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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 120-130 and MATH 135-136 or MATH 151 in the first year. Most pre-engineering students must take PHYS 120, 130, and 350. Students interested in pre-engineering should consult with a pre-engineering advisor as early as possible. The physics major is also appropriate for students who wish to attend graduate school in astronomy.

 

Courses in Physics

PHYS 104 Stars and Galaxies . (1 course , Science and Math)
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.

PHYS 120 Principles of Physics I . (1 course , Science and Math)
Includes laboratory. An introductory calculus-based 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 hands-on opportunity to explore the concepts of physics. This course is designed for students majoring in the sciences and mathematics and those in pre-professional programs in health sciences, medicine, engineering and teaching. Prerequisite or co-requisite: MATH 136 or MATH 151 .

PHYS 130 Principles of Physics II . (1 course , Science and Math)
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 pre-professional programs in health sciences, medicine, engineering and teaching. Prerequisite: PHYS 120.