Please note: The information displayed here is current as of Sunday, June 20, 2021, but the official Course Catalog should be used for all official planning.
This catalog was created on Sunday, June 20, 2021.
|Associate professors:||J. Collett, D. Martin, M. Pickett (chair)|
|Visiting assistant professors:||M. Koker, T. Zu|
Physics represents an inquiry, both theoretical and experimental, into the nature of the physical universe. The theoretical approach involves constructing and exploring abstract models of nature, while the experimental approach involves investigations of physical systems that provide avenues for evaluating theories and for suggesting new theories. Taken together, theory and experiment aim at the construction of a single, compact, and far-reaching conceptual framework that accounts for all properties of the physical universe.
The physics curriculum at Lawrence is structured to help the student develop a firm grasp of the important theories and a secure competence in contemporary experimental techniques. Requirements for the major reflect this structure. On the theoretical side, the major moves from a general survey to more detailed intermediate courses to advanced electives, potentially culminating in a theoretical Senior Experience project. On the experimental side, the major moves from a study of standard techniques of data analysis to an intermediate laboratory in electronics to a project-oriented advanced laboratory, potentially culminating in an experimental Senior Experience project. Throughout the curriculum, contemporary computational approaches to problems in physics play a significant role alongside the traditional approaches.
Prospective engineers will find that a major in physics automatically fulfills nearly all of the requirements for Lawrence’s 3-2 engineering program.
Students who have strong secondary interests in biology, chemistry, or geology may construct majors involving physics and one of the other three natural sciences, using the interdisciplinary major in natural sciences.
Students interested in Physics Education may also pursue a Physics Teaching Track in the major.
In addition, a minor in physics offers an opportunity for those who wish to supplement a major in another discipline with a significant exposure to physics.
Required for the major in physics
Students who major in physics will master the concepts in the fundamental subject areas of classical mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, and statistical mechanics. They will apply analytical, computational, and experimental methods to solve physics problems and will complete a scientific investigation and effectively communicate findings in oral and written form.
The major in physics requires the following:
- The following courses:
- PHYS 141: Principles of Physics I
- PHYS 151: Principles of Physics II
- PHYS 220: Intermediate Laboratory: Electronics
- PHYS 225: Computational Mechanics
- PHYS 230: Electricity and Magnetism
- PHYS 260: Principles of Modern Physics
- PHYS 310: Quantum Mechanics
- PHYS 320: Thermal Physics
- PHYS 330: Advanced Laboratory
- One additional six-unit courses chosen from PHYS 340 and above, excluding directed study, tutorial, and independent study courses taken as part of the Senior Experience or for other reasons
- Senior Experience in physics
Physics majors without advanced placement or a strong background in high school physics should start with PHYS 141. Majors who do not intend to pursue graduate study in physics may petition the department to substitute appropriate upper-level offerings in other departments for up to two of the required physics electives.
The following program is typical:
- Freshman: PHYS 141 & 151, PHYS 220; MATH 140, 155, 200
- Sophomore: PHYS 225, 230, 260; MATH 250
- Junior: PHYS 310, 320, 330; physics electives
- Senior: PHYS 699: Independent Study in Physics, PHYS 650: Senior Seminar in Physics; physics electives
The Sophomore Entry Track allows a physics outreach class for non-majors to count in place of an introductory class or upper-level elective.
- Freshman: PHYS 110 or PHYS 115; MATH 140, 155; UNIC 175
- Sophomore: PHYS 141, 151, 220; MATH 200
- Junior: PHYS 225, 230, 260; MATH 250
- Senior: PHYS 310, 320, 330, Senior Experience
Additional courses in mathematics, chemistry, computer science, biology, and geosciences are often elected. The prospective major should consult early and regularly with the faculty in the department.
The 3/2 Engineering Track adds chemistry and computer science, as required by our partner schools, in place of some third-pass classes, and allows students to transfer back upper-level engineering courses for the upper-level physics electives.
- Freshman: PHYS 141, 151, 220; MATH 140, 155, 200
- Sophomore: PHYS 225, 230, 260; CHEM 115, 166; MATH 250
- Junior: PHYS 320, Senior Experience; CSMC 150
- Senior: Transfer Classes
Required for the interdisciplinary major in natural sciences in physics and a secondary discipline
Physics students who have strong secondary interests in biology, chemistry, or geosciences may construct a major involving physics and one of these sciences using the interdisciplinary major in the natural sciences.
The requirements for the interdisciplinary major with physics as the primary discipline are:
- PHYS 151: Principles of Physics II and PHYS 220: Intermediate Laboratory: Electronics
- Any two of the following, chosen to include the secondary discipline:
- BIOL 130: Integrative Biology: Cells to Organisms, BIOL 150: Integrative Biology: Organisms to Ecosystems, and BIOL 170: Integrative Biology: Experimental Design and Statistics
- CHEM 115: Principles of Chemistry: Structure and Reactivity and CHEM 116: Principles of Chemistry: Energetics and Dynamics, or equivalent
- GEOS 110: Introduction to the Geosciences and GEOS 210: History of the Earth and Life
- At least 10 six-unit courses in the sciences (biology, chemistry, geosciences, physics) numbered 200 or above, with at least five in physics and at least three in the secondary discipline. The five courses in physics must include the following:
- PHYS 225: Computational Mechanics,
- PHYS 230: Electricity and Magnetism,
- PHYS 260: Principles of Modern Physics
- PHYS 310: Quantum Mechanics, and
- PHYS 330: Advanced Laboratory.
- Senior Experience in physics
Senior Experience in physics
The Senior Experience in the department of physics consists of an independent investigation tailored to the individual student’s goals in physics. The process consists of a formal project proposal to the department followed by one or two six-unit independent study courses under faculty supervision and culminating in a capstone thesis paper.
All seniors will participate in a two-unit senior seminar, PHYS 650, in which they present their work orally. Students with double majors or degrees may propose initiatives that span multiple departments but both departments must approve such proposals before the project goes forward.
Required for the minor in physics
- PHYS 141: Principles Physics I and PHYS 151: Principles of Physics II
- PHYS 220: Intermediate Laboratory: Electronics
- PHYS 225: Computational Mechanics
- PHYS 260: Principles of Modern Physics
- Two additional six-unit courses in physics, at least two of which must be chosen from physics courses numbered 220 and above, excluding independent studies and capstone courses, and no more than one of which can be chosen from PHYS 103–115 and PHYS 205
- MATH 140, 155, 200
A student pursuing a minor in physics must consult with a member of the department early and often to plan and monitor progress in the minor.
Teacher certification in physics or broad-field science
Students can seek teacher certification to teach physics at the secondary level. Certification requires a major in physics with courses in other science subjects, and students may petition to substitute physics courses numbered below 199 for the two required physics electives. Students also have the option of seeking broad-field science certification by completing a minimum of two courses in each of two other science disciplines and at least one course in each of the remaining sciences. Students who plan to seek teacher certification should review the requirements in the Education section of the catalog and meet with the director of teacher education, preferably before the end of the sophomore year.
The Physics Teaching Track emphasizes core areas at the second pass level, with more requirements from other sciences to enable students to receive the broad-science certification and highlight connections between sciences at the high school level. The five education classes for the teaching certification are in addition to the physics requirement; this path can be completed in 12 terms if started in the first year, or in 13 terms if started later. The courses for this track include:
PHYS 110, 141, 151, 220, 225, 230, 260, 330, and Senior Experience
CHEM 115, 116
MATH 140, 155, 200, 250
EDST 180, 350, 440
EDUC 430, 560
Courses of general interest requiring minimal or no prerequisite are numbered 107-115. The introductory courses, 141, 151, and 220, require elementary calculus. PHYS 141 introduces ideas in calculus together with concepts in physics. The calculus introduced in PHYS 141 will not replace any mathematics prerequisites in courses numbered 220 and higher. Intermediate courses are numbered between 200 and 300 and typically list calculus and differential equations as prerequisites. Advanced courses, many of which list one or more intermediate courses as prerequisites, are intended for juniors and seniors and are numbered above 300. Tutorial studies in physics and independent study in physics also are offered.
Recommended courses outside the department
Courses in mathematics, chemistry, and computer science are frequently elected to support a major in physics, but courses in geosciences, biology, economics, philosophy, anthropology, and other areas have occasionally been chosen by physics majors whose post-graduation objectives have an interdisciplinary dimension. With departmental approval, up to two upper-level courses in other departments may be substituted for required physics electives.
Opportunities for non-majors
The physics curriculum offers non-majors the opportunity to take one or more terms of physics as part of their liberal education. Although every course is open to all suitably prepared students, PHYS 107, 110, 112, 115, 141, 151, 260, and 220 have traditionally attracted non-majors.
The laboratory science general education requirement
The following courses in the physics department satisfy the university’s degree requirement of one laboratory course in natural science: PHYS 107, 110, 141, 151, 260, 220, 330, 340.
Students with strong backgrounds should seek advanced placement and credit, normally by submitting scores on the Physics Advanced Placement Examination. Advanced placement without credit is awarded to students who submit satisfactory evidence that they both understand most of PHYS 141 or 151 and are able to remedy weaknesses on their own initiative.
Majors preparing for graduate school in physics will probably take more courses in physics than the required minimum. PHYS 425, 430, 440, and 460 are recommended for all such students. Other departmental offerings (PHYS 340, 500-570) are appropriate for students with particular interests in the topics of those courses. All students contemplating graduate studies in physics should seek opportunities at Lawrence or elsewhere for full-time research during the summer after the junior year (or earlier). Students contemplating graduate studies in physics should discuss their plans early and often with members of the department.
The Associated Colleges of the Midwest program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is available to majors in physics. Further, with careful advance planning, physics majors at Lawrence can arrange to be off campus for a term—typically the Winter or Spring Term of the junior year or the Fall Term of the senior year—without jeopardizing progress in the major. Thus, physics majors can participate in off-campus programs, even if those programs contain no scientific components. The Lawrence London Centre, among others, has been a popular destination for physics majors.
Courses - Physics
PHYS 107: Physics of MusicExplores the relationship between physics and music, covering such topics as vibrations, waves, interference, resonance, wave forms, scales and temperament, physics of musical instruments, characteristics of auditoriums, impact of electronics. Weekly laboratory.
PHYS 110: Introduction to AstronomyTreats selected topics in astronomy and cosmology: the solar system, stellar evolution and death, black holes, galaxies, the big bang theory of the early universe. Astronomical observations are interpreted in light of known physical laws to form a comprehensible picture of the universe. Weekly laboratory.
PHYS 112: Energy Technology, Society, and the EnvironmentExplores energy production, storage, and usage as they are currently practiced. Certain emerging technologies will also be addressed. Environmental and socio-economic impact will be discussed in the context of limitations imposed by the laws of physics.
PHYS 115: Aspects of PhysicsTreats topics selected for the non-scientist who wants one term of physics. In recent years, the course has sometimes focused on the nature of time and relativity. Physics 115 is not intended to serve as a general introduction to physics, as are Physics 141, 151, and 160, and does not supply an adequate background for intermediate or advanced courses.
PHYS 119: Victorian EngineeringThe Victorian era (1837-1901) saw tremendous advances in engineering: systems such as steam engines, steel bridges, underground railways and electrical lighting were developed or dramatically enhanced. Moreover, many of these systems are still in use in London. This course uses London as a unique laboratory to investigate classical physics through field trips to engineering edifices combined with classroom discussion to expose the underlying science.
PHYS 141: Introduction to Physics IA calculus-based introduction to fundamental concepts in mechanics, from Galileo and Newton through relativity and quantum mechanics. Weekly laboratories emphasize the acquisition, reduction and interpretation of experimental data and the keeping of complete records. Explicit instruction in calculus will be provided.
PHYS 151: Introduction to Physics IIA continuation of Physics 141. Physics 151 offers a brief review of mechanics, and covers electricity, magnetism, circuits, waves, optics and thermal physics. Weekly laboratories emphasize the acquisition, reduction, and interpretation of experimental data and the keeping of complete records.
PHYS 160: Principles of Modern PhysicsTreats basic ideas developed since 1900: quantum aspects of nature, special relativity, elementary wave mechanics, atomic and nuclear structure, fundamental particles. Weekly laboratory.
PHYS 190: Tutorial Studies in PhysicsReadings of texts and/or current literature to study a topic not covered in regular offerings. Topics must be carefully defined and a bibliography assembled before permission to enroll is granted.
PHYS 191: Directed Study in PhysicsDirected study follows a syllabus set primarily by the instructor to meet the needs or interests of an individual student or small group of students. The main goal of directed study is knowledge or skill acquisition, not research or creative work.
PHYS 215: Newtonian Lit: Chronicles of a Clockwork UniverseNewtonian Lit is a course that investigates the connections between the literature and science of the Enlightenment, particularly with respect to contemporary notions of space and time. Students will analyze important texts from the fields of English and Physics, notably Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman and Isaac Newton’s Principia.
PHYS 220: Intermediate Lab: ElectronicsA laboratory course covering analysis, construction, and testing of circuits used in present-day experimental research. Strict adherence to standard laboratory practice required. Two laboratories and one lecture per week. Note: To register, you must sign up with instructor.
PHYS 225: Computational MechanicsIntroduces symbolic and numerical computation through examples drawn mainly from classical mechanics but also from classical electromagnetism and quantum mechanics. This course emphasizes computer-based approaches to graphical visualization, the solution of ordinary differential equations, the evaluation of integrals, and the finding of roots, eigenvalues, and eigenvectors.
PHYS 230: Electricity and MagnetismDevelops and explores charge and current densities, particle motions, electrostatics, magnetostatics, induction, Maxwell’s equations, electromagnetic waves, responses of matter.
PHYS 260: Modern PhysicsTreats foundational ideas of quantum physics: quantized aspects of nature, wave-particle duality, elementary wave mechanics, atomic and nuclear structure, fundamental particles, cosmology. Weekly laboratory.
PHYS 310: Quantum MechanicsDevelops the theoretical framework used to describe microscopic phenomena: wave-particle duality, wave functions, states and observables, Schrödinger equation, uncertainty relations, bound states, quantum scattering, angular momentum, spin, and stationary and time-dependent perturbation theories.
PHYS 320: Thermal PhysicsTreats elementary statistical mechanics, Bose-Einstein and Fermi-Dirac statistics, kinetic theory, and classical thermodynamics.
PHYS 330: Advanced LaboratoryIndependent work on experiments selected from the following areas: optical, Mössbauer, alpha, beta, gamma ray, and x-ray spectroscopy; optical double resonance; magnetic resonance; vacuum techniques; solid-state physics; laser physics; nuclear physics. Three laboratories weekly; no lectures.
PHYS 340: OpticsA laboratory course which treats geometrical optics, interference, diffraction, polarization, and various other topics in classical and contemporary optics. Students will be exposed to the techniques of a modern atomic molecular optics (AMO) laboratory.
PHYS 350: Physics on Your Feet IThis is the first part of a two-course sequence in which approaches to a wide variety of problems in all major areas of physics are discussed. Special emphasis is placed on quickly identifying relevant fundamental principles and make order of magnitude estimates.
PHYS 351: Physics on Your Feet IIThis is the second part of a two-course sequence in which approaches to a wide variety of problems in all major areas of physics are discussed. Special emphasis is placed on quickly identifying relevant fundamental principles and make order of magnitude estimates.
PHYS 390: Tutorial Studies in PhysicsReadings of texts and/or current literature to study a topic not covered in regular offerings. Topics must be carefully defined and a bibliography assembled before permission to enroll is granted.
PHYS 391: Directed Study in PhysicsDirected study follows a syllabus set primarily by the instructor to meet the needs or interests of an individual student or small group of students. The main goal of directed study is knowledge or skill acquisition, not research or creative work.
PHYS 399: Independent Study in PhysicsTheoretical or experimental independent study. A written proposal must be submitted to the department at least one term before enrolling. Recent independent studies have been undertaken in fluid mechanics, general relativity, atomic systems coupled to electromagnetic fields, phase transitions in liquid crystals, plasma physics, and robotics.
PHYS 425: Advanced Mechanics & Computational PhysicsTreats various topics selected from: mechanics of rigid bodies, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations, variational principles, fluids, classical scattering, relativistic mechanics, and theory of small vibrations. In addition to analytic approaches, computational methods to solving problems are emphasized, such as finite difference and finite element methods for solving partial differential equations as well as graphical visualization techniques.
PHYS 430: Advanced Electricity and MagnetismTreats several topics selected from: multipole expansions, radiation from accelerated charges, solutions to Laplace’s equations, retarded potentials, wave guides, modern optics, and electron physics.
PHYS 440: Mathematical Methods of PhysicsTreats several topics selected from: Fourier series and transforms, partial differential equations, special functions, numerical methods, matrix methods, calculus of variations.
PHYS 460: Advanced Modern PhysicsTreats quantum mechanically various topics selected from atomic and nuclear physics. This course will concentrate on properties of atoms and nuclei, atomic and nuclear structure, the deuteron, nucleon-nucleon scattering, nuclear models, and nuclear decay. Six supplemental laboratory exercises that focus on laser spectroscopy will be arranged.
PHYS 500: Special Topics in PhysicsTreats selected topics, such as relativity, fundamental particles, fluid mechanics, and surface physics that vary according to the interests of students and staff.
Topic for Fall 2020: General Relativity
This course will explore General Relativity, “one of the greatest triumphs of the human mind.” Along the way, students will come to an appreciation for and understanding of this phrase and of the physics it describes, as well as black holes, event horizons, gravitational waves, and the cosmic microwave background. Prerequisite: PHYS 230, MATH 210