Courses

Course Descriptions for 2014-2015

  • PHYS 100: Powering the Future: Renewable Energy in Context

    The acquisition of enough energy to power our lives will be one of the key scientific and technological issues of the twenty-first century and beyond. This course provides an overview of the physics of energy harvesting at an introductory level. We also consider the technological and socio-economic constraints as well as the environmental and sociological impact of different energy sources, and go on field trips to see real-world applications. There will be a major group project. 6 credit; Argument and Inquiry Seminar, Writing Requirement, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; offered Fall 2014 · A. Pattanayak
  • PHYS 123: What Physicists Do

    A program of five lectures by invited speakers that is intended to give students some perspective on the kinds of work done by people with a physics background. Visitors from industry, government, business, and research and educational institutions will discuss their work and work-related experiences. Prerequisites: Physics 131, 132, 141, 142, 151, 152, 153, or 165. 1 credit; S/CR/NC; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Spring 2015 · J. Weisberg
    Extended departmental description for PHYS 123

    For a full list of the 2014 PHYS 123 speakers and a description of their talks click here.

  • PHYS 131: Introduction to Physics: Newtonian Mechanics

    An introduction to classical mechanics using the Newtonian worldview. The kinematics and dynamics of some simple systems including objects in free fall, simple harmonic motion, planetary motion, and the motion of charged particles in electromagnetic fields are investigated using Newton's laws, vector analysis, and the conservation laws of linear momentum, angular momentum, and energy. Comfort with algebra and the integration and differentiation of elementary functions is assumed. Weekly laboratory work. Prerequisites: Mathematics 111. Not open to students who have completed Physics 132, 141, or 142 at Carleton. 3 credit; Science with Lab, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; offered Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015 · N. Christensen, E. Hazlett, A. Pattanayak
  • PHYS 132: Introduction to Physics: Gravity and the Earth

    An introduction to the basic principles of Newtonian mechanics and conservation laws using the earth and the gravitational force law as a conceptual framework. The many influences of gravity on the structure of the earth from its shape to the tides, and techniques for measuring gravity will be discussed. Comfort with algebra and the integration and differentiation of elementary functions is assumed. Weekly laboratory. Prerequisites: Mathematics 111. Not open to students who have completed Physics 131, 141 or 142 at Carleton. 3 credit; Science with Lab, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; offered Spring 2015 · W. Titus
  • PHYS 141: Introduction to Physics: Gravity and the Cosmos

    An introduction of basic principles of physics in the realm of planetary systems, black holes and dark matter in the universe. Gravity, conservation of energy and momentum will be used to explore large-scale phenomena in the cosmos. Comfort with algebra and the integration and differentiation of elementary functions is assumed. Weekly laboratory or observational work. Not open to students who have completed Physics 131, 132, or 142 at Carleton. Prerequisites: Prerequisites: Mathematics 121 (completion or concurrent registration) and strong preparation in Newtonian Mechanics. 3 credit; Science with Lab, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; offered Winter 2015 · J. Weisberg
  • PHYS 142: Introductory Mechanics: Matter and Interactions

    An introduction to Newtonian mechanics using calculus. The kinematics and dynamics of objects in motion are investigated using Newton's laws and related conservation laws. Examples of systems studied include table-top objects, simple astronomical systems, or objects in harmonic motion. This section emphasizes a bottom-up atomic perspective and introduces a computational approach to allow the consideration of atoms and molecules inside solids as well. Weekly laboratory or computational work. Prerequisites: Mathematics 121 (completion or concurrent registration) and strong preparation in physics. Not open to students who have completed Physics 131, 132, or 141 at Carleton 3 credit; Science with Lab, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; offered Fall 2014 · C. Blaha
  • PHYS 151: Introduction to Physics: Relativity and Particles

    An introduction to principles of physics in the domain of the very small and very fast. Topics include the special theory of relativity, and selected applications to atomic, nuclear, and particle physics. Comfort with algebra and the integration and differentiation of elementary functions is assumed. Weekly laboratory work. Prerequisites: Mathematics 121 (completion or concurrent registration) and Physics 131 (completion or concurrent registration) or 132 or 141 or 142 3 credit; Science with Lab, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; offered Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015 · N. Christensen, E. Hazlett, W. Titus, J. Weisberg
  • PHYS 152: Introduction to Physics: Environmental Physics

    An introduction to principles of physics and their application to the environment. Topics include energy and its flows, engines, energy efficiency, energy usage and conservation in vehicles and buildings, the atmosphere, and climate change. Comfort with algebra and the integration and differentiation of elementary functions is assumed. Weekly laboratory work or field trips. Prerequisites: Mathematics 111 (completion or concurrent registration) and Physics 131 or 132 or 141 or 142 (or their equivalents) 3 credit; Science with Lab, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; offered Spring 2015 · A. Pattanayak
  • PHYS 153: Fluid and Waves

    A study of the properties of fluids (both static and dynamic) and the principles of waves and wave motion (including both sound and light). Topics include simple harmonic motion, buoyancy and Archimedes' principle, Bernoulli's equation, viscosity, Poiseuille's equation, standing waves, musical instruments, and the Doppler effect. One laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Physics 131 or 132 or 141 or 142 and Mathematics 111 3 credit; Science with Lab, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; offered Fall 2014 · C. Blaha
  • PHYS 165: Introduction to Electricity, Magnetism, and Optics

    A study of the principles of electricity, magnetism, and optics with an emphasis on real-world applications including electronics, laser physics, astronomy, and medicine. Topics include electric and magnetic fields, electric potentials, DC and AC circuits, geometric and wave optics, and relevant properties of matter. Designed for science majors who want additional background in physics. Comfort with algebra and the integration and differentiation of elementary functions is assumed. One laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Physics 131 or 132 or 141 or 142, Mathematics 121 6 credit; Science with Lab, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; offered Winter 2015 · M. Baylor
  • PHYS 228: Atomic and Nuclear Physics

    An elementary but analytical introduction to the physics of atoms and nuclei. Topics include the particle aspects of electromagnetic radiation, an introduction to quantum mechanics, the wave aspects of material particles, the structure of atoms, X-ray and optical spectra, instruments of nuclear and particle physics, nuclear structure and elementary particles. One laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Physics 151 6 credit; Science with Lab, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; offered Fall 2014 · E. Hazlett
  • PHYS 229: Analytical Mechanics

    An analytical treatment of classical mechanics from a Lagrangian and Hamiltonian standpoint. Equations of motion and their solutions are studied with special emphasis on the harmonic oscillator and central-force problems. Prerequisites: Physics 131, 132, 141, or 142 and Mathematics 211; or permission of the instructor 3 credit; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Winter 2015 · W. Titus
  • PHYS 230: Computational Mechanics

    A numerical treatment of classical mechanics concentrating on examples which are difficult, if not impossible, to solve analytically. Topics may include examples from astrophysics and chaotic dynamics. Prerequisites: Physics 229 3 credit; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Winter 2015 · W. Titus
  • ASTR 232: Astrophysics I

    Cross-listed with PHYS 232. A study of stellar structure and evolution with an emphasis on the physical principles underlying the observed phenomena. Topics include the birth, evolution, and death of stars, pulsars, black holes, and white dwarfs. Prerequisites: Physics 228 and Physics 229/230 or permission of the instructor 6 credit; Quantitative Reasoning Encounter, Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; not offered 2014-2015
  • ASTR 233: Astrophysics II

    Cross-listed with PHYS 233. A study of galactic and extragalactic astronomy with an emphasis on the physical principles underlying the observed phenomena. Topics include the structure and dynamics of the Milky Way Galaxy and other galaxies, the interstellar medium, quasars and active galaxies, clusters and superclusters, and cosmology. Prerequisites: Physics 228 and 229/230 or permission of the instructor 6 credit; Quantitative Reasoning Encounter, Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Spring 2015 · C. Blaha
  • PHYS 234: Computer Simulations in Complex Physical Systems

    The development of techniques to study complex physical systems from a probabilistic and numerical standpoint using Mathematica. Subject material is applicable to all the sciences and mathematics. Some topics considered are random walks, percolation clusters, avalanches, traffic flow, the spread of forest fires and diseases, and a brief introduction to Bayesian statistics. No Mathematica skills are assumed. Prerequisites: Physics 131,132,141 or 142 or permission of instructor. 6 credit; Science with Lab, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; offered Spring 2015 · W. Titus
  • PHYS 235: Electricity and Magnetism

    Electric and magnetic fields in free space, and their interactions with charges and currents. Topics include DC and AC circuits, Maxwells's equations, and electromagnetic waves. Weekly laboratory work. Prerequisites: Physics 151, or 165 and Mathematics 211; or permission of the instructor 6 credit; Science with Lab, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; offered Spring 2015 · N. Christensen
  • PHYS 247: Digital Electronics

    A study of the digital electronics involved in computers, ranging from basic logic circuits to microprocessors. Weekly lab. Each student will complete a term paper that will involve projections about future developments in computer electronics, and a lab project that will involve circuit design. Prerequisites: Computer Science 208 6 credit; Science with Lab, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; not offered 2014-2015
  • PHYS 260: Materials Science

    From a simple "Post-It" note to a complex computer microprocessor, modern products derive much of their utility from the structures and properties of their constituent materials. This course will provide a survey of the science of materials including structure (bonding, crystal structure, defects), classes of materials (polymers, ceramics, metals, composites), physical properties (mechanical, electromagnetic, thermal, optical) and techniques for materials characterization. In addition, the technological and societal impacts of materials development will be explored. Prerequisites: Physics 151, 152, 153, or 165 or Chemistry 123 or 128 6 credit; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; not offered 2014-2015
  • PHYS 261: Medical Physics

    The course covers the basic concepts of medical physics. Particular attention is paid to electromagnetism, mechanics and nuclear physics when applied to medical and biological phenomena. Topics include medical imaging techniques, nuclear medicine radiation protection, dosimetry, and physics in biology. Students will visit medical imaging facilities. Note that this course is not appropriate for pre-medical, pre-dental or pre-veterinary requirements. Prerequisites: Physics 151, 152, 153, or 165 6 credit; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; not offered 2014-2015
  • PHYS 335: Quantum Mechanics

    An examination of the structure of non-relativistic quantum mechanics and how this theory differs from those of classical physics. Topics include the mathematics of Hilbert space, the postulates of quantum mechanics, the motion of a particle in one dimension (including the free particle and the simple harmonic oscillator), the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, and spin. Multidimensional applications will include the harmonic oscillator, the hydrogen atom. Approximation techniques and applications will be presented. Prerequisites: Physics 228, 229/230 and Mathematics 232. Familiarity with matrix algebra is assumed. 6 credit; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Winter 2015 · A. Pattanayak
  • PHYS 341: Waves

    The analysis of wave phenomena, including normal mode expansions, the wave equation and boundary value problems, and interference, diffraction, and polarization. Applications are made to mechanical, sound, water and electromagnetic waves with particular emphasis on electromagnetism and optics. Prerequisites: Physics 229 and 235, and Mathematics 232. 6 credit; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; not offered 2014-2015
  • PHYS 342: Contemporary Experimental Physics

    A study of experimental techniques and apparatus basic to the measurements which underlie and validate contemporary theories in physics. Topics include electrical measurements, data analysis and statistics, optical and laser techniques, particle detectors, and time coincidence techniques. Applications are made to experiments such as magnetic resonance, Mossbauer and nuclear spectroscopy and laser optics. Class time is devoted to studying the measurement techniques and considering phenomenological models of the effects observed in the laboratory. One laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Physics 228 and Physics 235 6 credit; Science with Lab, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; offered Spring 2015 · M. Eblen-Zayas, E. Hazlett
  • PHYS 343: Electronics

    A study of the electrical circuits and electronics underlying modern physics instrumentation. Includes an introduction to microprocessor and microcomputer design. Approximately equal emphasis on analog and digital electronics. One laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Physics 235 6 credit; Science with Lab, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; not offered 2014-2015
  • PHYS 344: Classical and Quantum Optics

    A junior/senior level course in classical and quantum optics. Includes the phenomena of interference, diffraction and coherence and quantum optical applications, such as unique statistical states of light or the operation of a laser. Modern applications of these areas are studied through such topics as fiber optics telecommunication, optical data storage, or manipulation of atoms by light. Prerequisites: Physics 235 and Mathematics 232 6 credit; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Fall 2014 · M. Baylor
  • PHYS 345: Advanced Optics

    This is a laboratory course that will serve as a follow-up to Physics 344, Classical and Quantum Optics. Students will conduct a number of experiments pertaining to optical phenomena. The experiments will display effects pertaining to classical, quantum, and non-linear optics. The lab will take place once a week for four hours each session. Prerequisites: Physics 344 or permission of the instructor 2 credit; Science with Lab, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; offered Fall 2014 · M. Baylor
  • PHYS 346: Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics

    The fundamentals of classical thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. Topics include the laws of thermodynamics; heat engines and refrigerators; the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution; the various canonical distributions; the statistical concepts of temperature and entropy; Fermi-Dirac, and Bose-Einstein distributions with applications to black-body radiation, phonons, and electrons in solids; the Ising model; and an introduction to critical phenomena. Prerequisites: Physics 228 6 credit; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Fall 2014 · A. Pattanayak
  • PHYS 347: General Relativity

    Einstein's theory of general relativity is developed from basic physical principles. Also presented is the mathematics of curved space time. Astrophysical applications of general relativity, including spherically symmetric objects, black holes, cosmology and the creation and detection of gravitational waves are given. Prerequisites: Physics 230 and 235 6 credit; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; not offered 2014-2015
  • PHYS 348: Introduction to Quantum Field Theory

    Building from the marriage of special relativity and quantum mechanics, the course will examine the structure of relativistic quantum field theory. Possible topics may include the Dirac field, Feynman diagrams and perturbation theory in quantum electrodynamics, renormalization, and select applications in particle physics and condensed-matter physics. The course may also consider current challenges in the field such as that presented by gravity. Prerequisites: Physics 336/337 or Physics 335. 6 credit; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; not offered 2014-2015
  • PHYS 352: Advanced Electricity and Magnetism

    The classical theory of fields and waves. Electromagnetic theory including Maxwell's equations, radiation and relativity. Prerequisites: Physics 235 and Mathematics 341 strongly recommended 6 credit; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Spring 2015 · M. Baylor
  • PHYS 354: Solid State Physics

    An introduction to the physics of solids. Particular attention is paid to the properties exhibited by atoms and molecules because of their association and regular periodic arrangement in crystals. Topics include crystal structure and diffraction, the reciprocal lattice, phonons and lattice vibrations, thermal properties, free-electron theory and band structure. Prerequisites: Physics 335 or 346 6 credit; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; not offered 2014-2015
  • PHYS 355: Topics in Advanced Classical Mechanics

    Lagrangian and Hamiltonian methods including central force motion, coupled harmonic oscillators, and the study of continuous systems. Additional subjects may include fluid dynamics, classical field theory or other specialized topics. Prerequisites: Physics 229 and 230 6 credit; Quantitative Reasoning Encounter, Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Fall 2014 · W. Titus
  • PHYS 356: Special Project

    Individual projects in experimental, theoretical, or computational physics. Available projects are often related to faculty research interests or to the development of course-support materials, such as new laboratory exercises. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. 2 or 3 credit; S/CR/NC; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015 · Staff
    Extended departmental description for PHYS 356

    Click here for the form needed to register for PHYS 356

  • PHYS 400: Integrative Exercise

    An extensive study of a specific topic in physics, culminating in a 70-minute presentation during winter or spring term. A short background paper and a longer summary paper are also required. Students may arrange to complete the bulk of their work during winter or spring term (Physics 400, 6 credits), or divide their effort between terms (Physics 400, winter, 3 credits; Physics 400, spring, 3 credits). 6 credit; S/NC; offered Winter 2015, Spring 2015 · Staff
    Extended departmental description for PHYS 400

    Please go to https://apps.carleton.edu/curricular/physics/assets/CompsDoc2014015.pdf  for comps information

  • ASTR 110: Introduction to Astronomy

    An introduction to current astronomy with an emphasis on how we know what we know. Topics include the solar system; the life cycles of stars; pulsars, quasars, and black holes; and the history and future fate of the universe. No mathematics background beyond high school algebra and trigonometry is assumed. 6 credit; Science with Lab, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; offered Fall 2014, Winter 2015 · C. Blaha, J. Weisberg
  • ASTR 113: Observational and Laboratory Astronomy

    Theory and practice of basic techniques in observational and laboratory astronomy. Certain problems involve the use of the 16-inch and 8-inch telescopes. Prerequisites: Astronomy 110, 232, or 233, or permission of the instructor. 3 credit; S/CR/NC; Science with Lab, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; offered Fall 2014, Spring 2015 · C. Blaha, J. Weisberg
  • ASTR 127: Topics in Modern Astrophysics

    Special topics in modern astrophysics will be explored in order to understand the physical processes at work in a variety of cosmic settings. Possible topics include the solar weather and its impact on Earth, extra-solar planets, black holes, dark matter, gravitational lensing, large-scale structures and dark energy in an accelerating universe. Prerequisites: Astronomy 100, 110 or Physics 131, 132, 141 or 142. 6 credit; Writing Requirement, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter, Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; not offered 2014-2015
  • ASTR 232: Astrophysics I

    Cross-listed with PHYS 232. A study of stellar structure and evolution with an emphasis on the physical principles underlying the observed phenomena. Topics include the birth, evolution, and death of stars, pulsars, black holes, and white dwarfs. Prerequisites: Physics 228 and Physics 229/230 or permission of the instructor 6 credit; Quantitative Reasoning Encounter, Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; not offered 2014-2015
  • ASTR 233: Astrophysics II

    Cross-listed with PHYS 233. A study of galactic and extragalactic astronomy with an emphasis on the physical principles underlying the observed phenomena. Topics include the structure and dynamics of the Milky Way Galaxy and other galaxies, the interstellar medium, quasars and active galaxies, clusters and superclusters, and cosmology. Prerequisites: Physics 228 and 229/230 or permission of the instructor 6 credit; Quantitative Reasoning Encounter, Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Spring 2015 · C. Blaha
  • ASTR 356: Special Project

    Individual projects in observational, theoretical, or computational astronomy. Available projects are often related to faculty research interests or to the development of course-support materials, such as new laboratory exercises. Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor 2 or 3 credit; S/CR/NC; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015 · Staff
    Extended departmental description for ASTR 356

    Click here for the form needed to register for ASTR 356