• Wright Observatory in action
  •  Scanning the skies at the Wright Observatory

Physics Courses Offered

121 Astronomy
163 General Astronomy
127 Space and Time
140, 141 Principles of Physics
150 Topics in Physics
160 Light & Relativity
201, 202 General Physics
265 Electronics 
305 Atomic & Nuclear Physics
314 Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics
318 Optics
361, 362 Classical Mechanics
401, 402 Electricity and Magnetism
410 Quantum Mechanics
490 Senior Project

121 Astronomy (3 one-hour lectures, 1 two-hour lab weekly). A survey of modern astronomy. Topics include gravitation, properties of light, optical instruments, spectra, the solar system, stars, nebulae, clusters, galaxies, pulsars, quasars, black holes, and the creation of the universe. The laboratory includes study of astronomical measurements, with both daytime and nighttime observing sessions.

127 Space and Time An introduction to our understanding of the universe from the findings of Galileo and Newton to modern theories of the origin of the universe and unification physics. The role of space and time in Einstein's theory of relativity, the uncertainty principle and quantum mechanics, black holes, quarks, anti-matter and entropy will be among the topics discussed.

129 Physics of Everyday Objects The "how-and-why" of the working of everyday objects from household appliances and television to the way electricity reaches our homes and how telephone calls are made. The inner workings of cars, ships, airplanes, and spacecrafts will also be studied. Prerequisite: open only to students with no previous college physics credit.

140, 141 Principles of Physics (3 one-hour lectures, 1 two-hour lab weekly). An introduction to the basic principles of physics. The first term is devoted to the study of mechanics, the properties of matter and heat, and thermodynamics. The second term includes the study of wave phenomena, electricity and magnetism, and modern physics. Applications of physics to the physical and life sciences are included. Laboratory work is an important component of the course. These courses fulfill physics requirements for biology, geology, and medical technology majors. Competence in high school algebra is required. (LAB)

150 Topics in Physics Individual courses designed for non-science majors. The topics covered change from term to term. Possible topics covered include energy, modern physics and introductory electronics. Some topics courses include a laboratory component.

160 Light & Relativity (3 one-hour lectures, 1 three-hour lab weekly). An introduction to optics and Einstein's theory of relativity. Topics include geometric and wave optics, the special theory of relativity, and relativistic mechanics. Laboratory work includes a study of optical instrument, wave motion and computer simulation. The course is designed as a first course for entering freshmen who are considering the possibility of studying physics in some depth during their college career. It may also be profitably taken by upperclassmen with an interest in the area. Competence in high school algebra is required. (LAB)

163 General Astronomy (3 one-hour lectures). An introduction to astronomy and astrophysics primarily for students whose major is in the Division of Physical and Life Sciences. Topics include methods of astronomy, stellar evolution, galactic structures and cosmology. Some observing sessions will be required. Competence in high school algebra is required.

201, 202 General Physics (3 one-hour lectures, 1 three-hour lab weekly). An introduction to the fundamentals of physics. Topics in the first term include the description of motion, forces, work, and energy, momentum, rotational motion, oscillatory motion and gravitation, In the second term, electricity, magnetism, light, and electromagnetic radiation are covered. Laboratory work is an important component of the course. Calculus is used. These courses fulfill the physics requirements for biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics, and medical technology majors. (LAB)

265 Electronics(3 one-hour lectures, 1 three-hour lab weekly). An introduction to modern electronics. Topics include circuits, amplifiers, signal processing, practical instrumentation and logic circuits. Both discrete components and integrated circuits are discussed and used in laboratory experiments illustrating digital and analog applications. (LAB)

305 Atomic & Nuclear Physics (3 one-hour lectures, 1 three-hour lab weekly). Introductory modern physics and quantum theory. Some of the topics studied are Compton scattering, the hydrogen atom, an introduction to Schroedinger quantum mechanics, nuclear structure and elementary particles. Laboratory work includes measurement of atomic and nuclear particles, the Franck-Hertz experiment, spectroscopy and computer simulation of an accelerator. (LAB)

314 Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics (3 one-hour lectures, 1 three-hour lab weekly). A study of relationships between thermodynamic variables and the statistical interpretation of these relationships. Topics studied include definition of temperature; the first and second laws of thermodynamics; entropy; properties of ideal gases and real substances; and statistical descriptions of systems of particles, including quantum statistics. Laboratory experiments emphasize the methods of measuring various thermodynamic variables. (LAB)

318 Optics (3 one-hour lectures, 1 three-hour lab weekly). A study of geometrical and physical optics. Topics studied in class and emphasized in laboratory experiments include refraction, lenses, and lens systems, interference, Fresnel and Fraunhofer diffraction, polarization and quantum optics. (LAB)

361, 362 Classical Mechanics (3 one-hour lectures weekly). A study of the kinematics and dynamics of bodies in motion. The first term is a study of Newtonian mechanics. Topics include the harmonic oscillator, central forces and gravitation. The second term includes Lagrangian dynamics, small oscillations and the inertia tensor.

401, 402 Electricity and Magnetism(3 one-hour lectures weekly). A detailed study of the principles of electricity and magnetism. During the first term topics include: electrostatics, dielectrics, electric currents, magnetic fields and electromagnetic induction. Topics covered during the second term include the magnetic properties of matter, plasmas, Maxwell's equations, and electrodynamics. (LAB)

410 Quantum Mechanics (3 one-hour lectures weekly). Basic postulates of quantum mechanics and their physical meaning. Topics include potential wells and barriers, the harmonic oscillator, the hydrogen atom, electron spin and perturbation theory.

490 Senior Project Experimental or theoretical research project. Students work on project of their choice under supervision of a faculty member. The results of the work are presented to the department in both written and oral form.