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.

115. Living with Physics. Two and one-half years of high school mathematics, including trigonometry. (3). (NS).

Physics 115 is a descriptive introduction to Physics for non-science concentrators who do not have an extensive mathematical background. Students will be exposed to both classical and modern conceptions of the physical world. Critical evaluation of ideas through the use of the scientific method will be stressed. Classical concepts involving easily measurable physical quantities will be related to everyday life through a series of lecture demonstrations, take-home exercises and experiments. At the same time, modern ideas ranging from the nature and evolution of the universe, to the world of the atom and of elementary particles will be discussed. It is hoped that students who complete the course will be in a better position to evaluate new and existing ideas in all areas of life by applying those methods which are used in the evaluation of physical theories. The final course grade will be based on homework assignments, a midterm exam and a final exam. (Tarle)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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 application to macromolecules.

452. Methods of Theoretical Physics. Phys. 451. (3). (NS).

This is a course in mathematical methods of physics. The textbook by G. Arfken, Mathematical Methods for Physicists, is used; approximately 85% of the contents will be covered. This course is considered a necessary preparation for graduate school.

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

A brief review of the mechanical, thermal, electric, magnetic and chemical properties of matter will be given. The empirical foundation of atomic physics will be discussed in some detail. The theoretical developments resulting from the failure of classical theories and early atomic models will be discussed, wherein wave mechanics will be studied and a brief introduction to the Schrödinger equation will be given. Other topics include the exclusion principle and some quantum statistical mechanics.

454. Electronic Acquisition and Processing of Physics Data. Open to juniors, seniors, and graduate students; a basic knowledge of computer structure is helpful. (3). (NS).

The course consists of two hours of lecture-demonstration and one hour of laboratory project work. The course is organized and designed primarily as a vehicle for the dissemination of information on "how to" regarding the electronic handling of data in experimental physics. The range is therefore very broad and the coverage of each topic is of an introductory nature. A single specific, in-depth topic is required for each student enrolled in the course. Emphasis is placed on the use of commercially available electronic circuit elements and computing equipment in terms of their external specifications without reference to the internal resistors and transistors of which they are composed. Integrated circuit technology is used in most examples. The topics introduced are: digital circuit elements/Boolean functions/gates /flip flops; use of the basic elements in counters, storage registers, decision asking, conversion and display; timing and control circuits; computer programming for external device handling; basic analog circuits/operational amplifiers/comparitors/ multipliers; analog to digital conversion; and digital to analog conversion. The project or laboratory work is established and approved on an individual basis and can be associated with the student's work, research, or with the other research efforts within the department.

457. Nuclear Physics. Phys. 453. (3). (NS).

Topics of study will include (1) nuclear structure: binding energies, size and shape, angular momentum, parity, isopin, magnetic moments, electric quadrupole moments, statistical, shall and collective models for the nucleus; (2) nuclear decays, radioactivity, barrier penetration and alpha-particle decay, the weak interaction and beta-decay, electromagnetic transitions in nuclei; (3) nuclear interactions: basic properties of the nuclear force, nucleon-nucleon scattering, the deuteron, nuclear reactions and reaction models; and (4) nuclear radiation: interaction of charged particles, gamma-rays and neutrons with matter, nuclear radiation detectors. The basic elements of quantum mechanics are used.

460. Atomic Physics II. Phys. 453. (3). (NS).

Physics 460 continues the work of Physics 453 in developing the quantum description of phenomena at the scale of atoms and molecules.

463. Introduction to Solid State Physics. Phys. 453 or permission of instructor. (3). (NS).

Main topics to be covered are cohesion in solids; Free Electron Theory in Metals; Periodicity in Solids, Crystal Structure, Symmetry, Reciprocal Lattice, Diffraction Methods, Electrons in Periodic Structures; Band Theory of Solids and Fermi Surfaces; Phonons, Thermal Effects; Applications to Semiconductor Devices. Students should have a background in thermodynamics, elementary statistical mechanics, plus a little quantum mechanics. There are three lectures per week, one of which may be a discussion period. Student evaluation is based on midterm and final exams; occasional short tests and weekly problem sets. Text: C. Kittel, Introduction to Solid State Physics, 5th ed., Wiley, 1976.

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 research literature, write extensively, and contribute to discussions led by seminar members or visitors.


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