Department of Physics and Earth Science
view dept. website http://www.houghton.edu/physics/Mark E. Yuly, chair | Keith A. Horn, Associate Dean
Overview
The BS physics major provides a broad variety of experiences with the theoretical basis of physics, its applications, experimental and mathematical techniques, and its study using computer programming and simulations. It serves as an excellent preparation for graduate work in physics or related fields, such as engineering, astrophysics, biophysics, physical oceanography, geophysics, and meteorology. Students may also use the physics major as preparation for attending professional school in fields such as medicine, dentistry, and law.
The BA major is particularly appropriate for students interested in a double major with another field or for students completing a major in inclusive childhood or secondary education. Students interested in working toward certification to teach physics at the elementary level can do so by double-majoring in physics and inclusive childhood education. Students interested in working toward certification to teach physics at the middle and high school levels can do so by double-majoring in physics and adolescence education (ADE). Please see the Education Department section of this catalog for details.
The Applied Physics Major - Engineering Emphasis is for those students interested in the engineering applications of physics and is preparation for an engineering-related career or graduate school in engineering or physics.
Physics
Minors
Faculty
Donell Brandon Hoffman | Mark E. Yuly |
Courses
ESCI 101 Physical Geology3-F13Study of materials, structure, and dynamics of the Earth’s crust. Identification of rocks and minerals; topographic map studies. Three lecture, three laboratory hours each week. If taken with ESCI 103 meets Lab Science requirement. Without ESCI 103, 2nd Science. Liberal Arts. |
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ESCI 103 Physical Geology Lab1-F13Laboratory to accompany ESCI 101 Physical Geology. Three lab hours per week. With ESCI 101, Lab Science. |
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ESCI 212 Environmental Earth Science4-WSPRelationship between humans and Earth systems in the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere. Environmental problem solving. The laboratory will focus on applications of GIS and GPS to environmental and earth science problems. Three lecture, three laboratory hours each week. Lab Science or 2nd Science. Liberal Arts. |
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ESCI 224 Atmospheric Science4-WSPComparative study of planetary atmospheres. Phenomena of Earth’s atmosphere and aerospace, weather, meteorology, and climatology. Three lecture, three laboratory hours each week. Liberal Arts. |
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ESCI 230 Hydrology4-WSPA study of the properties and circulation of water on the surface of the land, underground and in the atmosphere. Topics to be covered include fluid mechanics, groundwater, wastewater, and environmental concerns. An engineering perspective will be used. Three lecture, three laboratory hours each week. Liberal Arts. |
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ESCI 291, 292, 391, 392, 491, 492 Independent Study1, 2, 3, or 4-Liberal Arts. |
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ESCI 295, 395, 495 Special Topics in Earth Science1, 2, 3, or 4-Liberal Arts. |
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PHYS 102 General Astronomy4-F15A survey of modern astronomy with emphasis on the structure and dynamics of stars, galaxies and the universe. Current theories of cosmic origins. Three lecture, three laboratory hours each week. Lab Science or 2nd Science. Liberal Arts. |
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PHYS 130 How Things Work4-F15Introduction to the science behind a variety of modern technological advancements. Possible topics may include rockets, musical instruments, plasma screens, hybrid automobiles and nuclear reactors. The physical principles relevant to each technology will be explored. Three lecture, three laboratory hours each week. Lab science or 2nd science. Liberal Arts. |
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PHYS 140 Physics of Music2-May, 14This course will focus on the physics of various phenomena associated with music. A quantitative, mathematical approach will be used, and students will apply the methods of science to gain a greater understanding of music. Topics will include harmonics, frequency and tone, overtones, spectral analysis and the physics of scales. 2nd Science. Liberal Arts. |
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PHYS 151 General Physics I4-FIntroduction to physics focusing on central concepts and problem solving. Topics: mechanics, energy and waves. 6 hours lecture with lab/week. Prerequisite: Course listed below or evidence of adequate math preparation. Lab Science or 2nd Science. Liberal Arts. Prerequisite Courses: MATH 181 |
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PHYS 152 General Physics II4-SIntroduction to physics focusing on central concepts and problem solving. Topics: thermodynamics, electricity, magnetism, optics and modern physics. 6 hours lecture with lab/week. Liberal Arts. Prerequisite Courses: PHYS 151 |
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PHYS 212 Modern Physics2-F14Exploration of the implications of Special Relativity using the Lorentz transformation and conceptual introduction to General Relativity. Elementary quantum mechanics using the Schrödinger equation applied to atoms, molecules, solids, nuclei, and elementary particles. 3 lecture hours/week. Liberal Arts. Prerequisite Courses: PHYS 152 |
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PHYS 215 Statics & Engineering Design4-S14Introduction to engineering design in the context of the basic mechanics of static structures and machines. Topics: multidimensional vector analysis of particles and rigid bodies in equilibrium, structural analysis of trusses and frames, friction, center of gravity, and moment of inertia. Introduction, by design project, to topics of technical drawing using CAD software, MATLAB, and machine shop skills. 3 lecture & 3 lab hrs/week. Liberal Arts. Prerequisite Courses: PHYS 151 |
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PHYS 251 Mechanics I4-F14A development of classical Newtonian mechanics focusing on the dynamics of particles and rigid bodies in one, two, and three dimensions. Topics covered will include work and energy, central forces, collisions, non-inertial frames of reference, and oscillations. Co-requisite: MATH 241. Liberal Arts. Prerequisite Courses: MATH 182 , PHYS 151 |
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PHYS 258 Analog Electronics4-S15A study of analog circuits comprised of resistors, capacitors, inductors, op-amps and DC and AC voltage and current sources. Methods of analyses: Kirchoff’s Laws, node/mesh, network theorems, bode plots, Laplace transforms, two-port networks. Some software tools explored. 3 lecture & 3 lab hrs/week. Co-requisite: MATH 241. Liberal Arts. Prerequisite Courses: PHYS 152 |
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PHYS 259 Digital Electronics4-S14An introduction to digital circuits including Boolean algebra, logic gates, Karnaugh maps, decoders, flip-flops, registers, microcomputers, and interface devices. Characteristics and operation of digital integrated circuits will be covered. Some software tools will also be explored. 3 lecture and 3 laboratory hours each week. Liberal Arts. Prerequisite Courses: PHYS 152 |
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PHYS 260 Optics4-WSPIntroduction to the study of light. Topics from geometrical optics, such as optical system analysis and aberration theory, and topics from physical optics, including interference, diffraction, and Fourier optics. Special topics from quantum optics will also be included. 3 lecture & 3 lab hrs/week. Co-requisite: MATH 241. Liberal Arts. Prerequisite Courses: MATH 182 , PHYS 152 |
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PHYS 275 Experimental Physics Laboratory1-F14Selected experiments in mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and modern physics. Liberal Arts. |
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PHYS 276 Experimental Physics Laboratory1-S15Selected experiments in mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and modern physics. Liberal Arts. |
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PHYS 295, 395, 495 Special Topics in Physics1, 2, 3, or 4-Introduction to areas of physics not treated in other courses. Liberal Arts. |
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PHYS 352 Mechanics II4-S15Newton’s Laws and conservation laws will be reviewed, followed by an examination of Hamilton’s Principle and the Lagrangian formulation of mechanics. Using these tools, topics such as central force motion, dynamics of systems of particles and rigid bodies, and coupled oscillations and normal modes will be explored. Liberal Arts. Prerequisite Courses: PHYS 251 |
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PHYS 353 Electricity and Magnetism I4-F13An introduction, with applications, to the classical theory of electric and magnetic fields. The course will begin with an overview of vector calculus for electromagnetic theory and will develop Maxwell’s equations. 3 lecture hrs/week. Co-requisite: MATH 321. Liberal Arts. Prerequisite Courses: PHYS 152 |
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PHYS 354 Electricity and Magnetism II4-S14An examination of the role of special relativity in electromagnetic phenomena. Maxwell’s equations introduced in a relativistic manner, and used to investigate the properties of electromagnetic waves. Includes techniques for solving the equations of Laplace and Poisson in electrostatics. Co-requisite: MATH 261 recommended. Liberal Arts. Prerequisite Courses: PHYS 353 |
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PHYS 355 Thermal Physics4-S14Analysis of laws of thermodynamic equilibria in solid, liquid, and gaseous phases; introduction to statistical mechanics in terms of the microcanonical, canonical and grand canonical ensembles. Liberal Arts. Prerequisite Courses: MATH 241 , PHYS 152 |
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PHYS 356 Quantum Mechanics4-S15Modern quantum mechanics with an emphasis on matrix methods. Topics to be covered include time evolution of wave functions, harmonic oscillators, angular momentum, central potentials, the hydrogen atom and perturbation theory. Co-requisites: MATH 261 recommended. Liberal Arts. Prerequisite Courses: MATH 241 , PHYS 212 |
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PHYS 391, 392, 491, 492 Independent Study1, 2, 3, or 4-Liberal Arts. |
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PHYS 393 Summer Collaborative Research in Physics1, 2, 3, or 4-SummerResearch in collaboration with a physics faculty member focusing on a current area of physics research. Students work individually or in small teams reviewing literature, designing and building apparatus, collecting and analyzing data, and describing their work in written form. This course usually involves travel to other laboratories such as Los Alamos National Laboratory or Cornell University. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: permission from instructor. Liberal Arts. |
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PHYS 471 Physics Project Laboratory1-FParticipation with a faculty member in an individual research project. May be repeated for credit. Liberal Arts. |
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PHYS 472 Physics Project Laboratory1-SParticipation with a faculty member in an individual research project. May be repeated for credit. Liberal Arts. |
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PHYS 482 Senior Capstone: Physics Seminar1-SWritten and oral presentation of work completed in PHYS 471/472 (for Physics BS) or on a topic of current interest in physics journals (for Physics BA). Liberal Arts. |
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PHYS 496 Honors in Physics4-WSPLiberal Arts. |
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