## Physics and Astronomy

Consonant with the liberal arts nature of Carleton, our department serves not only physics and astronomy majors but also other science majors requiring a background in physics or astronomy, and non-science majors desiring an introduction to these subjects. We have goals for the knowledge we would like students to acquire, the skills they should master, and the experiences they should have in learning and doing physics. For example, some of the general skills are the ability to communicate clearly in written work and oral presentation; the ability to work collaboratively with their peers; and the ability to continue learning on a largely independent basis. More specific skills include logical problem-solving and mathematical analysis, experimental design and the use of measurement apparatus, and the use of computers for modeling physical phenomena and for data acquisition and analysis.

### Requirements for the Physics Major

Prospective physics majors are strongly encouraged to begin their study of physics and mathematics in the first year. Physics courses are somewhat sequential and are developed in close association with mathematics courses. The curriculum provides an excellent basis for may post-Carleton career paths, including teaching, working in industry, and graduate study in physics, astronomy, and in various fields of engineering.

Most first-year students considering a major in physics will take either two 5-week courses (Physics 151 AND Physics 131) or one 10-week course (Physics 143 or Physics 144). Although taught from slightly different perspectives, the two 5-week courses or the 10-week course will cover fundamental topics in Newtonian mechanics and special relativity that prepare students for further work in physics and related fields. We also offer a section of Physics 143 with problem solving that is taught in the spring term. This section provides additional problem-solving instruction and is appropriate for students who could benefit from additional support in the study of college-level physics.

Required courses, 72 credits total

Introductory courses required are either:

Other required Physics courses:

- PHYS 228 or PHYS 226/227
- PHYS 231
- PHYS 235
- PHYS 335
- PHYS 342
- PHYS 400
- plus one applied physics course:

Required mathematics courses:

Additional courses that are often recommended include Physics 123, 346, 356, Astronomy 113, 356, Chemistry 123, Mathematics 241, 261, 341, and Computer Science 111. Students considering graduate school in physics are strongly encouraged to take Physics 346, 352, and 355.

**Major Under Combined Plan in Engineering:**

In addition to completing the requirements for the physics major listed above, the student should also take the following courses required for admission to our partner institution, Washington University: Mathematics 241, Chemistry 123, and Computer Science 111.

### Physics Courses (PHYS)

*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. Prerequisite: Physics 131, 143, or 144, or instructor permission. 6 credits; LS, QRE; Not offered 2020-21