Physics Courses

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Course Descriptions for the Physics Major

160 Light and 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 instruments, 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.

201 General Physics I  (3 one-hour lectures, 1 three-hour lab weekly) A calculus based physics course that covers the description of motion, forces, work and energy, momentum, rotational motion, oscillatory motion and gravitation. Laboratory work is an important component of the course. This course is offered annually in the spring. Prerequisite: MATH 121 must be taken previous to or concurrent with PHYS 201.

202 General Physics II (3 one-hour lectures, 1 three-hour lab weekly) A continuation of PHYS 201. In this course, electricity, magnetism, light and electromagnetic radiation are covered. Laboratory work is an important component of the course. This course is offered annually in the fall. Prerequisite: a grade of C- or better in PHYS 201. MATH 235 must be taken previous to or concurrent with PHYS 202.

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. Prerequisite: MATH 121 and PHYS 140 or 201. Offered alternate years

271 Mathematics for the Physical Sciences (3 credits) Topics in mathematics that are relevant to the physical sciences are covered in this course. These topics include, but are not limited to, integrals, series, complex algebra, ordinary differential equations, matrices, and Fourier techniques. Emphasis will be on applications of the mathematics and not on proofs.

305 Atomic and Nuclear Physics (3 one-hour lectures, 1 three-hour lab weekly) This course is an introduction modern physics and quantum theory. Some of the topics studied are Compton scattering, the hydrogen tom, an introduction to Schrödinger quantum mechanics, nuclear structure, and elementary particles. Laboratory work includes measurement of atomic and nuclear particles, the Franck-Hertz experiment, spectroscopy, and the nuclear magnetic resonance techniques. Prerequisites: PHYS 201, 202. Offered alternate years.

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. Prerequisites: PHYS 201, 202. Offered alternate years.

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. Prerequisites: PHYS 201, 202. Offered alternate years.

361, 362 Classical Mechanics I & II (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. Prerequisites: PHYS 201 and MATH 311. Offered alternate years.

401, 402 Electricity and Magnetism I & II (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. Prerequisites: PHYS 201, 202, and MATH 311. Offered alternate years.

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. Prerequisites: PHYS 201, 202, 305 and MATH 311. Offered alternate years.

489 Pre-Thesis Research (1 credit) This course is intended for senior Physics majors in the process of organizing and beginning their thesis research projects. This course requires independent guided research with one one-hour meeting per week or the equivalent. Student achievement will be evaluated by: 1) weekly progress on the research and by 2) the quality/content of a draft of the project introduction (featuring the problem and purpose of study, physics background, previous study and methods sections), as well as an initial project bibliography.

Other Courses of Interest for Physics Majors

125 Energy, Environment and Society (3 one-hour lectures weekly) An investigation into the energy sources that make our modern world possible and the impact of those energy sources on the environment. Fossil fuels, nuclear energy, solar power, hydropower, wind power, and alternative energy sources will be investigated. The class will consider some major issues: What to do when we reach peak oil? What should we do in response to global warming? What changes are the students likely to see during their lifetimes?

344 Astrophysics This course provides an introduction to the ideas and foundations of astrophysics with a focus on cosmology. We first discuss how to use basic observations in astronomy in order to determine stellar properties through physical laws and how to classify stars on the H-R diagram. Topics covered will include blackbody radiation, Bohr atom, Kirchoff’s laws, photometry, radiative flux and the H-R diagram. Cosmology will then be covered using a Newtonian treatment, which will allow the introduction of several important concepts without having to discuss relativity. Using this knowledge, we will move on discuss many aspects of modern cosmology using the full solutions of Einstein’s equations. Topics will include: the Friedman equation, geometry of the universe, Hubble’s Law, cosmological models, the cosmic microwave background radiation, Big Bang nucleosynthesis, inflation and some advanced topics. Prerequisites: General Physics I & II (PHYS 201 & 202), introductory astronomy (PHYS 121 or 163) and the calculus sequence (MATH 121, 233 & 235).

250, 350, 450 Special Topics in Physics These are courses that are offered by the Hartwick faculty based on student interest. Courses have been offered in astrophysics, experimental methods in physics, and geophysics.