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Department of Physics

Course Descriptions


100 - Level
Introductory/LSR Courses

PY 101 Astronomy (3 credits)
Astronomy is the oldest of the physical sciences and one of the most influential in the cultures of man.  The course considers historical astronomy and the astronomers' mathematical tools used to study stars and galaxies (LAB).

PY 103 Acoustical Foundations of Music (3 credits)
This course introduces students to the physical principles behind the production and perception of sound with a particular emphasis on its relation to music.  Topics include an introduction to vibrations and sound waves, the different musical scales, and an analysis of the traditional orchestral instruments in terms of their respective sound production (LAB).

PY 107 Meteorology (3 credits)
An introduction to atmospheric science covering the descriptive aspects of the subject as well as providing an introduction to the methodology.  Topics include the origin and structure of the atmosphere, global wind patterns, air masses and fronts, the Earth's energy budget, analysis of weather maps, formation of clouds and precipitation, and features of thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes (LAB).



200 - Level
First Year/Sophomore
Physics Courses

PY 210 College Physics I (4 credits)
The first semester of College Physics covers the fundamental aspects of single-particle Newtonian mechanics.  Topics covered include applications of Newton's laws of motion, the concepts of work and energy and the work-energy theorem, and rotational dynamics. (LAB).

PY 211 College Physics II (4 credits)
The second semester of College Physics covers thermal physics, electricity and magnetism, and geometric and wave optics. (LAB).

PY 214 Modern Physics (4 credits)
This course begins with an introduction to the theory of special relativity.  Next, the early quantum theories of the blackbody radiation,  photoelectric effect and Compton effect, and the Bohr model of the hydrogen atom are studied.  The Schrödinger equation and its interpretation are discussed with an emphasis on its solutions for various simple potentials.

PY 215 Classical Mechanics (4 credits)
An introduction to Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics is presented.  Coverage of material will include single-particle motion in general central potentials, oscillations, the classical theory of single-particle scattering by central potentials, multi-particle systems and rotational dynamics.

PY 220-221 General Physics I and II (4 credits, each)
This is an algebra-based version of the PY 210-211 college physics sequence.  This course is suitable for those majoring in the biological sciences.



300 - Level
Physics Major Courses

PY 302 Electromagnetic Theory I (3 credits)
The first course in electromagnetic theory covers topics in electrostatics and magnetostatics associated with static distributions of charges and currents, respectively.

PY 309 Advanced Lab I (3 credits)
Experiments associated with modern physics are emphasized.

PY 310-311 Junior Seminar (1 credit, each semester)
The seminar sequence is designed to introduce students to the current physics literature.  Students will have the opportunity to research topics related to their interests and are expected to present their results.  Students from both the junior and senior year will be combined as a common seminar.

PY 351 Electronics (3 credits)
This course presents an introduction to the theory, analysis, and operation of modern electronic devices and circuits.  In the laboratory portion of the course, students gain practical knowledge of the uses and applications of electronics.

PY 353 Astrophysics (3 credits)
This course presents an advanced undergraduate-level study of the dynamics, structure, and evolution of stars.  A survey of the theory of general relativity and cosmology is also presented.



400 - Level
Physics Major Courses

PY 402 Electromagnetic Theory II (3 credits)
The second course in electromagnetic theory presents a detailed discussion of the Maxwell equations and their applications to the study of electromagnetic wave phenomena.

PY 404 Solid State Physics (3 credits)
This course is an introduction to the fundamentals of solid state physics.  Material to be covered includes the basics of crystal structures and reciprocal lattices, optical and thermal properties, lattice vibrations and phonons, the free-electron theory of metals and semiconductors and an introduction to  elementary band theory.  Some features of electronic transport theory, magnetic properties and superconductivity will also be included.

PY 407 Thermodynamics and Introduction to Statistical Mechanics (3 credits)
Students in this course are introduced to the fundamental elements of classical thermodynamics and classical and quantum statistical mechanics.  This includes a detailed analysis of the three laws of thermodynamics and their application to physical systems, kinetic theory and an introduction to the theory of statistical ensembles.

PY 410-411 Senior Seminar I-II (1 credit, each semester)
This is the senior year version of the junior seminar.

PY 414 Quantum Mechanics (3 credits)
This is a formal introduction to the language and techniques of nonrelativistic quantum mechanics.  Investigations will center on solutions of the Schrödinger equation for the harmonic oscillator, the hydrogen atom and other simple potentials.  Students also gain familiarity with the Dirac notation, angular momentum and spin and some elements of scattering and approximation theory.

PY 415 Nuclear and Particle Physics (3 credits)
This course is an introduction to subatomic physics.  Students are brought close to the cutting edge of research that asks the fundamental question, "What is matter made of?"  Topics include a detailed look at nuclear physics, the standard model of elementary particles, electroweak theory, CP violation, supersymmetry, string theory, and their connections with the latest developments in modern cosmology.

PY 420 Special Topics in Physics (not to exceed 4 credits)
Offered when the need and demand for specialized instruction arises.  May be repeated with the approval of the department.



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