Physics

Department of Physics

PHYS 105. Foundations of Physics. 1 credit.

An introduction to the study of physics and the physics department. Presentations are give by faculty and students to acquaint the students with current research opportunities in the Department and the application of physics to broad spectrum of topics.

PHYS 120. The Solar System. 3 credits.

An introductory course in astronomy, which includes the following topics: motions of celestial objects, eclipses, historical development, the nature of light, telescopes, properties and evolution of the solar system.

PHYS 121. Stars, Galaxies and Cosmology. 3 credits.

An introductory course in astronomy which includes the following topics: the Sun, stellar properties, stellar evolution, black holes, the Milky Way, galactic evolution, quasars, cosmology.

PHYS 122. Observational Astronomy for Beginners (0, 2). 1 credit.

An introduction to naked-eye and telescopic astronomical observations. Wells Planetarium will be used when weather conditions prohibit outdoor observations.

PHYS 125. Principles of Physics With Biological Applications I (3, 2). 4 credits.

A study of fundamental physical principles covering areas of mechanics, thermal energy and fluids, emphasizing topics pertinent to life processes. Realistic biological examples are used to illustrate the  relationship between physics and the life sciences. Laboratory exercises explore the application of physics to living systems. Prerequisite: MATH 135 or equivalent.

PHYS 126. Principles of Physics With Biological Applications II (3, 2). 4 credits.

The second semester is a study of physical principles. Topics include elasticity, wave motion, sound, electricity and magnetism, geometrical and physical optics and electromagnetic radiation and radioactivity. Prerequisite: PHYS 125.

*PHYS 140. College Physics I. 3 credits.

The first semester of a noncalculus sequence in general physics. Topics include principles of mechanics, thermal properties of matter, wave motion and sound. Prerequisite: MATH 135 or equivalent. Corequisite: PHYS 140L.

PHYS 150. College Physics II. 3 credits.

The second semester of a noncalculus sequence in general physics. Topics include electric charges, circuits, magnetism, optics, atomic and nuclear physics. Prerequisites: PHYS 140 and 140L. Corequisite: PHYS 150L.

PHYS 140L*-150L. General Physics Laboratories. 1 credit each semester.

These laboratory courses are designed to complement and supplement the PHYS 140-150 and PHYS 240-250 lecture courses. The laboratory and lecture portions must be taken concurrently. Corequisite for PHYS 104L: PHYS 140 or PHYS 240. Prerequisite for PHYS 150L: PHYS 140L and either PHYS 140 or PHYS 240. Corequisite for PHYS 150L: PHYS 150 or PHYS 250.

PHYS 215. Energy and the Environment. 3 credits.

Energy use, sources and trends; fossil fuels, heat-work conversions, thermodynamic restrictions and electric power production; nuclear fission reactors and fusion energy; solar energy and technologies; alternative energy sources; energy storage; energy conservation; issues of  waste and safety. Environmental, social and economic aspects will be discussed. Not open to ISAT majors scheduled to take ISAT 212 as part of their degree requirements. Prerequisites: Two college courses in science and one in mathematics.

PHYS 220. General Astronomy I: The Night Sky, the Solar System and Stars. 3 credits.

PHYS 220 is the first in a two-course sequence in general astronomy intended for students interested in science. Topics covered include: appearance and movements of the night sky; astronomical coordinate systems and timekeeping; seasons, eclipses and planetary configurations; planetary motions and gravitation; fundamental forces; electromagnetic radiation and its detection; content, structure, formation and  evolution of solar system; observations and models of the Sun, stellar interior models; stellar magnitudes and spectra, classifications; Hertzsprung-Russell diagram. Prerequisites: One college course in science and one in mathematics.

PHYS 221. General Astronomy II: Star Systems, the Interstellar Medium and Cosmology. 3 credits.

PHYS 221 is the second in a two-course sequence in general astronomy intended for students interested in science. Topics covered include: stellar evolution; variability and high-energy phenomena in stars and multiple-star systems; content, structure, and dynamics of the Milky Way; external galaxies, quasars and AGN; large-scale structure and the distance scale of the universe; the Big Bang model and alternative cosmologies, possible geometries and eventual fates of the universe. Prerequisite: PHYS 220.

*PHYS 240. University Physics I. 3 credits.

Kinematics, dynamics, energy and momentum conservation, oscillatory motion, fluid mechanics and waves. Corequisites: MATH 235 and PHYS 140L. A student may not earn credit for both PHYS 202 and PHYS 240.

PHYS 250. University Physics II. 3 credits.

Electric forces, fields and potentials; capacitance, dielectrics, resistance and DC circuits; magnetic fields, induced electric fields, inductance and AC circuits; geometrical optics, interference, diffraction and polarization. Prerequisites: PHYS 202 or PHYS 240 and PHYS 140L. Corequisites: MATH 236 and PHYS 150L.

PHYS 260. University Physics III. 4 credits.

Rotational kinematics and rotational dynamics; static equilibrium and elasticity; universal gravitation and orbital mechanics; temperature, heat, heat engines, entropy and kinetic theory; Gauss’ law, electric potential and capacitance; magnetic fields, induced electric fields and inductance; displacement current and electromagnetic waves; and the special theory of relativity. Prerequisites: C or better in PHYS 250 and PHYS 150L or PHYS 150 and PHYS 150L. Corequisite: MATH 237.

PHYS/MATH 265. Introduction to Fluid Mechanics. 4 credits.

Introduces the student to the application of vector calculus to the description of fluids. The Euler equation, viscosity and the Navier-Stokes equation will be covered. Prerequisites: MATH 237 and PHYS 260.

PHYS 270. Modern Physics. 4 credits.

A course in modern physics, consisting of a discussion of the experimental basis for and fundamental principles of quantum physics, with applications to atomic structure and nuclear physics. Prerequisite: PHYS 260 or consent of instructor.

PHYS/CHEM/MATS 275. An Introduction to Materials Science.  3 credits.

An introduction to materials science with emphasis on general properties of materials. Topics will include crystal structure, extended and point defects and mechanical, electrical, thermal and magnetic properties of metals, ceramics, electronic materials, composites and organic materials. Prerequisite: CHEM 131, PHYS 150, PHYS 250, ISAT 212 or permission of the instructor.

PHYS 295. Laboratory Apparatus Design and Construction. 1 credit.

An introduction to the design and fabrication of laboratory apparatus using machine tools. Prerequisites: PHYS 250 and permission of the instructor.

PHYS 297. Topics in Physics. 1-4 credits each semester.

Topics in physics at the second-year level. May be repeated for credit when course content changes. Topics selected may dictate prerequisites. Students should consult instructor prior to enrolling for course. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

PHYS 335. Modern Physics II. 4 credits.

A continuation of PHYS 270, with applications to molecules, the physics of condensed matter and nuclear physics. Prerequisite: PHYS 270.

PHYS/MATS 337. Solid State Physics. 3 credits.

A study of the forces between atoms, crystal structure, lattice vibrations and thermal properties of solids, free electron theory of metals, band theory of solids, semiconductors and dielectrics. Prerequisite: PHYS 270 or consent of instructor.

PHYS 340. Mechanics. 3 credits.

Application of fundamental laws of mechanics to particles and rigid bodies. Topics include statics, dynamics, central forces, oscillatory motion and generalized coordinates. Prerequisites: PHYS 260 and MATH 238.

PHYS 342. Mechanics II. 3 credits.

A continuation of PHYS 340 including Lagrangian dynamics, rigid body motion and the theory of small oscillations. Prerequisite: PHYS 340.

PHYS 347. Advanced Physics Laboratory (0, 6). 3 credits.

An advanced laboratory in which students are introduced to experimentation in several areas of physics while gaining experience in experiment design, data analysis, formal report writing and presentations. Prerequisite: PHYS 270.

PHYS 350. Electricity and Magnetism. 3 credits.

A study of the electrostatic field, the magnetic field, direct and alternating currents and electromagnetic waves. Prerequisites: PHYS 260 and MATH 238.

PHYS 360. Analog Electronics (2, 4). 4 credits.

DC and AC circuits, spectral and pulse circuit response, semiconductor physics and simple amplifier and oscillator circuits. Prerequisite: PHYS 250 or permission of the instructor.

PHYS/MATH 365. Computational Fluid Mechanics. 3 credits.

Applications of computer models to the understanding of both compressible and incompressible fluid flows. Prerequisites: MATH 248, either MATH 238 or MATH 336, MATH/PHYS 265 and PHYS 340.

PHYS/MATH 366E. Computational Solid Mechanics. 3 credits.

Development and application of mathematical models and computer simulations to investigate problems in solid mechanics, with  emphasis on numerical solution of associated boundary value  problems.  Prerequisites: MATH/PHYS 266, MATH 238 and MATH 248, or consent of instructor.

PHYS 371. Introductory Digital Electronics (2, 4). 2 credits.

Transistors, integrated circuits, logic families, gates, latches,  decoders, multiplexers, multivibrators, counters and displays.  Prerequisite: PHYS 150 or PHYS 250 with a grade of “C” or better or permission of instructor.

PHYS 372. Microcontrollers and Their Applications (2, 4).  2 credits.

Microcontrollers, their instructions, architecture and applications. Prerequisite: PHYS 371 or consent of instructor.

PHYS 373. Interfacing Microcomputers (2, 4). 2 credits.

A study of the personal computer and its input/output bus, input/output functions, commercially available devices, proto-typing circuit boards and programs for device control. Prerequisite: PHYS 371.

PHYS 380. Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics.  3 credits.

A treatment of the thermal properties of matter from both macroscopic and microscopic viewpoints. Topics include the laws of thermodynamics, heat, work, internal energy, entropy, elementary statistical concepts, ensembles, classical and quantum statistics and kinetic theory. Approximately equal attention will be given to thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. Prerequisites: PHYS 270 and PHYS 340.

PHYS/MATS 381. Materials Characterization (Lecture/Lab course). 3 credits.

A review of the common analytical techniques used in materials science related industries today, including the evaluation of electrical, optical, structural and mechanical properties. Typical techniques may include Hall Effect, scanning probe microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, ellipsometry and x-ray diffraction. Prerequisite: PHYS/MATS 275, ISAT/MATS 431 or GEOL/MATS 395.

PHYS 390. Computer Applications in Physics. 3 credits.

Applications of automatic computation in the study of various physical systems. Problems are taken from mechanics of particles and continua, electromagnetism, optics, quantum physics, thermodynamics and transport physics. Prerequisites: MATH/CS 248, PHYS 240 and PHYS 250 and six additional credit hours in majors courses in physics excluding PHYS 360, PHYS 371 and PHYS 372.

PHYS 391-392. Seminar. 1 credit per year.

Participation in the department seminar program. Prerequisites: Junior or senior standing and permission of the instructor.

PHYS 397. Topics in Physics. 1-4 credits each semester.

Topics in physics at intermediate level. May be repeated for credit when course content changes. Topics selected may dictate prerequisites. Students should consult instructor prior to enrolling for course. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

PHYS 398. Problems in Physics. 1-3 credits, repeatable to 4 credits.

An individual project related to some aspect of physics. Must be under the guidance of a faculty adviser.

PHYS 420. Modern Optics. 3 credits.

A study of the kinematic properties and physical nature of light including reflection, refraction, interference, diffraction, polarization, coherence and holography. Prerequisites: PHYS 260, PHYS 270 and MATH 237.

PHYS 446. Electricity and Magnetism II. 3 credits.

A continuation of PHYS 350. Emphasis will be placed on the solutions of Maxwell’s equations in the presence of matter, on solving boundary-value problems and on the theory of electromagnetic radiation. Prerequisite: PHYS 350.

PHYS/CHEM 455. Lasers and Their Applications to Physical Sciences (2, 3). 3 credits.

An introduction to both the theoretical and practical aspects of lasers and their applications in the physical sciences. Prerequisite: PHYS 270, CHEM 331 or permission of the instructor.

PHYS 460. Quantum Mechanics. 3 credits.

Principles and applications of quantum mechanics. Topics include  wave packets and the uncertainty principle, the Schroedinger equation, one-dimensional potentials, operators and eigenvectors, three-dimensional motion and angular momentum and the hydrogen atom. Prerequisite: PHYS 340.

PHYS 480. Astrophysics. 3 credits.

An introduction to the problems of modern astronomy and the quantitative application of physical principles to these problems. Topics of study include stellar structure and evolution, the interstellar medium and star formation, cosmic rays, pulsars, galactic structure, extragalactic astronomy and cosmology. Prerequisites: PHYS 340 and one of either PHYS 270 or 430.

PHYS 491-492. Physics Assessment and Seminar. 1 credit per year.

Principal course activities are participation in the departmental assessment program and attendance at departmental seminars. Prerequisite: PHYS 392.

PHYS 494. Internship in Physics. 1-6 credits.

Students participate in research or applied physics outside of the university. A proposal must be approved prior to registration, and a final paper will be completed. Prerequisites: Physics major with a minimum of twelve physics credit hours and permission of the department head and the instructor.

PHYS 497. Topics in Physics. 1-4 credits each semester.

Topics in physics at the advanced level. May be repeated for credit when course content changes. Topics selected may determine prerequisites. Students should consult instructor prior to enrolling for course. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

PHYS 498R. Undergraduate Physics Research. 2-4 credits, repeatable to 6 credits.

Research in a selected area of physics as arranged with a faculty  research adviser. Prerequisite: Proposal for study must be approved prior to registration.

PHYS 499. Honors. 6 credits. (Year course: 3 credits each semester.)

Participation in this course must be approved during the second semester of the junior year. For details, see catalog section entitled “Graduation with Distinction.”



PUBLISHER: University Catalog Office, MSC 8002, Harrisonburg, VA 22807 - PHONE: (540) 568-4064
FOR INFORMATION CONTACT: Kristi Shackelford - Privacy Statement
Last Modified: 6/6/2003