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Course Descriptions

Degrees and Programs Index


PHYS 101 (3 Credits) Fall, Spring
Introduction to Space Science (3+0) n
An exploration of the discoveries of the space age for the general student. Topics include solar-terrestrial relations, the earth's upper atmosphere and magnetosphere (including the aurora), stratosphere, troposphere, and space communications, with emphasis on fundamental physical processes. (Prerequisite: High school algebra.)

PHYS 102X (4 Credits) Spring
Energy and Society (3+3) n
Exploring the concept of energy. Investigation of the sources, conversion, distribution and ultimate dispersion of energy, as well as the consequences of its use in the development and maintenance of modern society. May be used to fulfill part of the natural science requirement. Designed for non-science majors. Laboratory fee: $20.00.

PHYS 103X (4 Credits) Fall
College Physics (3+3) n
Classical physics including vectors, kinematics, Newton's Laws, momentum, work, energy, rotational motion, oscillations, waves, gravity, fluids, heat, temperature, Laws of Thermodynamics, and kinetic theory. For mathematics, science and liberal arts majors. Laboratory fee: $20.00 (Prerequisites: High school algebra, trigonometry and geometry or instructor permission.)

PHYS 104X (4 Credits) Spring
College Physics (3+3) n
Coulomb's Law, electrical potential, capacitance, Kirchoff's Laws, magnetic fields, Faraday's Law, electromagnetic waves, physical and geometrical optics, waves and particles, atomic and nuclear physics. For mathematics, science and liberal arts majors. Laboratory fee: $20.00. (Prerequisite: PHYS 103X or instructor permission.)

PHYS 113 (1 Credit) Fall
Concepts of Physics (1+0)
Review of experimental and theoretical studies of fundamental interactions of nature leading to major advances in human knowledge. Application of these discoveries to modern technologies, such as solid state electronics, lasers, holography, nuclear fusion, medical diagnostics, remote sensing, etc.

PHYS 163 (1 Credit) As Demand Warrants
The Dynamic Aurora Borealis (1+0) n
An introductory course on what aurora are, why they occur, how we have learned what we know about the aurora and what effect they have had on humans in the past and the present. (Prerequisite: High school science interest.)

PHYS 175X (4 Credits) Fall
Introduction to Astronomy (3+3) n
The exploration of the universe is one of the most natural of all human drives; people of all eras have sought to determine their basic relationships with the rest of the universe. Examination of the science of astronomy and its social consequences, with an emphasis on the interrelationships between astronomy and other sciences, and on the inseparable nature of our view of the cosmos and our view of ourselves. Designed for non-science majors. Laboratory fee: $20.00.

PHYS 211X (4 Credits) Fall, Spring
General Physics (3+3) n
Vectors, kinematics, Newton's Laws, momentum, work, energy, rotational motion, oscillations, waves, gravity, and fluids. For engineering, mathematics and physical science majors. Laboratory fee: $20.00. (Prerequisites: Concurrent enrollment in MATH 201X and one year of high school physics, or instructor permission.)

PHYS 212X (4 Credits) Fall, Spring
General Physics (3+3) n
Heat, temperature, Laws of Thermodynamics, Coulomb's Law, electrical potential, capacitance, Kirchoff's Laws, Biot-Sarvart Law, Faraday's Law, and electromagnetic waves. For engineering, mathematics and physical science majors. Laboratory fee: $20.00. (Prerequisite: MATH 201; PHYS 211X or ES 208 or concurrent enrollment in ES 210 or instructor permission.)

PHYS 213X (4 Credits) Spring
Elementary Modern Physics (3+3) n
Geometrical and physical optics: elementary-level modern physics including special relativity, atomic physics, nuclear physics, solid-state physics, elementary particles, simple transport theory, kinetic theory, and concepts of wave mechanics. Laboratory fee: $20.00. (Prerequisites: PHYS 211X or 212X or permission of instructor.)

PHYS 276 (3 Credits) Spring
Astronomy (3+0) n
Science elective for the general student. Stellar astronomy, physical properties and distribution of stars, interstellar matter, evolution of stars, galactic structure, and cosmology. Evening demonstrations. (Prerequisites: PHYS 175X or permission of instructor.)

PHYS 311 (4 Credits) Fall
PHYS 312 4 Credits Spring
PHYS 312 4 Credits SpringMechanics (4+0) n
Newtonian mechanics, motion of systems of particles, rigid body statics and dynamics, moving and accelerated coordinate systems, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics, continuum mechanics, theory of small vibrations, tensor analysis, rigid body rotations, special theory of relativity. (Prerequisites: PHYS 211X and at least concurrent enrollment in MATH 302; PHYS 311 for 312, or permission of instructor.)

PHYS 313 (4 Credits) Fall
Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics (4+0) n
Thermodynamic systems, equations of state, the laws of thermodynamics, changes of phase, thermodynamics of reactions, kinetic theory, and introduction to statistical mechanics. (Prerequisite: PHYS 212X or permission of instructor.)

PHYS 331 (3 Credits) Fall
PHYS 332

Electricity and Magnetism (3+0) n
Electrostatics, dielectrics, magnetostatics, magnetic materials, and electromagnetism. Maxwell's equations, electromagnetic waves, radiation, physical optics, and selected topics from electronics. (Prerequisites: PHYS 212X and MATH 202 or permission of instructor.)

PHYS 381W,O (3 Credits) Fall

Physics Laboratory (1+6) n
Laboratory experiments in classical and modern physics. (Prerequisite: PHYS 213, PHYS 381 for 382, or permission of instructor.)

PHYS 411 (4 Credits) Fall
PHYS 412

Modern Physics (4+0) n
Relativity, elementary particles, quantum theory, atomic and molecular physics, x-rays, and nuclear physics. (Prerequisites: PHYS 213, MATH 302 and MATH 314, PHYS 411 for 412, or permission of instructor.)

PHYS 445 (4 Credits) Spring
Solid State Physics and Physical Electronics (4+0) n
Theory of matter in the solid state and the interaction of matter with particles and waves. (Prerequisites: MATH 302, 314 and PHYS 411 or permission of the instructor.)

PHYS 462 (4 Credits) Fall
Geometrical and Physical Optics (3+3) n
Geometrical optics, interference and diffraction theory, nonlinear optics, Fourier optics, and coherent wave theory. (Prerequisites: MATH 302, 314 and PHYS 331 or permission of instructor.)

PHYS 488 (1-3 Credits) Fall, Spring
Undergraduate Research
Advanced research topics from outside the usual undergraduate requirements. (Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Recommendations: A substantial level of technical/scientific background.)

PHYS 611 (3 Credits) Fall
PHYS 612

Mathematical Physics (3+0)
(Cross-listed with MATH 611 and MATH 612)
Advanced consideration of such topics as transform methods, asymptotic methods, Green's function, Sturm-Liouville Theory, conformal mapping, and calculus of variations with applications to problems arising in physics. (Prerequisites: Permission of instructor and MATH 422; PHYS 611, or the equivalent, for PHYS 612.)

PHYS 621 (3 Credits) Alternate Fall
Classical Mechanics (3+0)
Lagrange's equations, two-body problem, rigid body motion, special relativity, canonical equations, transformation theory, and Hamilton-Jacobi method. (Admission by arrangement.)

PHYS 622 (3 Credits) Alternate Spring
Statistical Mechanics (3+0)
Classical and quantum statistics of independent particles, ensemble theory, and applications. (Admission by arrangement.)

PHYS 626 (3 Credits) Alternate Fall
Fundamentals of Plasma Physics (3+0)
Single charge particle motion in the electromagnetic fields, plasma kinetic theory, Vlasov equations for collisionless plasmas, magnetohydrodynamic equations, linear plasma waves and instabilities, nonlinear plasma waves and instabilities. (Prerequisite: Graduate standing.)

PHYS 627 (3 Credits) Alternate Spring
Advanced Plasma Physics (3+0)
Vlasov description of small amplitude waves in magnetized plasmas, advanced particle orbit theory, fluctuation and incoherent scattering theory, plasma discontinuities and collisionless shocks, weak turbulent theory, statistical theory of turbulence. (Prerequisite: Graduate standing.)

PHYS 628 (3 Credits) Alternate Spring
Digital Time Series Analysis (3+0)
The use of methods of time series analysis, including correlation, convolution, filtering, and multivariate techniques. Material is of general application to disciplines that obtain multiparameter date suites as part of their research, such as seismology, oceanography, meteorology, geomagnetism, and space physics. Lectures will develop basic techniques and guide the student in designing working algorithms. The student will apply algorithms to various data suites from geophysics, using the Geophysical Institute's VAX 11/780 computer. (Prerequisites: MATH 401 and 402, familiarity with FORTRAN or consent of instructor.)

PHYS 629 (3 Credits) Alternate Fall
Methods of Numerical Simulation in Fluids and Plasma (3+0)
The fundamentals of computer simulation including time and spatial differencing and stability theory applied to partial differential equations describing convective and diffusive transport in fluids. The second part of the course will be separated into two tracks: one specializing in ocean and atmospheric dynamics and the other in the plasma state of matter. (Prerequisites: MATH 310, 421, 422 or equivalent; baccalaureate degree in physics, engineering or mathematics or equivalent; for plasma physics track: baccalaureate degree in physics including PHYS 311, 312, 331, 332 or equivalent; experience with FORTRAN.)

PHYS 631 (3 Credits) Alternate Fall
PHYS 632

Electromagnetic Theory (3+0)
Electrostatics, magnetostatics, Maxwell's equations, and potentials. Lorentz equations, field energy, gauge conditions, retarded potentials, waves, radiation, tensor formulations, and non-Maxwellian electrodynamics. (Permission of instructor and PHYS 631, or the equivalent, for PHYS 632. )

PHYS 640 (3 Credits) Alternate Spring
Auroral Physics (3+0)
Physics of auroral phenomena: precipitation and transport of energetic particles, production of auroral optical emissions and x-rays, auroral electric fields and currents, beam plasma interactions in the ionosphere, ionospheric perturbations, geomagnetic perturbations. Principles of ground rocket and satellite-based auroral measurements including: imaging radar and radio spectroscopic and electromagnetic techniques. (Prerequisite: Graduate standing or permission of the instructor.)

PHYS 650 (3 Credits) Alternate Fall
Aeronomy (3+0)
The physical and chemical processes that govern the response of planetary atmospheres to solar radiation and energetic particles; neutral gas and ionic composition, energy balance, dynamical response of the thermosphere, mesosphere and stratosphere, spectroscopic emissions, electrodynamic processes and ionospheric currents, gravity waves and noctilucent clouds. (Prerequisite: Graduate standing or permission of instructor.)

PHYS 651 (3 Credits) Alternate Fall
PHYS 652

Quantum Mechanics (3+0)
Schrodinger's equations, operator formalism, correspondence principle, central force problems, perturbation theory, quantum statistical mechanics, and applications of quantum mechanics to collision problems, radiation, and spectroscopy. (Permission of instructor and PHYS 651, or the equivalent, for PHYS 652.)

PHYS 660 (3 Credits) Alternate Spring
Radiative Transfer (3+0)
The interaction of radiation with matter. The physical processes related to scattering, absorption and emission of radiation in an optical medium as well as the formulation and mathematical solution of radiative energy transport including multiple scattering in layered media. Demonstrations of how to use the theory in remote sensing applications and earth radiation budget studies (climate). (Prerequisites: Graduate standing in physical sciences or permission of the instructor.)

PHYS 672 (3 Credits) Alternate Fall
Magnetospheric Physics (3+0)
Mass, momentum and energy transfer in the solar wind-magnetosphere -- ionosphere interaction, electrodynamics of the magnetosphere -- ionosphere coupling, auroral acceleration process, auroral kilometric radiation, geomagnetic pulsations, magnetospheric substorm phenomena and theories, generation mechanism of field-aligned currents, structures and instabilities at the magnetopause. (Prerequisite: Graduate standing.)

PHYS 673 (3 Credits) Alternate Spring
Space Physics (3+0)
Sun spot formation, solar flare theories, solar wind, planetary bowshocks and interplanetary shocks, cosmic rays, pulsar, magnetic field reconnection concepts and theories, dynamo theories. (Prerequisite: Graduate standing. )

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