Physics

Physics courses are offered in support of majors in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and educational studies and also to fulfill the College's General Education requirements. Students interested in further studies in physics should consider the physics minor, secondary teaching with physics emphasis, or a self-designed interdisciplinary major with a physics emphasis.

Physics minors begin their studies with a year long, calculus-based introductory sequence in mechanics and electricity and magnetism, in which they are acquainted with the physical principles governing everyday phenomena and learn to apply these principles to the quantitative study of nature. In the second year, they complement their major programs by developing an understanding of the physical world beyond the introductory level through intermediate-level course in periodic motion, waves, and geometric optics in the fall semester. Having completed a survey of classical physics, physics minors finish the second semester with a course in modern physics, beginning with the revolutionary advances of the early twentieth century. The minor is completed by an additional 300 level course in physics chosen in consultation with their advisor. Current options include courses in Classical Dynamics, Quantum Mechanics, or a Special Topics course in some subfield of physics.

The student learning outcomes for students completing the physics minor are:
I. to demonstrate an understanding of mechanics, electricity and magnetism at an introductory level.
II. to demonstrate a basic understanding of wave phenomena and periodic motion.
III. to demonstrate an understanding of special relativity and quantum theory at an elementary level.
 

Minor Requirements: Physics. Beyond the introductory courses (PHY 115, 116 or PHY 121, 122), completion of the physics minor requires three additional courses: PHY 205, 212, and one 300-level physics course. Students should note the prerequisites for these courses.

The learning outcomes fulfilled by the required courses are shown below.

I. PHY 121, General Physics I, 4 hours
  PHY 122, General Physics II, 4 hours
II. PHY 205, Periodic Motion and Waves, 4 hours
III. PHY 212, Modern Physics, 4 hours
 

Physics (PHY) Gen. Ed. Course Descriptions

106: Astronomy.
Goal: To present the principles of astronomy by emphasizing the process of scientific discovery, analysis and synthesis that led to current theories of the origin and structure of the universe.
Content: The astronomical observations and physical processes relevant to the study of the origin and structure of the universe.
Prerequisite(s): MAT126 , MAT130 , or placement into MAT140 or MAT205.
Taught: Spring or Fall, alternate years.
Gen. Ed. Category: Exploring, How the natural world functions; (SM).
Credit: 4 hours.

121, 121L: General Physics I.
Goal: To introduce the principles of classical physics and their applications in modern technology and everyday life using a calculus-based formalism. To enhance critical thinking skills through problem solving.
Content: The principles of Newtonian Mechanics including translational and rotational motion, force, torque, momentum and mechanical energy.
Taught: Fall.
Prerequisites: MAT 205, MAT 206 co-requisite. Students enrolled in PHY121 must also enroll in PHY121L.
Gen. Ed. Category: Exploring, How the natural world functions; (SM).
Credit: 4 hours.
 

Physics (PHY) Other Course Descriptions

115, 115L: College Physics I.
Goal: To introduce the principles of classical physics and their applications in modern technology and everyday life using an algebra-based formalism. To enhance critical thinking skills through problem solving.
Content: The principles of Newtonian Mechanics including translational and rotational motion, force, torque, momentum and mechanical energy.
Prerequisites: MAT 140 or placement into MAT205.
Taught: Fall alternate years.
Credit: 4 hours.

116, 116L: College Physics II.
Goal: To introduce the principles of classical physics and their applications in modern technology and everyday life using an algebra-based formalism. To enhance critical thinking skills through problem solving.
Content: The principles of electricity and magnetism.
Taught: Spring alternate years.
Prerequisites: PHY 115.
Credit: 4 hours.

122, 122L: General Physics II.
Goal: To introduce the principles of classical physics and their applications in modern technology and everyday life using an calculus-based formalism. To enhance critical thinking skills through problem solving.
Content: The principles of electricity and magnetism.
Taught: Spring.
Prerequisites: PHY 121 and MAT 206
Credit: 4 hours.

200: Introduction to Astronomical Observation.
Goal: Introduction to observational astronomy and the use of astronomical instruments and observing aids for collection, analysis, and interpretation of astronomical data.
Content: A hands-on introduction to the concepts and practice of observational astronomy with small telescopes: Celestial coordinates, simple optics, telescope operation, CCD Imaging and image processing.
Taught: Fall, Alternate years.
Prerequisites: MAT 140.
Credit: 2 hours.

205: Periodic Motion and Waves.
Goal: To extend the concepts and techniques presented in PHY 121 and PHY 122.
Content: The study of periodic and wave motion, light and optics.
Taught: Fall. Alternate years.
Prerequisites: PHY 122, or, with departmental approval, PHY 116 and MAT 205.
Credit: 4 hours.

212: Modern Physics.
Goal: To understand the principles of modern physics.
Content: The development of modern physics, with emphasis on relativity, the kinetic theory of matter, quantum theory, the Schroedinger equation, and atomic physics.
Taught: Spring. Alternate years.
Prerequisites: PHY 122, or, with departmental approval, PHY 116 and MAT 205.
Credit: 4 hours.

305: Classical Dynamics.
Goal: This course will provide students with a complete set of analytical tools for the study of classical dynamical systems. Particular emphasis will be placed on the reformulation of dynamics by Hamilton and Lagrange.
Content: Applications of Newton's Laws to oscillatory systems, motion under the influence of central forces, and rigid body motion. Calculus of Variations. The Lagrange and Hamiltonian formulations of dynamics.
Taught: Fall. Alternate years.
Prerequisites: PHY 122, MAT 300.
Credit: 3 hours.

350: Quantum Mechanics.
Goal: To provide students with an introduction to the concepts and mathematical techniques of quantum mechanics.
Content: Introduction to the concepts and mathematical techniques of quantum mechanics. Topics will include solutions of the Schroedinger equation, matrix mechanics, quantum measurement, and the theory of angular momentum and spin, with applications to systems in atomic and nuclear physics.
Taught: Spring. Alternate years.
Prerequisites: PHY 212, MAT 300.
Credit: 3 hours.
 
361: Thermodynamics.
Goal: To examine the principles of chemical thermodynamics and their applications to phase and reaction equilibrium.                                
Content: An in-depth study of the first, second, and third laws of thermodynamics, and their application to chemical systems at equilibrium.
Taught: Fall                                                                            
Prerequisite: CHM 102, PHY 122 (or 116), and MAT 206. 
Credit: 3 hours; Cross-listed as CHM361

362: Quantum Chemistry.
Goal: To examine the principles of quantum mechanics and their use in determining and describing molecular energies, spectra, and bonding.
Content: An in-depth analysis of chemical bonding, molecular energies and mechanics, and electromagnetic properties of molecules. An introduction to modern physical chemistry laboratory methods.
Taught: Spring, alternate years.
Prerequisite: CHM 102 and CHM361, PHY 122 (or 116), and MAT 206; or permission of instructor.
Credit: 4 hours; Cross-listed as CHM362. 

396: Special Topics in Physics.
Goal: To explore at an advanced level the principles and applications of a sub-discipline of modern physics.
Content: An in-depth examination of an area in advanced physics. The topic covered will vary from time to time. Representative special topics include astrophysics, biophysics, statistical physics, and nuclear and particle physics.
Taught: Offered occasionally.
Prerequisites: PHY 212 or permission of the instructor.
Credit: 3 hours. A student may take a maximum of six to eight semester hours (two courses) of special topics in any one field.

451: Directed Independent Study.
Goal: To enable an intensive exploration of a topic of special interest. To promote original, independent, creative, and critical thinking. To solve real problems in a scientific manner. To provide an opportunity to conduct independent laboratory work and to learn new techniques.
Content: Directed independent work of a critical or analytical nature. Under careful faculty supervision, qualified students are encouraged to develop originality of thought and thoroughness of method. Some emphasis on research methods.
Taught: Offered occasionally.
Prerequisites: Approval of department chair.
Credit: 1-6 hours.

452/199: Field Study.
Goal: To afford professional experience as a physicist in an academic or industrial setting.
Content: Applied areas in physics or physics-related employment. May be elected for internship credit. The student submits a brief plan including objectives, anticipated activities, a list of readings, and the nature of reports to be submitted to the sponsor.
Taught: Offered occasionally.
Prerequisites: Approval of department chair.
Credit: 1-12 hours.

499: Honors Thesis. (Fee Required)
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