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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 more »
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. In order to register for this class students must EITHER have already taken an introductory Physics class (20, 40, or 60 sequence) or have taken the Physics Placement Diagnostic at https://physics.stanford.edu/academics/undergraduate-students/placement-diagnostic. 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

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.
Last offered: Summer 2019 | UG Reqs: GER: DB-NatSci, WAY-AQR, WAY-SMA

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. In order to register for this class students must EITHER have already taken an introductory Physics class (20, 40, or 60 sequence) or have taken the Physics Placement Diagnostic at https://physics.stanford.edu/academics/undergraduate-students/placement-diagnostic. 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

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. Pre- or corequisite: MATH 52 or MATH 62CM.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER: DB-NatSci, WAY-FR, WAY-SMA

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 thermodynamics 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. Topics related to quantum mechanics include: atoms, electrons, nuclei. Experimental evidence for physics that is not explained by classical mechanics and E&M. 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. Particle-in-a-box, simple harmonic oscillator, barrier penetration, tunneling. Topics related to thermodynamics: limitations of classical mechanics in describing systems with a very large number of particles. Ideal gas, equipartition, heat capacity, definition of temperature, entropy. Brief introduction to kinetic theory and statistical mechanics. Maxwell speed distribution, ideal gas in a box. Laws of thermodynamics. Cycles, heat engines, free energy. Prerequisites: PHYSICS 61 & PHYSICS 63.
Terms: Sum | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER: DB-NatSci, WAY-FR, WAY-SMA
Instructors: Gratta, G. (PI)

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

PHYSICS 83N: Physics in the 21st Century

Preference to freshmen. This course provides an in-depth examination of frontiers of physics research, including fundamental physics, cosmology, and physics of the future. Questions such as: What is the universe made of? What is the nature of space, time, and matter? What can we learn about the history of the universe and what does it tell us about its future? A large part of 20th century was defined by revolutions in physics ¿ everyday applications of electromagnetism, relativity, and quantum mechanics. What other revolutions can physics bring to human civilization in the 21st century? What is quantum computing? What can physics say about consciousness? What does it take to visit other parts of the solar system, or even other stars? nnWe 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. No prior knowledge of physics is necessary; all voices are welcome more »
Preference to freshmen. This course provides an in-depth examination of frontiers of physics research, including fundamental physics, cosmology, and physics of the future. Questions such as: What is the universe made of? What is the nature of space, time, and matter? What can we learn about the history of the universe and what does it tell us about its future? A large part of 20th century was defined by revolutions in physics ¿ everyday applications of electromagnetism, relativity, and quantum mechanics. What other revolutions can physics bring to human civilization in the 21st century? What is quantum computing? What can physics say about consciousness? What does it take to visit other parts of the solar system, or even other stars? nnWe 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. 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 physics research 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: Aut | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: GER: DB-NatSci, WAY-SMA
Instructors: Kuo, C. (PI)

PHYSICS 95Q: The Philosophies of Three Great Physicists

Richard Feynman has famously said, Philosophy of science is about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds. A closer look at key moments in the history of physics, however, reveals a different picture. Contrary to the misconception that philosophy has nothing to offer to science in general, and physics in particular, watershed moments in the development of physics were inspired and motivated by deeply held philosophical principles. Similarly, important developments in physics have generated important and difficult philosophical questions. In this sophomore seminar we will explore three significant moments in the development of physics surrounding the works of Newton, Einstein, and Bohr. We will analyze the relationship between the prevailing philosophical views they espoused and the physics they produced. How did Newton come to the view of absolute and fixed space and time? What led Einstein to reject the notion of a fixed space and time and propose a relativistic, and even d more »
Richard Feynman has famously said, Philosophy of science is about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds. A closer look at key moments in the history of physics, however, reveals a different picture. Contrary to the misconception that philosophy has nothing to offer to science in general, and physics in particular, watershed moments in the development of physics were inspired and motivated by deeply held philosophical principles. Similarly, important developments in physics have generated important and difficult philosophical questions. In this sophomore seminar we will explore three significant moments in the development of physics surrounding the works of Newton, Einstein, and Bohr. We will analyze the relationship between the prevailing philosophical views they espoused and the physics they produced. How did Newton come to the view of absolute and fixed space and time? What led Einstein to reject the notion of a fixed space and time and propose a relativistic, and even dynamic space-time? What is Bohr's influential doctrine of complementary, and why did several generations of physicists believe it to be an adequate philosophical response to quantum mechanics? We will see that the relationship between philosophy and physics is more similar to the relationship between mathematics and physics where progress in one area is often preceded and followed by progress in the second.
Last offered: Winter 2017 | UG Reqs: WAY-SMA

PHYSICS 96N: Harmony and the Universe

Harmony is a multifaceted concept that has profoundly connects music, mathematics, physics, philosophy, physiology, and psychology. We will explore the evolution of our understanding of harmony and its immediate application in the function of musical instruments, and employ it as a nexus to understand its role in revolutionary scientific advances in gravity, relativity, quantum mechanics, and cosmology. In these explorations, we will examine some of the fundamental mathematical tools which provide us our current understanding of harmony. We will also see how the some concepts surrounding harmony are in tension, if not conflict, and how some great thinkers have followed them down down blind alleys and dead ends. The aim of the course is to show the enormous consequences of harmony in the evolution of our understanding of the universe, and how science itself progresses in fits, starts, and setbacks as old ideas intermingle with new developments. We will also see how objective/quantitative aspects of harmony interact with subjective/qualitative considerations, and how cultural perspectives and prejudices can affect the progression of science.
Terms: Sum | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: WAY-SMA
Instructors: Tanaka, H. (PI)

PHYSICS 100: Introduction to Observational Astrophysics

Designed for undergraduate physics majors but open to all students with a calculus-based physics background and some laboratory and coding experience. Students make and analyze observations using the telescopes at the Stanford Student Observatory. Topics covered include navigating the night sky, the physics of stars and galaxies, telescope instrumentation and operation, imaging and spectroscopic techniques, quantitative error analysis, and effective scientific communication. The course concludes with an independent project where student teams propose and execute an observational astronomy project of their choosing, using techniques learned in class to gather and analyze their data, and presenting their findings in the forms of professional-style oral presentations and research papers. Enrollment by permission. To get a permission number please complete form: https://forms.gle/kXzpiMSRLjWKqY826. If you have not heard from us by the beginning of class, please come to the first class session.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER: DB-NatSci, WAY-AQR, WAY-SMA
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