Courses in Physics (Division 444)

Fall Term, 1998 (September 8-December 21, 1998)

The Physics Department discourages students from changing midstream from Physics 140 to Physics 125 or from Physics 240 to Physics 126, so 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 (e.g., biology) 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.

Note: If the Waitlist code on a Physics course is WL:5, then both sign on the waitlist through Touch-tone Registration and contact the department office.

Take me to the Fall Time Schedule

103. The Physical Universe: Relativity and Quanta. High School geometry, trigonometry, and algebra. (1). (NS). (BS).
The goal of physicists is to understand everything that goes on in the universe in terms of a small number of fundamental laws of nature. The various laws we presently know may even derive from some single unifying principle. The laws of gravity, relativity, electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics will be discussed and applied to simple problems. Grades will be based on homework and a research paper of approximately 3000 words. Cost:1 WL:3
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104. The Physical Universe: What Einstein Never Knew. High School geometry, trigonometry, and algebra. (1). (NS). (BS).
The goals of physicists are to understand everything that goes on in the universe in terms of a small number of fundamental laws of nature. Recent developments involving quarks, leptons, black holes, big-bang cosmology, dark matter, etc., will be described on an elementary level. In the end, all questions of "how" and "why" must be answered or else pushed to the limit of present knowledge. Grades will be based on homework and a research paper of approximately 3000 words. The are no college physics or advanced mathematics prerequisites. Cost:1 WL:3
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106. Everyday Physics. (3). (NS). (BS). Laboratory fee ($25) required.
This course examines everyday phenomena and current technology in terms of physical concepts and laws. The subjects examined are wide ranging and the discussion focuses on discovering common underlying themes. Examples of topics covered include: lasers, tornadoes, rainbows, computers, and satellites. This class emphasizes concepts rather than mathematical models. Grades are based on homework and exams. Curiosity is the major prerequisite. Cost:2 WL:5
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107. 20th Century Concepts of Space, Time, and Matter. High school algebra and geometry. (3). (NS). (BS). (QR/1).
The twentieth century has been witness to two major revolutions in man's concepts of space, time, and matter. The first of these was provided by Einstein's Special and General Theories of Relativity. The implications of the Special Theory to our understanding of the unity of space and time and of the General Theory to our understanding of gravity and the evolution of the universe are explored. The second revolution was provided by quantum mechanics, leading to a new picture of the basic structure of matter. Topics to be discussed in this area include the Uncertainty Principle, wave-particle duality, the forces of nature, and the continuing search for the fundamental constituents of matter. No mathematical background beyond the high school level is assumed.
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112. Cosmology: The Science of the Universe. (3). (NS). (BS).
The majority of even college educated adults have only a modest understanding of our place in the universe at large. Most would be hard pressed to answer correctly such questions as: What else is there in the universe besides stars? Why do we think there was a big bang? How big is a galaxy and how might they have formed? This course will provide answers to such questions, stressing conceptual understanding and simple calculational problem solving. The format will be varied and informal. In addition to regular seminar attendance, students will likely be asked to perform small experiments and present at least one oral presentation. Essays and other written work will play a large role in the grade. Although no science prerequisites are required, exposure to physics at high school level would be helpful.
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119/Geol. 130/Chem. 108. The Physical World. High-school algebra. (4). (NS). (BS). (QR/2).
See Geological Sciences 130. (van Keken)
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125. General Physics: Mechanics and Sound. Two and one-half years of high school mathematics, including trigonometry. Phys. 125 and 127 are normally elected concurrently. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 140, 145, or 160. (4). (NS). (BS). (QR/1).
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 elementary 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.

Topics covered during the first term include vectors, one- and two-dimensional motion, Newton's laws of motion, gravitation, rotational motion, momentum, energy, pressure in fluids, oscillations, and waves. The final course grade is based on three one-hour evening examinations, class performance, and a final examination. Physics 127 should be taken concurrently. Cost:3 WL:5
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126. General Physics: Electricity and Light. Phys. 125. Phys. 126 and 128 are normally elected concurrently. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 240 or 260. (4). (NS). (BS). (QR/1).
See Physics 125 for a general description of this introductory sequence of courses.

Physics 126 is a continuation of Physics 125; it covers electricity and magnetism, the nature of light, and briefly introduces atomic and nuclear phenomena. The final course grade is based on three one-hour evening examinations, class performance, and a final examination. Physics 128 should be taken concurrently. Cost:3 WL:5
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127. Mechanics and Sound Lab. Concurrent election with Phys. 125 is strongly recommended. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in Phys. 141. (1). (NS). (BS). Laboratory fee ($25) required.
Physics 127 is a laboratory course intended to accompany Physics 125 and provide a perspective on physics as an experimental science. Macintosh computers are used for data acquisition and analysis. Evaluation is based on participation and performance in the laboratory classes, and on written laboratory reports and quizzes. Cost:2 WL:5
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128. Electricity and Light Lab. Concurrent election with Phys. 126 is strongly recommended. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in Phys. 241. (1). (NS). (BS). Laboratory fee ($25) required.
Physics 128 is a laboratory course intended to accompany Physics 126 and provide a perspective on physics as an experimental science. Evaluation is based on participation and performance in the laboratory classes, and on written laboratory reports and quizzes. Cost:2 WL:5
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140. General Physics I. Math. 115. Phys. 140 and 141 are normally elected concurrently. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in Phys. 125, 145, or 160. (4). (NS). (BS). (QR/1).
Physics 140, 240, and 340 constitute a three-term sequence which examines concepts in physics fundamental to the physical sciences and engineering. This 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. The 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.

Covers topics from classical mechanics including vectors, motion in one dimension, circular motion, projectile motion, relative velocity and acceleration, Newton's laws, particle dynamics, work and energy, linear momentum, torque, angular momentum of a particle, simple harmonic motion, gravitation, planetary motion, pressure and density of fluids, and Archimedes' principle. Evaluation is based on performance on three evening hourly examinations (see Time Schedule for dates and times) and a final examination.

Sections 035 and 036 Keller Plan. Certain sections of Physics 140 are offered by the Keller Plan, a self-paced program without formal lectures. These sections are marked PSI in the Time Schedule. An information sheet describing the format of Keller Plan offerings is available in the Physics Student Services Office (2061 Randall Lab). Students who want to elect Physics 140 by the Keller Plan should read this information before registering. Cost:3 WL:5
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141. Elementary Laboratory I. Concurrent election with Phys. 140 or 145 is strongly recommended. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 127. (1). (NS). (BS). Laboratory fee ($25) required.
Physics 141 is a laboratory course intended to accompany Physics 140 and provide a perspective on physics as an experimental science. Evaluation is based on participation and performance in the laboratory classes, and on written laboratory reports and quizzes. Macintosh computers are used for data acquisition and analysis. Cost:2 WL:5
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160. Honors Physics I. Math. 115. Students should elect Phys. 141 concurrently. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in Phys. 125, 140, or 145. (4). (NS). (BS). (QR/1).
Physics 160 is a rigorous introduction to particle mechanics and the motion of extended objects. Particular topics include vectors, one- and two dimensional motion, conservation of laws, linear and rotational dynamics, gravitation, fluid mechanics, and thermodynamics. Students should also elect a Physics 141 laboratory. Cost:3
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201. Physics, Truth and Consequences. Sophomore standing. Simple high school algebra and geometry will be helpful. (3). (NS). (BS). (QR/2).
This course is designed for all students, especially non-science concentrators, who are interested in increasing their understanding of the goals, methods, and achievements of physics. A number of physics concepts and laws (e.g., related to gravity, motion, energy, atoms, quarks and leptons, phases of matter) will be discussed, a few in depth. All will be examined along with their historical context, the ways by which they are tested, in what sense we believe them, and what impacts they have had on the development of science and society. The student will learn something about where scientists are today in trying to understand the natural world. The grading will depend on approximately three writing assignments (one based on an original historical work of physics, one based on something involving physics to be selected by the student, and one based on the impact of physics on superstition) plus two tests, one oriented towards facts and relationships and one oriented towards concepts. Cost:2 WL:4
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240. General Physics II. Phys. 140, 145 or 160; and Math. 116. Phys. 240 and 241 are normally elected concurrently. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 126 or 260. (4). (NS). (BS). (QR/1).
See Physics 140 for a general description of the introductory physics sequence.

The topics covered in Physics 240 include classical electromagnetism: charge, Coulomb's Law, electric fields, Gauss' Law, electric potential, capacitors and dielectrics, current and resistance, electromotive force and circuits, magnetic fields, Biot-Savart Law, Ampere's Law, Faraday's Law of induction, and simple AC circuits. There will be three evening hourly examinations (see Time Schedule for dates and times) and a final examination.

Sections 035 and 036 Keller Plan. Certain sections of Physics 240 are offered by the Keller Plan, a self-paced program without formal lectures. These sections are marked in the Time Schedule. An information sheet describing the format of Keller Plan offerings is available in the Physics Student Services Office (2061 Randall Lab). Students who want to elect Physics 240 by the Keller Plan should read this information before registering. Cost:3 WL:5
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241. Elementary Laboratory II. Concurrent election with Phys. 240 is strongly recommended. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 128. (1). (NS). (BS). Laboratory fee ($25) required.
Physics 241 is a laboratory course intended to accompany Physics 240 and provide a perspective on physics as an experimental science. Evaluation is based on participation and performance in the laboratory classes, and on written laboratory reports and quizzes. Cost:2 WL:5
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250/Environ. Studies 353. Energy, Entropy, and Environment. Two and one-half years of high school mathematics, or any college course in mathematics or natural science. (3). (NS). (BS).
For Fall Term, 1998, this section is offered jointly with RC Natural Science 263.
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260. Honors Physics II. Phys. 140, 145, or 160; and Math. 116. Students should elect Phys. 241 concurrently. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in Phys. 240. (4). (NS). (BS). (QR/1).
Physics 260 is a rigorous introduction to the theory of electromagnetic phenomena, involving a great deal of student participation. Topics include electric and magnetic fields and potentials, DC and AC circuits, inductance, and Maxwell's equations. Students should elect Physics 241 laboratory. Cost:3
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333. Keller Tutor 140. Permission of instructor. (1-3). (Excl). This is a graded course. (EXPERIENTIAL).
Students work as tutors in Physics 140 Keller sections. One to three credits may be earned while providing tutoring on one-to-one basis under the supervision of the faculty member. Tutors are expected to spend three clock hours per week for each credit earned. Registration requires instructor approval, and the appropriate application forms are available in the Physics Student Services Office, 2061 Randall Lab.
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334. Keller Tutor 240. Permission of instructor. (1-3). (Excl). This is a graded course. (EXPERIENTIAL).
Students work as tutors in Physics 240 Keller sections. See Physics 333.
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340. Waves, Heat, and Light. Phys. 240 or 260, and Math. 215. Concurrent election of Phys. 341 is strongly recommended. (3). (Excl). (BS).
This course is the third in a three-term introductory physics sequence, and is required of all physics concentrators. The topics covered in this course include thermodynamics, light and optics, and special relativity. The Wave equation is treated in detail. The class meets in lecture, with applications and demonstrations of the topics covered.
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341. Waves, Heat, and Light Lab. Phys. 240 or 260. Concurrent election of Phys. 340 is strongly recommended. (2). (Excl). (BS). Laboratory fee ($25) required.
Physics 341 is a laboratory course intended to accompany Physics 340 and provide a perspective on physics as an experimental science. The experiments performed cover topics that include temperature measurement, black body radiation, optics, interference, diffraction, and the speed of light. Evaluation is based on participation and performance in the laboratory classes, and on written laboratory reports.
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390. Introduction to Modern Physics. Phys. 340 and Math. 216. (3). (Excl). (BS).
This course is a quantitative introduction to modern physics and includes a review 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. This course includes a survey of the topics and techniques in several subfields of physics, including Solid State, Atomic, Nuclear, and Particle Physics. The class will meet as a lecture group. Applications of the principles will be considered in the lecture section on a regular basis.
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401. Intermediate Mechanics. Phys. 126/128 or 240/241, and Math. 216. (3). (Excl). (BS). (QR/1).
This course is required for physics concentrators. It presents a systematic development of Newtonian mechanics beginning with single particle motion in one dimension and extending through multiparticle systems moving in three dimensions. The conservation laws of energy and linear and angular momentum are emphasized. Lagrangian mechanics is introduced, and Hamiltonian mechanics may be introduced as well. Physical systems treated in detail include the forced damped-oscillator, inverse square forced orbits, harmonic motion in two dimensions, coupled oscillations and rigid body motion in two and three dimensions. Mathematical topics given extensive treatment include vector algebra, elements of vector calculus, ordinary differential equations, plane and spherical polar coordinates and phasors and/or complex numbers. Grades are based on one or two hourly exams and a two-hour final.
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402. Light. Phys. 126/128 or 240/241, and Math. 216. (3). (Excl). (BS).
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. Cost:3 WL:4
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405. Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism. Phys. 126/128 or 240/241, and Math. 216. (3). (Excl). (BS).
This is a second course on the classical theory of electromagnetism. Familiarity with Maxwell's equations at the level of 240 is assumed. Physics 340 is strongly recommended. The course elaborates on the theoretical content of the Maxwell theory as well as practical application. Topics: review of vector analysis; electrostatic boundary value problems; magnetostatics; dielectric and magnetic materials; Maxwell's equations and electrodynamics; the wave equation, electromagnetic waves in free space, waves in conducting and dielectric media; guided waves; electromagnetic radiation; sources of EM radiation. Cost:3 WL:4
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406. Statistical and Thermal Physics. Phys. 126/128 or 240/241, and Math. 216. (3). (Excl). (BS).
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. Cost:2 WL:4
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410. Energy Systems. Math 216; concentration in physical science or engineering, and senior standing. (4). (Excl).
Climate change induced by the use of energy worldwide is likely to have a major impact on public policies, scientific research, relations between industrial and industrializing countries, and technological change. How well established is the science of global warming? which predictions are relatively solid and which highly uncertain? What is the potential for extracting energy from sunlight, from the wind, from growing plants, from a revival of nuclear power? What role can improved efficiency play?

Physics 410 is an analysis of the use of energy by society and for its environmental consequences (especially climate changes) and some policy and technology responses that society could make. This course addresses the need of science concentrators for broad knowledge of the scientific issues concerning energy and society, including an introduction to the policy issues. Course topics are: the basic science of energy extraction, including fossil fuels and the potential of renewable resources; the efficiency of energy conversion systems and possibilities for improved efficiency; atmospheric science, especially the role of energy use in climate change; and finally, present and future public policies and changes in technology affecting energy efficiency in the manufacturing and use of automobiles. Life-cycle assessment, the emerging tool for integrating energy and environmental considerations of manufacture and disposal with those of product use, will also be studied. In addition to take-home exercises and examinations, each student will participate in a major small-group project in life cycle assessment. Course requirements: long-term project reports, reading, quantitative problems, essay-type final exam. The course is team taught with faculty from LS&A, SNRE, and Engineering. (Ross)
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413/Complex Systems 541. Introduction to Nonlinear Dynamics and the Physics of Complexity. Phys. 401. (3). (Excl). (BS).
Section 001 The Physics of Nonlinear Dynamical Complex Systems.
This course is intended to introduce the study of a variety of nonlinear-dynamical and complex systems at an undergraduate level. It should be useful to students in engineering, mathematics, or one of the sciences. The topics covered will provide an introduction to nonlinear, complex, and disordered systems, emphasizing its concepts, ideas, and some applications. Nonlinearities and disorder often produce complex behavior, and they will be two central themes underlying the course material. Most of the course will focus on basic tools of dynamical systems to study nonlinear differential and difference equations (including bifurcation theory, numerical algorithms, chaos, fractals; with many examples and applications). At the end, we will discuss some current-research issues in spatio-temporal dynamics, collecting transport in disorder systems, instabilities, and avalanches in a variety of systems. This course will emphasize the effective use of computers in science, including interactive graphics and several useful numerical techniques. Computers can be used as a discovery tool to explore new ideas, and students will be encouraged to do so. The Science Learning Center provides the software and books needed to do most of the homeworks. Grading is based on homeworks and two exams. Texts: (Recommended) S.H. Strogatz, Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos, with Applications to Physics, Biology, Chemistry, and Engineering (Addison-Wesley, 1994 J.H. Hubbard and B.H. West, Differential Equations: A Dynamical Systems Approach (part I and II) (Springer-Verlag, 1991 and 1995). Cost:4 WL:3
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415. Special Problems for Undergraduates. Permission of instructor. (1-6). (Excl). (INDEPENDENT). May be repeated for a total of six credits.
This course emphasizes experimental or theoretical research under the supervision of a faculty member. Generally a small facet of a large research undertaking is investigated in detail. This is an independent study course, and instructor permission is required. The appropriate form is available in the Physics Student Services Office, 2061 Randall Lab.
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418/Macromolecular Science 418. Structural Macromolecular Physics. Math. 216, and Phys. 340, 402, and 417. (3). (Excl). (BS).
This course will provide an introduction to physical techniques used to study the ultrastructure of macromolecules and biomolecules: characterization of macromolecular structure; factors influencing conformational stability; an elementary study of structural techniques; scattering theory (such as X-ray diffraction, light scattering, etc.) and spectroscopic methods (such as infrared, Raman, UV, etc.) with applications to macromolecules.
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419/RC Nat. Sci. 419/Public Policy 519/NR&E 574. Energy Demand. Basic college economics and senior standing. (3). (SS). May not be included in a concentration plan in physics.
The natural resource impact of any particular human activity can usually be drastically reduced given technological development and institutional change. (This is true for a variety of resources: fuels, forests, clean water, clean air...). This course is about the end use of energy and its efficiency in contrast with a focus on the supply of energy. Thus we will not find out how to provide more electricity or how to clean up power plants, but how we could provide the needed lighting and other services with much less electricity. The course will examine the use of energy in the U.S. for transportation, for processing of materials by industry and for comfortable buildings. There will be a focus on transportation and the potential for reducing its environmental impacts, including controlling global warming by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases associated with energy use. The study will be done from the perspectives of physics, economics, behavior, social organization and politics. The course will require a paper on an issue involving a particular end use of energy and a project on some aspect of energy use in the locality. Prerequisites are a college-level course in mathematics or economics or physical science, and SENIOR standing. The course will require establishment of minimum proficiency in analytical techniques concerning energy. (Ross)
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435. Gravitational Physics. Phys. 390 and 401. (3). (Excl). (BS).
The Einstein theory of general relativity provides the foundation of gravitational physics, astrophysics, and cosmology. After an introduction to the theory, experimental tests of general relativity which were performed in the past, the implications of pulsars, black holes, supernovae, and cosmic background radiation as well as the ongoing experimental detection of gravitational waves are discussed. This is an elective course for concentrators in physical sciences. Regular exams as for any elective course in physics are given. WL:4
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441. Advanced Laboratory I. Phys. 390 and any 400-level Physics course. (2). (Excl). (BS).
This is an advanced laboratory course. A wide selection of individual experiments is offered, each covering a fundamental physics concept. Students are required to select five experiments in consultation with the lab instructor. Experiments are to be selected from several different areas of physics. Examples of experiments include the photo- electric effect, electron charge/mass ratio, X- ray diffraction, muon lifetime, nuclear magnetic resonance, high Tc superconductors, chaos, and electron microscope imaging. Physics 441 is offered Fall Term and Physics 442 is offered Winter Term. Physics concentrators are required to take both terms and perform different experiments in the two courses.
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451. Methods of Theoretical Physics. Phys. 401 and Math. 450. (3). (Excl). (BS).
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. Cost:4 WL:3
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453. Quantum Mechanics. Phys. 390. (3). (Excl). (BS).
This course begins with an overview of the experimental and theoretical foundations for quantum mechanics. The theory is developed and applied to simple physical systems, with examples taken from atomic, molecular, condensed matter, nuclear, and particle physics. Topics include: basics of the Schrödinger equations and its solutions in rectangular and spherical coordinates; properties, uses, and interpretations of state functions; expectation values and physical observables; coherence, correlation, and interference. Other topics include spin, the exclusion principle, and some quantum statistical mechanics.
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455. Electronic Devices and Circuits. Phys. 240 and 241. (3). (Excl). (BS).
An introduction to DC and AC circuits; equivalence theorems; introduction to diodes, bipolar transistors (BJT), field effect transistors (J-FET, MOSFET, IGFET); transistor amplifiers (frequency and pulse response via circuit simulation with SPICE); transistors as switches; integrated circuits (operational amplifiers and logic gates); Computer based circuit testing.
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496. Senior Thesis, I. Permission of departmental concentration advisor. (2-3). (Excl). (INDEPENDENT).
Students get introductory experience and research work with faculty, the results of which could provide the basis for a senior thesis project. If work is not completed in the Fall Term, student would register for 497 in the Winter Term.
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497. Senior Thesis, II. Permission of departmental concentration advisor. (2-3). (Excl). (INDEPENDENT).
A continuation of Physics 496. Students who do not complete their thesis research in Physics 496, may continue to 497. If continuing, a grade of Y is given for Physics 496 and a final senior thesis grade given upon completion of the research.
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498. Introduction to Research for Honors Students. Permission of departmental concentration advisor. (2-3). (Excl). (INDEPENDENT).
Honors students do research under the supervision of a faculty member. The results can provide a basis for an Honors thesis. If work is not completed during the Fall Term, the student must register for 499 in Winter Term.
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499. Introduction to Research for Honors Students. Permission of physics concentration advisor. (2-3). (Excl). (INDEPENDENT).
Honors students do research under the supervision of a faculty member. The results can provide a basis for an Honors thesis.
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