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Department of Physics: Undergraduate ProgramCourses

Undergraduate Courses in Physics

Course Catalog

The numbering sequence at Old Dominon University places undergraduate courses at the 100, 200, 300, and 400 levels. Courses that may have graduate as well as undergraduate students enrolled are listed in a dual mode, e.g., 456/556. Graduate students may enroll in the 500, 600, 700 and 800 levels. Master's and doctoral courses are dual-listed at 700/800 levels. Courses marked with + may not be counted for credit in physics graduate programs.

Physics - PHYS

PHYS 101N. Conceptual Physics. 4 Credits. Lecture 3 hours; laboratory 2 hours;
An introductory descriptive course which develops and illustrates the concepts of physics in terms of phenomena encountered in daily life. Topics include mechanics, electricity and magnetism. (offered fall, summer).

PHYS 102N. Conceptual Physics. 4 Credits. Lecture 3 hours; laboratory 2 hours;
Prerequisite: PHYS 101N. An introductory descriptive course which develops and illustrates the concepts of physics in terms of phenomena encountered in daily life. Topics include covers sound, light, fluids and heat. (offered spring).

PHYS 103N. Introductory Astronomy. 4 Credits. Lecture 3 hours; laboratory 2 hours;
A study of the physical principles and scientific investigation of objects in our solar system. Emphasis on how we acquire knowledge of celestial objects to develop models of our universe.

PHYS 104N. Introductory Astronomy. 4 Credits. Lecture 3 hours; laboratory 2 hours;
Emphasizes the study of stars, star systems, cosmology and relativity. Emphasis on how we acquire knowledge of celestial objects to develop models of our universe.

PHYS 109. Introductory Astronomy Laboratory. 1 Credit. Laboratory 2 hours;
Prerequisite: written permission of the chief departmental advisor of the Physics Department. An introductory laboratory course in astronomy dealing with experiments about the laws of nature that apply to objects in our solar system.

PHYS 111N. Introductory General Physics. 4 Credits. Lecture 3 hours; laboratory 2 hours;
Prerequisite: MATH 102M or MATH 162M or MATH 166. Emphasizes mechanics, wave motion and heat and will also cover the needed elements of trigonometry and vectors. Students receiving credit for PHYS 111N cannot receive credit for PHYS 102N either simultaneously or subsequently. (offered fall, spring, summer).

PHYS 112N. Introductory General Physics. 4 Credits. Lecture 3 hours; laboratory 2 hours;
Prerequisites: PHYS 111N and MATH 102M or MATH 162M or MATH 166. Emphasizes electricity, light, and introduction to modern physics. (offered fall, spring, summer).

PHYS 113. Physics Laboratory. 1 Credit. Laboratory 2 hours;
Available for pass/fail grading only. Prerequisite: written permission of the chief departmental advisor of the Physics Department. An introductory laboratory covering experiments from mechanics, wave motion, heat and sound. Available for pass/fail grading only.

PHYS 114. Physics Laboratory. 1 Credit. Laboratory 2 hours;
Available for pass/fail grading only. Prerequisite: written permission of the chief departmental advisor of the Physics Department. An introductory laboratory covering experiments from electricity, magnetism, and optics. Available for pass/fail grading only.

PHYS 120. Physics in the 21st Century. 1 Credit. Lecture 1 hour;
This seminar will provide students with a broad introduction to the cutting edge of physics research and its applications in diverse areas of contemporary physics. Recommended for incoming students interested in physics and the natural sciences.

PHYS 126N. Honors: Introductory Astronomy. 4 Credits. Lecture 3 hours; laboratory 2 hours;
Open only to students in the Honors College. A special honors version of PHYS 103N.

PHYS 127N. Honors: Introductory Astronomy. 4 Credits. Lecture 3 hours; laboratory 2 hours;
Open only to students in the Honors College. A special honors version of PHYS 104N.

PHYS 226N. Honors: University Physics. 4 Credits. Lecture 3 hours; laboratory 2 hours;
Open only to students in the Honors College. A special honors version of PHYS 231N.

PHYS 227N. Honors: University Physics. 4 Credits. Lecture 3 hours; laboratory 2 hours;
Open only to students in the Honors College. A special honors version of PHYS 232N.

PHYS 231N. University Physics. 4 Credits. Lecture 3 hours; laboratory 2 hours;
Corequisite: MATH 211 or MATH 226 or permission of instructor. A general introduction to physics in which the principles of classical and modern physics are applied to the solution of physical problems. The reasoning through which solutions are obtained is stressed. Topics include mechanics, fluids, and thermodynamics. This course is designed for majors in the physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, and computational sciences. Students receiving credit for PHYS 231N and PHYS 232N cannot simultaneously or subsequently receive credit for PHYS 101N and PHYS 102N or PHYS 111N and PHYS 112N. (offered fall, spring, summer).

PHYS 232N. University Physics. 4 Credits. Lecture 3 hours; laboratory 2 hours;
Corequisite: MATH 211 or MATH 226 or permission of instructor. Prerequisite: 231N. A general introduction to physics in which the principles of classical and modern physics are applied to the solution of physical problems. The reasoning through which solutions are obtained is stressed. This course is designed for majors in the physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, and computational sciences. Topics include electricity and magnetism, and optics. Students receiving credit for PHYS 231N and PHYS 232N cannot simultaneously or subsequently receive credit for PHYS 101N and PHYS 102N or PHYS 111N and PHYS 112N. (offered fall, spring, summer).

PHYS 303. Intermediate Experimental Physics. 3 Credits offered Fall. Laboratory 6 hours;
Prerequisite: PHYS 232N. 303 is a prerequisite to 304. A laboratory oriented course designed to provide students with a broad introduction to instrumentation and techniques used in modern physics laboratories. Topics to be covered include: basic electronics, vacuum technology, optics and lasers, nuclear instrumentation, LabView programming and computer interfacing.

PHYS 304. Intermediate Experimental Physics. 3 Credits. Laboratory 6 hours;
Prerequisite: PHYS 232N and PHYS 303. A laboratory oriented course designed to provide students with a broad introduction to instrumentation and techniques used in modern physics laboratories. This course is a continuation of PHYS 303.

PHYS 309. Physics on the Back of an Envelope. 1 Credit. Lecture 1 hour;
Corequisite: PHYS 102N, PHYS 112N or PHYS 232N. Physicists should be able to estimate the order-of-magnitude of anything. How many atoms of Julius Ceasar do you eat every day? How much waste does a nuclear power plant generate? Will develop concepts, relations and numbers useful for estimation. Will cover little new material, emphasizing already acquired knowledge. Will help students apply physics to real-life questions and understand which physical effects are appropriate on which scales. Seminar course.

PHYS 311. Color in Nature and Art. 3 Credits. Lecture 3 hours;
Prerequisite: MATH 102M. Explores the relationship between light as stimulus and color perceived by us. Develops underlying concept of technology of art and applied art. Describes basis for optical phenomena involved in many facets of daily life. Topics include: the interaction of light and the visual perception it produces; the basic concept of spectra; wave, ray, and quantum optics; polarized light; photography; paintings; pigments; rainbows and mirages; color theory systems; formation of images; optical instruments. There is no physics prerequisite for this course.

PHYS 313. Elements of Astrophysics. 3 Credits offered Spring. Lecture 3 hours;
Prerequisite: PHYS 232N. A one-semester course covering the important topics of modern astrophysics. The physical basis of stellar evolution and chemical element formation is derived from first principles. Observational details of white dwarfs, neutron stars, pulsars, and black holes are developed.

PHYS 319. Analytical Mechanics. 3 Credits offered Spring. Lecture 3 hours;
Prerequisite: PHYS 232N. Corequisite: MATH 307. Fundamentals of Newtonian mechanics. Topics include kinematics, dynamics, energy and momentum, central forces and planetary motion, and resonance phenomena.

PHYS 323. Modern Physics. 3 Credits offered Fall. Lecture 3 hours;
Corequisite: MATH 212. Prerequisite: PHYS 232N. Introduction to the wave nature of matter, with applications in materials science, atomic, and nuclear physics. Introduction to relativity, including applications in mechanics and electrodynamics.

PHYS 332. Physics of Music and Musical Reproduction. 3 Credits. Lecture 3 hours;
Prerequisite: MATH 102M. This course explores the topics of: the nature of sound, vibrations, resonance, the human ear, loudness, pitch, timbre, musical scales, dissonance and consonance, musical instruments, sound recording and reproduction, electronic music, noise, and acoustics.

PHYS 350. Light and Lasers. 3 Credits. Lecture and demonstrations 3 hours;
Prerequisite: PHYS 102N or PHYS 112N or PHYS 232N. An analysis of those concepts of geometrical physical optics needed for the understanding of laser resonators, optical propagation, and radiation detection. A study of laser diodes, molecular, neutral and ion gas lasers, tuneable dye and excimer lasers. Laser applications in medicine, communications, information processing, holography, pollution detection, and material testing and fabrication are stressed.

PHYS 355. Mathematical Methods of Physics. 3 Credits (offered Fall). Lecture 3 hours;
Prerequisites: PHYS 232N and MATH 212. This course will provide a strong foundation in the mathematical methods and applications necessary for undergraduate study of physics beyond the introductory level.

PHYS 367. Cooperative Education. 1-3 credits each semester (may be repeated for credit);
Prerequisite: approval of the chief departmental advisor and Career Management in accordance with the policy for granting credit for Cooperative Education programs. Available for pass/fail grading only. Student participation for credit based on the academic relevance of the work experience, criteria, and evaluative procedures as formally determined by the department and Career Management prior to the semester in which the work experience is to take place. (qualifies as a CAP experience).

PHYS 368. Internship. 1-3 Credits;
Prerequisite: approval by the chief departmental advisor and Career Management. Available for pass/fail grading only. Academic requirements will be established by the department and will vary with the amount of credit desired. Allows students to gain short duration career-related experience. (qualifies as a CAP experience).

PHYS 406/506. Observational Astronomy. 3 Credits. Lecture 3 hours;
Prerequisite: junior standing. Observational techniques in astronomy with emphasis on constellation identification, celestial movements, and telescopic observation. Individualized night observations are required.

PHYS 408/508. Astronomy for Teachers. 3 Credits. Lecture 3 hours;
Prerequisite: junior standing. A course in astronomy dealing with stars and stellar systems. Topics will include observational astronomy, the electromagnetic spectrum, relativity, stellar and galactic structures, cosmology, and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

PHYS 411. Introduction to Atomic Physics. 3 Credits (offered Spring), alternating with PHYS 415, 416, 417. Lecture 3 hours;
Prerequisites: PHYS 452 and MATH 307. The hydrogen atom, radiative transitions, two-electron systems, many-electron atoms, interaction with external fields, theory of atomic spectra.

PHYS 413/513. Methods of Experimental Physics. 3 Credits offered Spring. Laboratory 6 hours;
Prerequisites: PHYS 303 and PHYS 323. Corequisite: CS 150. Experiments in classical and modern physics, designed to develop skills in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of experimental data.

PHYS 415/515. Introduction to Nuclear and Particle Physics. 3 Credits (offered Spring), alternating with PHYS 411, 416, 417. Lecture 3 hours;
Prerequisite: PHYS 452. Corequisite: MATH 307. An introduction to the structure of the atomic nucleus, natural and artificial radioactivity, nuclear decay processes and stability of nuclei, nuclear reactions, properties of nuclear forces, and nuclear models. Also, particle phenomenology, experimental techniques and the standard model. Topics include the spectra of leptons, mesons, and baryons; strong, weak, and electromagnetic interactions.

PHYS 416/516. Introduction to Solid State Physics. 3 Credits (offered Spring), alternating with PHYS 411, 415, 417. Lecture 3 hours;
Prerequisites: PHYS 352 and MATH 307. Introduction to solid state physics and materials science, with emphasis placed on the applications of each topic to experimental and analytical techniques. Topics include crystallography, thermal and vibrational properties of crystals and semiconductors, metals and the band theory of solids, superconductivity and the magnetic properties of materials.

PHYS 417/517. Introduction to Particle Accelerator Physics. 3 Credits (offered Spring), alternating with PHYS 411, 415, 416. Lecture 3 hours;
Prerequisites: PHYS 319 or MAE 205, and PHYS 425 or ECE 323. Introduction to the historical development and applications of particle accelerators to the fields of nuclear physics, particle physics, material sciences, and medical therapy and the design and physics of particle accelerators. Aspects of linear accelerators, circular accelerators such as cyclotrons, betatrons, synchrotrons, and storage rings, and recirculated linacs are covered. Topics include linear and non-linear single particle motion in accelerators, collective effects and beam stability in particle accelerators, and the electromagnetic radiation emitted by relativistic particles in accelerators. Up to date descriptions of the most modern particle accelerators will be included, as well as applications such as fixed target nuclear physics arrangements, colliding beam accelerators for high energy physics research, advanced storage ring sources of X-Rays, advanced neutron sources, radiation and radioactive material sources, and cancer therapy devices.

PHYS 420/520. Introductory Computational Physics. 3 Credits (offered Fall). Lecture 2 hours; Laboratory 2 hours;
Prerequisites: PHYS 232N and MATH 212. Introduction of computational methods and visualization techniques for problem solving in physics.

PHYS 425/525. Electromagnetism I. 3 Credits offered Fall. Lecture, 3 hours;
Corequisite: MATH 312. Prerequisite: PHYS 232N and PHYS 355. A study of the classical theory and phenomena of electricity and magnetism. Topics include the calculation of electric and magnetic fields, magnetic and dielectric properties of matter, and an introduction to Maxwell's equations.

PHYS 451/551. Theoretical Mechanics. 3 Credits. Lecture 3 hours;
Prerequisites: PHYS 319 and MATH 312. A mathematical study of the concepts of mechanics. Vector calculus methods are used. Topics include mechanics of a system of particles, Lagrangian mechanics, Hamilton's canonical equations, and motion of a rigid body.

PHYS 452/552. Introduction to Quantum Mechanics. 3 Credits offered Fall. Lecture 3 hours;
Prerequisites: PHYS 319, PHYS 323, and PHYS 355. Introduction to the physical and mathematical structure of quantum theory, including the historical and experimental origins of the subject. The curriculum includes techniques for solving the Schrodinger wave equation, particularly for the harmonic oscillator and the hydrogen atom.

PHYS 453/553. Electromagnetism II. 3 Credits offered Spring. Lecture 3 hours;
Prerequisites: PHYS 425 or ECE 323 and MATH 312. A course in electrodynamics developed from Maxwell's Equations. Topics include Maxwell's Equations, Conservation Laws, Electromagnetic Waves, Potentials and Fields, Radiation, and the interplay of electrodynamics and special relativity.

PHYS 454/554. Thermal and Statistical Physics. 3 Credits, offered Spring. Lecture 3 hours;
Prerequisites: PHYS 319 and PHYS 323. A study of the fundamental concepts of thermodynamics, kinetic theory, and statistical mechanics. Topics include the thermodynamics of simple systems, kinetic theory of gases, statistical mechanics of gases and an introduction to quantum statistics.

PHYS 456/556. Intermediate Quantum Mechanics. 3 Credits, offered Spring. Lecture 3 hours;
Prerequisites: PHYS 323 and PHYS 452 or permission of the instructor. A study of the experimental basis of quantum mechanics, basic postulates, solution of the wave equation for simple systems, uncertainty relations, potential barriers, wave packets, angular momentum, symmetry properties of wave functions, Pauli exclusion principle, Dirac notation, perturbation theory, and scattering.

PHYS 489W. Senior Thesis I. 1 Credit;
Prerequisite: permission of the instructor and a grade of C or better in ENGL 211C or 221C or 231C. Part one of a two-semester option for completing the Senior Thesis. PHYS 489W plus PHYS 490W is equivalent to PHYS 499W.

PHYS 490W. Senior Thesis II. 2 Credits;
Prerequisite: PHYS 489W. Part two of a two-semester option for completing the Senior Thesis. PHYS 489W plus PHYS 490W is equivalent to PHYS 499W. (This is a writing intensive course.).

PHYS 491. Special Problems and Research. 1-3 credits;

PHYS 497/597. Special Problems and Research. 1-3 credits;
Prerequisite: senior standing or permission of the instructor. These courses afford the student an opportunity to pursue individual study and research.

PHYS 499W. Senior Thesis. 3 Credits;
Prerequisite: grade of C or better in ENGL 211C or 221C or 231C and permission of the instructor. Each student will undertake a research experience under the supervision of a department faculty member. The experience can be of an experimental, theoretical, or calculational type. A final oral and written report are required. The research may be completed on campus or at one of the department affiliated research organizations. (offered fall, spring, summer) (This is a writing intensive course.).