Department of Physics

Course Descriptions

AST 100 Astronomy
A descriptive survey of modern astronomy. Topics include theories about the origin and development of the universe, stellar evolution, the solar system, galaxies, observational methods, and recent discoveries. Cr 3.

AST 103 Exercises and Experiments in Astronomy
This course includes exercises on the Moon's orbit, Earth's orbital motion, rotation of Saturn's rings, the Sun, the Crab Nebula, variable stars, pulsars, Hubble's law, and galaxies. Two planetarium sessions. Prerequisite: Prior or concurrent registration in AST 100. Cr 1.

PHY 101 Introduction to Physics
An elementary approach to the study of mechanics, heat, sound, electricity, magnetism, light, and modern physics, intended for the student who desires a one-semester introduction to the subject with emphasis on concepts as opposed to problem solving. Students desiring laboratory work should also register for PHY 102. Students planning to major in any of the natural sciences are not directed to this course but rather to a more advanced introductory course. Prerequisite: high school algebra. Cr 3.

PHY 102 Introduction to Physics Laboratory
Laboratory experiments and additional material designed to supplement the topics considered in PHY 101. Prerequisite: prior or concurrent registration in PHY 101 or permission of instructor. Cr 1.

PHY 111 Elements of Physics I
The first of a two-semester non-calculus sequence in introductory physics, intended particularly for life-science majors. Topics to be covered include mechanics, waves, sound, and thermal physics. Lectures, demonstrations, and problem solving will help the student to develop an understanding of physical phenomena. Mathematical treatment is at the level of algebra and trigonometry. This course is not recommended for students planning to major in the physical sciences or engineering. It should be taken concurrently with PHY 114, Introductory Physics Laboratory I. Prerequisite: grade of C or higher in MAT 108 or MAT 140 (or concurrently) or MAT 152 (or concurrently), or permission of instructor. Three hours of lecture and one hour of recitation per week. Cr 4.

PHY 112 Elements of Physics II
A continuation of PHY 111, intended particularly for life-science majors. Topics to be covered include electricity, magnetism, optics, and modern physics. Lectures, demonstrations, and problem solving will help the student to develop an understanding of physical phenomena. Mathematical treatment is at the level of algebra and trigonometry. This course is not recommended for students planning to major in the physical sciences or engineering. It should be taken concurrently with PHY 116, Introductory Physics Laboratory II. Prerequisite: grade of C or higher in PHY 111 or equivalent. Three hours of lecture and one hour of recitation per week. Cr 4.

PHY 114 Introductory Physics Laboratory I
Experiments designed to illustrate the concepts studied in PHY 111 and PHY 121. Corequisite: PHY 111 or 121. Two hours per week. Cr 1.

PHY 116 Introductory Physics Laboratory II
Experiments designed to illustrate the concepts studied in PHY 112 and PHY 123. Corequisite: PHY 112 or PHY 123. Two hours per week. Cr 1.

PHY 121 General Physics I
The first of a two-semester sequence introducing the fundamental concepts of physics, using calculus. Topics to be covered include mechanics, waves, sound, and thermal physics. This course is recommended for students who plan further study in physical sciences, mathematics, or engineering. It should be taken with PHY 114, Introductory Physics Laboratory I. Prerequisite: prior completion of MAT 152 (highly recommended) or concurrent registration in MAT 152, or equivalent. Three hours of lecture and one and one-half hours of recitation per week. Cr 4.

PHY 123 General Physics II
A continuation of PHY 121, introducing the fundamental concepts of physics, using calculus. Topics to be covered include electricity, magnetism, and light. This course is recommended for students who plan further study in physical sciences, mathematics, or engineering. It should be taken concurrently with PHY 116, Introductory Physics Laboratory II. Prerequisites: grade of C or better in PHY 121 and MAT 152. Three hours of lecture and one and one-half hours of recitation per week. Cr 4.

PHY 211 Modern Physics I
The first of a two-semester sequence covering the principal topics that show the departure of physics from its classical roots. Topics will include special relativity, bohr models of the atom, Schrodinger's equation, the hydrogen atom, and atomic structure. Prerequisites: PHY 123 or PHY 112, and MAT 152. Cr 3.

PHY 213 Modern Physics II
A continuation of PHY 211, covering the physics of spin, multielectron atoms, molecules, semiconductors, nuclear physics, and particle physics. Prerequisite: PHY 211. Cr 3.

PHY 240 Intermediate Laboratory I
A selection of experiments designed to illustrate the more important principles of classical and modern physics. This team-oriented experimental course is modeled after how research teams work, with a strong emphasis on reproducible results. Typical experiments include measurement of Planck's constant, the charge to mass ratio of the electron, the speed of light, acceleration due to gravity, and the Universal Gravitational constant. Students will be expected to make oral presentations, write journal-quality laboratory reports using LaTeX. Six hours per week. Prerequisites: PHY 121, PHY 123, and PHY 211, with PHY 261 strongly recommended. Cr 3.

PHY 242 Intermediate Laboratory II
A continuation of PHY 240. Students will have the time to pursue a selection of experiments illustrating the important principles of  classical and modern physics in greater depth. This course also serves as the Department's capstone course. Prerequisite: PHY 240. Cr 3.

PHY 251 Principles of Electronics
An introduction to electronics including DC and AC circuits, transistors, operational amplifiers, and combinatorial and sequential logic devices. The laboratory will cover the use of electronic instrumentation as well as illustrate principles. Prerequisite: MAT 152 or equivalent, or permission of instructor. Cr 3.

PHY 261 Computational Physics
This project-oriented course uses the Python programming language and introduces methods of computer simulation and their diverse applications in the physical world. Examples of projects include projectile motion, planetary systems, chaotic systems, and thermal systems. Methods include numerical solutions to differential equations and Monte Carlo techniques. The course emphasizes structured programming, although no background in computer programming is required. Prerequisites: grade of C or higher in PHY 121 and prior or concurrent registration in MAT 153, or permission of instructor. Cr 3.

PHY 281 Astrophysics
An intermediate-level course in the physics of the astronomical universe. Topics covered include classical astronomy, celestial mechanics, the structure and evolution of stars and galaxies, and cosmology. No previous background in astronomy is required. Prerequisite: PHY 221. Cr 3.

PHY 314 Statistical and Thermal Physics
The fundamentals of classical thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. Topics covered include the laws of thermodynamics, heat engines and refrigerators, the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution, the statistical concepts of temperature and entropy, the Fermi-Dirac, and Bose-Einstein distributions with applications to blackbody radiation, phonons, electrons in solids, and the Ising model. Prerequisites: PHY 123 and prior or concurrent registration in MAT 252. PHY 261 also recommended. Cr 3.  

PHY 321 Classical Mechanics I
The first of a two-semester sequence offering an intermediate-level treatment of the principal topics of classical physics. Topics include particle motion, air resistance, energy and momentum conservation, oscillations, the calculus of variations, and Lagrangian Mechanics. Prerequisites: grade of C or higher in PHY 121 and prior or concurrent registration in MAT 252. Cr 3.

PHY 323 Classical Mechanics II
A continuation of PHY 321. This course discusses orbital mechanics, mechanics in non-inertial reference frames, rigid body motion, coupled oscillators and normal modes, Hamiltonian Mechanics, scattering theory, and continuum mechanics. Prerequisites: PHY 321 and MAT 252. Cr 3.

PHY 331 Electrodynamics I
This course covers static electric and magnetic fields, their interactions with electric charge and current, and their transformation properties; the effect of special relativity is incorporated. Macroscopic fields in material media are described. Prerequisites: A 300-level physics course and MAT 252. Cr 3.

PHY 333 Electrodynamics II
This course covers time-dependent fields, electromagnetic induction, Maxwell's equations, electromagnetic wave propagation in various media and structures, electromagnetic radiation from charge and current distributions, and relativistic covariance of Maxwell's equations. Prerequisite: PHY 331. Cr 3.

PHY 341 Quantum Mechanics
A study of the quantum physics of atoms, nuclei, and particles. Topics covered include wave particle duality, the Schrodinger Wave Equation and its application to a variety of quantum systems, three-dimensional and time-dependent systems, and photons. Prerequisites: PHY 211, PHY 321, and MAT 252, or permission from instructor. Cr 3.

PHY 375 Optics
An intermediate-level study of the more important principles of geometric and physical optics, with illustrations of both classical and modern applications. Prerequisite: PHY 331. Cr 3.

PHY 390 Independent Laboratory Study in Physics
An independent study involving primarily laboratory work. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. Cr 1-3.

PHY 410 Independent Study in Physics
Reading and discussion of advanced subjects or instruction in special topics or research. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. Cr 1-3.

PHY 440 Advanced Physics Laboratory
This course may involve a series of experiments in physics or, by permission of the instructor, an advanced project in experimental physics. Prerequisites: PHY 240 and one 300-level physics course. Cr 3.