Physics (PHY)

Kara Beauchamp, Lyle Lichty (chair), Derin Sherman

Major: CSC 140 (Foundations of Computer Science), MAT 120 (Calculus of a Single Variable Part II) or 121 (Calculus of a Single Variable), 122 (Calculus of Several Variables), 221 (Linear Algebra), and 236 (Differential Equations); PHY 161, 162, 263, 302, 303, 312 and three additional course credits in Physics at or above the 300 level, for a minimum of 14 courses. Students planning for graduate work in Physics or Engineering should include PHY 305, 321, 322, and 334. Students planning for graduate work are also strongly encouraged to take MAT 234 (Complex Variables), and CHE 323 and 324 (Physical Chemistry I and II).

Teaching Major  MAT 120 (Calculus of a Single Variable Part II) or 121 (Calculus of a Single Variable), 122 (Calculus of Several Variables); PHY 121, 161, 162, 263, 302, 303, 312 and two additional course credits in Physics at or above the 300 level, for a minimum of 11 courses. Supporting work in the other natural sciences or mathematics is recommended. Students with other majors who intend to ask for certification in Physics as a second field are required to complete MAT 120 (Calculus of a Single Variable Part II) or 121 (Calculus of a Single Variable); PHY 161, 162, 263, and 303. In addition to the foregoing requirements, prospective teachers must also apply for admission to the Teacher Education Program (preferably at the start of their sophomore year) and complete coursework leading to secondary certification described under Education. Prospective teachers should request a current list of the specific course requirements from the Education Office.

Minor: A minimum of five course credits in Physics which include PHY 161, 162, 263, 303, and at least one other course in Physics at or above the 300 level.

Capstone: Physics majors conduct individual  experimental projects of their own design in small groups during the advanced lab course. Following the advanced lab, students will conduct a literature search on the background of their experiment in more depth and then write an individualized paper, with emphasis on their particular contribution to the project. The paper must be submitted to their capstone advisor no later than two blocks after the start of the advanced lab. The student will revise the paper until it is accepted by the department. If it appears that the student is making insufficient progress towards the completion of the individual paper, then the student and registrar will be notified that the student is in danger of not completing the major requirements. Once the paper is approved, students are then required to present their findings in a public presentation. If the presentation is judged unacceptable, then the student will have the opportunity to give another presentation privately to the department.  

The Physics curriculum facilitates a wide range of interests from professional to cultural; graduate work in physics, astronomy, geophysics, medicine, meteorology, environmental engineering, business administration, law, health physics, and computer science. B.S.S. candidates and students contemplating an individualized major in the physical sciences are invited to discuss possible curricula with the Department.

Note: PHY 121, 123, and 125 have no formal prerequisites; 141 and 142 ask only reasonable facility in algebra and trigonometry.

121. Astronomy
Development of the current understanding of the origin, evolution, and structure of the universe. Physical principles upon which this understanding is based. Intended for non-science majors. (Science) BEAUCHAMP

123. Acoustics, Music, and Audio Systems
Application of elementary physics principles to sound waves and vibrations, including the physics of musical instruments, room acoustics, hearing, harmonic analysis, and electronic production of sound. Intended for non-science majors. Alternate years. (Laboratory Science)

125. Science through Film and Fiction
Scientific topics and issues found in selected novels and feature films are used to investigate the foundations of science and the scientific process. Students will investigate specific scientific concepts and use them as case studies illustrating the historical development of science and the role of science and technology in society. Intended for non-science majors. (Science)

141. Introductory Physics I
Non-calculus treatment of elementary physics covering the topics of mechanics, relativity, and waves. Emphasis on problem-solving. Prerequisite: two years of high school algebra including trigonometry. (Science) LICHTY

142. Introductory Physics II
Continuation of PHY 141 covering electricity, magnetism, and modern physics. Prerequisite: PHY 141 or 161. (Science) BEAUCHAMP

161. General Physics I
Introduction to physics intended for physical science majors. Topics include Newton's laws of motion, concepts of work and energy, rotational motion, and conservation laws. Prerequisite: MAT 120 or 121. (Science) LICHTY

162. General Physics II
Continuation of PHY 161. Topics include relativity and electricity and magnetism. Prerequisites: PHY 161. (Science) BEAUCHAMP

255 through 259. Topics in Physics
Study of a selected topic in physics, such as cosmology, special relativity, light and color, and physics of sports. See Topics Courses. (Science)

263. Laboratory Physics
A laboratory experience designed to complement either of the introductory physics sequences. Techniques of experimental measurement and analysis, with experiments drawn from all areas of introductory physics. Prerequisite: either PHY 142 or 162. (Laboratory Science) (CR) BEAUCHAMP or LICHTY

280/380. Internship: see Courses 280/380.

290/390. Individual Project: see Courses 290/390.

302. Electronics
Principles of electronics, signal processing, and computer interfacing needed to understand, configure, and troubleshoot modern electronic and computer-based research equipment. Transducers, operational amplifiers, test equipment, integrated circuits, data transmission, computerized data acquisition, and analog to digital conversion. Prerequisites: PHY 142 or 162. Same course as CSC 302. (Laboratory Science) LICHTY

303. Modern Physics
Topics include thermodynamics, special relativity, photons, deBroglie waves, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, the Schrödinger equation, atomic and nuclear physics, high-energy particles, and quarks. Prerequisites: PHY 162, 263 and MAT 122. BEAUCHAMP

305. Waves
Study of physical wave phenomena, especially optical and mechanical waves. Topics include superposition, reflection, refraction, dispersion, interference, diffraction, polarization phenomena, and the wave equation. Prerequisites: PHY 162, 263, and MAT 122. Alternate years.

312. Advanced Experimental Physics
An in-depth investigation of a physics experiment chosen by the student in consultation with the instructor. Includes design, construction, collection of data, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of the experiment. Prerequisites: PHY 302, 303, and one other 300-level Physics course. SHERMAN

315. Astrophysics
The astrophysics of stars and stellar systems with an emphasis on the physical principles underlying the observed phenomena. Topics include the techniques of astronomy, structure and evolution of stars, binary stars, star clusters, and end states of stars such as white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes. Prerequisite: PHY 303. Alternate years.

321. Mechanics
Newtonian, Lagrangian, and Hamiltonian mechanics covering the motion of single particles, rigid bodies, systems of particles, fluid mechanics, and complex analysis. Prerequisites: MAT 221; PHY 162 and 263. Alternate years. SHERMAN

322. Electricity and Magnetism
Electric and magnetic fields and their sources, magnetic and dielectric materials, and Maxwell's equations. Prerequisites: PHY 162, 263, and MAT 122. Alternate years.

334. Introduction to Quantum Mechanics
Development of the Schrödinger wave equation and its solution for the harmonic oscillator and Coulomb potentials. Orbital and spin angular momenta, and applications to simple atomic and molecular systems. Prerequisites: MAT 221; PHY 303, and either PHY 305 or 321. Alternate years. LICHTY

355 through 359. Advanced Topics in Physics
Study of a selected topic in advanced physics, such as general relativity, thermodynamics, advanced mechanics, chaos, particle physics, or condensed matter. See Topics Courses.

501. Advanced Laboratory (1/4)
Experiments of an advanced character, permitting the student to work relatively independently. Must be taken over four consecutive terms. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. (CR)

511. Extended Research in Physics (1/4)
Reading in depth on a topic of current interest and the pursuit of an experimental or theoretical problem related to the topic. Must be taken over four consecutive terms. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. (CR)

512. Reading and Conversation in Physics (1/4)
Reading and discussion of articles or topics of interest in contemporary physics. Course meets once per term for eight terms. (CR)

963. Oak Ridge Science Semester: see Cornell-Approved Domestic Off-Campus Programs.