Physics, Astronomy and Geophysics



Professor: Thompson; Associate Professors:  Brown, Diagne; Senior Lecturers:  Chomiak, Weinstein; Professor Monce, chair

The Major in Physics

The major in physics is designed to provide flexibility, so that students can match a program of study with their interests.  Students may choose the general track or may select a concentration in astrophysics, physics for education, or physics and engineering (dual degree program).  The major consists of a core curriculum, together with electives associated with each track or concentration.

Advisers:  L. Brown, B. Chomiak, M. Diagne, M. Monce, D. Thompson, M. Weinstein

Core Curriculum

Physics 107, 108 (or 109, 110), 215, 319, 324; Mathematics 212.

Electives

General Track:  In addition to the core curriculum, students majoring in physics with the general track must take Physics 208 (or 310), 320, and 404, as well as one elective in astronomy, geophysics, or physics.  The elective cannot be satisfied by Physics Individual Study courses except with permission of the department.  Students should be aware that Mathematics 225 and 226 are prerequisites for Physics 404, and that Mathematics 225 is either a prerequisite or recommended for other courses in this track.  Students considering graduate school in physics are strongly urged to take both Physics 208 and 310, as well as Physics 410.

Astrophysics Concentration:  In addition to the core curriculum, students with a concentration in astrophysics must take Physics 208 (or 310), 404; Astronomy 105, 110, 201, 302 (or 310).  Students should be aware that Mathematics 225 and 226 are prerequisites for Physics 404, and that Mathematics 225 is either a prerequisite or recommended for other courses in this concentration.  The following courses are strongly recommended for students considering graduate school in astrophysics:  Mathematics 107 (or 206), 312; Chemistry 103, 104 (or 107, 204); Computer Science 110, 212.

Physics for Education Concentration:  The concentration in physics for education places an emphasis on teaching physics at the secondary level.  Students choosing this concentration will also work concurrently on state certification or a private school teaching certificate.  Interested students should consult both the physics and education departments upon arrival at Connecticut College, or early in their freshman year, so that proper planning may be done.  In addition to the core curriculum listed above, students with this concentration must take Physics 208, 391 (or 392), 404.  (Individual Study for this concentration will focus on current research in physics education, such as that published in the American Journal of Physics and The Physics Teacher.)  Students should be aware that Mathematics 225 and 226 are prerequisites for Physics 404, and that Mathematics 225 is either a prerequisite or recommended for other courses in this concentration.  The following courses are also recommended:  Chemistry 103, 104 (or 107, 204); Astronomy 105, 110; Computer Science 110, 212.

Physics and Engineering (Dual Degree Program) Concentration:  This program requires five years of study, three at Connecticut College and two at Washington University in St. Louis.  Students completing this program will receive a bachelor of arts degree from Connecticut College, as well as a bachelor of science from Washington University (in engineering or applied science).  During the three years at Connecticut College, a student is expected to earn at least seventy-five percent of the credits required for a degree from Connecticut College and to complete all General Education requirements.  A student should have a grade point average of at least 3.0 and a strong record in mathematics and science to apply for admission to the program.

Students choosing this concentration are required to complete the core curriculum while at Connecticut College, as well as Mathematics 225; Computer Science 212; Chemistry 103, 104 (or 107, 204).

Students must complete equivalents to Physics 320 (or Physics 342) and Physics 404, approved beforehand by the department at Connecticut College, during the two years at Washington University.

The Connecticut College degree is not awarded until the engineering or applied science program is completed, normally five years after admission to Connecticut College.  Students are advised, however, that credits for engineering or other technical courses may not be counted toward the requirements for a major or minor at Connecticut College.

Admission to the program does not assure financial aid.

For further details, contact Mohamed Diagne.

The Minor in Physics

The minor in physics consists of Physics 107, 108 (or 109, 110), 208 (or 310), 215; Mathematics 225; one course from Physics 319, 320, 324, 342, 422.

The Minor in Astronomy

The minor in astronomy consists of the following courses:  Astronomy 105, 110, 201, 302 (or 310); Physics 107 (or 109).  The following courses are strongly recommended:  Physics 108 (or 110), 215; Mathematics 113, 212.

Learning Goals in the Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geophysics

The Department of Physics, Astronomy & Geophysics offers you an excellent education if you're interested in studying physics, astronomy or geophysics at the undergraduate level.  The physics major is designed to provide flexibility so that students can tailor a program of study to their own interests.  Classes and labs are taught in a contemporary facility well equipped with impressive technologies.  You'll be encouraged to get involved in research work and independent study projects with faculty members at any time during your four years at Connecticut College.  The department recognizes that the successful demonstration of the learning outcomes for the major depends both on the instruction within the department and student engagement aimed at developing the following skills:

  • Demonstrate an understanding and application of the scientific method to develop and test new models that describe the physical world.
  • Exhibit a proficiency in the methods of scientific inquiry in laboratory and/or research projects. Demonstrate basic experimental skills by the practice of setting up and conducting an experiment with due regards to minimizing measurement error and by the thoughtful discussion and interpretation of data.
  • Demonstrate ability to convey physical concepts with mathematical expressions, and effectively derive quantitative predictions from a model through mathematical analysis.
  • Present well-organized, logical and scientifically sound oral and written scientific reports.
  • Identify the consequences of accepting a new interpretation

Courses

Astronomy

ASTRONOMY  105  SOLAR SYSTEM ASTRONOMY  A study of the Sun, planets, and the solar neighborhood looking at their origins, properties, and behaviors.  Development of the physical principles required to understand astronomical observations.  Additional topics include ancient astronomy, celestial motions and properties of telescopes.  Outdoor observatory work focuses on use of the telescope and making observations of the Sun, moon, and planets.  Registration is also required in Astronomy 105L.

               Three hours lecture, three hours laboratory and observatory work weekly.  Enrollment limited to 18 students per section.  This course satisfies General Education Area 1.  L. Brown

ASTRONOMY  105L  SOLAR SYSTEM ASTRONOMY LAB  Registration is also required in Astronomy 105.

ASTRONOMY  110  BEYOND THE SOLAR SYSTEM  A study of the properties and behaviors of stars and galaxies, and the interactions among them.  An exploration of the tools used to make deep-space astronomical observations, and the physical concepts needed to interpret them.  Topics include stellar evolution, white dwarfs, neutron stars, black holes, dark matter, the Milky Way and other galaxies, and how galaxies can be used to study the large-scale universe.

               Three hours lecture weeklyEnrollment limited to 60 students.  This course satisfies General Education Area 1.  L. Brown, M. Weinstein

ASTRONOMY  201  INTRODUCTION TO ASTROPHYSICS  A treatment of the principles of physics and mathematics as applied to astronomical phenomena.  Topics include astronomical coordinate systems, Newtonian mechanics and orbits, star properties and distance determinations, stellar structure, electromagnetic radiation and its interaction with matter.

               Three hours lecture weekly.  Prerequisite:  Course 105 and 110 and Physics 107 or 109.  Mathematics 113 recommended.  Offered every other year starting in the spring of 2010.  L. Brown

ASTRONOMY  302  OBSERVATIONAL TECHNIQUES IN ASTRONOMY  A laboratory course introducing basic observational, computing, and data analysis techniques in current use in optical astronomy.  Lecture focuses on instrumentation properties and use, and methods of analyzing observations.  Observatory work involves use and calibration of the 20-inch telescope and CCD camera, and performing differential CCD filter photometry on various astronomical objects.  Computer work involves image calibration and the extraction of useful physical information from student obtained images.

               One lecture 1½ hours; four hours computer lab and observatory work weekly.  Prerequisite:  Course 105 and 110 and 201.  Mathematics 113 and Computer Science 110 recommended.  L. Brown

ASTRONOMY  310  THE ORIGIN AND FATE OF OUR UNIVERSE:  AN ASTROPHYSICAL PERSPECTIVE  A treatment of the fundamental observations and the basic physical and mathematical laws that permit scientists to understand the birth and evolution of our universe.  This course will examine how observations over the last 30 years have led to the current ″standard model″ of an accelerating universe with a non-zero cosmological constant.  Topics include the distance ladder, Hubble′s law, dark matter, dark energy, the cosmic microwave background, space curvature, The Big Bang, inflation and the first three minutes of cosmic existence.

               Prerequisite:  Astronomy 110, Physics 107 or 109, Mathematics 112.  Enrollment limited to 30 students.  L. Brown

ASTRONOMY  291, 292  INDIVIDUAL STUDY  Independent research work with a selected faculty member.  Course may be taken for either two or four credits.  The two-credit option requires the student to commit to four to five hours of independent research work per week.  The four-credit option requires the student to commit to eight to ten hours of independent research work per week.

ASTRONOMY  391, 392  INDIVIDUAL STUDY  Independent research work with a selected faculty member.  Course may be taken for either two or four credits.  The two-credit option requires the student to commit to four to five hours of independent research work per week.  The four-credit option requires the student to commit to eight to ten hours of independent research work per week.

ASTRONOMY  491, 492  INDIVIDUAL STUDY  Independent research work with a selected faculty member.  Course may be taken for either two or four credits.  The two-credit option requires the student to commit to four to five hours of independent research work per week.  The four-credit option requires the student to commit to eight to ten hours of independent research work per week.

Geology/Geophysics

GEOPHYSICS  115  INTRODUCTION TO PHYSICAL GEOLOGY  This is the same course as Environmental Studies 115.  Refer to the Environmental Studies listing for a course description.

GEOPHYSICS  120  INTRODUCTION TO ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGY  This is the same course as Environmental Studies 120.  Refer to the Environmental Studies listing for a course description.

GEOPHYSICS  210  HYDROLOGY  This is the same course as Environmental Studies 210.  Refer to the Environmental Studies listing for a course description.

GEOPHYSICS  211  WEATHER AND CLIMATE:  PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE  This is the same course as Environmental Studies 211.  Refer to the Environmental Studies listing for a course description.

GEOPHYSICS  259  MINING AND THE ENVIRONMENT  This is the same course as Environmental Studies 259.  Refer to the Environmental Studies listing for a course description.

GEOPHYSICS  314  EARTH SURFACE PROCESSES AND LANDFORMS  This is the same course as Environmental Studies 314.  Refer to the Environmental Studies listing for a course description.

GEOPHYSICS  315  RIVER ENVIRONMENTS:  SCIENCE, ENGINEERING, AND MANAGEMENT  This is the same course as Environmental Studies 315.  Refer to the Environmental Studies listing for a course description.

GEOPHYSICS  316  COASTAL DYNAMICS OF SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND  This is the same course as Environmental Studies 316.  Refer to the Environmental Studies listing for a course description.

GEOPHYSICS  291, 292  INDIVIDUAL STUDY  Independent research work with a selected faculty member.  Course may be taken for either two or four credits.  The two-credit option requires the student to commit to four to five hours of independent research work per week.  The four-credit option requires the student to commit to eight to ten hours of independent research work per week.

GEOPHYSICS  391, 392  INDIVIDUAL STUDY  Independent research work with a selected faculty member.  Course may be taken for either two or four credits.  The two-credit option requires the student to commit to four to five hours of independent research work per week.  The four-credit option requires the student to commit to eight to ten hours of independent research work per week.

GEOPHYSICS  491, 492  INDIVIDUAL STUDY  Independent research work with a selected faculty member.  Course may be taken for either two or four credits.  The two-credit option requires the student to commit to four to five hours of independent research work per week.  The four-credit option requires the student to commit to eight to ten hours of independent research work per week.

Physics

PHYSICS  107, 108  GENERAL PHYSICS  A general introduction to the logical foundations of physics, using calculus.  Areas of study include classical physics (mechanics, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, optics) and selected topics in modern physics.  Students may only receive credit for one set of introductory physics courses either Physics 107, 108 or Physics 109, 110. Registration is also required in Physics 107L, 108L.

               Three hours of lecture and discussion per week; three hours of laboratory per week.  Knowledge of algebra and trigonometry is assumed.  Either Course 107 or 109 is a prerequisite for Course 108.  Enrollment limited to 15 students per section.  Both courses satisfy General Education Area 1.  Staff

PHYSICS  107L, 108L  GENERAL PHYSICS LAB  Registration is also required in Physics 107, 108.

PHYSICS  109, 110  GENERAL PHYSICS/STUDIO  A general introduction to the logical foundations of physics, using calculus.  Areas of study include classical physics (mechanics, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, optics) and selected topics in modern physics.  Students may only receive credit for only one set of introductory physics courses either Physics 107, 108 or Physics 109, 110.

               Six hours of combined lecture, discussion, and laboratory per week.  Prerequisite or parallel:  Mathematics 112 (or a more advanced calculus course).  Either Course 107 or 109 is a prerequisite for Course 110.  Enrollment limited to 20 students per section.  Open to freshmen only.  Both courses satisfy General Education Area 1.  M. Weinstein

PHYSICS  111  MODERN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY:  GATEWAY TO A NEW MILLENNIUM  The fundamental ideas that underlie the technology of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.  Topics include laser, nuclear, medical, electronic, and space travel technologies.  The impact that these technologies are having in terms of the environment, resource depletion, society's view of science and related societal issues.  Intended primarily for students not majoring in science.  Students may not receive credit for both this course and the Freshman Seminar ″Modern Science and Technology.″

               Three hours of lecture and discussion.  Enrollment limited to 25 studentsThis course satisfies General Education Area 1.  Staff

PHYSICS  113  ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT  An introduction to the physics of energy and the laws of thermodynamics as applied to environmental issues.  Emphasis on processes for producing electrical energy such as wind, solar, fossil fuels, nuclear, and geothermal/hydrodynamic.  Energy use in the transportation sector will also be examined.  This is the same course as Environmental Studies 113.

               Three hours of combined lecture and laboratory per week.  No knowledge of calculus is required.  Enrollment limited to 16 students.  M. Monce

PHYSICS  208, 310  EXPERIMENTAL PHYSICS I AND II  A two-semester sequence of laboratory work involving experiments in mechanics, optics, oscillatory phenomena, electromagnetism, and modern physics.

               One lecture; five hours laboratory work weekly.  Prerequisite:  Physics 108 or 110.  Physics 215 recommended as parallel or prerequisite for 310.  M. Monce

PHYSICS  213  ELECTRONICS FOR SCIENTISTS  An introductory course in electronics for science and mathematics majors.  Topics will include Ohm's law, the use of instruments, resonant circuits, transformers and power supplies, solid state devices, transistor amplifiers, oscillators and filters.

               One lecture, five hours laboratory work.  Enrollment limited to 10 students.  Staff

PHYSICS  215  MODERN PHYSICS  Concepts in contemporary physics.  Relativity, an introduction to quantum theory, and the structure of matter at the molecular, atomic, nuclear and elementary particle levels.

               Three hour lecture and discussion.  Prerequisite:  Physics 108 or 110, and Mathematics 113.  Staff

PHYSICS  319  CLASSICAL MECHANICS  An introduction to theoretical mechanics, a study which relates and interprets motion in terms of its causes, and which forms a basis for much of modern physical theory.  Vectors, particle dynamics, celestial mechanics, systems of particles and rigid body motion, conservation laws and the formulation of Lagrange.

               Prerequisite:  Physics 108 or 110, and Mathematics 112 and 113.  Prerequisite or parallel:  Mathematics 225 or permission of the instructor.  M. Diagne, M. Monce

PHYSICS  320  THERMODYNAMICS AND STATISTICAL MECHANICS  An introduction to the power and generality of thermodynamic reasoning, with selected examples.  Systems and equations of state, first and second laws of thermodynamics, entropy, classical and quantum statistics.

               Prerequisite:  Physics 108 or 110.  Prerequisite or parallel:  Mathematics 225 or permission of the instructor.  Staff

PHYSICS  324  ELECTROMAGNETIC THEORY  An introduction to the description of electromagnetic phenomena.  Discussion will include fields and potentials, interaction of fields and matter, the development of Maxwell's equations, and electromagnetic waves.  Vector calculus is developed as needed in the course.

               Three hours lecture.  Prerequisite:  Physics 108 or 110 and Mathematics 212; Physics 319, 320 or 342 and Mathematics 225 strongly recommended.  M. Monce, L. Brown

PHYSICS  342  ADVANCED PHYSICAL OPTICS  The nature and propagation of light using Maxwell's equations; study of interference, diffraction, polarization, dispersion, and absorption.  Introduction to lasers, non linear optical phenomena and Fourier Optics.

               Prerequisite:  Physics 108 or 110.  Prerequisite or parallel:  Mathematics 225 or permission of the instructor.  Staff

PHYSICS  404  QUANTUM MECHANICS  The formalism of the quantum theory required for deeper understanding and further studies in contemporary physics.  Topics will include wave functions and operators, the Schroedinger equation, solutions of the wave equation in various potentials, angular momentum and spin, perturbation theory and the matrix formulation.

               Prerequisite:  Physics 319, 324, Mathematics 225, and 226; or permission of the instructor.  M. Monce

PHYSICS  410  APPLIED QUANTUM MECHANICS  Selected topics in the application of quantum mechanics to physical systems.  These systems will include one electron and multielectron atoms, molecules, condensed matter, nuclear and high energy physics.

               Prerequisite:  Course 404 or Chemistry 309.  M. Monce

PHYSICS  291, 292  INDIVIDUAL STUDY  Independent research work with a selected faculty member.  Course may be taken for either two or four credits.  The two-credit option requires the student to commit to four to five hours of independent research work per week.  The four-credit option requires the student to commit to eight to ten hours of independent research work per week.

PHYSICS  391, 392  INDIVIDUAL STUDY  Independent research work with a selected faculty member.  Course may be taken for either two or four credits.  The two-credit option requires the student to commit to four to five hours of independent research work per week.  The four-credit option requires the student to commit to eight to ten hours of independent research work per week.

PHYSICS  491, 492  INDIVIDUAL STUDY  Independent research work with a selected faculty member.  Course may be taken for either two or four credits.  The two-credit option requires the student to commit to four to five hours of independent research work per week.  The four-credit option requires the student to commit to eight to ten hours of independent research work per week.

PHYSICS  497-498  HONORS STUDY