PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY COURSE DESCRIPTIONS


For information about the courses needed for a Physics major, click here.

For a schedule of which upper level courses will be offered which semester, click here.





ASTR 1010. (4 hours) -- An introductory course which includes historical astronomy, celestial motions, properties and observation of light, and physical characteristics of the solar system and the Sun. Includes laboratory activities involving telescope observations of solar system and stellar objects. Designed for students desiring a laboratory science for its general education value.


ASTR 1020. (4 hours) -- Introduces students to the study of stars, galaxies, and the universe as a whole. Includes laboratory activities involving telescope observations of star systems, nebulae, and galaxies. Three hours lecture, two hours laboratory each week. NOTE THAT IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO HAVE TAKEN ASTRONOMY I TO TAKE ASTRONOMY II.

ASTR 1035. (4 hours) -- In this course, we use the scientific method to explore the possibility of the existence of life elsewhere in the Universe. We will discuss the origin and evolution of life on Earth, the possibility of life in other locations in our solar system, recent discoveries of extrasolar planets, and the possibility of advanced civilizations elsewhere in the Galaxy. We will also cover topics in interstellar communication, space travel, and UFOs. In this course, we will utilize aspects of astronomy, physics, geology, paleontology, biology, and chemistry to investigate the question of life in the Universe. This course has a required laboratory. There are no prerequisites for this course; it is not necessary to have taken either Astronomy I or II before taking this course.


ASTR 3970. (2 hours) -- Prerequisite: ASTR 1010, 1020. A self-paced independent-study laboratory course on variable stars. Students will make approximately weekly observations of variable stars using the 14-inch Celestron Telescope at the Harry D. Powell Observatory. The observations will be analyzed and light curves derived.


ASTR 3415. (3 hours) -- Prerequisite: PHYS 2120. Students will be introduced to the theoretical basis of what we understand about the Universe. Students will study astronomical phenomena through techniques described in physics: mechanics, atomic and molecular physics (i.e., quantum mechanics), nuclear physics, relativity, and electromagnetism. Specifically, the physics of the solar and stellar atmospheres and interiors will be discussed, as well as stellar evolution. The Milky Way Galaxy and galaxies in general will be studied in detail. The course will conclude with a treatment of gravitation and cosmology in the presentation of the Big Bang theory.

Introduction to Physics Survey

PHYS 1030. (4 hours) -- Presents an interdisciplinary approach to the physical sciences with a concentration in physics. Relates the role of science to the daily activities of an educated person. Three hours lecture, one hour demonstration/discussion each week. Not open to students who have any previous college credit in any of the physical sciences.


PHYS 1956. (4 hours) -- A course designed to teach basic classical and modern physics through its use or non-use in science fiction films. Lectures will be supplemented with the critical viewing of some classic science fiction films. Grades will be determined from a midterm and a final exam, as well as, two term papers. Click here for a more detailed description of The Physics of Science Fiction Films. Note that this course is only offered during the summer semester.

Great Ideas in Science I

PHYS 2018. (3 hours) -- The first semester of a two-semester sequence where significant ideas in science are discussed, such as Newton's laws of motion and gravity, the Copernican revolution, Kepler's laws of planetary motion, relativity, quantum theory, the Big Bang theory, stellar evolution, and the origin of the elements. NOTE THAT THIS COURSE IS ONLY OPEN TO UNIVERSITY HONORS STUDENTS.

Great Ideas in Science II

PHYS 2028. (3 hours) -- The second semester of a two-semester sequence where significant ideas in science are discussed, such as radioactivity, the periodic table, biochemistry, natural selection in biological evolution, and geologic evolution. NOTE THAT THIS COURSE IS ONLY OPEN TO UNIVERSITY HONORS STUDENTS.

General Physics I - Noncalculus

PHYS 2010. (3 hours) -- A survey of the topics in classical physics intended primarily for students in pre-professional curricula and majors in various engineering technology concentrations. (Engineering transfer students should take Physics 2110.) Topics include classical mechanics, solids, fluids, and thermodynamics. A good working knowledge of algebra and trigonometry (at least at the high school level) is required before taking this course. Heavy emphasis is made for the solutions to numerical problems. PHYS 2010 is the first semester of a two-semester sequence in general physics. (Many curricula require a laboratory course in physics. Students in these curricula must also take PHYS 2011.) Three hours of lecture each week.

General Physics Laboratory I - Noncalculus

PHYS 2011. (1 hour) -- Experiments dealing with the basic laws of physics, designed to reinforce and supplement concepts learned in PHYS 2010. A good working knowledge of algebra and trigonometry (at least at the high school level) is required before taking this course. One (2) two-hour lab each week. Note: Lecture courses requiring a lab can be taken together or separately, but must both be completed by graduation.

General Physics II - Noncalculus

PHYS 2020. (3 hours) -- Prerequisite: PHYS 2010. A survey of the topics in classical physics intended primarily for students in pre-professional curricula and majors in various engineering technology concentrations. (Engineering transfer students should take Physics 2120.) Topics include electricity and magnetism, wave mechanics, and geometric optics. A good working knowledge of algebra and trigonometry (at least at the high school level) is required before taking this course. Heavy emphasis is made for the solutions to numerical problems. PHYS 2020 is the second semester of a two-semester sequence in general physics. (Many curricula require a laboratory course in physics. Students in these curricula must also take PHYS 2021.) Three hours of lecture each week.

General Physics Laboratory II - Noncalculus

PHYS 2021. (1 hour) -- Prerequisite(s): PHYS 2011. Experiments dealing with the basic laws of physics, designed to reinforce and supplement concepts learned in PHYS 2020. A good working knowledge of algebra and trigonometry (at least at the high school level) is required before taking this course. One (2) two-hour lab each week. Note: Lecture courses requiring a lab can be taken together or separately, but must both be completed by graduation.

Technical Physics I - Calculus Based

PHYS 2110. (5 hours) -- A survey of physics for students majoring in technical fields, such as physics, chemistry, engineering, etc. Students in pre-professional programs (pre-med, pre-dentistry, etc.) who desire a stronger preparation for professional school also can take this course. Topics include classical mechanics and thermodynamics. One semester of calculus is required before taking this course. Heavy emphasis is made for the solutions to numerical problems. PHYS 2110 is the first semester of a two-semester sequence in calculus-based classical physics. Three hours of lecture and three hours of laboratory/recitation each week.

Technical Physics II - Calculus Based

PHYS 2110. (5 hours) -- Prerequisite: PHYS 2110. A survey of physics for students majoring in technical fields, such as physics, chemistry, engineering, etc. Students in pre-professional programs (pre-med, pre-dentistry, etc.) who desire a stronger preparation for professional school also can take this course. Topics include classical electromagnetism and optics. One semester of calculus is required before taking this course. Heavy emphasis is made for the solutions to numerical problems. PHYS 2120 is the second semester of a two-semester sequence in calculus-based classical physics. Three hours of lecture and three hours of laboratory/recitation each week.

Statics

PHYS 2810. (3 hours) -- Prerequisite: MATH 1910, 1920; Corequisite: PHYS 2110. Calculus-based course in applied mechanics of engineering statics. Topics include vectors, Newton's laws, torque, equilibria of rigid bodies, and aspects of friction.

Dynamics

PHYS 2820. (3 hours) -- Prerequisite: PHYS 2810; Corequisite: PHYS 2120. Calculus-based course in applied mechanics of engineering dynamics. Topics include kinematic equations of motion, rotational motion, energy, collisions, and vibrations.


PHYS 3010. (4 hours) -- Prerequisites: PHYS 2110-2120. Statics and dynamics of particles and systems of particles. An introduction to Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations of Newtonian mechanics. Three one-hour lectures and one two-hour recitation session each week.


PHYS 3210. Optics (4 hours) -- Prerequisites: PHYS 2110-2120. Geometrical optics including reflection, refraction, dispersion, thin and thick lenses, optical instruments. Physical optics including electromagnetic character of light, interference, diffraction, polarization, and related topics. Three one-hour lectures and one three-hour lab session, or equivalent, each week.

Modern Physics Lab

PHYS 3410. (2 hours) -- Prerequisites: PHYS 2110-2120. An advanced experimental course covering selected topics in particle physics, atomic and molecular structure, and wave phenomena. One four-hour lab per week.


PHYS 3510. Introduction to Biophysics (3 hours) -- Prerequisites: PHYS 2010/20 or 2110/20. Underlying principles of physics used to explore and explain biological systems. Techniques discussed include energetics, X-ray analysis, absorption spectroscopy, etc. applied to cellular processes. Three one-hour lectures, or equivalent, each week.


PHYS 3610. Introduction to Atomic and Nuclear Physics (3 hours) -- Prerequisites: PHYS 2110-2120. A semiquantitative introduction to the physics of the atom and its nucleus: constituent parts of atoms, atomic transmutation, nuclear fission and fusion, and related topics. Three one-hour lectures each week.


PHYS 3710. (4 hours) -- Prerequisites: PHYS 2110-2120. An intermediate-level course in electromagnetism: electrostatics, dielectrics, magnetic materials and effects, development of Maxwell's equations. Three one-hour lectures and one two-hour recitations/laboratory session each week.


PHYS 4007-5007. (4 hours) -- Prerequisite: PHYS 2110-2120 or MATH-2120. Numerical techniques to model physical processes using digital computers running Microsoft Windows and Linux. The numerical solution to systems of linear equations, ordinary differential equations, and partial differential equations will be presented. In addition, techniques in data fitting and error analysis will be investigated. One computer project will be required for the course, along with two exams, and multiple homework sets. Though previous computer programming experienced is not required, it would be useful to have this knowledge for this course. Students will select which programming language they wish to use (e.g., Fortran 77, Fortran 90/95, C/C++, IDL, or MatLab) and will receive supplemental training in this language should it be required. Visualization techniques will be discussed to help the student to present their data generated for their projects. The Project Report must be written using the LaTeX markup language, which is often used in scientific journals.


PHYS 4117-5117. (4 hours) -- Prerequisites: PHYS 2011. The irst, second, and third laws of thermodynamics, Kinetic theory of an ideal gas, equations of state, distribution of molecular velocities, principles of statistical mechanics, transport phenomena, applications of Boltzmann, Fermi-Dirac, and Bose-Einstein statistics.


PHYS 4617-5617. (4 hours) -- Prerequisites: PHYS 3610 and senior standing or permission of the instructor. An introduction to quantum theory and nonrelativistic quantum mechanics. Historical development of ideas which led to present-day theories. Schroedinger's equation and applications, approximation methods, matrix methods, and related topics. Two 1.5-hour lectures and one 1-hour recitation session each week. Note that this is a writing intensive course and a computer project is required.


PHYS 4717/5717. Electromagnetic Theory (4 hours) -- Prerequisite: PHYS 3710. Principles of electromagnetic theory, Maxwell's equations, selected applications, and related topics. Three one-hour lectures and one two-hour recitation session each week.

PHYS 4850. Seminar in Physics and Astronomy (1 hour) -- A weekly one-hour session devoted to a range in research and/or teaching topics, or other topics of departmental interest (see schedule). May be taken for credit twice.


PHYS 4860. Special Topics in Physics (1-3 hours) -- Study of a topic of interest to faculty and undergraduate students. May be repeated for credit (up to a maximum of four hours) provided subject matter is not duplicated.

Independent Study

PHYS 4900. (1-3 hours)--Prerequisite: Prior acceptance by a faculty research advisor. Independent investigation of a problem of interest to the student, under the guidance of a faculty research advisor. May be repeated (up to a maximum of four hours) provided subject matter is not duplicated.


Physics and Astronomy Home Page
Last Modified April 15, 2010 by D. G. Luttermoser