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For more information about the Seattle University Department of Physics, please contact:
Teresa Beery Administrative AssistantBannan 209(206) email@example.com
Dr. David Boness Chair and Professor Bannan 308(206) firstname.lastname@example.org
Seattle UniversityDepartment of Physics901 12th AvenueSeattle, WA 98122
Fax: (206) 296-6266
The Department of Physics offers the following physics degree programs:
For the program of study for physics majors please see the University Bulletin.
These are called "informal" course descriptions because we hope that they will be more helpful and not as dry as the "formal" course descriptions that you may find in the Seattle University Bulletin of Information. A number of these courses are new, so they may not appear in earlier versions of the Bulletin.
Physics 100. From Quarks to the Cosmos--2 credits
This course focuses on some of the fundamental ideas and theories about the universe. We begin by looking at the revolutionary ideas of space and time that Albert Einstein proposed in his theory of relativity. We then consider our universe on the large scale: what it is doing now, what we expect it to do in the future, and how we think it began. This leads to a consideration of quantum mechanics which teaches us that the future of the universe is not certain, but can only be predicted in a statistical way. Finally, we look at some really speculative ideas, such as the possibility of time travel.
Physics 101. Astronomy: The Solar System--5 credits
This is an introductory course for students who are not majoring in a science field. It is frequently taken by students to satisfy the University's Core requirement of a laboratory science. The course covers the motions of celestial objects, the history of the development of our modern picture of the solar system, and the physical properties of the planets and other objects in the solar system. Observation sessions in the University's observatory are a popular part of the course. The prerequisite for the course is satisfaction of the basic CORE requirement of a quarter of mathematics. PHYS 101 is typically taught in Fall and Spring quarters.
Physics 102. Astronomy: Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology--5 credits
This is an introductory course for students who are not majoring in a science field. It is frequently taken by students to satisfy the University's Core requirement of a laboratory science. The course covers the motions of celestial objects, the history of the development of our modern picture of the solar system, and the physical properties of the planets and other objects in the solar system. Observation sessions in the University's observatory are a popular part of the course. The prerequisite for the course is satisfaction of the basic CORE requirement of a quarter of mathematics. PHYS 102 is typically taught in Winter quarter.
Physics 104. Science as a Human Process--5 credits
This course gives non-science majors a beginning understanding of the aims, methodology, and accomplishments of science, with focus on physics and earth science. The course considers the concepts of relativity and quantum physics and their effects on society, and also examines recent controversies in earth science, such as global warming, genertic modification of crops, ozone depletion, cloning, and what caused the death of the dinosaurs. A term paper is a major part of the course. The course satisfies the University's CORE laboratory science requirement. The prerequisite for PHYS 104 is the CORE requirement of one course in mathematics.
Physics 105. Mechanics--5 creditsPhysics 106. Waves, Sound, Electricity and Magnetism--5 creditsPhysics 107. Thermodynamics, Optics, and Modern Physics--5 credits
These three courses are an introduction to physics for students who are majoring in biology, diagnostic ultrasound, general science, and premed or predent. The courses cover the basic ideas of physics without using calculus. The mathematics prerequisites for PHYS 105 are MATH 120 (College Algebra) and MATH 121 (Trigonometry). Many students have satisfied these prerequisites with high school or community college courses. The Mathematics Department offers a placement test to establish appropriate student math level. Even though Math 121 is listed as a prerequisite for PHYS 105, students may take it concurrently if they score 4 or higher on the Trigonometry placement test. (A score of 3 or below would require MATH 121 to be completed before taking PHYS 105 and a score of 6 or higher is a passing score so MATH 121 would not have to be taken.)
PHYS 105 is taught in Fall quarter, PHYS 106 in Winter quarter, and PHYS 107 in Spring quarter. Each of the courses meets four hours per week for lecture and has one three-hour laboratory session.
Physics 121. Mechanics--5 creditsPhysics 122. Electricity and Magnetism--5 creditsPhysics 123. Waves and Optics--5 credits
This is the three-quarter calculus-based intductory physics sequence that is taken by physics majors, engineers, chemistry majors, and computer science majors. As their titles indicate, these courses cover the major fields of classical physics, that is, physics before the twentieth century. Physics has changed tremendously in this century, and these courses are essential for understanding those changes. You do not have to have had high school physics to begin this sequence. There are, however, math prerequisites: MATH 134 (Calculus and Analytic Geometry I) for PHYS 200; MATH 135 (Calculus and Analytic Geometry II) for PHYS 201; and MATH 126 (Calculus and Analytic Geometry III) for PHYS 202. Each of these physics courses meets four hours per week in lecture and once a week for a three-hour laboratory. PHYS 200 is taught in Winter and Spring; PHYS 201 in Spring and Fall; and PHYS 202 in Fall and Winter.
Physics 203. Thermodynamics--2 credits
This course is an introduction to thermodynamics for students of science and engineering. Topics treated include temperature, work, heat, and internal energy; reversible processes; entropy and its interpretations; thermodynamic equilibrium; the laws of thermodynamics; ideal gases; kinetic theory and distributions; heat engines and refrigerators; phase transitions; and application to physical systems. The course is typically taught in Winter, and the prerequisite is PHYS 123 (Waves and Optics) and MATH 136 (Calculus and Analytic Geometry III).
Physics 205. Introduction to Quantum Physics--5 credits
This is an introduction to the ideas and methods of special relativity and quantum mechanics, which has been the most revolutionary development in twentieth century physics. Essentially all of nuclear physics, solid state physics, atomic physics, and particle physics are centrally dependent on quantum mechanics. In addition, quantum mechanics has had profound effects on our picture of reality. PHYS 205 begins with a consideration of the evidence that light sometimes behaves as a stream of particles, then goes on to the idea that matter (such as electrons) can exhibit wave properties. This leads to the idea of wave-particle duality and the celebrated Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. The Schrodinger equation--which is the quantum-mechanical analog of Newton's laws of motion--is then developed and applied to a number of problems, including the hydrogen atom. PHYS 205 is taught in Spring quarter and has prerequisites of PHYS 123 (Waves and Optics) and MATH 232 (Multivariable Calculus).
Physics 206. Modern Physics Laboratory--3 credits
This course is intended to teach modern physics laboratory techniques and skills while also enhancing the learning of modern physics through hands-on experimentation. Some of the experiments done are newer versions of famous modern physics experiments that won their originators the Nobel prize in physics. The prerequisite or corequisite is PHYS 205 (Introduction to Quantum Physics).
Physics 230. Computing Tools for Physical Science--3 credits
This practical lab course provides the computational skills and experience for students to solve problems encountered in other science and engineering courses and in technical jobs in the private sector. No previous programming experience is assumed, and this course is intended for all physics majors at the sophomore level, and for any other interested students with Physics 200 as the prerequisite. The first part of the course teaches practical problem solving and graphing with Matlab, a very widely-used (in academia and in industry) numerical mathematical program. Most of the rest of the course teaches the basics of Mathematica, a powerful general-purpose symbolic and numerical mathematical program. There are no exams or traditional lectures in this course--just practical hands-on learning of programming skills in these powerful programs and languages. Assignments consist of regular small projects. PHYS 230 is taught in Winter quarter and has the prerequisite of PHYS 123 (Waves and Optics).
Physics 250. Mathematical Methods for Physics--4 credits
A course to facilitate the understanding and use of mathematics in the physical sciences. Topics include applications of vector calculus; Fourier analysis; applications of differential equations; coordinate systems; special functions. Prerequisites: PHYS 123, MATH 234.
Physics 310. Classical Mechanics--5 credits
These two courses form the standard junior-year sequence in mechanics for Physics majors. Many of the concepts are the same as those considered in PHYS 121, but here everything is done with considerably greater mathematical sophistication. In addition, a number of new ideas are introduced--such as Lagrange's equations and Hamilton's equations--which are important for more advanced courses in physics and as a preparation for graduate school. PHYS 310 is taught in Winter. The prerequisites for PHYS 310 are PHYS 121 (Mechanics) and MATH 234 (Differential Equations).
Physics 330. Electromagnetic Field Theory--5 credits
PHYS 330 is a classic junior-level course in electricity and magnetism for Physics majors. In addition, electrical engineering majors also take PHYS 330. The course depends heavily on the introductory PHYS 122, and many of the concepts are the same, but in this course the theory is developed completely from the point of view of vector calculus. The high point of PHYS 330 is the presentation of Maxwell's equations and the prediction of electromagnetic waves--such as light-- that travel through empty space at the speed of 3 x 10^8 m/s. PHYS 330 is taught in Fall. The prerequisites for PHYS 330 are PHYS 123 (Waves and Optics) and MATH 234 (Differential Equations).
Physics 340. Nonlinear Dynamical Systems and Chaos--4 credits
This course introduces the student to the recent explosion of ideas concerning the dynamics of systems with nonlinear force laws, better known to the layman as "chaos." It covers analytical and numerical techniques for solving both nonlinear ordinary differential equations and nonlinear difference equations. The course uses computers extensively and gives the students much practice in developing programming skills. PH 340 is an elective course for physics majors and other interested students. The prerequisites are PHYS 202 123 (Waves and Optics) and MATH 234 (Differential Equations).
Physics 362. Introduction to Astrophysics--4 credits
This course is intended to allow physics, engineering, chemistry, and other interested students to use their math and physics background to understand the physics of stars and galaxies. Topics covered include stellar evolution, stellar interiors, stellar structure, and galactic dynamics and evolution. Prerequisites for the course are PHYS 203 (Thermodynamics), PHYS 230 (Computing Tools for Physical Science) or its equivalent, and PHYS 250 (Mathematical Methods for Physics).
Physics 363. Introduction to Geophysics--4 credits
This course is intended to allow physics, engineering, chemistry, and other interested students to use their math and physics background to understand the physics of the Earth. Topics covered include Earth history, Earth structure, seismology, high pressure physics, plate tectonics, and geomagnetism. Prerequisites for the course are PHYS 203 (Thermodynamics), PHYS 230 (Computing Tools for Physical Science) or its equivalent, and PHYS 250 (Mathematical Methods for Physics).
Physics 370. Advanced Physics Laboratory--4 credits
In this course, students of physics, chemistry, and engineering conduct experimental investigations of material surfaces using a scanning tunneling microscope; of atomic physics using the Franck-Hertz experiment and Electron Spin Resonance; and of quantum optics (black-body radiation). Data acquisition using LabView (a state-of -the-art object-oriented programming language used in research and industry) is incorporated for part of the course. Occasional lectures provide the necessary physical and historical background for the labs. The prerequisites for the course are PHYS 205 (Introduction to Quantum Physics), PHYS 206 (Modern Physics laboratory) and MATH 234 (Differential Equations).
Physics 385. Quantum Mechanics--5 credits
This course builds on the ideas introduced in PH 205 (Introduction to Quantum Physics) and develops a coherent presentation of non-relativistic quantum mechanics. The course is one of the most important in the curriculum, since the concepts and mathematical methods learned here are used throughout modern physics. Topics covered include wave-particle duality, the Schrodinger equation, the harmonic oscillator, scattering and tunnelling in one dimension, the operator formalism and Hilbert space, matrices, central forces and the hydrogen atom, angular momentum, spin and identical particles. The emphasis throughout is on connecting the physical ideas with the mathematical formalism, and laboratory exercises using computer software aid in this objective. The course is taught in the Spring. Prerequisites are PHYS 205 (Introduction to Quantum Physics), PHYS 310 (Classical Mechanics), and MATH 234 (Differential Equations).
Physics 410. Advanced Classical Physics--5 credits
A course in advanced classical physics, emphasizing continuous matter and fields. Topics may include these: normal modes of finite and continuous systems; Laplace’s and Poisson’s equations; the heat/diffusion equation; the wave equation; equations of continuity; and Euler’s and the Navier-Stokes equation. Prerequisites: PHYS 310, PHYS 330.
Physics 430. Modern Optics for Physicists and Engineers--4 credits
Building on the knowledge of the theory of classical electromagnetism, this course considers many topics of current interest in optics including diffraction, interferometry, polarization, Fourier optics including image processing and holography, optical waveguides and fibers, lasers, and optical switching and computing. The course includes laboratory work in holography and fiber optics. It is typically taught in Spring of alternate years and is frequently taken as an elective by electrical engineering students. Prerequisites for the course are PHYS 205 (Introduction to Quantum Physics) and PHYS 330 (Electromagnetic Field Theory).
Physics 450. Atomic Physics--4 credits
Introduction to modern atomic physics. Topics may include: single electron without spin in central potential, radiative transitions, spin and the fine structure of the hydrogen spectrum, two electron systems, independent electron approximation, shells, electronic configurations, spectroscopic notation, interaction with external fields, hyperfine structure, isotope shifts, optical and radiofrequency spectroscopy, atomic beam methods, measurement of atomic lifetimes and oscillator strengths, electronic and atomic collisions. Prerequisites: PHYS 330, PHYS 385.
Physics 470. Solid State Physics--4 credits
This course is a standard upper-level introduction to solid state physics, which is one of the principal areas of modern physics. Topics covered include crystal structure, x-ray diffraction, vibrations in solids, electronic energy states in solids, and applications to semiconductor devices. Although designed for physics majors, this course is frequently taken by electrical engineering students as an elective. It is typically taught in Spring in alternate years. The prerequisite is PHYS 385 (Quantum Mechanics).
Physics 481. Origins: Cosmology and Culture--5 credits
A study of the origin and evolution of the universe and the cultural and historical influences that have shaped our understanding of the cosmos. Satisfies the core interdisciplinary requirement. Does not count for physics elective credit. Prerequisite: junior standing.
Physics 486. Particle and Nuclear Physics--5 credits
This course introduces advanced undergraduate students to the Standard Model of elementary particle physics and to some basic ideas of nuclear physics. Topics covered include an historical introduction to the elementary particles, symmetries and conservation laws, Feynman diagrams and quantum electrodynamics, the weak interaction, introduction to quantum chromodynamics, and an introduction to gauge theories. The nuclear physics portion of the course is taught largely by means of a number of laboratory experiments which emphasize nuclear radiations and their detection. Prerequisites for the course are PHYS 330 (Electromagnetic Field Theory) and PHYS 385 (Quantum Mechanics).
Physics 487. Senior Synthesis--3 credits
As part of the CORE curriculum at Seattle University, all students are required to complete Senior Synthesis, which is a kind of capstone experience. For physics majors, this requirement is satisfied by taking the Physics Department version of Senior Synthesis, which is a humanities-style seminar deeply probing the historical, scientific, political, and ethical dimensions of physics and government of the period from the birth of modern physics in the 1890s through World War I and then following the Manhattan Project to the end of World War II. There is a major term paper discussing an ethical issue pertaining to scientists and society, and there is also an essay examination. This course is a University Core requirement and does not count as elective credit toward the physics major.
Physics 499. Undergraduate Research--1 to 6 credits
This course enables physics majors to engage in a significant research project under the supervision of a faculty member. The projects typically involve learning to do literature searches, laboratory or computer investigations, and the preparation of a research report.
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