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Physics

Professors:
Alfonso M. Albano (on leave, 2004-05)
Peter A. Beckmann, Major Adviser for the class of ’06

Associate Professor:
Elizabeth F. McCormack, Chair and Major Adviser for the class of ’05

Assistant Professor:
Michael W. Noel

Senior Lecturer and Laboratory Coordinator:
Mark Matlin

The courses in physics emphasize the concepts and techniques that have led to our present state of understanding of the physical universe. They are designed to relate the individual parts of physics to the whole rather than to treat them as separate disciplines. In the advanced courses, the student applies these concepts and techniques to increasingly independent studies of physical phenomena. Opportunities exist for interdisciplinary work, for participation by qualified majors in research with members of the faculty, and for training in electronics, instrumentation and experimentation, including computer interfacing and programming.

Required Introductory Courses for the Major and Minor

The introductory courses required for the physics major and minor are Physics 103, 104 or 101, 102 and Mathematics 101, 102. Advanced placement and credit is given for a score of 4 or 5 on the AP tests. Alternatively, students may take the departmental advanced placement examinations just prior to or during the first week of classes. Entering students are strongly urged to take departmental placement examinations in physics and mathematics if they had reasonably strong courses in high school. It is best for a student considering a physics major to complete the introductory requirements in the first year. However, it is still possible for a student who completes the introductory sequence by the end of the sophomore year to major in physics.

Major Requirements

Beyond the four introductory physics and mathematics courses, nine additional courses are required for the major. (Haverford courses may be substituted for Bryn Mawr courses where appropriate.) Five of the nine courses are Physics 214, 215, 306 and Mathematics 201, 203. The remaining four courses must be chosen from among the 300-level physics courses, any one course from among Astronomy 305, 320 and 322, or any one course from among Mathematics 303, 312 and 322.

The department has been very successful in preparing students for graduate school in physics, physical chemistry, materials science, engineering and related fields. To be well prepared for graduate school, students should take Physics 302, 303, 308, 309 and 331. These students should also take any additional physics, mathematics and chemistry courses that reflect their interests, and should engage in research with a member of the faculty by taking Physics 403. Note that Physics 403 does not count toward one of the 13 courses required for the major.

Typical plans for a four-year major in physics are listed below.

Four-Year Plan meeting the minimum requirements for the major:

1st Year
Physics 103, 104
Mathematics 101, 102

2nd Year
Physics 214, 215
Mathematics 201, 203

3rd Year
Physics 306 and one (or two) other 300-level physics course(s)

4th Year
Three (or two) other 300-level physics courses

Four-Year Plan providing adequate preparation for graduate school:

1st Year
Physics 103, 104
Mathematics 101, 102

2nd Year
Physics 214, 215
Mathematics 201, 203

3rd Year
Physics 306 and either 303, 309 or 308, 302

4th Year
Physics 331 and either 308, 302 or 303, 309
Physics 403

The physics program at Bryn Mawr allows for a student to major in physics even if the introductory courses are not completed until the end of the sophomore year, as long as calculus is taken in the freshman year. It is also possible, although difficult, for the student majoring in three years to be adequately prepared for graduate school. To do this, the outline below should be supplemented with (at least) Physics 403 in the 4th year.

Three-Year Plan meeting the minimum requirements for the major:

(1st Year Mathematics 101, 102)

2nd Year
Physics 103, 104
Mathematics 201, 203

3rd Year
Physics 214, 215, 306 and 302 or 331

4th Year
Three 300-level physics courses

Honors

The A.B. degree may be awarded with honors in physics. The award is based on the quality of original research done by the student and a minimum grade point average. The research must be described in a senior thesis presented to the department. A grade point average of 3.4 or higher in 200- and 300-level physics courses (excluding Physics 380 and 390) and an overall grade point average of at least 3.0, both calculated at the end of the senior year, must be achieved.

Minor Requirements

The requirements for the minor, beyond the introductory sequence, are Physics 214, 215, 306; Mathematics 201; and two additional 300-level physics courses.

Minor in Computational Methods

Students may major in physics and receive a minor in computational methods. Students would need to complete the requirements for the Physics major including two of the following courses: Physics 305 (or 316 at Haverford), 306 and 322. Further, students would have to complete Computer Science 110, 206 and 231 and one of Computer Science 212, 225 (at Haverford), 245, 246, 330 or 340 (at Haverford).

Minor in Educational Studies or Secondary School Teacher Certification

Students majoring in physics may pursue a minor in educational studies or state certification to teach at the secondary level. Students seeking the minor need to complete the requirements for the Physics major including one of Physics 380, 459 (at Haverford) or 460 (at Haverford), and five additional courses in the Education Program, including a two-semester senior seminar, which requires five to eight hours per week of fieldwork. To earn secondary school certification (grades 7-12) in physics students must: complete the physics major plus two semesters of chemistry and one semester as a TA in a laboratory for introductory or intermediate physics courses; complete one year of biology (recommended); complete six education courses; and student-teach full-time (for two course credits) second semester of their senior year.

A.B./M.A. Program

To earn an M.A. degree in physics in the College’s A.B./M.A. program, a student must complete the requirements for an undergraduate physics major and also must complete six units of graduate level work in physics. Of these six units, as many as two units may be undergraduate courses at the 300 level taken for a graduate credit (these same two courses may be used to fulfill the major requirements for the A.B. degree), at least two units must be graduate seminars at the 500 level, and two units must be graduate research at the 700 level leading to the submission and oral defense of an acceptable M.A. thesis. Students must also demonstrate skill in computing or in a foreign language.

PHYS B101. Introductory Physics I
PHYS B102. Introductory Physics II

Two introductory courses on the study of the physical universe. The emphasis is on developing an understanding of how we study the universe, the ideas that have arisen from that study, and on problem solving. Physics 101 typically includes topics from among Newtonian kinematics and dynamics, relativity, gravitation, fluid mechanics, and waves and sound. Physics 102 typically includes electricity and magnetism, electrical circuits, light and optics, quantum mechanics, atomic and nuclear physics, and particle physics and cosmology. Calculus is introduced and used throughout both courses. An effective and usable understanding of algebra and trigonometry is assumed. Lecture three hours, laboratory three hours a week. (staff, Division IIL or Quantitative Skills)

PHYS B103. Foundations of Physics I
PHYS B104. Foundations of Physics II

These two courses present an integrated introduction that seeks to develop physical insight and problem-solving skills, as well as an appreciation for the broader conceptual and mathematical processes by which scientists model the universe. Calculus is used throughout both courses. Topics include: particle physics; cosmology; the fundamental forces of nature; successes and failures in unifying the forces; Newtonian kinematics and dynamics; conservation laws; gravitation; electricity and magnetism, and their unification; weak force and radioactive decay; nuclear physics; particle physics; sound waves; electromagnetic waves; quantum mechanics; atoms and molecules; and general relativity. Using current publications, recent discoveries and new ideas will be presented and outstanding issues will be discussed. Students are advised against taking Physics 104 without having taken Physics 103. Lecture three hours, laboratory three hours a week. (staff, Division IIL or Quantitative Skills)

PHYS B107. Conceptual Physics

This course is an introduction to our modern understanding of the physical universe. Special emphasis is placed on how the laws of physics are inferred and tested, how paradigms are developed and how working principles are extrapolated to new areas of investigation. The systematic and serendipitous nature of discoveries is explored. Examples and illustrations are typically drawn from particle physics, cosmology, nuclear physics, relativity and mechanics. This is a terminal course open to all students who have not taken college-level physics. Lecture three hours, laboratory three hours a week. (staff, Division IIL or Quantitative Skills)

PHYS B214. Modern Physics and Quantum Mechanics

Survey of particles and fields, experimental origins of quantum theory; Schr-dinger's equation, one-dimensional quantum mechanical problems; classical and quantum mechanical treatments of the harmonic oscillator and motion in an inverse square field; the hydrogen atom. Lecture three hours, laboratory in modern physics and physical optics three hours a week. Prerequisite: Physics 102 or 104, or permission of instructor. Corequisite: Mathematics 201 or Haverford equivalents. (staff, Division IIL or Quantitative Skills)

PHYS B215. Special Relativity, Electromagnetism and Particle Physics

Topics covered in lecture include electro- and magnetostatics, electrodynamics, Maxwell's equations, light and physical optics. Maxwell's theory is used to motivate the study of the special theory of relativity; its impact on Newtonian mechanics is considered. The covariant formalism is introduced. Other fundamental forces of nature and their possible unification are studied. The laboratory covers topics in direct and alternating current, and digital circuitry. Lecture three hours, laboratory three hours a week. Prerequisite: Physics 102 or 104 and Mathematics 201, or Haverford equivalents. (staff, Division IIL or Quantitative Skills)

PHYS B302. Quantum Mechanics and Applications

This course presents nonrelativistic quantum mechanics, including Schrödinger's equation, the eigenvalue problem, the measurement process, the hydrogen atom, the harmonic oscillator, angular momentum, spin, the periodic table, time-dependent perturbation theory, and the relationship between quantum and Newtonian mechanics. Lecture and discussion four hours a week. Prerequisites: Physics 214 and 306. Alternates between Bryn Mawr and Haverford; 2004-05 at Haverford.

PHYS B303. Statistical and Thermal Physics

This course presents the statistical description of the macroscopic states of classical and quantum systems, including conditions for equilibrium; micro-canonical, canonical and grand canonical ensembles; and Bose-Einstein, Fermi-Dirac and Maxwell-Boltzmann statistics. Examples and applications are drawn from thermodynamics, solid state physics, low temperature physics, atomic and molecular physics, and electro-magnetic waves. Lecture and discussion four hours a week. Prerequisite: Physics 214. Corequisite: Physics 306. Alternates between Bryn Mawr and Haverford; 2004-05 at Bryn Mawr.

PHYS B305. Advanced Electronics

This laboratory course is a survey of electronic principles and circuits useful to experimental physicists and engineers. Topics include the design and analysis of circuits using transistors, operational amplifiers, feedback and analog-to-digital conversion. Also covered is the use of electronics for automated control and measurement in experiments, and the interfacing of computers and other data acquisition instruments to experiments. Laboratory eight hours a week. Prerequisite: Physics 215 or Haverford Physics 213.

PHYS B306. Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences

This course presents topics in applied mathematics useful to theoretical and experimental physicists, engineers and physical chemists. Topics typically covered include coordinate transformations and tensors, Fourier series, integral transforms, ordinary and partial differential equations, special functions, boundary-value problems, and functions of complex variables. Lecture and discussion four hours a week. Prerequisites: Mathematics 201 and 203.

PHYS B308. Advanced Classical Mechanics

This course presents kinematics and dynamics of particles and macroscopic systems using Newtonian, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian techniques. Topics in- clude oscillations, normal mode analysis, inverse square laws, non-linear dynamics, rotating rigid bodies and motion in non-inertial reference frames. Lecture and discussion four hours a week. Corequisite: Physics 306. Alternates between Bryn Mawr and Haverford; 2004-05 at Haverford.

PHYS B309. Advanced Electromagnetic Theory

This course presents the mathematical structure of classical field theories. Topics include electrostatics and magnetostatics, dielectrics, magnetic materials, electrodynamics, Maxwell's equations, electromagnetic waves and relativity. Examples and applications may also be drawn from superconductivity, plasma physics and radiation theory. Lecture and discussion four hours a week. Prerequisites: Physics 215 and 306. Alternates between Bryn Mawr and Haverford; 2004-05 at Bryn Mawr.

PHYS B313. Particle Physics

Models of the structure and interactions of the fundamental particles. Topics include conservations laws, the standard model, quark models, gauge theories, the unification of the fundamental forces, the Feynman diagram formalism, and an introduction to string theory. Prerequisite: Physics 302

PHYS B322. Solid State Physics

This course presents the physics of solids. Topics include crystal structure and diffraction; the reciprocal lattice and Brillouin zones; crystal binding; lattice vibrations and normal modes; phonon dispersion; Einstein and Debye models for the specific heat; the free electron model; the Fermi surface; electrons in periodic structures; the Bloch theorem; band structure; semiclassical electron dynamics; semiconductors; and superconductivity. Lecture and discussion four hours a week. Prerequisites: Physics 303 and 306. Alternates between Bryn Mawr and Haverford; 2004-05 at Haverford.

PHYS B325. Unified Grand Tour of Theoretical Physics

This course presents an introduction to the successful mathematical models of physical systems developed over the last 100 years. Topics will be taken from the geometry of spacetime, special relativity, general relativity and gravitation, quantum theory, second quantization and quantum field theory, relativistic quantum mechanics, gauge fields, the standard model of the particles and forces, grand unified theories, gravity and supersymmetry, and string theory. Lecture and discussion four hours a week. Prerequisites: Physics 306 and 308. Corequisite: Physics 302. Not offered in 2004-05.

PHYS B331. Advanced Modern Physics Laboratory

This laboratory course consists of set-piece experiments as well as directed experimental projects to study a variety of phenomena in atomic, molecular, optical, nuclear and solid state physics. The experiments and projects serve as an introduction to contemporary instrumentation and the experimental techniques used in physics research laboratories in industry and in universities. Laboratory eight hours a week. Prerequisites: Physics 214 and 306. Corequisite: Physics 215.

PHYS B380. Supervised Work in Teaching Physics

Students will have the opportunity of working with an experienced faculty member as they serve as assistant teachers in a college course in physics. Students will participate in a directed study of the literature on teaching and learning pedagogy; participate in constructing and designing the course; and engage in teaching components of the course. Supervised work 12 hours a week. Prerequisites: Physics 103/104 or equivalent, and permission of instructor.

PHYS B390. Supervised Work in a Special Topic

At the discretion of the department, juniors and seniors may supplement their work in physics with the study of topics not covered in the regular course offerings. Supervised work 12 hours a week.

PHYS B403. Supervised Units of Research

At the discretion of the department, juniors and seniors may supplement their work in physics with research in one of the faculty research groups. At the discretion of the research supervisor, a written paper and an oral presentation may be required at the end of the semester or year. The available areas of supervised research projects include molecular spectroscopy and dynamics, nonlinear dynamics, condensed matter physics, and physical chemistry. Students are encouraged to contact individual faculty members and the departmental Web pages for further information.

Courses at Haverford College

Many upper-level physics courses are taught at Haverford and Bryn Mawr in alternate years. These courses (numbered 302, 303, 308, 309 and 322) may be taken interchangeably to satisfy major requirements.

 
     
 
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