Physics and Astronomy
Physics is the study of the fundamental nature of everything. Through experiment and theory physicists seek to explain the interactions of matter and energy in terms of a small number of basic laws. Physics deals with everything from the very large (e.g. the structure of the universe) to the very small (e.g. atoms, nuclei, quarks and even smaller structures). The devices we depend on in our technological society are based on fundamental principles of physics. Both experimental and theoretical physicists are people who enjoy understanding how things work. Studying physics develops excellent critical thinking and problem solving skills, which are applicable to many careers. Many of our physics graduates continue with graduate school in physics, astronomy or engineering. Others continue with professional training in medical school or law school. However, it is not necessary to pursue more education to have a rewarding career with physics. An undergraduate physics degree is a spring board to a broad spectrum of career options, including engineering, systems analyst, financial analyst, management, national security, medical research, education and journalism. Nationally, employment opportunities for physics graduates have been especially good in recent years. The department offers a major and a minor in Physics. Students planning to major in Physics should consult with a member of the department as early as possible in their college careers. Incoming students who plan to major in Physics should take PHYS 120130 and MATH 135136 or MATH 151 in the first year. Most preengineering students must take PHYS 120, 130, and 350. Students interested in preengineering should consult with a preengineering advisor as early as possible. The physics major is also appropriate for students who wish to attend graduate school in astronomy.
Requirements for a major
Physics
Total courses required  Nine 

Core courses  PHYS 120, PHYS 130, PHYS 220, PHYS 270, PHYS 280 (1/2 course), PHYS 480 (1/2 course) 
Other required courses 

Number 300 and 400 level courses  Three and onehalf 
Senior requirement and capstone experience  All senior physics majors must complete PHYS 480, Senior Seminar. This course is designed to allow students to read, interpret, and discuss primary literature from current physics research. It follows a format similar to journal clubs that are found in many physics graduate school programs. The specific topics and content vary from year to year. Students utilize the knowledge base that they have developed during their previous coursework to understand the foundational principles of the contemporary research topic. Majors who want to conduct their own independent research investigations may do so by enrolling in an independent study project under PHYS 390. These projects usually involve the student working with a department faculty member on a topic of mutual interest. The projects often produce research posters or papers that are shared with the larger community. 
Additional information  MATH 151 (or MATH 135136) and MATH 152 required 
Recent changes in major  The number of upper level courses required for the major was changed from four and onehalf to three and onehalf (May 2014). 
Writing in the Major  Writing is a critical skill for all physics majors. Knowledge of physics is often shared by the written word. Advances in physics generally build on the work of others that is recorded in reports, and publications. Physics majors must be able to document their work in the laboratory, providing sufficient detail to allow others to understand why they chose to conduct the investigation, what they did, how they did it, and the results they obtained. Additionally, there are many occasions that require them to explain the subtleties and importance of physical phenomena and events to people who are not physics majors. Physics majors complete a series of assignments in four specific core courses, PHYS 220, PHYS 280, PHYS 370/380 and PHYS 480. In PHYS 220, Principles of Physics III, students write a set of formal laboratory reports with particular attention to the details that are necessary for another individual to conduct the experiment and understand how to analyze the results. At least two of these reports will require a rough draft and interchange with the faculty member teaching the course before submitting a final report. At the end of the course, the instructor must certify that the writing in the course is competent. PHYS 280, Experimental Methods, features an extended project. As part of that work, students write a proposal that includes a persuasive argument for doing the project and an article explaining the underlying physics in terms that can be understood by an educated individual outside of the physics community. Of course, the project will also include an extensive report of project's results. Again, at the end of the course, the instructor must certify that writing in the course is competent. PHYS 370, Introduction to Atomic and Molecular Physics, and PHYS 380, Introduction to Nuclear and Particle Physics, both involve formal laboratory reports including at least one extended laboratory experience that takes multiple weeks to complete. The extended project will often involve a proposal that argues for the necessity of undertaking and completing the project. The report on this extended project will involve and interchange with the course instructor before a final report is submitted. Again, at the end of the course, the instructor must certify that writing in the course is competent. PHYS 480, Senior Seminar, involves a series of oral presentations. In addition to the presentations, students write a document for each activity. Some activities are designed to be informative to the general public and the document will be written in a style similar to a general interest science magazine like Discover or Science News. Other activities will mimic conference presentations and will result in documents similar to articles in physics journal accessible to undergraduate students like Physics Today or the The American Journal of Physics. The final presentation of the semester will be a formal research paper based on a literature search with an annotated bibliography and multiple drafts reviewed with the instructor before the submission of the final report. Finally, at the end of the course, the instructor must certify that writing in the course is competent. 
Requirements for a minor
Astronomy
Total courses required  Four 

Core courses  PHYS 104 or PHYS 320; PHYS 310. 
Other required courses  Two additional from: PHYS 103, PHYS 203, PHYS 320, PHYS 330, PHYS 360, and PHYS 390A. 
Number 300 and 400 level courses  One 
Physics
Total courses required  Five 

Core courses  PHYS 120, PHYS 130 
Other required courses  
Number 300 and 400 level courses  One 
Courses in Physics and Astronomy
PHYS 103Moons and Planets
Includes laboratory. An introductory course concentrating on the solar system. Topics to be covered include: observational astronomy; the history and development of astronomy; Kepler's laws of planetary motion; Newton's laws of motion and gravity; the Earthmoon system; the structure and composition of the planets with an emphasis on comparative planetology; asteroids, comets, the formation of the solar system, the sun and the exploration of space. Emphasis is placed on investigating the methods by which astronomers gain knowledge about the solar system. Evening laboratory periods will emphasize observation and will help students develop quantitative skills in interpreting data. PHYS 103 and PHYS 104 may be taken in either order. Prerequisite: high school algebra and trigonometry.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

Science and Mathematics  High school algebra and trigonometry  1 course 
PHYS 104
Stars and Galaxies
Includes laboratory. An introductory course concentrating on the astronomy of stars and stellar systems. Topics to be covered include: properties of stars; stellar evolution; white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes; the interstellar medium; the Milky Way; galaxies; Hubble's Law; and cosmology. Emphasis is placed on investigating the methods by which astronomers gain knowledge about the universe. Evening laboratory periods will emphasize observation and will help students develop quantitative skills in interpreting data. PHYS 103 and PHYS 104 may be taken in either order. Not open to students with credit in PHYS 300 or 200. Prerequisite: high school algebra and trigonometry.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

Science and Mathematics  High school algebra and trigonometry  1 course 
PHYS 110
Physics and Society
Includes laboratory. The fundamental concepts of classical and modern physics presented with particular attention to their application to questions of importance to members of technological society (such as energy and energy policy). Topics may include Newtonian mechanics, special and general relativity, quantum and nuclear physics and modern cosmology. This course does not fulfill the prerequisites for advanced courses in physics, nor the requirements for medicine, engineering or secondary teaching. Prerequisite: high school algebra and trigonometry.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

Science and Mathematics  High school algebra and trigonometry  1 course 
PHYS 120
Principles of Physics I
Includes laboratory. An introductory calculusbased course covering fundamental concepts of physics including: momentum, energy, conservation laws, particle interactions, Newton's laws, oscillations, orbits and planetary motion. Laboratory sessions will provide a handson opportunity to explore the concepts of physics. This course is designed for students majoring in the sciences and mathematics and those in preprofessional programs in health sciences, medicine, engineering and teaching. Prerequisite or corequisite: MATH 136
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

Science and Mathematics  MATH 136 or MATH 151. May be taken in the same semester as PHYS 120.  1 course 
PHYS 130
Principles of Physics II
Includes laboratory. This course builds on PHYS 120 and covers fundamental concepts of physics including: electric and magnetic fields, circuits, Maxwell's equations, electromagnetic waves, waves, interference and diffraction. Laboratory sessions will provide a hands on opportunity to explore the concepts of physics. This course is designed for students majoring in the sciences and mathematics and those in preprofessional programs in health sciences, medicine, engineering and teaching. Prerequisite: PHYS 120.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

Science and Mathematics  PHYS 120  1 course 
PHYS 156
Advanced Placement in Physics
Advanced placement credit for physics. A. Mechanics B. Electricity and Magnetism.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

1 course 
PHYS 203
Cosmology [See also PHIL 203]
An examination of fundamental questions about the origin, order and meaning of the universe from the perspectives of physics, philosophy and other disciplines. Topics include: creation myths; development of Western cosmology; physics and metaphysics of space and time; cosmological and design arguments for the existence of God; the Anthropic Principle; life and consciousness.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

1 course 
PHYS 220
Principles of Physics III
This course provides an introduction to relativity, thermodynamics, statistical and quantum mechanics, and completes the survey of fundamental physics begun in PHYS 120 and 130. Topics to be covered include special relativity, wave packets, the Schrodinger equation, solutions to the Schrodinger equation for one dimensional potentials, the hydrogen atom, multi electron atoms, quantum statistics, and an introduction to the physics of molecules, solids, nuclei, and particles. Prerequisite: PHYS 130.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

PHYS 130  1 course 
PHYS 231
Statics
This is a core course in mechanical and civil engineering and related fields. The course will develop mathematical methods for analysis of force systems for rigid bodies, including equilibrium requirements, stresses in frames and trusses, forces in beams and cables, friction, centroids and moments of inertia. Students will present case studies of engineering disasters and the impact of these disasters on subsequent projects of a similar nature.Prerequisite: PHYS 120 and MATH 151.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

PHYS 120 and MATH 151  1/2 course 
PHYS 240
Electronics
Includes laboratory. Experimental and theoretical treatment of direct current and alternating current circuits. Topics include: diode applications, transistors, operational amplifiers, feedback, analogdigital conversion, digital logic and microprocessors. Prerequisite: One semester of a laboratory science course.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

Science and Mathematics  One semester of a laboratory science course.  1 course 
PHYS 250
Optics
Includes laboratory. Experimental investigation of geometrical and physical optics. Specific topics investigated include: image formation by lenses and mirrors, optical instruments, image processing, interference, diffraction, polarization, optical communication, lasers and holography. Prerequisite: One semester of a laboratory science course.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

Science and Mathematics  One semester of a laboratory science course.  1 course 
PHYS 270
Mathematical Methods
Methods in applied mathematics for students in physical sciences and engineering. Topics include: partial differentiation, vector analysis, complex numbers, linear algebra, ordinary differential equations, multiple integrals, and Fourier series. Prerequisite: PHYS 120 and MATH 152.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

PHYS 120 and MATH 152  1 course 
PHYS 280
Experimental Methods
Includes laboratory. An introduction to the techniques, methods and necessary skills used in experimental physics. Data will be collected by using a variety of instruments, including oscilloscopes, nuclear instrumentation, and other data sensors. The course will introduce a variety of statistical and data analysis techniques. Machine shop skills will be developed during the course. Prerequisite: PHYS 120.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

PHYS 120  1/2 course 
PHYS 310
Observational Astronomy
Includes Laboratory. The overall goal of this course is to develop the skills needed to become knowledgeable lifelong observers of the night sky. It includes the study and understanding of celestial coordinate systems, motions of the Sun and stars, seasons, phases of the moon, motion of the planets, systems of time keeping, and similar phenomena. The course teaches the skills necessary to observe objects our Solar system (the Moon, the planets, the Sun, comets, and asteroids), and well as objects outside of our solar system (stars, galactic nebulae and external galaxies) through observing with the naked eye, binoculars and telescopes. It includes the use of astronomical reference tools such as star charts and planetarium software. Digital recording of astronomical observations through astrophotography and CCD imaging will be covered.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

1 course 
PHYS 320
Astrophysics I
In astrophysics the concepts of classical and modern physics are applied to the study of astronomy, providing a physical basis for understanding the components and structure of our universe. The focus of Astrophysics I is stars. Topics to be covered include: spectroscopy, stellar classification, stellar properties, binary stars, stellar structure, stellar evolution, and the end states of stars (white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes). Prerequisite: PHYS 130
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

PHYS 130  1 course 
PHYS 330
Astrophysics II
In astrophysics the concepts of classical and modern physics are applied to the study of astronomy, providing a physical basis for understanding the components and structure of our universe. Topics covered in Astrophysics II include: the Milky Way, galaxies and galactic structure, active galactic nuclei, high energy phenomena, dark matter, and an introduction to cosmology.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

1 course 
PHYS 350
Engineering Mechanics
A theoretical treatment of forces acting on rigid bodies including: analysis of force systems on rigid bodies, equilibrium requirements, stresses in frames and trusses, forces in beams and cables, friction, centroids, moments of inertia, the motion of particles and rigid bodies, studies of energy and momentum, kinematics, curvilinear motion and central forces. Prerequisite: PHYS 120.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

PHYS 120  1 course 
PHYS 360
Gravitation and Cosmology
This is a course about gravity: its description as spacetime curvature, its effect on the motion of bodies, and its role in shaping the evolution of the universe. The first part of the course is devoted to a discussion of the main features of General Relativity, with an emphasis on the behavior of light and matter in the vicinity of black holes. Part two of the course constitutes an introduction to Big Bang cosmology. Topics covered include the physics of the early universe, the cosmic microwave background, the evidence for dark matter and dark energy, and inflation.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

1 course 
PHYS 370
Atomic and Molecular Physics
Includes laboratory. A theoretical and experimental investigation in atomic, molecular and condensed matter physics. Topics to be covered may include: atomic models, magnetic dipole moments, multielectron atoms, xray excitations, optical excitations, atomic spectroscopy, quantum statistic, molecules, molecular bonding, molecular spectra, band theory of solids, conductors, semiconductors, superconductors, and collective phenomena. Prerequisite: PHYS 220.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

PHYS 270  1 course 
PHYS 380
Nuclear and Particle Physics
Includes laboratory. A theoretical and experimental investigation in nuclear and particle physics. Topics to be covered may include: nuclear phenomenology, nuclear models, radiation, nuclear reactions, experimental methods in nuclear physics, particle interactions and detection, properties of elementary particle, symmetries, the standard model, and theories beyond the standard model. Prerequisite: PHYS 220.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

PHYS 270  1 course 
PHYS 390
Topics
A. Astronomy. P. Physics. Selected topics in astronomy or physics. May be an independent study project. Prerequisite: depends on the topic.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

Depends on the topic.  1/41/21 course 
PHYS 410
Thermal Physics
Treatment of the laws of thermodynamics and the concepts of temperature, pressure, entropy, chemical potential and free energy as related to the quantum statistical behavior of microscopic systems. Included are applications to kinetic theory of gases, heat engines, photons and phonons, systems in magnetic and electric fields, transport phenomena, and biological and engineering problems. Prerequisite: PHYS 130 and PHYS 270.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

PHYS 130 and PHYS 270  1 course 
PHYS 420
Classical Mechanics
Basic definitions and principles of classical mechanics, conservation laws, systems of particles and motion of rigid bodies, oscillating phenomena and an introduction to generalized coordinates and the methods of Lagrange and Hamilton. Prerequisite: PHYS 120 and PHYS 270.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

PHYS 120 and PHYS 270  1 course 
PHYS 430
Electricity and Magnetism
Theoretical investigation of electrostatics and magnetostatics, both in vacuum and in the presence of matter. Further topics include the Maxwell equations and electromagnetic waves. Prerequisite: PHYS 130 and PHYS 270.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

PHYS 130 and PHYS 270  1 course 
PHYS 440
Quantum Mechanics
Nonrelativistic wave mechanical treatment of physical systems. Definition and interpretation of state functions; construction of wave packets; solutions of the Schrodinger equation for simple onedimensional systems; the hydrogen atom; various approximation methods, including perturbation theory. Prerequisite: PHYS 220 and PHYS 270.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

PHYS 220 and PHYS 270  1 course 
PHYS 480
Senior Seminar
Individual presentations and group discussions cover a wide range of topics. Prerequisite: A senior physics major or permission of instructor. Required of all physics majors.
Distribution Area  Prerequisites  Credits 

Senior major or permission of instructor  1/2 course 