Associate Professor Daniel C. Homan, Chair
Professors Steven D. Doty, N. Daniel Gibson, C. Wesley Walter; Associate Professors Kimberly A. Coplin, Daniel C. Homan; Assistant Professors Steven Olmschenk, Riina Tehver; Technician/Machinist David Burdick; Academic Administrative Assistant Beth Jeffries
The study of physics is a challenging and intellectually rewarding activity elected by those who seek to sharpen and broaden their appreciation and understanding of the physical world and their relationship to it. To this end, courses offered by the Department of Physics and Astronomy are designed to bring the student to an increasingly independent level of investigation in experimental and theoretical physics, and to a level of sophistication commensurate with his or her motivation, goals, and abilities.
A major in Physics, in addition to preparing students for professional work including secondary school teaching, has proven desirable for those preparing for careers in engineering, medicine, business, computer science, law, and industrial management. Sufficient flexibility exists in the major program to suit the needs and goals of the individual.
For off-campus research opportunities in Physics, see the Oak Ridge Science Semester described at www.orss.denison.edu.
A student desiring to major or minor in Physics, or minor in Astronomy, should consult early with a member of the Department. The requirements for the major in Physics include Physics courses, Math courses, and the comprehensive experience, as discussed below:
Physics courses - The B.A. degree requires Physics 125, 126, 127, 200, 201, 211, 305, 306, 312, and two semesters of 400 (1 credit each). The B.S. degree requires all requirements for the B.A. degree plus two additional Physics courses: 330 and one additional Physics or Astronomy course at the 200 level or above. (Students who have taken Physics 121-2 should consult with the chair about Physics course requirements.)
Math courses - The B.A. degree requires Math 123 and 124. The B.S. degree requires Math 123 and 124, as well as one additional Math class at the 200 level or above.
Comprehensive experience - Both the B.A. and B.S. degrees require successful completion of the comprehensive experience including: (1) satisfactory performance on an independent research project; and (2) a passing grade on the physics comprehensive examination, normally administered during the senior year.
In addition, majors normally are expected to become proficient in computer programming and data processing.
Students preparing for graduate work in Physics, Astronomy, or related fields are advised to elect the B.S. degree in Physics. Additional courses taken in other science departments (Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geosciences, Math) are desirable.
A minor program in Physics is designed to be flexible and to complement the student's major program. The student, in consultation with the Physics and Astronomy Department, will develop a minor program that will broaden and enhance both the liberal arts experience and the student's major program. The minor shall include: Physics 125, 126, 127, and Mathematics 123 and 124. (Students who have taken Physics 121-2 should consult with the chair about requirements.) In addition, three courses at the advanced level (200 and above) in Physics are required for the minor. One of the three courses shall include a significant laboratory component. These courses will be selected to provide a perspective on the discipline with the specific needs of the student in mind. In addition to these requirements, a final culminating experience will be designed by the Department and the student. As an example, if the student's major requires a comprehensive exam, then additional questions from Physics might be included which would tend to integrate or connect the two disciplines. Another possibility might include an interdisciplinary research that bridges the major and minor areas.
The minimum requirements for this program are Physics 125, 126, 127, 211, 305, 306, 312g, Math 123 and 124, Geosciences 111 (or an equivalent introductory course), 210, 211, and two 300-level courses (chosen in consultation with the Geosciences chair), and the physics comprehensive examination. In addition, an independent comprehensive project (experimental or theoretical) is required. Students with an interest in geophysics should consult with the Physics and Geosciences chairpersons not later than their sophomore year.
Engineering. Denison offers the opportunity to study engineering via three-two dual degree programs undertaken in cooperation with leading schools of engineering. Students interested in these programs should consult early with the Physics Department chair. Additional details can be found in this catalog under Pre-Professional Programs.
Safety Glasses. Certain courses in this department require the use of safety glasses. A full statement on the use of safety glasses is available at Safety Glasses Requirement.
Current Topics in Physics (PHYS-100). Designed principally for students not contemplating a major in the sciences, but who nevertheless wish to develop their ability to figure things out about the physical world for themselves. Recently, the course has focused on the physics of societal concerns such as energy and the environment. The laboratory, an integral part of the course, will serve to introduce the student to the observation, measurement, and analysis of phenomena directly related to topics studied in the course. Open to seniors by consent only. Mathematical preparation is assumed to include high school algebra and geometry. (Not offered every year) 4
General Physics I (PHYS-121). This calculus-based course is designed to provide a thorough quantitative coverage of the foundations and concepts of Physics and its approach toward an understanding of natural phenomena. Newtonian Mechanics and Dynamics are covered. Four lectures and one two-hour laboratory each week. Safety glasses used. Prerequisite: Math 121 or 123 or concurrent. (Fall Semester) 0-4
General Physics II (PHYS-122). This calculus-based course is designed to provide a thorough quantitative coverage of the foundations and concepts of Physics and its approach toward an understanding of natural phenomena. The course includes electricity and magnetism and an introduction to the Physics of the 20th Century. Four lectures and one two-hour laboratory each week. Safety glasses used. Prerequisite: PHYS 121. (Spring Semester) 4
Principles of Physics I (PHYS-125). This course is designed for first-year students who intend to major in physics or pre-engineering. The goal of Physics 125 is to stimulate interest in physics by exposing students to topics that are at the current frontiers of physics and to help students develop quantitative reasoning and analytical skills that are necessary for further study in physics. Topics possibly covered include relativity, particle physics, cosmology, QED, and basic quantum mechanics. The course is intended to help students make a smooth transition from high school math and physics courses to our Principles of Physics course (126-127). Three lectures and one 3-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisite: Math 121 or concurrent. (Fall Semester) 4
Principles of Physics II (PHYS-126). This course is designed to provide a thorough quantitative understanding of the principles of physics and its approach toward investigating natural phenomena and the universe around us. This calculus-based sequence is primarily designed for those interested in physics, astronomy and pre-engineering. This course is also appropriate for those majoring in other physical sciences (see also Physics 121-122). Four lectures and one three-hour laboratory each week. Safety glasses used. Prerequisite: Physics 125, Math 123 or concurrent. (Spring Semester) 4
Principles of Physics III (PHYS-127). This course is designed to provide a thorough quantitative understanding of the principles of physics and its approach toward investigating natural phenomena and the universe around us. This calculus-based sequence is primarily designed for those interested in physics, astronomy and pre-engineering. This course is also appropriate for those majoring in other physical sciences. (also see Physics 121-122). Four lectures and one three hour laboratory each week. Safety glasses used. Prerequisite: Physics 126 and Math 124 or concurrent. (Fall Semester) 4
Modern Physics (PHYS-200). A quantitative study of topics in modern physics including special and general relativity, atomic and nuclear physics, molecular and solid state physics, with particular emphasis on analytical techniques. Prerequisites: Physics 122 or 127, Physics 201 or consent. (Spring Semester) 4
Applied Mathematics for Physical Systems (PHYS-201). A one semester overview of mathematics applied to physical systems, with extensive use of examples from introductory and intermediate physics. Topics covered will include operators, functions, vectors, complex numbers, integration, differentiation, geometry, differential equations, and linear algebra. The unity of linear systems will be emphasized, though non-linearity will also be discussed. Both hand- and computer-aided computation will be required. Prerequisites: Physics 121/126 and Math 124, or consent. (Spring Semester) 4
Electronics (PHYS-211). A course in circuit design which emphasizes the use of linear and digital integrated circuits, transistors, and other solid state devices. Prerequisite: Physics 122 or 127 or consent. (Fall Semester) 4
Geometrical and Physical Optics (PHYS-220). A study of the laws of reflection and refraction and their applications to lenses and mirrors; and a study of diffraction, interference, polarization, and related phenomena. This course normally will be offered in alternate years. The course includes a laboratory. Prerequisite: Physics 122 or Physics 127. (Not offered every year) 4
Special Intermediate Topics in Physics (PHYS-245). This course provides a venue in which to explore chosen topics in physics at the intermediate level. Topics vary according to the interests of students and faculty. In some cases, the course may be repeated for credit. Prerequisites: Physics 126 and Math 124 or consent. (Fall semester) 4
Classical Mechanics (PHYS-305). A course in classical mathematical physics designed to provide the student with a basic understanding of the methods and procedures of physical analysis. Prerequisite: Physics 127, Physics 201 or Math 231 or consent. (Fall Semester) 4
Electricity and Magnetism (PHYS-306). A course in the theory of electromagnetic interactions, including the sources and descriptions of electric and magnetic fields, Maxwell's equations, and electromagnetic radiation. Prerequisite: 305 or consent. (Spring Semester) 4
Experimental Physics (PHYS-312). A course in the theory and practice of physical research with emphasis on the understanding and use of present-day research instrumentation. Safety glasses used. Prerequisites: Physics 122 or 127, Physics 211 recommended. May be repeated once for credit. (Spring Semester) 4
Thermodynamics (PHYS-320). Selected topics from thermodynamics, kinetic theory, and statistical methods. This course normally will be offered in alternate years. The course may include a laboratory. Prerequisite: 200. (Spring Semester) 4
Introductory Quantum Mechanics (PHYS-330). A first course including solutions of the Schroedinger Equation for some elementary systems, followed by an introduction to the more abstract methods of Quantum Mechanics. Prerequisites: Physics 305-306, Physics 201 or Math 231 or consent. (Fall Semester) 4
Advanced Topics (PHYS-340). Independent work on selected topics at the advanced level under the guidance of individual staff members. May be taken for a maximum of four semester hours of credit. Prerequisites: junior standing and consent of chairperson. 1-2
Special Topics in Physics (PHYS-345). Topics will be chosen according to the interests of the staff member offering the course from such areas as energy, the solid state, laser physics, nuclear physics, astrophysics, geophysics and medical physics. The course normally will be offered on demand. May be repeated with consent of chairperson. Prerequisite: Physics 122 or 127 or consent. 4
Advanced Dynamics (PHYS-405). A course extending the work of 305 to include the more general formulations of classical dynamics and to relate these to modern theoretical physics. Prerequisite: Physics 305 or consent. (Not offered every year) 3
Electromagnetic Theory (PHYS-406). A course extending the work of 306 to include more general boundary value problems, additional implications of Maxwell's equations, and the wave aspects of electromagnetic radiation, including topics in modern physical optics. Prerequisite: Physics 306 or consent. (Not offered every year) 3
Teaching Methods in Physics (PHYS-470). This course is designed to provide an understanding of the basic methods used to teach physics. This course is primarily for those majoring in physics, astronomy and pre-engineering. One-hour laboratory each week. Prerequisite: Physics 121-122 or 126. 1