Spring 2018
Astronomy 62 — Introduction to Astrophysics  

A general survey of modern astrophysics. The course starts with the fundamental physical concepts underlying much of astrophysics, including gravitation and orbital mechanics, and radiative processes (including blackbody radiation, line emission and rudiments of radiative transfer). We then move on to discuss the stellar structure, evolution and death, the physics of compact stars, the interstellar medium and star-formation, and the structure and evolution of the galaxies, galaxy clusters and the universe. The course meets for three lecture periods each week. The students are evaluated based on their homework and test performance. In addition, each student makes a 15-minute presentation on the topic of his choice; these are spaced throughout the semester and are meant to compliment the material being currently discussed in lecture. This gives the students an opportunity to research at least one topic in considerably more depth than we are able to do in class. Offered jointly with Pomona and Joint Sciences. Prerequisite: Physics 51 or equivalent.

Physics 24 — Mechanics and Wave Motion  

Classical mechanics is introduced beginning with inertial frames and the Galilean transformation, followed by momentum and momentum conservation in collisions, Newton’s laws of motion, spring forces, gravitational forces, and friction. Differential and integral calculus are used extensively throughout. Work, kinetic energy and potential energy are defined, and energy conservation is discussed in particle motion and collisions. Rotational motion is treated, including angular momentum, torque, cross-products, and statics. Other topics include rotating frames, pseudoforces, and central-force motion. Simple harmonic and some nonlinear oscillations are discussed, followed by waves on strings, sound, and other types of waves, and wave phenomena such as standing waves, beats, two-slit interference, resonance, and the Doppler effect. Lectures are twice per week, and there are also two recitation sections per week, in groups of about 20 students, all of whom solve new problems at the board nearly every session.

Physics 24A — Mechanics and Wave Motion  

This course provides a relatively sophisticated introduction to classical mechanics. Students are given challenging problems which have them apply Newton’s laws and conservation laws to better understand how our world works.  Students study both static and dynamic systems, and learn to develop mathematical models of systems. Invitation to enroll in the course is based on performance on a placement exam administered typically on the first Saturday of the fall semester.

Physics 52 — Quantum Physics  

Beginning with modern atom interferometry experiments, this course moves directly to the Schrödinger equation. After a thorough consideration of solutions in one dimension, the principles of quantum mechanics are examined, including the role of operators, eigenfunctions and eigenvalues, superposition, commutators, and uncertainty relations. After discussion of angular momentum and some simple three-dimensional systems, applications of quantum mechanics to atomic and molecular physics, solid state physics, nuclear physics, and particle physics are stressed. Each week there are three 50-minute lectures as well as a recitation section in which small groups work on new problems that extend the material under discussion in significant ways. In addition, there is a term paper on an area of interest in quantum mechanics and/or its applications.

Physics 54 — Modern Physics Lab  

Classical experiments of modern physics, including thermal radiation, Rutherford scattering, barrier penetration of microwaves, gamma radiation interactions using pulse height analysis, the Hall effect, the Cavendish experiment, and a chaotic pendulum. Prerequisites: Physics 52 or concurrently. 1 credit hour.

Camera Lab — Lights, Camera, Action! — the Science of Photography  

If you have a camera that’s even slightly better than the one on your phone, you probably have some questions about its operation and how to take better pictures:

  • What’s the difference between all of the manual picture-taking modes, and which one should I use?
  • How do I take those great images of the night sky and get the Milky Way to pop out?
  • What is an f-stop?
  • How does ISO affect picture quality?
  • When I stop down the aperture should I increase or decrease the shutter speed?
  • How do I reduce the noise in my pictures?
  • Am I better off getting a camera with more pixels or a better lens?

If these questions are familiar, or just sound interesting, this course is for you.

This course aims to teach students about photography through a better understanding of the science behind the camera. And while this course will not directly address the artistry of better picture-taking, it will teach students about the optics and sensor in a camera that ultimately determine what shows up as an image—after all, a modern camera is nothing more than optics, a sensor, and an image processor housed in a durable case. The course will include lectures and discussions, but will mostly be a hands-on workshop during which students will have the opportunity to measure camera properties such as diffraction limits, noise floors, and optical aberration. Along the way, we will introduce software that allows students to remotely control the camera, capture and analyze images on the computer, and model optical systems. Importantly, there will be plenty of time for students to take pictures using their new-found knowledge of the camera, and share them with the class on our blog.

Physics 116 — Quantum Mechanics  

The course takes a modern approach by introducing Dirac notation at the beginning. This is done through discussion of the Stern-Gerlach device and spin 1/2 particles, following the treatment of Townsend, Feynman and Sakurai. The course then proceeds through various nonrelativistic topics, including: general formalism, one-dimensional and three-dimensional problems, angular momentum states, Bell's theorem and its experimental verification, perturbation theory, and identical particles. Applications to atomic and nuclear systems are also discussed.

Physics 134 — Optics Laboratory  

A laboratory-lecture course on the techniques and theory of classical and modern optics. Topics of study include diffraction, interferometry, Fourier transform spectroscopy, grating spectroscopy, lasers, and coherence of waves. In addition, the course develops the theory of sample variance, nonlinear least-squares fitting, the \( \chi^2 \) criterion for goodness of fit, and normalized residuals. The course is more loosely structured than earlier laboratory courses, and seeks to develop skills in experimental design and execution with flexible, multi-part experiments. The available experiments are

  1. Fraunhofer and Fresnel diffraction
  2. grating spectroscopy of mercury, hydrogen/deuterium, and solar absorption lines
  3. scanning Fabry-Perot interferometry of a He-Ne laser, including the Lamb dip and the Zeeman effect
  4. white light fringes, the He-Ne wavelength, and the refractive index of air are measured with a Michelson interferometer
  5. Fourier transform spectroscopy of the sodium doublet and a pressure-broadened mercury lamp
  6. quantum optics
  7. thin lenses and geometric optics
  8. Fresnel coefficients for the reflection of light
Physics 156 — Classical Field Theory  

This course explores concepts, methods, and applications of the classical theory of fields. On the physics side, we will learn about cosmological inflation, superconductivity, electroweak theory, solitons, the nuclear force, and magnetic monopoles. On the mathematics side, we will learn the basics of differential geometry and Lie algebras. Throughout the course, we will emphasize the unity of physical principles and techniques across a wide range of systems and disciplines.

Prerequisites: Physics 111 and Math 115.

Physics 164 — Particle Physics  

Topics in high-energy physics including the fundamental interactions, space-time symmetries, isospin, SU(3) and the quark model and the standard model. Each student gives an oral presentation on an aspect of experimental high-energy physics. Corequisite: Physics 116.

Physics 170 — Computational Methods in Physics  

Learn about methods and tools for solving a variety of problems in mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, and statistical physics using Mathematica & COMSOL (no prior experience in either is required).

Physics 172 — General Relativity and Cosmology  

The principle of equivalence, Riemannian geometry, Einstein's field equations, and the Schwarzschild and cosmological solutions are all developed, along with experimental and observational tests of the theory. Prerequisite: Physics 111 or permission of instructor.

Physics 178E — Topics in Solid State Physics  
Fall 2018
Astronomy 21 — Stars, Planets, Life: Astrobiology  

This course aims to acquaint the students with the basic concepts of astrobiology, which is the study of the origin, evolution and distribution of life in the universe. We will focus on two questions: How does life begin and evolve? Is there life outside of Earth and, if so, how can it be detected?

Physics 23 — Special Relativity  

Einstein’s special theory of relativity is developed from the premises that the laws of physics are the same in all inertial frames and that the speed of light is a constant. The relationship between mass and energy is explored and relativistic collisions analyzed. The families of elementary particles are described.

Physics 49A — Physics at the Edge  

This course will teach you about the conceptual foundations of modern physics. We will cover a wide range of examples and concepts that span many sub-disciplines while emphasizing the unity of physics and its fundamental character. We will discuss general concepts from Relativity to Quantum Mechanics to Cosmology and black holes, from superconductivity and the beauty of phase transitions to the Standard Model of particle physics and quantum entanglement. We will use high school math to explore the details of these concepts. Visual interactive simulations will replace equations wherever possible, and homeworks will help you explore explicit cases with basic computations. Near the end of the semester, you will choose a topic from current physics news that you will present to the class.

Physics 51 — Electromagnetic Theory and Optics  

An introduction to electromagnetism and optics. Maxwell’s equations are discussed in differential and integral form. Maxwell’s equations are then used to develop an introduction to the field of optics. Beyond the presentation of Maxwell’s equations, selected topics include Gauss’s and Stokes’s theorems, the wave equation including the Poynting vector, electromagnetic energy, basic circuits, diffraction, Snell’s law, interference, and the physical origin of the index of refraction. Applications include fusion, circuit elements, motors, diffraction gratings and thin films. Each week there are two 50-minute lectures as well as two 50-minute recitation sections. In the recitation sections material is reviewed, homework is discussed, and small groups work at the blackboard on new problems.

Prerequisites: Physics 23 and Physics 24

Physics 111 — Theoretical Mechanics  

The application of mathematical methods to the study of particles and of systems of particles; Newton, Lagrange, and Hamilton equations of motion; conservation theorems; central force motion, collisions, damped oscillators, rigid-body dynamics, systems with constraints, variational methods. Prerequisites: Physics 23 & 24 and Mathematics 65 or permission of the instructor.

Physics 117 — Statistical Mechanics  

Beginning with the equal probability of accessible microstates of an isolated system, the course develops the quantum and classical statistical mechanics and thermodynamics of simple systems of many particles: classical and quantum gases, isolated spins in a magnetic field, photons, and phonons. The laws of thermodynamics are developed from statistical considerations and applied to uniform phases, phase and chemical equilibria, heat engines, refrigerators, and other practical devices. Finally, kinetic theory is applied to a computation of transport properties of gases. Lectures are held in either the 50-minute thrice weekly format or the 70-minute twice weekly format. These are supplemented with a 50-minute recitation section that focuses on student questions and supplementary problems done in groups. In some years students also work in groups on a simulation project, which is presented orally to the class at the end of the semester. Besides providing a foundation in statistical physics, this course aims to develop students' abilities to approximate, to estimate, and to apply broad physical principles to real-world situations.

Prerequisite: Physics 52. Corequisite: Physics 111 or permission of the instructor.

Physics 133 — Electronics Laboratory  

An intermediate laboratory in electronics involving the construction and analysis of a variety of analog and digital circuits using resistors, capacitors, diodes, transformers, operational amplifiers, photodiodes, light-emitting diodes, digital logic gates, flip-flops, and clocks. Applications include rectifiers, amplifiers, differentiators and integrators, passive and active filters, oscillators, counting circuits, digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital conversion. Unlike other laboratory courses, each student works at a separate laboratory station with all equipment necessary to build and test the various circuits.

Physics 151 — Electromagnetic Fields  

Theory of classical electromagnetic fields, with an emphasis on advanced analytical techniques and concepts. The course builds on the introductory material of Physics 51, and emphasizes the solution of Maxwell’s equations in various physical applications by analytical means. The first part of the course deals with electrostatics and the solution of Laplace’s and Poisson’s equations in various coordinate systems and with various boundary conditions. The course proceeds to examine the effect of matter on static fields, and then to pursue static magnetic fields and materials analogously. The final sequence of the course deals with electrodynamics and the fundamentals of electromagnetic radiation.

Physics 181 — Advanced Laboratory  

Experiments are selected from the fields of nuclear, solid-state, and optical physics, utilizing multichannel and time coincidence nuclear instrumentation, an x-ray machine, an optical spectrophotometer, lasers and interferometers, and a pulsed NMR instrument. Prerequisite: Physics 134.

Physics 191 — Physics Research  
Original experimental or theoretical investigations in physics undertaken in consultation with a faculty member. Projects may be initiated by the student or by a faculty member. Present faculty research areas include astronomy, atomic and nuclear physics, optics, solid-state and low-temperature physics, general relativity, quantum mechanics, particle physics, geophysics, and biophysics.
Physics 193 — Physics Clinic  
Team projects in applied physics, with corporate or national laboratory affiliation. The team interacts with both a faculty advisor and a liaison from the sponsoring organization to achieve project goals. Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.
Physics 195 — Physics Colloquium  
Oral presentations and discussions of selected topics, including recent developments. Participants include physics majors, faculty members, and visiting speakers. Required for all junior and senior physics majors.
Writing 1 — Introduction to Academic Writing  

A seminar devoted to effective writing strategies and conventions that apply across academic disciplines. The course emphasizes clarity, concision, and coherence in sentences, paragraphs, and arguments.