## Courses ofInstruction

### Physics

**Department Faculty **Theodore Allen, Professor and Chair

Ileana Dumitriu, Associate Professor

Leslie Hebb, Associate Professor

Steven Penn, Associate Professor

Donald Spector, Professor

Laurent Dumitriu, Director of Undergraduate Laboratories

Historically, the discipline of physics is identified as the branch of science that seeks to discover, unify, and apply the most basic laws of nature. Our curriculum introduces students to its principal subfields—electromagnetism, mechanics, thermal physics, and quantum mechanics—and provides the most extensive training in mathematical and analytical methods of any of the sciences. Since this is the foundation upon which all other sciences and engineering are based, the study of physics provides a strong background for students who plan careers in areas such as physics, engineering, astronomy, geophysics, environmental science, meteorology, operations research, teaching, medicine, and law. Because physics is interested in first causes, it has a strong connection to philosophy as well.

Increasingly in the modern era, physicists have turned their attention to areas in which their analytical and experimental skills are particularly demanded, exploring such things as nanotechnology, controlled nuclear fusion, the evolution of stars and galaxies, the origins of the universe, the properties of matter at ultra-low temperatures, the creation and characterization of new materials for laser and electronics technologies, biophysics and biomedical engineering, and even the world of finance.

**Mission Statement**

To contribute to the development of physics and the growth of the physics community, through education, research, and other scholarly activities.

**Offerings**

The Department of Physics offers two majors, a B.A. and a B.S., and a minor, as well as joint engineering degree programs with Columbia University and The Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College.

PHYS 150 and 160 have a calculus co-requisite and are intended for students majoring in the natural sciences, or other students with a strong interest in science. Courses with numbers lower than 150 are particularly suitable for students not majoring in a physical science. Prerequisites for any course may be waived at the discretion of the instructor. Grades in courses comprising the major or the minor must average C- or better.

**Physics Major (B.A.)**

*disciplinary, 12 courses**Learning Objectives:*

- Develop an understanding of fundamental concepts of physics.
- Develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills through the application of physics concepts to problems.
- Learn analytical, experimental, and mathematical skills and techniques that can be applied to analyze physical phenomena and solve problems.
- Develop strong communication skills to effectively convey scientific ideas and findings.

*Requirements:*

PHYS 150, PHYS 160, PHYS 270, PHYS 285, PHYS 383, MATH 130 *Calculus I,* MATH 131 *Calculus II,* five additional courses in physics at the 200-, 300-, or 400-level, including at least one capstone course (any course numbered 460 or higher), unless the student completes an approved personalized capstone experience. A course at the 200- or above from another science division department may be substituted for a physics course with the approval of the department chair.

**Physics Major (B.S.)**

*disciplinary, 16 courses* *Learning Objectives:*

- Develop an understanding of fundamental concepts of physics.
- Develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills through the application of physics concepts to problems.
- Learn analytical, experimental, and mathematical skills and techniques that can be applied to analyze physical phenomena and solve problems.
- Develop strong communication skills to effectively convey scientific ideas and findings.

*Requirements:*

All of the requirements for the B.A. physics major, plus four additional courses in the sciences. Only those courses which count toward the major in the departments that offer them satisfy this requirement.

**Physics Minor**

*disciplinary, 6 courses**Requirements:*

PHYS 150, PHYS 160, PHYS 270, and three additional physics courses.

**Binary Engineering Plan**

Joint-degree engineering programs are offered with Columbia University and The Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College. Through these programs, in which students spend three years at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and two years at an engineering school, a student will receive a B.A. or B.S. from Hobart or William Smith and a B.S. or B.E. in engineering from the engineering school. Majoring in physics at HWS provides the best preparation for further work in most engineering fields. See "Joint Degree Programs" elsewhere in the *Catalogue* for details.

**Course Descriptions**

**PHYS 110 Physics through Star Trek **Can you really learn physics watching Star Trek? This course says "yes." Students consider such Star Trek staples as warp drive, cloaking devices, holodecks, and time travel, and learn what the principles of physics tell us about these possibilities - and what these possibilities would mean for the principles of physics. Anyone who has ever enjoyed a science fiction book or movie will find that using Star Trek offers an excellent context for learning about a variety of topics in physics, including black holes, antimatter, lasers, and other exotic phenomena. (Offered occasionally)

**PHYS 114**** Stars, Galaxies and the Universe **This course provides an introduction to the general physical and observational principles necessary to understand stars, galaxies and the Universe as a whole. We will discuss light, optics and telescopes, properties of stars, black holes, galaxies, and cosmology. The course will culminate in a discussion of the formation of the Universe starting with the Big Bang. (Offered occasionally)

**PHYS 115**** Astrobiology and the Search for Life in the Universe **Astrobiology is the scientific study of the origin and evolution of life in the Universe. It brings together perspectives from astronomy, planetary science, geoscience, paleontology, biology and chemistry to examine the origin of life on Earth and the possibility of life elsewhere in the Universe. This course is designed to help students understand the nature and process of science through the lens of astrobiology. We will explore questions such as: What is life? How did it arise on Earth? Where else in the Universe might life be found? How do we know about the early history of life on Earth? And how do we search for life elsewhere? We will evaluate current theories on how life began and evolved on Earth and how the presence of life changed the Earth. We will review current understanding on the range of habitable planets in our solar system and around other stars. And we will discuss what life might look like on these other planets and what techniques we could use to detect it. This course is designed to fulfill a student's goal of experiencing scientific inquiry and understanding the nature of scientific knowledge. It does not count toward the major in Geoscience or Physics. (Offered alternate years)

**PHYS 116**** Engineering Fundamentals: An Introduction to Engineering **Engineering is a diverse discipline encompassing many specialized fields that applies physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematical principles to design and construct practical solutions to solve real-world problems. When choosing an engineering path, students may find themselves overwhelmed by the broad range of engineering fields, various pathways towards a career in engineering, and the knowledge/skills required to be a successful engineer. This course will broadly introduce the engineering profession and highlight the socio-technical and interdisciplinary nature of engineering. It will help students to develop their identity as modern engineers whop will collaboratively contribute to sustainable and equitable communities. Through a variety of team and project-based learning activities students will explore: 1. the branches of the engineering profession, the interface of the engineer with society, and engineering ethics; 2. the engineering education process and effective strategies to reach their full academic potential; 3. the methods of engineering analysis, design and problem solving. (Offered in J-Tern, Dumitriu)

**PHYS 150**** Introduction to Physics I: Classical Mechanics and Waves **This is a calculus-based first course in mechanics and waves with laboratory. Prerequisite: MATH 130 Calculus I (may be taken concurrently). (Offered annually)

**PHYS 160**** Introduction to Physics II: Electromagnetism and Optics **This course offers a calculus-based first course in electromagnetism and optics with laboratory. Prerequisites: PHYS 150 and MATH 131 Calculus II (may be taken concurrently). (Offered annually)

**PHYS 225**** Observational Astronomy **This course provides a "hands-on" introduction to observational astronomy. Students will learn how the sky moves and the celestial coordinate systems necessary to plan and implement astronomical observations. They will become proficient using the new 17" telescope at the Perkin Observatory to observe celestial objects including the Moon, the planets, stars, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. Students will obtain digital images of the astronomical objects and learn basic techniques of digital image processing. Students will use their own data from astronomical databases to draw scientific conclusions about stars and planets. (Offered alternate years)

**PHYS 240**** Electronics **This course offers a brief introduction to AC circuit theory, followed by consideration of diode and transistor characteristics, simple amplifier and oscillator circuits, operational amplifiers, and IC digital electronics. With laboratory. Prerequisite: PHYS 160. (Offered annually)

**PHYS 252**** Green Energy: Understanding Sustainable Energy Production and Use **The climate change crisis has spurred the need for and interest in sustainable energy technologies. In this course we will study the major green energy technologies: efficiency, wind, solar (photovoltaic and thermal), geothermal, current/wave energy, smart grids and decentralized production. The class will study each technology from the basic principles through current research. In parallel, students will work together on a green energy project. Project ideas include developing a green energy production project on campus, or a campus/Geneva self-sufficiency study. (Offered occasionally)

**PHYS 270**** Modern Physics **This course provides a comprehensive introduction to 20th-century physics. Topics are drawn from the following: special relativity; early quantum views of matter and light; the Schrödinger wave equation and its applications; atomic physics; masers and lasers; radioactivity and nuclear physics; the band theory of solids; and elementary particles. With laboratory. Prerequisites: PHYS 160 and MATH 131 Calculus II. (Offered annually)

**PHYS 285**** Math Methods **This course covers a number of mathematical topics that are widely used by students of science and engineering. It is intended particularly to prepare physics majors for the mathematical demands of 300-level physics courses. Math and chemistry majors also find this course quite helpful. Techniques that are useful in physical science problems are stressed. Topics are generally drawn from: power series, complex variables, matrices and eigenvalues, multiple integrals, Fourier series, Laplace transforms, differential equations and boundary value problems, and vector calculus. Prerequisite: MATH 131 Calculus II. (Offered annually)

**PHYS 351**** Mechanics **Starting from the Newtonian viewpoint, this course develops mechanics in the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations. Topics include Newton's laws, energy and momentum, potential functions, oscillations, central forces, dynamics of systems and conservation laws, rigid bodies, rotating coordinate systems, Lagrange's equations, and Hamiltonian mechanics. Advanced topics may include chaotic systems, collision theory, relativistic mechanics, phase space orbits, Liouville's theorem, and dynamics of elastic and dissipative materials. Prerequisites: PHYS 160 and MATH 131 Calculus II. (Offered alternate years)

**PHYS 352**** Quantum Mechanics **This course develops quantum mechanics, primarily in the Schrödinger picture. Topics include the solutions of the Schrödinger equation for simple potentials, measurement theory and operator methods, angular momentum, quantum statistics, perturbation theory and other approximate methods. Applications to such systems as atoms, molecules, nuclei, and solids are considered. Prerequisite: PHYS 270. (Offered alternate years)

**PHYS 361**** Electricity and Magnetism **This course develops the vector calculus treatment of electric and magnetic fields both in free space and in dielectric and magnetic materials. Topics include vector calculus, electrostatics, Laplace's equation, dielectrics, magnetostatics, scalar and vector potentials, electrodynamics, and Maxwell's equations. The course culminates in a treatment of electromagnetic waves. Advanced topics may include conservation laws in electrodynamics, electromagnetic waves in matter, absorption and dispersion, wave guides, relativistic electrodynamics, and Liénard-Wiechert potentials. Prerequisites: PHYS 160 and MATH 131 Calculus II. (Offered alternate years)

**PHYS 375**** Thermal Physics **This course reviews the laws of thermodynamics, their basis in statistical mechanics, and their application to systems of physical interest. Typical applications include magnetism, ideal gases, blackbody radiation, Bose-Einstein condensation, chemical and nuclear reactions, neutron stars, black holes, and phase transitions. Prerequisites: PHYS 160 and MATH 131 Calculus II. (Offered alternate years)

**PHYS 383**** Advanced Laboratory **Advanced Laboratory is the capstone laboratory experience in which students perform a wide variety of experiments that cover the major concepts in Modern Physics and Quantum Mechanics, including wave-particle duality, NMR, particle decay, time dilation, particle scattering and absorption, and laser dynamics and spectroscopy. (Offered annually)

**PHYS 465**** Classical and Quantum Information and Computing **This course covers the intersection of physics with the study of information. There are two broad areas to this subject. One is the area of overlap with classical physics and the appearance of entropy in the study of computation. The other is the area of overlap with quantum physics, reflected in the explosive growth of the potentially revolutionary area of quantum computing. Topics will be drawn from Shannon's theory of information; reversible and irreversible classical computation; the no-cloning theorem; EPR states and entanglement; Shor's algorithm and other quantum algorithms; quantum error correction; quantum encryption; theoretical aspects of quantum computing; and physical models for quantum computing. Prerequisites: Two 300-level courses in Physics or Mathematics. (Offered alternate years)

**PHYS 470**** Relativity, Spacetime, and Gravity **This course covers the ideas and some of the consequences of Einstein's special and general theories of relativity. Topics include postulates of special relativity, paradoxes in special relativity, geometry of Minkowski space, geometry of curved spacetime, geodesics, exact solutions of the field equations, tests of general relativity, gravitational waves, black holes, and cosmology. PHYS 470 satisfies capstone requirement. Prerequisites: PHYS 270 and PHYS 285 and one 300-level course in Physics, (Offered alternate years).

**PHYS 495 Honors**