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PHYSICS 25: Modern Physics

How do the discoveries since the dawn of the 20th century impact our understanding of 21st-century physics? This course introduces the foundations of modern physics: Einstein's theory of special relativity and quantum mechanics. Combining the language of physics with tools from algebra and trigonometry, students gain insights into how the universe works on both the smallest and largest scales. Topics may include atomic, molecular, and laser physics; semiconductors; elementary particles and the fundamental forces; nuclear physics (fission, fusion, and radioactivity); astrophysics and cosmology (the contents and evolution of the universe). Emphasis on applications of modern physics in everyday life, progress made in our understanding of the universe, and open questions that are the subject of active research. Physical understanding fostered by peer interaction and demonstrations in lecture, and interactive group problem solving in discussion sections. Prerequisite: PHYSICS 23 or PHYSICS 23S.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER: DB-NatSci, WAY-SMA | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

PHYSICS 41: Mechanics

How are motions of objects in the physical world determined by laws of physics? Students learn to describe the motion of objects (kinematics) and then understand why motions have the form they do (dynamics). Emphasis on how the important physical principles in mechanics, such as conservation of momentum and energy for translational and rotational motion, follow from just three laws of nature: Newton's laws of motion. Distinction made between fundamental laws of nature and empirical rules that are useful approximations for more complex physics. Problems drawn from examples of mechanics in everyday life. Skills developed in verifying that derived results satisfy criteria for correctness, such as dimensional consistency and expected behavior in limiting cases. Discussions based on language of mathematics, particularly vector representations and operations, and calculus. Physical understanding fostered by peer interaction and demonstrations in lecture, and discussion sections based on interactive group problem solving. Prerequisite: High school physics or concurrent enrollment in PHYSICS 41A. MATH 20 or MATH 51 or CME 100 or equivalent. Minimum corequisite: MATH 21 or equivalent.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER: DB-NatSci, WAY-SMA | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

PHYSICS 43: Electricity and Magnetism

What is electricity? What is magnetism? How are they related? How do these phenomena manifest themselves in the physical world? The theory of electricity and magnetism, as codified by Maxwell's equations, underlies much of the observable universe. Students develop both conceptual and quantitative knowledge of this theory. Topics include: electrostatics; magnetostatics; simple AC and DC circuits involving capacitors, inductors, and resistors; integral form of Maxwell's equations; electromagnetic waves. Principles illustrated in the context of modern technologies. Broader scientific questions addressed include: How do physical theories evolve? What is the interplay between basic physical theories and associated technologies? Discussions based on the language of mathematics, particularly differential and integral calculus, and vectors. Physical understanding fostered by peer interaction and demonstrations in lecture, and discussion sections based on interactive group problem solving. Prerequisite: PHYSICS 41 or equivalent. MATH 21 or MATH 51 or CME 100 or equivalent. Recommended corequisite: MATH 52 or CME 102.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER: DB-NatSci, WAY-SMA | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

PHYSICS 45: Light and Heat

What is temperature? How do the elementary processes of mechanics, which are intrinsically reversible, result in phenomena that are clearly irreversible when applied to a very large number of particles, the ultimate example being life? In thermodynamics, students discover that the approach of classical mechanics is not sufficient to deal with the extremely large number of particles present in a macroscopic amount of gas. The paradigm of thermodynamics leads to a deeper understanding of real-world phenomena such as energy conversion and the performance limits of thermal engines. In optics, students see how a geometrical approach allows the design of optical systems based on reflection and refraction, while the wave nature of light leads to interference phenomena. The two approaches come together in understanding the diffraction limit of microscopes and telescopes. Discussions based on the language of mathematics, particularly calculus. Physical understanding fostered by peer interaction and demonstrations in lecture, and discussion sections based on interactive group problem solving. Prerequisite: PHYSICS 41 or equivalent. MATH 21 or MATH 51 or CME 100 or equivalent.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER: DB-NatSci, WAY-SMA | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

PHYSICS 50: Astronomy Laboratory and Observational Astronomy

Introduction to observational astronomy emphasizing the use of optical telescopes. Observations of stars, nebulae, and galaxies in laboratory sessions with telescopes at the Stanford Student Observatory. Meets at the observatory one evening per week from dusk until well after dark, in addition to day-time lectures each week. No previous physics required. Limited enrollment.
Terms: Aut, Sum | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: GER: DB-NatSci, WAY-AQR, WAY-SMA | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

PHYSICS 61: Mechanics and Special Relativity

(First in a three-part advanced freshman physics series: PHYSICS 61, PHYSICS 63, PHYSICS 65.) This course covers Einstein's special theory of relativity and Newtonian mechanics at a level appropriate for students with a strong high school mathematics and physics background, who are contemplating a major in Physics or Engineering Physics, or are interested in a rigorous treatment of physics. Postulates of special relativity, simultaneity, time dilation, length contraction, the Lorentz transformation, causality, and relativistic mechanics. Central forces, contact forces, linear restoring forces. Momentum transport, work, energy, collisions. Angular momentum, torque, moment of inertia in three dimensions. Damped and forced harmonic oscillators. Uses the language of vectors and multivariable calculus. Recommended prerequisites: Mastery of mechanics at the level of AP Physics C and AP Calculus BC or equivalent. Corequisite: MATH 51 or MATH 61CM or MATH 61DM.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER: DB-NatSci, WAY-FR, WAY-SMA | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

PHYSICS 63: Electricity, Magnetism, and Waves

(Second in a three-part advanced freshman physics series: PHYSICS 61, PHYSICS 63, PHYSICS 65.) This course covers the foundations of electricity and magnetism for students with a strong high school mathematics and physics background, who are contemplating a major in Physics or Engineering Physics, or are interested in a rigorous treatment of physics. Electricity, magnetism, and waves with some description of optics. Electrostatics and Gauss' law. Electric potential, electric field, conductors, image charges. Electric currents, DC circuits. Moving charges, magnetic field, Ampere's law. Solenoids, transformers, induction, AC circuits, resonance. Relativistic point of view for moving charges. Displacement current, Maxwell's equations. Electromagnetic waves, dielectrics. Diffraction, interference, refraction, reflection, polarization. Prerequisite: PHYSICS 61 and MATH 51 or MATH 61CM or MATH 61DM. Pre- or corequisite: MATH 52 or MATH 62CM or MATH 62DM.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER: DB-NatSci, WAY-FR, WAY-SMA | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

PHYSICS 65: Quantum and Thermal Physics

(Third in a three-part advanced freshman physics series: PHYSICS 61, PHYSICS 63, PHYSICS 65.) This course introduces the foundations of quantum and statistical mechanics for students with a strong high school mathematics and physics background, who are contemplating a major in Physics or Engineering Physics, or are interested in a rigorous treatment of physics. Quantum mechanics: atoms, electrons, nuclei. Quantization of light, Planck's constant. Photoelectric effect, Compton and Bragg scattering. Bohr model, atomic spectra. Matter waves, wave packets, interference. Fourier analysis and transforms, Heisenberg uncertainty relationships. Schrödinger equation, eigenfunctions and eigenvalues. Particle-in-a-box, simple harmonic oscillator, barrier penetration, tunneling, WKB and approximate solutions. Time-dependent and multi-dimensional solution concepts. Coulomb potential and hydrogen atom structure. Thermodynamics and statistical mechanics: ideal gas, equipartition, heat capacity. Pro more »
(Third in a three-part advanced freshman physics series: PHYSICS 61, PHYSICS 63, PHYSICS 65.) This course introduces the foundations of quantum and statistical mechanics for students with a strong high school mathematics and physics background, who are contemplating a major in Physics or Engineering Physics, or are interested in a rigorous treatment of physics. Quantum mechanics: atoms, electrons, nuclei. Quantization of light, Planck's constant. Photoelectric effect, Compton and Bragg scattering. Bohr model, atomic spectra. Matter waves, wave packets, interference. Fourier analysis and transforms, Heisenberg uncertainty relationships. Schrödinger equation, eigenfunctions and eigenvalues. Particle-in-a-box, simple harmonic oscillator, barrier penetration, tunneling, WKB and approximate solutions. Time-dependent and multi-dimensional solution concepts. Coulomb potential and hydrogen atom structure. Thermodynamics and statistical mechanics: ideal gas, equipartition, heat capacity. Probability, counting states, entropy, equilibrium, chemical potential. Laws of thermodynamics. Cycles, heat engines, free energy. Partition function, Boltzmann statistics, Maxwell speed distribution, ideal gas in a box, Einstein model. Quantum statistical mechanics: classical vs. quantum distribution functions, fermions vs. bosons. Prerequisites: PHYSICS 61 & PHYSICS 63. Pre- or corequisite: MATH 53 or MATH 63CM or MATH 63DM.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER: DB-NatSci, WAY-FR, WAY-SMA | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

PHYSICS 70: Foundations of Modern Physics

Required for Physics or Engineering Physics majors who completed the PHYSICS 40 series. Introduction to special relativity: reference frames, Michelson-Morley experiment. Postulates of relativity, simultaneity, time dilation. Length contraction, the Lorentz transformation, causality. Doppler effect. Relativistic mechanics and mass, energy, momentum relations. Introduction to quantum physics: atoms, electrons, nuclei. Quantization of light, Planck constant. Photoelectric effect, Compton and Bragg scattering. Bohr model, atomic spectra. Matter waves, wave packets, interference. Fourier analysis and transforms, Heisenberg uncertainty relationships. Schrödinger equation, eigenfunctions and eigenvalues. Particle-in-a-box, simple harmonic oscillator, barrier penetration, tunneling, WKB and approximate solutions. Time-dependent and multi-dimensional solution concepts. Coulomb potential and hydrogen atom structure. Prerequisites: PHYSICS 41, PHYSICS 43. Pre or corequisite: PHYSICS 45. Recommended: prior or concurrent registration in MATH 53.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER: DB-NatSci, WAY-SMA | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

PHYSICS 83N: Physics in the 21st Century

Preference to freshmen. Current topics at the frontier of modern physics. This course provides an in-depth examination of two of the biggest physics discoveries of the 21st century: that of the Higgs boson and Dark Energy. Through studying these discoveries we will explore the big questions driving modern particle physics, the study of nature's most fundamental pieces, and cosmology, the study of the evolution and nature of the universe. Questions such as: What is the universe made of? What are the most fundamental particles and how do they interact with each other? What can we learn about the history of the universe and what does it tell us about it's future? We will learn about the tools scientists use to study these questions such as the Large Hadron Collider and the Hubble Space Telescope. We will also learn to convey these complex topics in engaging and diverse terms to the general public through writing and reading assignments, oral presentations, and multimedia projects. The syl more »
Preference to freshmen. Current topics at the frontier of modern physics. This course provides an in-depth examination of two of the biggest physics discoveries of the 21st century: that of the Higgs boson and Dark Energy. Through studying these discoveries we will explore the big questions driving modern particle physics, the study of nature's most fundamental pieces, and cosmology, the study of the evolution and nature of the universe. Questions such as: What is the universe made of? What are the most fundamental particles and how do they interact with each other? What can we learn about the history of the universe and what does it tell us about it's future? We will learn about the tools scientists use to study these questions such as the Large Hadron Collider and the Hubble Space Telescope. We will also learn to convey these complex topics in engaging and diverse terms to the general public through writing and reading assignments, oral presentations, and multimedia projects. The syllabus includes a tour of SLAC, the site of many major 20th century particle discoveries, and a virtual visit of the control room of the ATLAS experiment at CERN amongst other activities. No prior knowledge of physics is necessary; all voices are welcome to contribute to the discussion about these big ideas. Learning Goals: By the end of the quarter you will be able to explain the major questions that drive particle physics and cosmology to your friends and peers. You will understand how scientists study the impossibly small and impossibly large and be able to convey this knowledge in clear and concise terms.
Terms: Spr | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: GER: DB-NatSci, WAY-SMA | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
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