Physics Courses

PHYS 112 Energy and the Physical World

4 hours

The unifying theme of energy molds the study of the physical concepts of motion, gravitation, electromagnetism, heat, radiation, and nuclear physics. Solar, wind, nuclear, tidal, hydroelectric, and thermal electric energy conversion processes are also included. This course is intended for the general student with no special background in mathematics or science. (Same as ENVS and SCI 112) (NWL)

PHYS 114 Physics of Sound and Musical Acoustics

4 hours

The course explores the physical basis for sound, its production and detection, with applications to speech, hearing, music, and acoustics of musical instruments and buildings. Intended for the student who has special interest in the acoustical phenomena associated with music and human speech. No special background in mathematics is assumed, but basic mathematics will be an important tool used throughout the semester. A basic knowledge of music theory is recommended but not required. (NWL)

PHYS 139, 239, 339, 439 Special Topics

Credit arr.

PHYS 151, 152 General Physics

4, 4 hours

An investigation of the important principles of physics, including recent developments. Designed for the arts major as well as students majoring in one of the sciences. This course meets the basic requirements in physics for preprofessional students in health related fields, including medicine. Topics include mechanics, energy, fluids, heat, wave motion, electricity and magnetism, light and optics, and nuclear physics. Although this is a noncalculus course, the foundation of physics is mathematical modeling of the physical world. Thus, a basic working knowledge of algebra and trigonometry is assumed and will be further developed as the course proceeds. Graphical and statistical analysis is employed throughout the laboratory component. A student may not receive credit for both PHYS 151 and PHYS 181, nor for both PHYS 152 and PHYS 182. Prerequisite for PHYS 152: PHYS 151 or PHYS 181 or consent of instructor. (NWL, Quant)

PHYS 181 Classical Physics I

4 hours

An introduction to the ideas of physics. Topics include Newtonian mechanics, energy, work, oscillations, and fluid dynamics. The laboratory work focuses on measurement and observation to enhance conceptual understanding of the material. The laboratory component is integral to the curriculum and is not offered as a separate course. Physics 181 is the first of a four-semester sequence of courses designed for physics and pre-engineering students. Physics 181 and 182 are also appropriate for students majoring in other physical sciences. Pre-/corequisite: MATH 151. (NWL)

PHYS 182 Classical Physics II

4 hours

This course continues the discussion of physical ideas begun in Physics 181. Topics include optics, electricity and magnetism, electromagnetic waves, and electric circuits. The laboratory work focuses on measurement and observation to enhance conceptual understanding of the material. Prerequisite: 181 or 151. Pre-/corequisite: MATH 152. (NWL)

PHYS 185 First-Year Seminar

4 hours

A variety of seminars for first-year students offered each January Term.

PHYS 238 Statics

4 hours

Analysis of static equilibrium problems for engineering structures. Involves vectors and scalar treatment of coplanar and noncoplanar force systems. Particle and rigid body equilibrium, area and mass moments of inertia, equivalent force systems, distributed forces, friction, internal forces. Offered alternate years. Prerequisites: PHYS 151 or PHYS 181, MATH 151.

PHYS 281 Modern Physics I

4 hours

An introduction to thermodynamics and statistical physics, special relativity as well as elementary topics in quantum physics. The history and development of experimental and theoretical work in the physics of the 20th century will be strongly emphasized. The laboratory work emphasizes experimental technique, problem solving and data analysis, and is integral to the curriculum. Topics of investigation in the laboratory will include a number of important experiments drawn from the history and development of modern physics. Students are encouraged to alter or extend many of the experiments and engage in projects. Prerequisites: PHYS 182 or PHYS 152 and MATH 152. (NWL, W)

PHYS 282 Modern Physics II

4 hours

A continuation of Modern Physics I with applications of quantum physics to nuclear, atomic, solid state, elementary particle physics and astrophysics. Topics of investigation in the laboratory will include a number of classic experiments drawn from the history and development of modern physics. Students are expected to alter or extend many of the experiments and engage in projects. The course includes instruction in scientific writing. Prerequisite: PHYS 281. (W)

PHYS 285/295 Directed Study

2, 4 hours

An opportunity to pursue individualized or experiential learning with a faculty member, at the sophomore level or above, either within or outside the major. PHYS 285 can be taken only during January term, PHYS 295 can be taken during the fall, spring, or summer terms.

PHYS 311 Advanced Laboratory I

2 hours

An introduction to linear circuits, including transistors and other solid state devices, techniques of electrical measurement, and application of electrical measurement techniques in experiments in modern physics. Prerequisite: PHYS 282.

PHYS 312 Advanced Laboratory II

2 hours

The emphasis of this course is the laboratory study of the principles of experimental design, procedures and analysis. Students design and perform a number of experiments from several branches of physics. The course includes instruction in scientific writing. Students write experimental reports and deliver oral presentations of their results. Prerequisite: PHYS 311.

PHYS 352 Mechanics of Materials

4 hours

Application of Newtonian mechanics to deformable solids, development of equations of elasticity in rectangular and curvilinear coordinates. Stress and strain, torsion, determinate and indeterminate problems, bending and deflection of beams, two-dimensional problems, variational methods and energy principles, fracture, fatigue. Recommended for students considering future study in mechanical engineering, civil engineering, engineering mechanics, or materials science. Offered every three years. Prerequisite: PHYS 281. Pre-/corequisite: MATH 351.

PHYS 354 Astrophysics

4 hours

A general, intermediate course on the physics of astronomical objects. Includes introduction to descriptive astronomy. Topics include celestial mechanics, structure of and evolution of stars and topics taken from galactic astronomy and cosmology. Offered every three years. Prerequisite: PHYS 281.

PHYS 359 Thermal Physics

4 hours

Concepts of entropy, temperature and thermodynamics. An emphasis on classical and quantum statistics with applications to a wide variety of physical systems. Offered every three years. Prerequisite: PHYS 181.

PHYS 361 Classical Mechanics

4 hours

This course presents kinematics and dynamics of particles using Newtonian, Lagrangian, and Hamiltonian techniques. Topics include conservation laws, central force motion, oscillations and normal mode analysis, small oscillations, rotating rigid bodies, and motion in noninertial reference frames. Offered alternate years. Prerequisite: PHYS 281. Pre-/corequisite: MATH 240.

PHYS 364 Electricity and Magnetism

4 hours

A study of electric and magnetic fields leading up to Maxwell's equations and their applications. The topics include the electrostatic and magnetostatic fields in vacuum and in matter, scaler potentials, vector potentials, electrodynamics and electromagnetic waves. Offered alternate years in spring. Prerequisite: PHYS 281. Pre-/corequisite: MATH 351.

PHYS 369 Numerical Physics

4 hours

This course focuses on approaches to complex physical situations that are not practically solvable using analytical methods. The numerical methods and physical problems studied are applicable to several branches of physics including astrophysics, atomic physics, thermal physics, fluid mechanics, and condensed matter physics. Prerequisite: PHYS 281. Pre-/corequisite: MATH 240.

PHYS 380 Internship

1, 2, or 4 hours

On-the-job learning experience relating to fields of physics or engineering. The plan must be presented for departmental approval before the experience begins. Normally 12 hours of physics above 150 will be required.

PHYS 389 Directed Research

1, 2, or 4 hours

Directed research involves students in research projects under the supervision of department faculty. Recommended for students who expect to attend graduate school in physics or engineering. With the approval of the department, students may register for more than one semester (cumulative total may not exceed 4 semester hours). Prerequisites: approval of the research director and the department head. Normally 12 hours of physics above 150 will be required.

PHYS 395 Independent Study

1, 2, or 4 hours

PHYS 401 Particle and Nuclear Physics

4 hours

This course is intended to introduce students to the properties and interactions of nuclei and elementary particles. Attention will be paid both to the historical experimental development of these related fields as well as their theoretical aspects. Students will be introduced to nuclear properties including stability, structure and reactions, radioactivity and applications of fission and fusion. Among topics in particle physics that will be addressed are the quark model of hadrons, charged-lepton and neutrino physics, the strong and weak interactions, symmetries and conservations laws, and experimental methods in particle physics. Offered every three years. Prerequisite: PHYS 282. Pre-/corequisite: MATH 351.

PHYS 411 Quantum Mechanics

4 hours

This course provides an introduction to the theory of nonrelativistic quantum mechanics. Both the conceptual and formal structure of the theory are discussed. A brief review of the experimental basis for quantization motivates the development of the Schrödinger wave equation. The principles of wave mechanics are then applied to various one dimensional problems, including the harmonic oscillator. The properties of angular momentum are developed and applied to central potentials in three dimensions. Matrix mechanics and spin angular momentum are also discussed, allowing for a complete treatment of the physics of hydrogen-like atoms. Prerequisite: PHYS 282. Pre-/corequisite: MATH 351.

PHYS 490 Senior Project

1 hour

Students will design and implement a project under the supervision of the faculty. Prerequisite: senior standing.

PHYS 491 Senior Project

2 hours

Students will write a research paper reporting the nature, outcomes and significance of the project undertaken in PHYS 490. Prerequisite: PHYS 490

PHYS 493 Senior Honors Project

4 hours

A yearlong independent research project. Applications are completed on the Honors Program form available at the registrar's office, requiring the signatures of a faculty supervisor, the department head, the honors program director, and the registrar. Interdisciplinary projects require the signatures of two faculty supervisors. The project must be completed by the due date for senior projects. The completed project is evaluated by a review committee consisting of the faculty supervisor, another faculty member from the major department, and a faculty member from outside the major department. All projects must be presented publicly. Only projects awarded an "A-" or "A" qualify for "department honors" designation. The honors project fulfills the all-college senior project requirement.