# Physics

Physics is the study of the fundamental laws that govern our universe. Our curriculum is designed to give our students a solid foundation for understanding these laws and how they were uncovered. The language that best expresses these laws is mathematical, so there are a significant number of mathematics courses that serve as prerequisites for our courses. However, since physics describes the real world, our curriculum also incorporates a significant laboratory component to ensure our students will learn how to interrogate Nature and understand the answers it gives. Only by balancing theoretical concepts with experimental reality can one reach a more complete understanding of the world. Finally, our students learn to use computers to solve difficult problems, collect and analyze data, and effectively present the results of their work.

Our physics majors and minors will master valuable analysis, problem-solving, computational, and communication skills, which can be applied to a wide variety of situations beyond physics. By integrating these skills with their liberal arts experiences, our students are prepared for a vast spectrum of careers. Recent graduates have gone on to work in physics research, engineering, computer science, teaching, environmental studies, law, business, and other fields.

### For Senior Comprehensives

Majors must pass a multi-part exam which requires them to demonstrate a coherent understanding of all the major areas of physics covered in the required courses, including computational and laboratory methods, and the ability to apply this understanding to solve specific problems. Students must have completed PHY-111 Physics I - Calculus, PHY-112 Physics II - Calculus, PHY-209 Intro Thermal Phy & Relativity, PHY-210 Intro Quantum Theory & Apps, PHY-381 Advanced Laboratory I, and two out of the three 300-level theory courses (PHY-310 Classical Mechanics, PHY-314 Electromagnetic Theory, PHY-315 Quantum Mechanics) prior to taking the exam. Additionally, student portfolios will be utilized as part of the assessment of the comprehensive exams.

### Student Learning Goals

**Core Knowledge and Concepts:** Students should acquire a functional understanding of the fundamental laws and conceptual framework of classical mechanics, electromagnetism, waves and optics, special relativity, thermal physics, and quantum mechanics.

**Connecting and Broadening:** Students should gain an appreciation of the many applications of physics while making connections between the core subject areas.

**Problem Solving:** Students should develop expert-like problem-solving skills.

**Laboratory Skills:** Students should develop the ability to design and conduct experiments to explore physical questions.

**Computational Skills: **Students should develop the ability to use computer software to write programs to solve problems that are not amenable to analytic solutions and to gain conceptual understanding through graphical representations and animations.

**Communication Skills:** Students should be able to communicate their understanding of technical issues to an audience in written, oral, and visual forms.

**Research Skills:** Students should be able to address problems for which there is no known solution.

**Group Skills:** Students should be able to work effectively in groups to solve problems.

**Physics and Society:** Students should be able to describe the role physics plays in our daily lives and in addressing the major problems of the world.

**Historical Perspective:** Students should be able to explain how our present understanding of physics came about and by whom, how the demographics of the physics community have an impact on society, and how certain groups had been excluded in the past.

**Future Direction:** Students should develop a plan of what they will do after they leave Wabash.

## Requirements for a Major

Code | Title | Credits |
---|---|---|

PHY-111 | Physics I - Calculus | 1 |

PHY-112 | Physics II - Calculus | 1 |

PHY-209 | Intro Thermal Phy & Relativity | 1 |

PHY-210 | Intro Quantum Theory & Apps | 1 |

PHY-381 | Advanced Laboratory I | 0.5 |

PHY-382 | Advanced Laboratory II | 0.5 |

PHY-400 | Senior Seminar | 0.5 |

Select two from the following: | 2 | |

Classical Mechanics | ||

Electromagnetic Theory | ||

Quantum Mechanics | ||

Physics Electives | 1.5 | |

Total Credits | 9 |

Majors will also be required to maintain a portfolio of their work from courses, internships, and other work outside of class. (More information on portfolios can be found on the Physics Department Canvas page). Evaluation of portfolios will be an aspect of the comprehensive exams for the physics major. In addition, mathematics courses that are prerequisites or co-requisites for physics courses are the following:

Code | Title | Credits |
---|---|---|

Collateral Requirements | ||

MAT-111 | Calculus I | 1 |

or MAT-110 | Calc I With Pre-Calc Review | |

MAT-112 | Calculus II | 1 |

MAT-223 | Linear Algebra | 1 |

MAT-224 | Differential Equations | 1 |

MAT-225 | Multivariable Calculus | 1 |

Total Credits | 5 |

PHY-101 Astronomy, PHY-104 Special Topics, PHY-105 Adventures in Physics, PHY-109 Physics I - Algebra, and PHY-110 Physics II - Algebra do not count toward the major unless supplemented by additional work that must receive prior approval by the course instructor and the physics department chair. Students accepted into a 3-2 engineering program may substitute CHE-111 General Chemistry for the one elective physics course. Although not required, CSC-111 Intro to Programming is highly recommended, and MAT-324 Topics in Differential Equations and MAT-344 Complex Analysis are useful.

Those planning to go on to graduate school in physics should plan to take the following:

Code | Title | Credits |
---|---|---|

PHY-230 | Thermal and Statistical Physics | 1 |

PHY-310 | Classical Mechanics | 1 |

PHY-314 | Electromagnetic Theory | 1 |

PHY-315 | Quantum Mechanics | 1 |

Total Credits | 4 |

Since physics is a hierarchical subject, it is important to take PHY-111 Physics I - Calculus and PHY-112 Physics II - Calculus during the freshman year if one wishes to major in physics. The hierarchical nature of the discipline requires mastery of each course’s material prior to moving on to the next course in the sequence, and many courses therefore require a C- or better in prerequisite courses. A possible schedule to fulfill all of the necessary requirements:

Freshman | ||
---|---|---|

Fall Semester | Credits | |

PHY-111 | Physics I - Calculus | 1 |

MAT-111 | Calculus I | 1 |

Credits | 2 | |

Spring Semester | ||

PHY-112 | Physics II - Calculus | 1 |

MAT-112 | Calculus II | 1 |

Credits | 2 | |

Sophomore | ||

Fall Semester | ||

PHY-209 | Intro Thermal Phy & Relativity | 1 |

MAT-223 | Linear Algebra | 1 |

Credits | 2 | |

Spring Semester | ||

PHY-210 | Intro Quantum Theory & Apps | 1 |

MAT-224 | Differential Equations | 1 |

Credits | 2 | |

Junior | ||

Fall Semester | ||

PHY elective | 1 | |

PHY-381 | Advanced Laboratory I | 0.5 |

MAT-225 | Multivariable Calculus | 1 |

Credits | 2.5 | |

Spring Semester | ||

PHY elective | 1 | |

Credits | 1 | |

Senior | ||

Fall Semester | ||

PHY elective | 1 | |

PHY-382 | Advanced Laboratory II | 0.5 |

PHY-400 | Senior Seminar | 0.5 |

Credits | 2 | |

Spring Semester | ||

PHY elective | 0.5 | |

Credits | 0.5 | |

Total Credits | 14 |

300-level elective courses regularly offered in the fall semester are PHY-310 Classical Mechanics, PHY-315 Quantum Mechanics, while PHY-314 Electromagnetic Theory is taught in the spring semester. In addition, PHY-220 Electronics and PHY-230 Thermal and Statistical Physics are usually taught in alternate years.

The Physics Department will not accept a transfer credit for PHY-111 Physics I - Calculus as a prerequisite to the College’s PHY-112 Physics II - Calculus unless approval is received by a department chair.

## Requirements for a Minor

Code | Title | Credits |
---|---|---|

PHY-111 | Physics I - Calculus | 1 |

PHY-112 | Physics II - Calculus | 1 |

PHY-209 | Intro Thermal Phy & Relativity | 1 |

PHY-210 | Intro Quantum Theory & Apps | 1 |

Physics Elective | 1 | |

Total Credits | 5 |

Any exceptions must receive prior approval from the department chair. PHY-101 Astronomy, PHY-104 Special Topics, PHY-105 Adventures in Physics, PHY-109 Physics I - Algebra, and PHY-110 Physics II - Algebra do not count toward the minor unless supplemented by additional work that must receive prior approval by the course instructor and the physics department chair. Mathematics prerequisites (or co-requisites) are MAT-111 Calculus I (or MAT-110 Calc I With Pre-Calc Review) and MAT-112 Calculus II.

**PHY-101 Astronomy**

An introductory course intended for the
non-science liberal arts student. Historical and
philosophical ideas will be stressed as well as
the experimental concepts and methods used in
astronomy. A good working knowledge of algebra,
plane geometry, and trigonometry is required.
Satisfies half of the laboratory science
requirement. Three class periods and one
laboratory each week.** Prerequisites:** none**Corequisites:** PHY-101L**Credit: **1

** Distribution:** Science Lab, Quantitative Literacy

**PHY-104 Special Topics**

A special interest course for the non-science
liberal arts student on an introductory-level
physics topic not covered in a regular physics
course. (Does not count toward the major or
minor, or the lab science requirement.) Refer to
the Course Descriptions document on the
Registrar's webpage for topics and descriptions of
current offerings.** Prerequisites:** none**Credits: **0.5-1

**PHY-105 Adventures in Physics**

A one-semester course for the non-science liberal
arts student that investigates the world from the
viewpoint of a physicist. Topics will vary and
will be announced prior to registration.
Partially fulfills the college laboratory science
requirement, but does not count toward a physics
major or minor. Three class periods and one
laboratory each week.** Prerequisites:** none**Corequisites:** PHY-105L**Credit: **1

**PHY-109 Physics I - Algebra**

An introduction to the study of motion and waves;
topics include Newton's laws, energy and work,
periodic motion and feedback, sound and light
waves, and optics. These topics are especially
relevant for students interested in pre? health.
The lab activities will introduce measurement
techniques and will emphasize understanding the
limits to any measurement. Three class periods
and one lab period each week. Partially fulfills
the college laboratory science requirement, and
may count toward a physics major or minor with
department permission. This course is typically
offered in the fall semester. Not available to
students who have received credit for PHY-111.
Also not availbe to students who have taken or
been placed in MAT-112 without Instructor
permsission.** Prerequisites:** none**Corequisites:** PHY-109L**Credit: **1

** Distribution:** Science Lab, Quantitative Literacy

**PHY-110 Physics II - Algebra**

An algebra-based introduction to electricity and
magnetism for general audiences, including the
social and life sciences. Topics include Coulombs
law, electric circuits, magnetic fields,
electromagnetic induction, and geometric optics.
The lab will introduce data acquisition and
analysis techniques. Three class periods and one
laboratory each week. Not available to students
who have taken PHY-111 without Instructor
permission.** Prerequisites:** PHY-109 or PHY-111, or approval of instructor**Corequisites:** PHY-110L**Credit: **1

** Distribution:** Science Lab, Quantitative Literacy

**PHY-111 Physics I - Calculus**

A calculus-based introduction to classical
mechanics forphysics, chemistry, and engineering.
Topics include Newton's laws of motion,
conservation laws, and rotational dynamics. The
lab will introduce data acquisition and analysis
techniques. Three class periods and one
laboratory each week.** Prerequisites:** MAT-110 or MAT-111, or placement into MAT-111
with concurrent registration, or placement into MAT-112 or
MAT-223**Corequisites:** PHY-111L**Credit: **1

** Distribution:** Science Lab, Quantitative Literacy

**PHY-112 Physics II - Calculus**

An introduction to the fundamental concepts
concerning fluids, waves, optics, electricity,
and magnetism. Three class periods and one
laboratory each week. This course is offered in
the spring semester.** Prerequisites:** PHY-111 with a minimum grade of C-**Corequisites:** PHY-112L**Credit: **1

** Distribution:** Science Lab, Quantitative Literacy

**PHY-177 Special Topics**

A special interest course on an
introductory-level physics topic not covered in
regular physics courses. This course is offered
in the fall semester. Refer to the Course
Descriptions document on the Registrar's webpage
for topics and descriptions of current offerings.** Prerequisites:** none**Credits: **0.5-1

**PHY-178 Special Topics**

A special interest course on an
introductory-level physics topic not covered in
regular physics courses. This course is offered
in the spring semester. Refer to the Course
Descriptions document on the Registrar's webpage
for topics and descriptions of current offerings.** Prerequisites:** none**Credits: **0.5-1

**PHY-187 Independent Study**

Individual research projects. The manner of study
will be determined by the student in consultation
with the instructor. Students must receive
written approval of their project proposal from a
department Chair before registering for the
course.** Prerequisites:** none**Credits: **0.5-1

**PHY-188 Independent Study**

Individual research projects. The manner of study
will be determined by the student in consultation
with the instructor. Students must receive
written approval of their project proposal from a
department Chair before registering for the
course.** Prerequisites:** none**Credits: **0.5-1

**PHY-209 Intro Thermal Phy & Relativity**

An introduction to thermal physics and special
relativity. Topics include the laws of
thermodynamics, statistical nature of entropy,
Lorentz transformations, equivalence of mass and
energy. The lab will introduce the methodology of
experimental design, numerical techniques for
solving differential equations, and the writing
of scientific papers using LaTeX software. Three
class periods and one laboratory each week. This
course is offered in the fall semester.** Prerequisites:** PHY-112 with a minimum grade of C-, and
MAT-112**Corequisites:** PHY-209L**Credit: **1

** Distribution:** Quantitative Literacy, Science Lab

**PHY-210 Intro Quantum Theory & Apps**

An introduction to quantum theory with
applications to atomic, solid state, nuclear, and
particle physics. Three class periods and one
laboratory each week. This course is offered in
the spring semester.** Prerequisites:** PHY-209 with a minimum grade of C-, and
MAT-223**Corequisites:** PHY-210L**Credit: **1

**PHY-220 Electronics**

Introduction to analog and digital electronics.
Fundamentals of DC and AC circuits, transistors,
and amplifiers will be covered. Includes one
laboratory each week.** Prerequisites:** PHY-112 with grade of C- or better**Corequisites:** PHY-220L**Credit: **1

** Distribution:** Science Lab, Quantitative Literacy

**PHY-230 Thermal and Statistical Physics**

Introduction to thermal and statistical physics.
The laws of thermodynamics are studied from
microscopic and macroscopic perspectives. Quantum
statistical mechanics will be developed and
applied to blackbody radiation, fermionic and
bosonic systems.** Prerequisites:** PHY-210 with a minimum grade of C-**Credit: **1

**PHY-235 Stochastic Simulation**

Interesting real world phenomena often involve
randomness at some level, and this course
develops mathematical and computational tools for
studying these systems. In particular, students
will study and implement computer simulation
models of continuous and discrete stochastic
processes with potential applications in physics,
economics, epidemiology, networks, sports,
elections, and industrial engineering. Specific
topics for study include: basic probability
models, pseudo-random number generation, queueing
models, discrete event simulations, Poisson
processes, random walks, Markov chains, Monte
Carlo methods, and statistical analysis of
simulated data.** Prerequisites:** MAT-112 and CSC-111**Credit: **1

**PHY-277 Special Topics**

A special interest course covering at an
intermediate-level a physics topic not covered in
regular physics courses. Student input as to the
course topic will be sought prior to registration.
Refer to the Course Descriptions document on the
Registrar's webpage for topics and descriptions of
current offerings.** Prerequisites:** none**Credits: **0.5-1

**PHY-278 Special Topics**

A special interest course covering at an
intermediate-level a physics topic not covered in
regular physics courses. This course is offered
in the spring semester. Student input as to the
course topic will be sought prior to spring
registration. Refer to the Course Descriptions
document on the Registrar's webpage for topics and
descriptions of current offerings.** Prerequisites:** none**Credits: **0.5-1

**PHY-287 Independent Study**

Individual research projects. The manner of study
will be determined by the student in consultation
with the instructor. Students must receive
written approval of their project proposal from a
department Chair before registering for the
course.** Prerequisites:** none**Credits: **0.5-1

**PHY-288 Independent Study**

** Prerequisites:** none**Credits: **0.5-1

**PHY-302 Electron Microscopy**

Electron microscopes employ a focused beam of
highly energetic electrons to examine sample
morphology and topography on a very fine scale.
This information is essential to the
characterization of a wide range of biological
and inorganic specimens including microorganisms,
cells, crystals, metals, microelectronics, and
nanomaterials. The initial classroom portion of
this course focuses on fundamental topics in
instrument design, applications, limitations, and
sample preparation methods. Subsequent laboratory
work involves hands-on instrument training and a
substantial microscopy project.** Prerequisites:** none**Credit: **1** Equated Courses:** CHE-302

**PHY-310 Classical Mechanics**

Advanced topics in classical mechanics, including
harmonic motion and Lagrangian mechanics.** Prerequisites:** PHY-112 with a minimum grade of C- and
MAT-224, or permission of instructor**Credit: **1

**PHY-314 Electromagnetic Theory**

Advanced explorations in understanding and
applying Maxwell's equations. This course is
offered in the spring semester.** Prerequisites:** PHY-112 with a minimum grade of C-, MAT-224,
and MAT-225**Credit: **1

**PHY-315 Quantum Mechanics**

Introduction to quantum mechanics. Topics include
Dirac notation, postulates of quantum mechanics,
and applications to important physical systems.
This course is offered in the fall semester.** Prerequisites:** PHY-210 with a minimum grade of C-, MAT-223, and MAT-224**Credit: **1

** Distribution:** Quantitative Literacy

**PHY-377 Adv Special Topics in Physics**

Special interest course covering one of a
selection of advanced physics topics including:
atomic physics, nuclear physics, quantum field
theory, advanced electrodynamics, advanced
quantum mechanics, advanced classical mechanics,
or other topics proposed by students. Student
input as to the course topic will be sought prior
to registration. Refer to the Course Descriptions
document on the Registrar's webpage for topics and
descriptions of current offerings.** Prerequisites:** PHY-210**Credits: **0.5-1

**PHY-378 Adv. Special Topics in Physics**

Special interest course covering one of a
selection of advanced physics topics including:
atomic physics, nuclear physics, quantum field
theory, advanced electrodynamics, advanced
quantum mechanics, advanced classical mechanics,
or other topics proposed by students. This course
is offered in the spring semester. Student input
as to the course topic will be sought prior to
spring registration. Refer to the Course
Descriptions document on the Registrar's webpage
for topics and descriptions of current offerings.** Prerequisites:** PHY-210**Credits: **0.5-1

** Distribution:** Natural Science/Mathematics

**PHY-381 Advanced Laboratory I**

Students will participate in a broad range of
experiments that cover major research areas in
contemporary physics, including atomic,
molecular, and optical physics, condensed matter
physics, and nuclear and particle physics.
Advanced measurement and data analysis techniques
will be used. All experiments will be planned,
executed, and presented according to current
professional standards. Students should take this
course during their junior year.** Prerequisites:** PHY-210**Credits: **0.5

**PHY-382 Advanced Laboratory II**

This course is an independent research project,
typically a continuation of either an Advanced
Laboratory I project or a summer internship
research project. Typically taken in the fall
semester of the senior year.** Prerequisites:** PHY-381**Credits: **0.5

**PHY-387 Independent Study**

** Prerequisites:** none**Credits: **0.5-1

**PHY-388 Independent Study**

** Prerequisites:** none**Credits: **0.5-1

**PHY-400 Senior Seminar**

This course is a senior seminar course which all
physics majors should take in their final year
at Wabash. Course work will include reading
primary literature, designing research projects to
address societal issues, exploring the
demographics and diversity of scientists,
proposing outreach methods to make physics more
inclusive, and evaluating the moral and ethical
responsibilities of science. This course is
offered in the fall semester** Prerequisites:** PHY-210**Credits: **0.5

**PHY-487 Independent Study**

** Prerequisites:** none**Credits: **0.5-1

**PHY-488 Independent Study**

** Prerequisites:** none**Credits: **0.5-1