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General Bulletin 2006-2008

Courses of Instruction

PHYSICS (PHY-Arts and Science)


  1. Consult the physics placement guide, elsewhere in this Bulletin, for assistance in selecting beginning courses.
  2. Contact the department chair or chief departmental adviser for ap- propriate physics course selection if you receive Advanced Placement credit in physics.
  3. A student who receives credit for a higher level lecture or laboratory sequence, e.g., 181,182 or 183,184, may not receive credit concurrently or subsequently for a lower level sequence except that, with depart mental permission, a student may concurrently or subsequently receive credit for courses numbered 111 through 141. A student may transfer from an introductory physics sequence to a lower numbered sequence at the end of the first semester, i.e., 181 to 111 through 141.

MPF 101 Physics and Society (3)

Introduction of fundamental principles of physics and discussion of the interaction of science and society, both today and in the past. Provides skills in thinking critically about societal problems which have a scientific or technological component. IVB.

MPF 103 Concepts in Physics Laboratory (1)

Laboratory course illustrating the basic concepts of physics. For the general student; complements physics lecture offerings at the nonspecialist level. Prerequisite: concurrent registration in or prior completion of PHY 101, 131, or 141. IVB, LAB. CAS-D/LAB.

MPF, MPT 111 Astronomy and Space Physics (3)

Study of space exploration, astrophysics, astronomy, and cosmology. IVB, H.

MPF 118 Introduction to Atmospheric Science (3)

Introductory survey of a broad range of atmospheric phenomena with emphasis on how they can affect our lives and mankind’s impact on a changing atmospheric environment. Quantitative, illustrative, and mostly non-mathematical approach to processes that pertain to such topics as composition of the atmosphere, global climate, large-scale weather systems, and the nature of violent storms. Develops skills in the areas of problem solving (using charts instead of equations) and elementary weather forecasting. Cross-listed with AER 118. IVB.

MPF 121 Energy and Environment (3)

Application of physics principles and models to societal uses of energy. Includes mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, and atomic and nuclear physics. Energy topics include resources, environmental problems, global atmospheric challenges, nuclear power, solar energy, alternative energy systems, and energy conservation. Algebraic skills are required but no previous course in physics is needed. IVB.

MPF 131 Physics for Music (3)

Introduction to the basic physics of sound within the context of music. Production, transmission, and reception of sound waves; traditional and electronic musical instruments; physics of sound reproduction.

MPF 141 Physics in Sports (3)

Various aspects of a dozen or more sports are treated using the laws of physics. Provides the non-science student with insight into principles governing motion, dynamics, and other elements of physics in sports. IVB.

171/172 College Physics (3,3)

General physics course recommended for students of the life sciences. (171) Classical mechanics and quantum physics. (172) Thermal physics, electromagnetism, and relativity. Minimum mathematical preparation requires students to have had courses that include trigonometry. MTH 151, 153, or equivalent are strongly encouraged. Prerequisite: (172) PHY 171. Corequisite: PHY 183, 184.

MPF 181/182 The Physical World (4, 4) ( PHY 182 is MPT.)

Quantitative introduction to basic physical laws of nature. (181) Classical mechanics and quantum mechanics. (182) Thermal physics, electromagnetism, and relativity. Concepts developed through lectures, demonstrations, and computer simulations. Qualitative reasoning emphasized and quantitative problem-solving skills developed. Concepts from differential and integral calculus developed and used. No previous physics course is required. Freshmen should enroll in PHY 181F, 182F. Prerequisite or corequisite: MTH 151, 153, or equivalent. Prerequisite: (182) PHY 181. Corequisites: PHY 183, 184. IVB.

MPF 183/184 Physics Laboratory (1, 1) ( PHY 184 is MPT.)

Laboratory course for students enrolled in PHY 181, 182 or PHY 171, 172. Basic experiments in mechanics, statistical physics, and electromagnetism. Prerequisite or corequisite: PHY 181, 182 or PHY 171, 172. IVB, LAB. CAS-D/LAB.

185/186 Experiencing The Physical World (1,1)

An optional demonstration/ experiment/ modeling course designed to provide enrichment for students enrolled in PHY 181F or 182F.

Advanced Courses

205 Physics and Chemistry of Toys (4)

For education majors. Examines key principles of chemistry and physics by means of integrated lecture and laboratory. Hands-on toy-based investigations that are appropriate for use in the elementary and middle school classroom are used to develop concept understanding. Areas of investigation are pure substances, mixtures, states of matter, chemical reactions, motion, energy, electricity, magnetism, sound, and light. Prerequisite: EDT 181 or permission of instructor. Cross-listed with CHM 205. Offered only on regional campuses.

MPT 211 Observational Foundations of Astronomy (3)

Describes and investigates many of the pivotal observations in the development of astronomy. Through a largely historical development, the contexts of these observations is discussed and the impact of these observations on the fundamental theories of astronomy are described. Prerequisite: PHY 111.

215 Physics by Inquiry (3)

For middle and adolescent level education majors seeking licensure in science. Emphasizes scientific inquiry in an activity-based, cooperative-learning approach. Goals are to develop basic physical concepts and the scientific reasoning skills necessary to apply them to the natural world and to serve as a model for the transfer of the methods of inquiry-based instruction and authentic assessment to the precollege classroom. Topics selected from properties of matter, thermodynamics, electricity, optics, kinematics, and astronomy. Assessments include laboratory notebook and journal writing, discussion, and developing and teaching inquiry lessons. Prerequisite: one year of physical science or permission of instructor.

MPT 286 Introduction to Computational Physics (3)

Lecture-laboratory course on use of computers in analyzing physical systems. Topics of study come from classical mechanics, electromagnetism, statistical physics, and quantum mechanics. Prerequisite: PHY 182, MTH 251.

MPT 291 Contemporary Physics (4)

Third course in a sequence that begins with two semesters expounding the visions of Newton, Schrödinger, Boltzmann, Maxwell, and Einstein. Incorporates a focus approach that emphasizes Nobel prize-winning physics occurring within the lifetime of the student. Presently, the foci are the scanning tunneling microscope, high-Tc superconductivity, and the “standard model” for particle physics. Topics include quantum mechanics in three dimensions, solid state physics, quantum optics, and particle physics. Prerequisite: PHY 182. Corequisite: MTH 252 (or permission of instructor) and PHY 293.

MPT 292 Electronic Instrumentation (3)

Theory and application of electronic instrumentation for scientists with emphasis on data acquisition and analysis with microcomputers. Prerequisite: PHY 182. Corequisite: PHY 294.

MPT 293 Contemporary Physics Laboratory (2)

Accompanies PHY 291 Contemporary Physics. Incorporates a focus approach that emphasizes Nobel prize-winning physics research occurring within the lifetime of the student. Presently, the foci are the scanning tunneling microscope, high-Tc superconductivity, and the standard model for particle physics. Prerequisite: PHY 184. Corequisite: PHY 291. CAS-D/LAB.

MPT 294 Laboratory in Electronic Instrumentation (2)

Laboratory experience in the use of electrical and electronic instruments, application of transducers and data acquisition equipment. Use of computer in analyzing data and interfacing computer with experiments. Corequisite: PHY 292.

MPT 311 Contemporary Astronomy (3)

Study of topics of current interest in astronomy, including the most recent and important observations and theories. Prerequisite: PHY 111 and 211.

341 Mathematical Methods in Physics (4)

Discusses mathematical methods applicable to classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, and electromagnetism. Develops problem-solving skills by applying material from introductory math and physics classes along with new mathematical techniques. Allows for modeling of systems at a deeper level. Emphasizes the use of mathematics to model physical systems and methods of solutions to the differential equations of physics. Prerequisite: PHY 291; MTH 222, 252.

400/500 Physics Seminar (1; maximum 4 for any one degree)

Weekly physics colloquium series presenting guest speakers on topics of interest to scientific community. Required of all graduate students in residence. Prerequisite: PHY 182 or equivalent or permission of faculty in charge. Offered for credit/no-credit only.

410 Topics in Physics Seminar (1-3; maximum 12)

Directed study in selected topics in physics. Includes reading, research, writing, reporting, and discussion. Offered infrequently.

420/520 Advanced Laboratory Physics (1-4; maximum 4 for any one degree)

Techniques of nuclear physics, solid state physics, and optics. Prerequisite: PHY 291, 292. Offered infrequently.

421/521 Introduction to Biophysics (4)

Designed to acquaint the advanced undergraduate and graduate science major with physical principles required for an understanding of modern quantitative biology. Covers both experimental and theoretical aspects of physical biology. Prerequisite: PHY 172 or 182, MTH 249 or 251, or permission of instructor.

423/523 Materials Physics (4)

Lecture and laboratory course addressing topics in the materials categories: metals, ceramics, semiconductors, and polymers. Laboratory emphasizes techniques found in research and development of materials. Prerequisite: PHY 291, 293.

430/530 Topics in Physics (1-4; maximum 12)

Study of topics of current interest in physics beyond the coverage in other course offerings. Prerequisite: senior or graduate standing in physics or permission of instructor.

435/535 Introduction to Astrophysics (4)

Applications of atomic and nuclear physics to the problems of stellar structure and evolution. Cosmological implications of recent astronomical discoveries. Prerequisite: PHY 291, MTH 252, or permission of instructor.

437/537 Intermediate Thermodynamics and Introduction to Statistical Physics (4)

Development of formal thermodynamics including first, second, and third laws, thermodynamic potentials, Maxwell’s relations, phase transitions, and illustrative applications of thermodynamics. Introduction to kinetic theory approach to behavior of systems not in equilibrium, Boltzmann Equation, and transport processes. Development of statistical mechanics and ensemble approach to equilibrium statistical thermodynamics. Prerequisite: PHY 291. Pre- or corequisite: PHY 341 or permission of instructor.

440 Research (1-4, maximum 12)

Undergraduate research projects with direction of faculty member. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

441/541 Optics and Laser Physics (4)

Lecture and laboratory course covering all aspects of lasers. Teaches basics of physical and geometrical optics and atomic physics in detail to understand the design, operation, and application of lasers. Topics include matrix methods in ray optics, gaussian beams, cavity design, rate equation models of laser gain media, pulsed and CW lasers, different types of lasers, and nonlinear optics. Applications to communications, optical computing, and image processing are discussed. Prerequisite: PHY 291, 293, or permission of instructor.

442/542 Spectroscopy of Atoms and Molecules (4)

Survey of the structure of atoms and molecules, using optical spectroscopy as a tool. Lecture reviews the quantum theory of atoms and molecules, including solutions to the Schroedinger equation, spectroscopic notation, transition rates, and selection rules. Laboratory examines a variety of light sources, with increasing resolution. Zeeman, fine structure, and hyperfine structure, in particular, are considered. Emphasis on laboratory investigation. Prerequisite: PHY 291, 293, or permission of instructor. Pre- or corequisite: PHY 341.

451/551 Classical Mechanics (4)

Mechanics, nonrelativistic and relativistic, of particles, systems of particles, and rigid bodies treated by Newtonian, Langrangian, and Hamiltonian methods using vector and matrix analysis and calculus of variations. Pre- or corequisite: PHY 341 or permission of instructor.

461/561 Electromagnetic Theory (4)

Mathematically quantitative lecture and problem course in theory of electromagnetism. Topics include multipole fields, electromagnetic field equations, electromagnetic waves, reflection and refraction, radiating systems, classical electron theory, spherical waves, interference phenomena, and diffraction theory. Pre or corequisite: PHY 341 or permission of instructor.

471/571 Advanced Electronics (3)

Applications of solid state electronic devices and circuits. Includes laboratory experience with discrete devices, integrated circuits, and transducers, and their application to measurements in research situations. Prerequisite: PHY 291, 294.

480 Departmental Honors (1-6; maximum 6)

Departmental honors may be taken for a minimum of four semester hours and a maximum total of six semester hours, in one or more semesters of the student’s senior year.

MPC 488 Research Capstone in Physics (3)

Experience all phases of doing scientific research: select a topic to be investigated, read the relevant literature, develop a research plan, perform the experiments and/or computations, interpret the data, interact with other researchers, and write and present a final report. Prerequisite: PHY 291 and either 292 or 286, senior standing, and submission and approval of a written research proposal.

MPC 490S Topics in Physics Seminar (3)

Applies and integrates the fundamental principles of undergraduate physics with a series of special topics. Individual students research, give oral presentations, and lead discussions on an aspect of the semester’s theme. Papers that incorporate a basic knowledge of physics with other subjects for Miami’s liberal education curriculum provide the medium for student’s expression of their critical analysis and evaluation of an important issue. Prerequisite: any physics 300-level course or permission of instructor.

491/591, 492/592 Introduction to Quantum Physics (4, 3)

Introduction to the quantum theory and its application to physical systems. Prerequisite: PHY 291. Pre- or corequisite: PHY 341, or permission of instructor.

605 Teaching Physics with Toys Workshop (2-3)

Emphasizes physics topics that are typically taught in elementary and middle school: motion, energy, electricity, magnetism, sound and light. Collaborative inquiry-based activities apply basic physics principles to the operation of simple toys. For in-service teachers of grades K-9. Concurrent registration in CHM 605 is required.

610 Research (1-10; maximum 10)

Independent research projects in theoretical or experimental physics.

620 Topics in Modern Physics (1-4; maximum 10)

Study of various topics of interest in physics not covered in formal course offerings. Prerequisite: PHY 451/551 or permission of instructor.

642 Advanced Kinetic Theory and Statistical Mechanics (4)

Transport theory of gases; Chapman-Enskog development. Classical and quantum statistical mechanics with applications to many-particle systems.

671 Electromagnetism (4)

Electromagnetic theory and applications. Prerequisite: PHY 461/561 or permission of instructor. Offered infrequently.

691/692 Modern Quantum Physics (4,4)

Fundamental concepts of quantum mechanics and the mathematical techniques of Schrodinger and Heisenberg. Computer solution of quantum mechanical problems. Prerequisite: (691) PHY 491/592 or permission of instructor; (692) PHY 691.

700 Research for Master’s Thesis (1-12; minimum 6, maximum 12)

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