NS).

Physics 125 and 126 constitute a two-term sequence offered primarily for students concentrating in the natural sciences, architecture, pharmacy, or natural resources; and for preprofessional students preparing for medicine, dentistry, or related health sciences. Physics 125 and 126 are an appropriate sequence for any student wanting a quantitative introduction to the basic principles of physics but without the mathematical sophistication of Physics 140 and 240. Strong emphasis is placed on problem solving, and skills in rudimentary algebra and trigonometry are assumed. While a high school level background in physics is not assumed, it is helpful. Physics 125 and 126 are NOT AVAILABLE by the Keller plan. PHYSICS 125 covers mechanics and mechanical waves including sound waves. The final course grade is based on three one hour examinations, class performance and a final examination. PHYSICS 126 is a continuation of Physics 125; and covers electricity and magnetism, the nature of light, and briefly introduces atomic and nuclear phenomena.

126. General Physics: Electricity and Light. Phys. 125. No credit granted to those who have completed 240. (3). (NS).

See Physics 125 for a general description.

127. Mechanics, Heat and Sound Lab. To be elected concurrently with Physics 125. No credit granted to those who have completed Physics 141. (1). (NS).

Physics 127 and 128 are laboratory courses intended to accompany Physics 125 and 126 (respectively) and provide a perspective on physics as an experimental science.

128. Electricity and Light Lab. To be elected concurrently with Physics 126. No credit granted to those who have completed Physics 241. (1). (NS).

See Physics 127 for a general description.

140. General Physics I. Prior or concurrent election of calculus. Phys. 140 and 141 are normally elected concurrently. No credit granted to those who have completed 125. (3). (NS).

Physics 140, 240, and 242 constitute a three-term sequence which examines concepts in physics fundamental to the physical sciences and engineering. Physics 242 focuses on modern physics and is required of all physics concentrators. The introductory sequence uses calculus, and, while it is possible to elect Physics 140 and Mathematics 115 concurrently, some students will find it more helpful to have started one of the regular mathematics sequences before electing Physics 140. This introductory sequence is primarily designed to develop a SKILL: the skill to solve simple problems by means of mathematics. Developing this skill requires DAILY practice and a sense for the MEANING of statements and formulas, as well as awareness of when one understands a statement, proof, or problem solution and when one does not. Thus one learns to know what one knows in a disciplined way. The final course grade is based on class performance and upon examinations. Certain sections (see the TIME SCHEDULE) of Physics 140 and 240 are offered by the Keller Plan, a self-paced program without formal lectures. An information sheet describing the format of Keller Plan offerings is available in the Physics Department Office (1049 Randall Laboratory). Students who want to elect Physics 140 or 240 by the Keller Plan should read this information before registering. Honors sections of Physics 140 and 240 are offered in the Fall and Winter terms. Prospective Physics concentrators and other qualified science or Engineering concentrators are encouraged to register for these sections.

141. Elementary Laboratory I. To be elected concurrently with Phys. 140. No credit granted to those who have completed 127. (1). (NS).

Physics 141 and 241 are laboratory courses intended to accompany Physics 140 and 240 (respectively) and provide a perspective on physics as an experimental science.

240. General Physics II. Phys. 140 or the equivalent; Phys. 240 and 241 are normally elected concurrently. No credit granted to those who have completed 126. (3). (NS).

See Physics 140.

241. Elementary Laboratory II. To be elected concurrently with Phys. 240. No credit granted to those who have completed 128. (1). (NS).

See Physics 141.

242. General Physics III. Phys. 240 or equivalent. (3). (NS).

This course will deal in a quantitative manner with topics which may be classified as "modern" physics, and shall include the investigation of: special relativity, the relationship of particles and waves, the Schrödinger equation applied to barrier problems, atomic structure and the interpretation of quantum numbers, the exclusion principle and its applications, structure of solids, etc. The class will meet as a lecture group. Applications of the principles will be considered in the lecture section on a regular basis.

401. Intermediate Mechanics. Phys. 126 or 240-241, and Math. 216; or equivalent. (3). (NS).

This course is required for physics concentrators. It includes a study of vector operators and vector calculus along with their application to various physical problems. Among the topics investigated are: (1) harmonic motion in several dimensions; (2) motion under the influence of central forces; (3) wave motion; and (4) rigid-body rotation. The methods of Lagrange are applied to suitable examples. Examinations are given at various times during the term.

402. Light. Phys. 126 or 240-241, and Math. 216; or equivalent. (3). (NS).

This course may be included in a concentration in physics. Topics studied cover the phenomena of physical optics, reflection, refraction, interference, diffraction, and polarization interpreted in terms of the wave theory of light. Several topics in modern optics will also be developed.

403. Optics Laboratory. Phys. 242 or permission of instructor. (2). (NS).

This is a laboratory course in geometrical and physical optics intended for science concentrators and especially for students electing Physics 402. One experiment every one or two weeks is performed during four-hour laboratory periods; a short report is required for each experiment. The experiments are designed such that they may be performed without students having a formal background in the topic investigated. The experiments include: (1) lens equations; (2) lens aberrations; (3) telescopes; (4) polarization; (5) diffraction; (6) interferometry; (7) electro-optical effects; (8) light detection; (9) fourier optics; (10) holography; and (11) spectroscopy. Students may also devise experiments. The course grade is based on the work done in the laboratory period as well as written reports.

405. Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism. Phys. 126 or 240-241, and Math. 216; or equivalent. (3). (NS).

This course extends the material introduced in Physics 240 on the classical theory of electricity and magnetism. It tries to develop further both the theoretical ideas contained in Maxwell's equations for these fields, as well as their practical application. It is a required course for all physics concentrators, and is basic to many of the courses and laboratories which follow. Physics 242 is strongly recommended.

406. Statistical and Thermal Physics. Phys. 126 or 240-241, and Math. 216. (3). (NS).

An introduction to the thermal and other macroscopic properties of matter, their description in terms of classical thermodynamics, and their microscopic interpretation from the perspective of statistical mechanics. Techniques from classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and elementary quantum mechanics will be used. Frequent homework problem assignments, at least one hour exam, and a final examination will be given.

407. Thermodynamics Laboratory. Phys. 126 or 240-241. (2). (NS).

This course is normally elected concurrently with Physics 406 and emphasizes thermodynamics and heat transport. Each section consists of eight students subdivided into groups of two with each group rotating through five experiments: (1) use of the thermoelectric effect to measure temperature, (2) use of thermistors for the measurement of temperature, (3) measurement of the viscosity of gases, (4) measurement of the thermal conductivity of gases, and (5) determination of the ice-water phase diagram. Each experiment takes a maximum of three weeks of laboratory time. Grades are based on the record of data taken, computation and analysis, error analysis, display of results (graphs, tables, etc.) and comparison of results with theory and/or accepted values. Laboratory performance is observed and evaluated by the course instructors.

409. Modern Physics Laboratory. Open primarily to science concentrators with junior standing, or by permission of instructor. (2). (NS). May not be elected by Physics concentrators unless written permission is given by a Physics concentration advisor.

This course is an advanced undergraduate laboratory course designed to acquaint students in the basic techniques of experimental physics and to introduce them to physical phenomena of modern physics. Students select experiments from among those which are available. The results of the experiments are recorded. These laboratory notes together with a written laboratory report are graded. The reports and performance in laboratory are the basis for the course grade. There are no formal examinations. Students may modify existing experiments or design new experiments. Topics investigated include: photo-electric effect; diffraction; electron charge and charge-to-mass ratio and others. This laboratory is not open to physics concentrators who should choose Physics 459 or 461. This course is required for concentrators in the Engineering Physics program.

417. Macromolecular and Biophysics I. Math. 216 and Phys. 242, and 402; or equivalent; or permission of instructor. (3). (NS).

An introduction to the biophysics of cells, emphasizing the electrical and molecular structural properties of membranes and the neuromuscular and sensory systems; physical techniques used in cell absorption, fluorescence, scattering, magnetic resonance, and analysis of spontaneous optical and electrical fluctuations.

419/IPPS 519/Nat. Res. 574/RC Nat. Sci. 419. Energy Demand. Basic college economics and senior standing. (3). (SS).

See RC Natural Science 419. (Ross)

451. Methods of Theoretical Physics. Phys. 401 and Math. 450, or equivalent. (3). (NS).

This is a course in the mathematical methods used in physics and is considered necessary preparation for graduate school. Among the topics treated are orthogonal functions and vector spaces, complex variables, differential equations and their special functions, Fourier series, and aspects of group theory.

453. Atomic Physics I. Phys. 242 or equivalent, Phys. 401 and 405; or permission of instructor. (3). (NS).

Physics 453 is an introduction to Quantum Mechanics, the probabilistic formalism that provides the best available description of electrons, photons, atoms and molecules. The concepts of observation, measurement, and uncertainty are developed, and various representations (diagrams, operators, wave functions) for probability amplitude are introduced. Considerable emphasis is given to the use of the Schrödinger equation and its solutions for the representation of basic one- and three-dimensional systems: electrons confined in a potential well, electrons confined by Coulomb attraction as in the hydrogen atom, electrons semi-confined by barriers or in multiple well structures, and scattering problems. The quantum theory of radiation is introduced in an elementary, phenomenological manner.

455. Electronic Devices and Circuits. Phys. 240 and 241. (5). (NS).

An introduction to DC and AC circuits; j-notation, circuit theorems; semiconductors (primarily qualitative) and introduction to diodes and bipolar (junction) transistors; four-terminal networks; transistor characteristics and biasing, equivalent circuits, transistor amplifiers and their frequency and pulse response; unipolar transistors (J-FET, MOSFET, IGFET); resonant circuits, oscillators, inductive coupling; transistors as switches, the multivibrator family including the Schmitt trigger circuit; integrated circuits: operational amplifiers and logic gates; pulse shaping; modulation and detection; noise; and power supplies. Two or three hour exams, plus a final. Four hours of laboratory per week, with written reports. The text is Ryder's ELECTRONIC FUNDAMENTALS AND APPLICATIONS.

459. Nuclear Laboratory. Phys. 242 and any 400-level physics laboratory course, or permission of instructor. (2). (NS).

This is an advanced laboratory course designed to acquaint students with the techniques of experimental nuclear physics and to introduce them to physical phenomena of modern physics. Included are experiments in the following areas: scintillation counting; gamma-gamma angular correlation; Compton effect; Rutherford scattering; muon lifetime; nuclear magnetic resonance; and nuclear fission. This course is normally elected as a sequel to Physics 403, 407, or 409.

461. Atomic Laboratory. Phys. 242 and any 400-level physics laboratory course, or permission of instructor. (2). (NS).

Intended mostly for science majors. Conducted in a manner similar to Physics 403, 407, 409 and 459, but more advanced. Emphasis on atomic phenomena and instrumentation. Experiments available include atomic spectroscopy, Zeeman effect, optical pumping and lasers, x-ray diffraction and Moseley's law, Faraday effect and others.

464. Solid State Laboratory. Physics 242 (General Physics III) and Physics 406 (Thermodynamics). Physics 463 should be taken concurrently or previously. (2). (NS).

This is a laboratory course covering experimental work in x-ray diffraction from solids, electron transport in solids, phase transitions, the use of the electron microscope and thermal mechanisms in solids. Conducted in a manner similar to the other physics labs (403, 407, 409, 459, and 461).

465. Senior Seminar. Open to Physics concentrators in their junior or senior year. (2). (NS). Fulfills the Junior-Senior writing requirement.

In this seminar students explore topics chosen on the basis of their importance and interest to physics and on the basis of student and faculty interest. Seminar members read in the research literature, write extensively, and contribute to discussions led by seminar members or visitors.

468. Elementary Particles. Prior or concurrent election of Phys. 453. (3). (NS).

The course offers a very broad but disciplined introduction to the exciting field of elementary particle research: methods of producing and detecting particles, their interactions, and an outline of the most current theoretical ideas. Since the course is not part of a required sequence, students are expected to be motivated primarily by a fundamental curiosity to learn about one of the frontier sciences.

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