Bulletin

Physics

Physics is the discipline that deals with the most fundamental aspects of our universe, such as the properties of atoms, nuclei and elementary particles; the nature of the forces between them; and the collective behavior of atoms in solids, liquids and gases. It deals with the entire universe, from its birth to its ultimate fate. At the same time, physics provides the tools that help us to understand extremely complex everyday things, like the behavior of sand piles, the strength of materials, or processes in the brain. Physics developed when people realized that nature operates according to simple mathematical rules; physics seeks to discover and understand those rules. Its early successes in comprehending motion, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism provided a foundation upon which other physical sciences have grown.

For students planning a career in science and technology or planning to pursue graduate studies in physics, astronomy, earth sciences, environmental sciences, medical physics, meteorology or oceanography, a major in physics provides a solid foundation. The program is sufficiently flexible to allow students to combine a physics major with a second major in chemistry, mathematics or engineering, or with pre-medical studies, or with other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. In addition to the fundamentals of physics, the program is designed to give students a broad range of skills in laboratory techniques, critical thinking, computer use and teamwork, which will serve them well in their chosen careers. In consultation with a faculty adviser, students may design a program of study to meet individual goals and interests. Physics majors are strongly encouraged to participate in physics research projects directed by faculty members.

Introductory Physics: Physics 197–198 is a calculus-based introduction to physics intended for adequately prepared students interested in majoring in science or engineering or undertaking pre-medical studies. Physics 197 and 198 are more interactive, active-learning courses than traditional general physics courses. Calculus II is a co-requisite for Physics 197. An alternative and more traditional calculus-based sequence, Physics 117A–118A, also may be taken by students with these interests. For Physics 117A, Calculus I is a co-requisite. Physics 117A also fulfills the requirements of the College of Architecture.

The department offers several other courses of general interest to the nonscience student. In most cases, these have no prerequisite. 

Departmental website:http://www.physics.wustl.edu/

Chair

Mark Alford
PhD, Harvard University

Endowed Professors

Carl M. Bender
Wilfred R. and Ann Lee Konneker Professor of Physics
PhD, Harvard University

John W. Clark
Wayman Crow Professor of Physics in Arts & Sciences
PhD, Washington University

Ramanath Cowsik
James S. McDonnell Professor of Space Sciences
PhD, University of Bombay

Kenneth F. Kelton
Arthur Holly Compton Professor of Physics
PhD, Harvard University

James G. Miller
Albert Gordon Hill Professor of Physics
PhD, Washington University

Stuart A. Solin
Charles M. Hohenberg Professor of Experimental Physics
PhD, Purdue University

Professors

Mark Alford
PhD, Harvard University

Claude W. Bernard
PhD, Harvard University

Thomas Bernatowicz
PhD, Washington University

James H. Buckley
PhD, University of Chicago

Anders E. Carlsson
PhD, Harvard University

Mark S. Conradi
PhD, Washington University

Willem H. Dickhoff
PhD, Free University, Amsterdam

Martin H. Israel
PhD, California Institute of Technology

Jonathan I. Katz
PhD, Cornell University

Henric Krawczynski
PhD, University of Hamburg

Michael C. Ogilvie
PhD, Brown University

James S. Schilling
PhD, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Joint Professors

Shankar M.L. Sastry
PhD, University of Toronto
(Mechanical Engineering)

Lee G. Sobotka
PhD, University of California–Berkeley
(Chemistry)

Associate Professors

Zohar Nussinov
PhD, University of California–Los Angeles

Alexander Seidel
PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ralf Wessel
PhD, University of Cambridge

Assistant Professors

Francesc Ferrer
PhD, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

Erik Henriksen
PhD, Columbia University

Kater Murch
PhD, University of California-Berkeley

Yan-Mei Wang
PhD, University of California–Berkeley

Li Yang
PhD, Georgia Institute of Technology

Lecturers

Mairin Hynes
PhD, Washington University

Kasey Wagoner
PhD, Washington University

Professors Emeriti

James H. Burgess
PhD, Washington University

Peter A. Fedders
PhD, Harvard University

Michael W. Friedlander
PhD, University of Bristol

Patrick C. Gibbons
PhD, Harvard University

Charles M. Hohenberg
PhD, University of California–Berkeley

Kazimierz Luszczynski
PhD, University of London

Peter R. Phillips
PhD, Stanford University

John H. Scandrett
PhD, University of Wisconsin–Madison

J. Ely Shrauner
PhD, University of Chicago

Wai-Mo Suen
PhD, California Institute of Technology

Clifford Will
PhD, California Institute of Technology

Research Professors

Sachiko Amari
PhD, Kobe University

Robert Binns
PhD, Colorado State University

Christine Floss
PhD, Washington University

Alexander Meshik
PhD, Vernadsky Institute of Cosmochemistry

Ernst K. Zinner
PhD, Washington University

Research Associate Professor

Daniel J. Leopold
PhD, Washington University

Research Assistant Professors

Matthias Beilicke
PhD, University of Hamburg

Viatcheslav Bugaev
PhD, Altai State University

Kai Schweizer
PhD, Heidelberg University

Majors

The Major in Physics

Total units required: 42-49

Prerequisites: As prerequisites for the major, students should complete Physics I and II (Physics 197Physics 198) or General Physics I and II (Physics 117APhysics 118A) during the first year. Majors should consider taking Physics 217, Physics 316 or Physics 321, Physics 318, and Physics 411 in the second year.

Required Physics courses: Students are required to complete a minimum program of 21 units of advanced courses (300-level or higher) in Physics. These 21 units must include:

Physics 322Physical Measurement Laboratory3
Physics 411Mechanics3
Physics 421Electricity and Magnetism3
  •   One additional upper-level laboratory course. Choose from:
Physics 316Optics and Wave Physics Laboratory3
Physics 321Electronics Laboratory3
Physics 360Biophysics Laboratory3
Physics 435Nuclear and Radiochemistry Lab3
Physics 451Advanced Laboratory I3
Physics 452Advanced Laboratory II3
  • Students not taking Physics 217 must take either Physics 318 Introduction to Quantum Physics II or Physics 471 Quantum Mechanics.

Recommended Physics courses: In addition to the above requirements, students who are preparing for graduate study in physics or astronomy should consider taking:

Physics 422Electricity and Magnetism II3
Physics 463Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics3
Physics 471Quantum Mechanics3

As well as some of:

Physics 472Solid State Physics3
Physics 474Introduction to Particle Physics3
Physics 476Cosmic Ray Physics3
and additional lab courses

Students also should consider taking Physics/Math 501–502 and additional mathematics courses.

Students who are preparing for employment after the AB degree should take additional laboratory courses from the following choices:

Physics 316Optics and Wave Physics Laboratory3
Physics 321Electronics Laboratory3
Physics 322Physical Measurement Laboratory3
Physics 360Biophysics Laboratory3
Physics 435Nuclear and Radiochemistry Lab3
Physics 451Advanced Laboratory I3
Physics 452Advanced Laboratory II3

Other relevant courses may include:

Physics 314Physics of the Heart3
Physics 350Physics of the Brain3
Physics 351Introduction to Biomedical Physics3
Physics 352Physics of Biomolecules3
Physics 355Physics of Vision3
Physics 422Electricity and Magnetism II3
Physics 463Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics3
Physics 471Quantum Mechanics3
Physics 472Solid State Physics3

Students also might consider:

Chem 435Nuclear and Radiochemistry Lab3
Chem 436Radioactivity and Its Applications3

Students who are preparing for medical school should give special consideration to:

Physics 314Physics of the Heart3
Physics 316Optics and Wave Physics Laboratory3
Physics 321Electronics Laboratory3
Physics 344Energy and Environmental Physics3
or Physics 444 Energy and Environmental Physics
Physics 350Physics of the Brain3
Physics 351Introduction to Biomedical Physics3
Physics 352Physics of Biomolecules3
Physics 355Physics of Vision3
Physics 360Biophysics Laboratory3

Math courses required for the Physics major:

Math 131Calculus I3
Math 132Calculus II3
Math 233Calculus III3
Math 217Differential Equations (We recommend that Math 217 precede Physics 411)3
Total units12

Math courses recommended for the Physics major:

Math 308 Mathematics for the Physical Sciences or ESE 318 Engineering Mathematics A (We recommend that this course precede Physics 421.)
Math 309 Matrix Algebra (We recommend that Math 309 precede Physics 471.)
Physics/Math 501 and 502 also are recommended.

Science-breadth requirement: Majors must select three of the following courses to satisfy the science-breadth requirement. One of the three courses must be Chem 111A, Chem 112A, Chem 401 or Chem 402.

Chem 111AGeneral Chemistry I3
Chem 112AGeneral Chemistry II3
Chem 151General Chemistry Laboratory I2
Chem 152General Chemistry Laboratory II2
Chem 401Physical Chemistry I3
Chem 402Physical Chemistry II3
Chem 445Instrumental Methods: Physical Chemistry3
CSE 126Introduction to Computer Programming3
CSE 131Computer Science I3
CSE 132Computer Science II3
CSE 200Engineering and Scientific Computing3

Additional Information

Senior Honors: Students are encouraged to work toward honors in physics. To qualify, students must meet the academic requirements of the college and successfully complete a suitable project under the supervision of a faculty member in the department. The project, whether experimental or theoretical, should demonstrate the student’s capacity for independent work. Honors candidates must apply to the Undergraduate Studies Committee no later than the beginning of the senior year. The application should include a description of the proposed project, co-signed by the supervising professor. A written report of the completed work must be submitted to the committee by a deadline in March. By enrolling in Physics 499, students may earn up to 6 units of credit for the honors project.

Minors

The Minor in Physics

Units required: 17

Required courses:

Physics 117AGeneral Physics I4
or Physics 197 Physics I
Physics 118AGeneral Physics II4
or Physics 198 Physics II
Physics 217Introduction to Quantum Physics3
Physics 318Introduction to Quantum Physics II3
Total units14

Elective courses:

At least one course at the 300-level or above (with the exception of Physics 303, Physics 304, Physics 341, Physics 342, Physics 441, Physics Physics 442, Physics 499 and Physics 500) with a grade of C– or better.

Additional Information

Corequisite for taking Physics 117A General Physics I is enrollment in or placement out of Math 131 Calculus I. Math 132 Calculus II is a corequisite for Physics 197 Physics I. Calculus II also is necessary to provide adequate preparation for Physics 217/318 Quantum Physics I, II. Note that for some advanced courses, Math 233 Calculus III and Math 217 Differential Equations are prerequisites.

The Minor in Astrophysics and Astroparticle Physics

Units required: 20

Required courses:

Physics 117AGeneral Physics I4
or Physics 197 Physics I
Physics 118AGeneral Physics II4
or Physics 198 Physics II
Physics 217Introduction to Quantum Physics3
Physics 312Introduction to Astrophysics3
Total units14

Two courses from the following six courses:

Physics 318Introduction to Quantum Physics II3
Physics 456Stellar Astrophysics3
Physics 460X-ray and Gamma-ray Astrophysics3
Physics 474Introduction to Particle Physics3
Physics 476Cosmic Ray Physics3
Physics 478From Black Holes to the Big Bang3

The Minor in Biomedical Physics

Units required: 17

Required courses:

Physics 117AGeneral Physics I4
or Physics 197 Physics I
Physics 118AGeneral Physics II4
or Physics 198 Physics II
Total units8

Elective courses:

Two courses from the following three:

Physics 314Physics of the Heart3
Physics 350Physics of the Brain3
Physics 355Physics of Vision3

One course from the following four laboratory courses:

Physics 316Optics and Wave Physics Laboratory3
Physics 321Electronics Laboratory3
Physics 322Physical Measurement Laboratory3
Physics 360Biophysics Laboratory3

Additional Information

This is a minor for students interested in the discussion and application of methods and techniques from physics to topics in the area of biology and medicine. The program may be of interest to the pre-medicine student or the research-oriented science major. New courses are being developed that also will satisfy these requirements.

Courses

L31 Physics 101A Basic Physical Science

An introduction to the concepts and modes of thought involved in understanding the physical world. The focus is not only on everyday phenomena (e.g., falling objects, skidding cars, the tides) but also on questions of cosmic significance (e.g., relativity, the Big Bang, black holes, the origin of the elements). Verbal reasoning is emphasized. No prerequisites.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS, QA A&S: IQ, NSM, AN BU: SCI


L31 Physics 107A How Things Work

Why is the sky blue? How can a baseball curve? Natural and manmade phenomena can be understood by simple and basic ideas of physics. This course illustrates these underlying principles by using examples from everyday life as well as from physics and other fields. Because the phenomena are many and the principles are few we find that apparently very different events sometimes have similar explanations; we come to understand how the stretching of a rubber band is related to ice skating, and how the blue of the sky is related to the red of the sunset and the white color of milk. No prerequisites.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS, QA A&S: IQ, NSM, AN BU: SCI FA: NSM


L31 Physics 110A Awesome Ideas in Physics

The ideas of physics that have revolutionized our perception of the world and reality. Emphasis is on understanding a selected set of crucial concepts without losing track of the numbers. Using the writings of Hawking, Feynman and Lightman, a study is made of such topics as energy and conservation laws, the relativity of time, the wave-particle duality, the modern picture of matter at the smallest and the largest distance scales, and the history of the universe. Must be taken for a letter grade. No prerequisites.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS, QA A&S: IQ, NSM, AN BU: SCI FA: NSM


L31 Physics 111 Variational Calculus — A Mathematical Blade for Cutting-Edge Science

Variational calculus, a fancy generalization of ordinary calculus, is the study of functionals. In variational calculus one tries to find the special function that extremizes a functional. The applications of variational calculus are ubiquitous in modern science. Variational calculus is the mathematical setting for describing the physical world. In all areas of classical and quantum physics, the physical world is expressed in terms of functions that extremize specific functionals. In this seminar variational calculus is explained at an elementary level and many of its applications in science are examined. A good understanding of elementary first-year calculus is required to take this seminar.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS, QA


L31 Physics 117A General Physics I

Calculus-based introduction to the concepts, laws and structure of physics. Topics include kinematics, Newton’s laws, energy, linear momentum, angular momentum, the conservation laws, gravitational force, harmonic motion, wave motion and interference, sound and special relativity. Prerequisite: previous or concurrent enrollment in Math 131 Calculus I or permission of instructor. Concurrent registration in a Physics 117 lab section is required. Credit may not be obtained for both Physics 117A and Physics 197.

Credit 4 units. A&S: NS, QA A&S: IQ, NSM, AN BU: SCI FA: NSM


L31 Physics 118A General Physics II

Continuation of Physics 117. Calculus-based introduction to concepts, laws and structure of physics. Topics include electromagnetic forces and fields, direct current circuits, capacitance and inductance, electromagnetic radiation, light, geometrical and physical optics, interference and diffraction, early quantum theory, and nuclear physics. Prerequisite: Physics 117A, Physics 197 or permission of instructor. Concurrent registration in a Physics 118 lab section is required. Previous or concurrent enrollment in Calculus II Math 132 is recommended. Credit may not be obtained for both Physics 118 and Physics 198.

Credit 4 units. A&S: NS, QA A&S: IQ, NSM, AN BU: SCI FA: NSM


L31 Physics 125A Solar System Astronomy

Designed for the nonscience major, this course deals with the planets, their moons and rings, comets, meteorites and interplanetary dust particles. In order to understand both classical astronomy and the results obtained from modern telescopes and the space program, basic scientific ideas (including optics and the laws of motion) are reviewed first. There also is some discussion of astronomical history to show how we have arrived at our present ideas of the structure and evolution of the solar system. Prerequisites: high school algebra and trigonometry or concurrent enrollment in Math 131.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS, QA A&S: IQ, NSM, AN BU: SCI FA: NSM


L31 Physics 126A Stars, Galaxies and Cosmology

Intended as a general survey for the nonscience major. Topics include the structure and evolution of stars, such as red giants, white dwarfs, neutron stars, pulsars and black holes; galaxies and quasars; cosmology and the Big Bang theory. Prerequisites: high school algebra and trigonometry, or concurrent enrollment in Math 131.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS, QA A&S: IQ, NSM, AN BU: SCI FA: NSM


L31 Physics 141 Selected Topics in Physics I

Topics of special interest (e.g., superconductivity, quasicrystals, neural networks, chaos, etc.) may be studied under the supervision of a faculty member, variously by lectures, seminars or individual study or research. Students hoping to arrange such a course must prepare a proposal and secure consent to undertake direction of the course from a faculty member and finally secure approval of the department chair.

Credit variable, maximum 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM BU: SCI FA: NSM


L31 Physics 142 Selected Topics in Physics I

Topics of special interest (e.g., holography, relativity, nuclear power, computer applications in physics, etc.) may be studied under the supervision of a faculty member, variously by lectures, seminars or individual study or research. Students hoping to arrange such a course must prepare a proposal and secure the instructor’s consent to undertake direction of the course from a faculty member and finally secure approval of the department chair.

Credit variable, maximum 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM FA: NSM


L31 Physics 171A Physics and Society

Introduction to physics: its goals, methods and relevance for society. Topics include energy as a unifying principle of physics and society’s use of energy: resources and costs. Nuclear energy: history, technology, radiation, waste, weapons. Global climate change: the greenhouse effect, the hole in the ozone layer. Science and government. Bad science, pseudoscience, antiscience. Intended for science and nonscience majors. Must be taken for a letter grade.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS, QA A&S: IQ, NSM, AN BU: SCI FA: NSM


L31 Physics 197 Physics I

An advanced, calculus-based introduction to central concepts in classical and modern physics for students who desire to major in physics or another physical science or who have a special interest in physics. The course is structured around three themes that are treated in depth: conservation laws, Newtonian physics and special relativity. A daily regimen of homework and reading as well as active class participation are integral parts of the course. Corequisite: Math 132 Calculus II. Concurrent registration in a Physics 197 lab section is required. Credit may not be obtained for both Physics 117A and Physics 197.

Credit 4 units. A&S: NS, QA A&S: IQ, NSM, AN BU: SCI


L31 Physics 198 Physics II

Continuation of Physics 197. An advanced, calculus-based introduction to central concepts in physics for students who desire to major in physics or another physical science, or who have a special interest in physics. The course is structured around three themes that are treated in depth: electricity and magnetism, quantum physics, and statistical and thermal physics. A daily regimen of homework and reading as well as active class participation are integral parts of the course. Prerequisites: Physics 197 and Math 132 Calculus II. Students who have not taken Physics 197 may not register for Physics 198. Concurrent registration in a Physics 198 lab section is required. Credit may not be obtained for both Physics 118A and Physics 198. Students who intend to major in Physics are encouraged to register for Section 02.

Credit 4 units. A&S: NS, QA A&S: IQ, NSM, AN BU: SCI


L31 Physics 216 Introduction to Relativity: The Special Theory

Introduction to the special and general theories of relativity. Einstein’s postulates of the principle of relativity and the constancy of the speed of light. Simple kinematics and dynamics: simultaneity, time dilation, space-time diagrams, twin and other “paradoxes,” E=mc2, laws of motion. Elements of general relativity; curved spacetime, experimental tests, black holes, gravitational waves. Prerequisite: Physics 117A, Physics 197 or permission of the instructor.

Credit 1 unit. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM BU: SCI FA: NSM


L31 Physics 217 Introduction to Quantum Physics

Theoretical and experimental basis for quantum mechanics, following the historical development of 20th-century physics. Failure of classical physics; the Bohr theory of the atom; the Heisenberg uncertainty principle; the Schroedinger equation; atomic and molecular structure. Prerequisites: Physics 117A and 118A or Physics 197 and 198.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM, AN BU: SCI FA: NSM


L31 Physics 219 Energy and the Environment

Examination of the topic of energy from many human-relevant perspectives. Humans use an enormous amount of energy, at the rate of 18 terawatts. Where does this energy come from? How long will it last? What are the consequences? Examination of energy resources and consumption from scientific, social, economic and political viewpoints. Relationship of energy to concepts such as heat, work and power. Energy use by society. Energy sources, pros and cons of use, availability now and in the future. Types, abundance, advantages, challenges of renewable energy sources. Prerequisite: one year of high-school physics or chemistry.

Same as EPSc 219

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM FA: NSM


L31 Physics 241 Select Topics in Physics II

Topics of special interest (e.g., superconductivity, quasicrystals, neural networks, chaos, etc.) may be studied under the supervision of a faculty member, variously by lectures, seminars or individual study or research. Students hoping to arrange such a course must prepare a proposal and secure consent to undertake direction of the course from a faculty member and finally secure approval of the department chair.

Credit variable, maximum 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM BU: SCI FA: NSM


L31 Physics 242 Selected Topics in Physics II

Topics of special interest (e.g., holography, relativity, nuclear power, computer applications in physics, etc.) may be studied under the supervision of a faculty member, variously by lectures, seminars or individual study or research. Students hoping to arrange such a course must prepare a proposal and secure the instructor’s consent to undertake direction of the course from a faculty member and finally secure approval of the department chair.

Credit variable, maximum 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM BU: IS FA: NSM


L31 Physics 312 Introduction to Astrophysics

This course covers the physics needed for higher-level astrophysics courses, and is a requirement for those courses. Furthermore, it gives a first introduction to several topics in modern astrophysics, including stars (stellar structure and evolution), compact objects (neutron stars and black holes), galaxies (galactic structure), and cosmology. The course should be taken by everybody interested in astrophysics. Prerequisite: Physics 117A and 118A; or Physics 197 and 198; or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM BU: SCI FA: NSM


L31 Physics 314 Physics of the Heart

A lecture and demonstration course that may be of particular interest to premedical and life-science students. Basic physics of the human cardiovascular system. Elasticity of vessels: properties of elastin and collagen. Energetics of the circulation: arterial and venous blood pressure, total fluid energy, gravitational potential energy, kinetic energy. Streamline flow and turbulence: effects of stenosis. Static and dynamic energy consumption of the heart: cardiac efficiency, the tension-time integral, Laplace’s law, Starling’s law. Metabolism of cardiac muscle. Electrophysiology: the heartbeat and cardiac arrhythmias. The physics of phonocardiograms, echocardiograms and other non-invasive techniques for physical assessment of cardiac abnormalities, including ischemia and myocardial infarction. Models of mechanical properties: contractile element, series elastic and parallel elastic elements. Corequisite: Physics 118A, Physics 198 or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM, AN BU: SCI EN: SU, TU FA: NSM


L31 Physics 316 Optics and Wave Physics Laboratory

Introduction to optics and to treatment of experimental data. Experiments and lectures on refraction, interference, diffraction, polarization and coherence properties of waves with emphasis on light. Data analysis using statistical methods. Prerequisites: Physics 117APhysics 118A or Physics 197Physics 198.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM BU: SCI FA: NSM


L31 Physics 318 Introduction to Quantum Physics II

Application of elementary quantum principles to atomic and molecular physics, solid-state physics, and nuclear and particle physics. Prerequisite: Physics 217.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM, AN BU: SCI FA: NSM


L31 Physics 321 Electronics Laboratory

Elements of linear and nonlinear circuits, amplifiers, feedback, with applications in experimental physics. Prerequisite: Physics 118A, Physics 198 or permission of instructor. Two three-hour laboratories and two one-hour lectures a week.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM, AN BU: SCI EN: DU, SU, TU FA: NSM


L31 Physics 322 Physical Measurement Laboratory

A variety of classical and modern experiments in physics, including five experiments in nuclear radiation. Use of computers in experiment control, data acquisition and data analysis. Development of skills in writing lab notebooks and formal reports and giving short oral presentations on experiments. Two laboratory periods each week. Prerequisites: Physics 217 or permission of instructor; junior or senior standing.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS, WI A&S: IQ, NSM, AN, WI EN: TU FA: NSM


L31 Physics 341 Selected Topics in Physics III

Topics of special interest (e.g., superconductivity, quasicrystals, neural networks, chaos, etc.) may be studied under the supervision of a faculty member, variously by lectures, seminars or individual study or research. Students hoping to arrange such a course must prepare a proposal and secure consent to undertake direction of the course from a faculty member and finally secure approval of the department chair.

Credit variable, maximum 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM BU: SCI FA: NSM


L31 Physics 342 Selected Topics in Physics III

Topics of special interest (e.g., holography, relativity, nuclear power, computer application in physics, etc.) may be studied under the supervision of a faculty member, variously by lectures, seminars or individual study or research. Students hoping to arrange such a course must prepare a proposal and secure the instructor’s consent to undertake direction of the course from a faculty member and finally secure approval of the department chair.

Credit variable, maximum 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM FA: NSM


L31 Physics 344 Energy and Environmental Physics

This intermediate-level course applies basic physics principles to this increasingly important area. It is designed for all science and engineering majors with an interest in energy and environmental issues. Topics covered include population trends, fossil fuel use, renewable energy sources, energy storage strategies and climate change. Particular emphasis is given to the use of the fundamental laws of physics, such as energy conservation, as well as more general concepts such as local and global stability, chaotic behavior, probability and risk. The aim of the course is the development of analytical skills and familiarity with important concepts, in order to enable an independent and informed view of environmental problems and possible solutions. A one-year introductory physics class on the level of Physics 117–118 or 197–198 is required. This course also may be taken as Physics 444, which requires an additional independent project.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM, AN


L31 Physics 350 Physics of the Brain

Concepts and techniques of physics are applied to study the functioning of neurons and neuronal circuits in the brain. Neurons and neural systems are modeled at two levels: (1) at the physical level, in terms of the electrical and chemical signals that are generated and transmitted, and (2) at the information-processing level, in terms of the computational tasks performed. Specific topics include: neuronal electrophysiology, neural codes, neural plasticity, sensory processing, neural network architectures and learning algorithms, and neural networks as dynamical and statistical systems. Course grade is based primarily on an individualized term project. Prerequisites: Physics 117A–118A, Physics 197–198, or permission of the instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM BU: SCI EN: SU, TU FA: NSM


L31 Physics 351 Introduction to Biomedical Physics

Principles and application of key physical methods used in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, and in biomedical research. Topics include interaction of radiation with living systems; fundamentals of optical and electron microscopy; imaging via X-rays, magnetic resonance and ultrasound; and electrical properties of organs and cells. Prerequisite: Physics 117A–118A or Physics 197–198.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS BU: SCI EN: TU FA: NSM


L31 Physics 352 Physics of Biomolecules

This course emphasizes the application of physical laws and concepts in understanding biomolecules and their interactions, and in developing tools to investigate their biological properties and functionalities. Topics include (1) a general introduction to biomolecules and cells, (2) physics of biopolymers as modeled by stochastic analyses, (3) transport processes in biological systems including diffusion, reaction kinetics and “life at low Reynolds number,” and (4) the physics of fluorescence and its contemporary applications to dynamics of biomolecules, such as optical tweezers. Prerequisite: Physics 117–118 or Physics 197–198. Some familiarity with thermodynamics; Chem 111A–112A recommended.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM, AN


L31 Physics 355 Physics of Vision

How do the eyes capture an image and convert it to neural messages that ultimately result in visual experience? This lecture and demonstration course covers the physics of how we see. The course is addressed to physics, premedical and life-sciences students with an interest in biophysics. Topics include physical properties of light, evolution of the eyes, image formation in the eye, image sampling with an array of photoreceptors, transducing light into electrical signals, color coding, retinal organization, computing with nerve cells, compressing the 3-D world into optic nerve signals, inferring the 3-D world from optic nerve signals, biomechanics of eye movement, engineered vision in machines. The functional impact of biophysical mechanisms for visual experience is illustrated with psychophysical demonstrations. Corequisite: Physics 117A, Physics 197 or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM BU: SCI EN: SU, TU FA: NSM


L31 Physics 360 Biophysics Laboratory

This laboratory course consists of “table-top” experiments in biological physics that are designed to introduce the student to concepts, methods and biological model systems in biophysics. Most experiments combine experimentation with computer simulations. The list of available experiments includes electrophysiology, human bioelectricity, optical tweezers, ultrasonic imaging, mass spectrometer and viscosity measurements. Prerequisites: prior completion of Physics 117A–118A, Physics 197–198 or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM, AN


L31 Physics 400 Physical Science in 12 Problems

Exercises related to general chemistry, classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, thermodynamics and kinetics, are solved with numerical software. Each exercise is accompanied by a lecture, a software template solving a problem and a related take-home problem. The software allows us to focus on, and treat in a transparent fashion, physical problems without the unworldly idealizations and contrivances found in textbooks. Prerequisites: General Chem, concurrent enrollment with Chem 401 and prior or concurrent enrollment in General Physics.

Same as Chem 400

Credit 1 unit. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM FA: NSM


L31 Physics 411 Mechanics

Motion of a point particle, rotational motion, oscillation, gravitation and central forces, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulation. Prerequisites: Physics 117A–118A or Physics 197–198, Math 217 or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM FA: NSM


L31 Physics 421 Electricity and Magnetism

Starting from Coulomb’s law, the Biot-Savart law and Faraday’s law, the electrical and magnetic fields are defined and applied. Maxwell’s equations are derived and their consequences, such as electromagnetic waves and relativity, are explored. Prerequisites: Physics 117A–118A or Physics 197–198, Math 217 or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM, AN BU: SCI EN: DU, SU, TU FA: NSM


L31 Physics 422 Electricity and Magnetism II

The second course in a two-part series covering the classical theory of electricity and magnetism leading to the derivation and application of Maxwell’s equation. Topics in electrodynamics including Faraday’s law, the displacement current and Maxwell’s equations in vacuum and in matter are covered. Electromagnetic waves and radiation, special relativity and relativistic electrodynamics also are discussed. Prerequisite: Physics 421 or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM, AN EN: DU, SU, TU FA: NSM


L31 Physics 427 Introduction to Computational Physics

Lectures and hands-on experience in computational physics combining topics in numerical analysis, algorithms, statistics, visualization and computer algebra with projects in contemporary areas of physics. Prerequisites: Physics 217 or equivalent and familiarity with a programming language.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM FA: NSM


L31 Physics 435 Nuclear and Radiochemistry Lab

Application of radiochemical techniques to problems in chemistry, physics, and nuclear medicine. Prerequisites: 3 units of physical chemistry and permission of instructor. One lecture hour and five hours of laboratory a week.

Same as Chem 435

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM FA: NSM


L31 Physics 436 Introduction to the Atomic Nucleus

Introduction to the production and decay of radioactive nuclides, the structure and properties of nuclei, and the applications of nuclear and radiochemical techniques to current scientific problems. Prerequisites: one year each of chemistry, mathematics and physics.

Same as Chem 436

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM FA: NSM


L31 Physics 441 Selected Topics in Physics IV

Topics of special interest (e.g., holography, relativity, nuclear power, computer applications in physics, etc.) may be studied under the supervision of a faculty member, variously by lectures, seminars or individual study or research. Students hoping to arrange such a course must prepare a proposal and secure the instructor’s consent to undertake direction of the course from a faculty member and finally secure approval of the department chair.

Credit variable, maximum 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM BU: SCI FA: NSM


L31 Physics 442 Selected Topics in Physics IV

Topics of special interest (e.g., holography, relativity, nuclear power, computer applications in physics, etc.) may be studied under the supervision of a faculty member, variously by lectures, seminars or individual study or research. Students hoping to arrange such a course must prepare a proposal and secure the instructor’s consent to undertake direction of the course from a faculty member and finally secure approval of the department chair.

Credit variable, maximum 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM FA: NSM


L31 Physics 444 Energy and Environmental Physics

This intermediate-level course applies basic physics principles to this increasingly important area. It is designed for all science and engineering majors with an interest in energy and environmental issues. Topics covered include population trends, fossil fuel use, renewable energy sources, energy storage strategies and climate change. Particular emphasis is given to the use of the fundamental laws of physics, such as energy conservation, as well as more general concepts such as local and global stability, chaotic behavior, probability and risk. The aim of the course is the development of analytical skills and familiarity with important concepts, in order to enable an independent and informed view of environmental problems and possible solutions. A one-year introductory physics class on the level of Physics 117-118 or Physics 197-198 is required. This course also may be taken as Physics 444, which requires an additional independent project.

Same as Physics 344

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM, AN


L31 Physics 450 Physics of the Brain

Contents are the same as Physics 350. Also intended for graduate students. Includes a more sophisticated term project than Physics 350. Prerequisites: Physics 117A–118A or Physics 197–198, or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM BU: SCI EN: SU, TU FA: NSM


L31 Physics 451 Advanced Laboratory I

Applications of analog and digital electronics. Contents are the same as Physics 321 plus a term project. Intended for graduate students. Prerequisite: Physics 118A, an equivalent course or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM FA: NSM


L31 Physics 452 Advanced Laboratory II

Applications of analog and digital electronics and microprocessor techniques, followed by projects in modern physics with concurrent lectures on methods of experimental physics. Prerequisite: Physics 322 or permission of instructor. Two laboratories a week.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS, WI A&S: IQ, NSM, WI FA: NSM


L31 Physics 455 Physics of Vision

Contents are the same as Physics 355. Also intended for graduate students. Includes a more sophisticated term project than Physics 355. Corequisite: Physics 117A , Physics 197 or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM FA: NSM


L31 Physics 456 Stellar Astrophysics

In the second semester, the focus is on the dynamics and statistical mechanics of a collection of stars which is treated as a collisionless system. The course begins with a discussion of potential theory and proceeds to discuss the density and phase space distributions of stars in star clusters and galaxies, thus leading to an understanding of the equilibria and stability of these systems. Topics such as Chandrasekhar’s dynamical friction and dark matter constitute the final topics of discussion. This course is also available for advanced undergraduates, with the prerequisites as noted. Prerequisites: Physics 411, 421, and 463, or permission of the instructor.

Same as Physics 556

Credit 3 units.


L31 Physics 463 Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics

Basic methods of classical and quantum statistical mechanics, thermodynamics and transport theory. Prerequisite: Physics 217 or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM, AN FA: NSM


L31 Physics 471 Quantum Mechanics

Origins of quantum theory, wave packets and uncertainty relations, Schroedinger’s equation in one dimension; step potentials and harmonic oscillators; eigenfunctions and eigenvalues; Schroedinger’s equation in three dimensions; the hydrogen atom; symmetry; spin and the periodic table; approximation methods for time independent problems; quantum statistics. Prerequisite: Math 217, Physics 217, Physics 421 or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM EN: SU, TU FA: NSM


L31 Physics 472 Solid State Physics

Crystal structures, binding energies, thermal properties, dielectrics, magnetism, free electron theory of metals, band theory, semiconductors, defects in solids. Prerequisite: Physics 471.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM FA: NSM


L31 Physics 474 Introduction to Particle Physics

Introduction to the standard model of particle physics, including symmetries, conservation laws, the weak interaction, the strong interaction, quark confinement and some more exotic ideas such as grand unified theories. Prerequisite: Physics 471.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM, AN FA: NSM


L31 Physics 476 Cosmic Ray Physics

Victor Hess discovered in 1912 that ionizing radiation impinges on the top of Earth’s atmosphere. Even though physicists have been studying cosmic rays (the ionizing radiation) for more than 100 years now with a fantastic repertoire of experimental and theoretical tools, cosmic rays never stop to surprise us, and cosmic ray physicists are still pushing the frontier of cosmic exploration in many ways. This course gives an introduction into this exciting topic covering historical and recent cosmic ray measurements at all energies, particle and antiparticle observations, and neutrino observations. The presently favored models of cosmic ray acceleration and transport are discussed in detail, and some topics of current interest are highlighted (including the production of particles and antiparticles by dark matter). The course also covers radio astronomy and highlights the clues about the origin of the cosmic rays that can be obtained from radio observations. Prerequisite: L31 Physics 312.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM FA: NSM


L31 Physics 477 Physics of Finite and Infinite Nuclear Systems

Quantum mechanics of finite and infinite systems of protons and neutrons. Interaction between nucleons. Independent-particle model of nuclei and shell structure. Contrast with atomic shell model. Isospin symmetry. Information from weakly and strongly interacting probes of nuclei. Nuclear decay properties and some historical context. Many-particle description of nuclear systems. Single-particle vs. collective phenomena. Properties of excited states. Bulk properties of nuclei. Nuclear and neutron matter. Role of different energy scales in determining nuclear properties: influence of long-range, short-range and medium-induced interactions. Pairing correlations in nuclear systems. Relevance of nuclear phenomena and experiments for astrosphysics and particle physics. Prerequisite: Physics 318 or Physics 471, or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM


L31 Physics 478 From Black Holes to the Big Bang

An introduction to general relativity. The goal is to illustrate important features of general relativity without the full-blown mathematics of Einstein’s equations by restricting attention to spherically symmetric space times. Topics include: principle of equivalence; curved spacetime; spherical stars and black holes; the Big Bang model, observational cosmology. Prerequisite: Physics 411 or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM FA: NSM


L31 Physics 482 Research Seminar

Designed to introduce students to current developments in physics and to research carried out by faculty. Topics vary each year. Each member of the department addresses their particular specialty. Interested undergraduates may take this seminar in their junior or senior year. Must be taken pass/fail.

Credit 1 unit. A&S: NS A&S: IQ, NSM FA: NSM


L31 Physics 499 Honors Program

Prerequisites: junior standing, an average grade of B or better, and permission of the chair of the department. Program and credit to be determined; maximum 6 units.

A&S: NS FA: NSM


L31 Physics 460 X-ray & Gamma-ray Astrophysics

Observers started to use X-ray and gamma rays in the sixties and seventies to explore the cosmos with high-energy photons. The sky looks dramatically different at these energies with bright flares from mass accreting black holes and gamma-ray bursts and large diffuse emission from supernova remnants and cosmic rays interacting with galactic matter and magnetic fields dominating the emission. This course gives a comprehensive overview of the underlying physics and observable phenomenology. Topics covered include the history of X-ray and gamma-ray astronomy, high-energy radiation processes, particle heating and acceleration, accretion physics, blast waves and shocks, black holes, neutron stars, supernova remnants, gamma-ray bursts, and galaxy clusters. Prerequisite: Physics 312.

Credit 3 units.


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