Professors Saeta (Chair), Chen, Donnelly, Doret (fall 2013), Eckert, Esin, Gerbode, Haskell, Lynn, Lyzenga, Sahakian, Sparks and Townsend.
The physics program at Harvey Mudd College provides depth and breadth in both classical and modern physics through lecture-discussion courses, laboratories and joint student-faculty research. The program is designed to serve as a strong foundation for graduate work or employment in physics and other technical fields.
A set of core courses is required of all physics majors; in addition, a variety of elective courses enable students to select a program to suit their interests and their educational and employment objectives. Laboratory courses in both introductory and advanced physics include experience with electronics, classical and modern optics, solid-state physics, and atomic and nuclear physics. Special courses and reading courses provide the opportunity for study in advanced areas normally offered only in graduate programs.
Each student is encouraged to do individual experimental or theoretical research in an area of his/her special interest, in conjunction with a faculty member. Current student-faculty research areas include observational astronomy, astrophysics, biophysics, computational physics, field theory, general relativity and cosmology, geophysics, laser and high-energy density physics, magnetism, particle physics, quantum optics, quantum theory, soft-matter physics and solid-state physics. In some of the optional programs, physics majors may elect to do research in biology or chemistry or participate in Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics or Physics Clinic team projects.
A physics major must satisfactorily complete the following courses: Physics 52, 54, 111, 116, 133, 134, 151, 195 (taken twice), 196 (taken twice), and Mathematics 115 or 180. In addition, a physics major must satisfactorily complete the courses in one of the sets listed below. The first set constitutes the standard program in physics, but majors with a particular interest in one of the physics-related fields may substitute that set of courses for the standard program. A final oral and written report of completed research, Clinic or independent project work is required for all physics majors. The Physics 195/196 Colloquium requirement is waived for any semester during which a student is away on a study abroad program.
Two half-courses; Physics 117, 181; and at least 3 units of Physics 191-192.
Physics 117; two physics half-courses; Physics 181; and 3 units of Physics 191-192 or an approved Clinic.
Astronomy 62; Physics 117; Physics 181 or Astronomy 101; two astronomy or physics half-courses; and at least 3 units of Physics 191-192.
Physics 174; Physics 181 or an approved biology laboratory; three of the following—two approved biology courses, Physics 117, Chemistry 56; and at least 3 units of Physics 191-192 or Biology 161-162.
Chemistry 51; Physics 117; Physics 161; Chemistry 168; Physics 181 or an approved chemistry laboratory; and at least 3 units of Physics 191-192 or Chemistry 151-152.
Education 170G at Claremont Graduate University, to be taken in the junior year or earlier; 3 units of Physics 183-184; and 9 units of approved technical electives to add breadth. Recommended courses include Astronomy 62; Physics 166; Physics 170 or Computer Science 60; Biology 108; and Chemistry 51 or 103.
Physics 154 or 117; 166; 181; and at least 3 units of Physics 191-192 and one approved geology course.
One physics half-course; Physics 117 or Physics 154, two additional courses, to be chosen from Physics 117, Physics 154, and mathematics courses numbered 100 or higher that are not included in the physics major requirements; and at least 3 units of Physics 191-192 or Mathematics 197 or an approved Clinic. Note: Physics 170 can be substituted for Physics 133 in this option provided Physics 170 is not used to meet the physics half-course requirement.
Physics and Computers
Physics 117 or two physics half-courses; Physics 170; Computer Science 60; at least 3 units of Physics 191-192 or an approved Clinic; two electives chosen from Mathematics 165, Engineering 155, or any computer science course numbered 70 or higher. Students planning a career or graduate studies in computer applications to problems in physics or engineering would particularly benefit from Physics 117 and Mathematics 165. Students planning graduate studies in computer science should take Computer Science 105 and additional computer science courses as time permits.
Changes in any of the above programs may be made by petition to the Department of Physics.
Most physics majors go on to graduate work in physics; allied fields such as astronomy, biophysics, geophysics, oceanography and optics; or applied areas such as computer science, electronics or engineering. Others undertake advanced study in medicine or law, or seek immediate employment in a variety of technical fields. Students who intend to go on to graduate study are advised to include Physics 154 and either Physics 161 or 168 in their program.
(Credit hours follow course title)
18. Fundamentals of Mechanics (0.5)
Gerbode, Saeta, staff. Problem-solving strategies and practice for students in Physics 24. (Spring)
22. Physics Laboratory (1)
Gerbode, staff. This course emphasizes the evidence-based approach to understanding the physical world; students design, conduct, and interpret experiments to give quantitative answers to physical questions. Topics are drawn from a broad range of physics subjects, with applications to other technical fields. (Fall and Spring)
23. Special Relativity (1.5)
Esin,Townsend, staff. Time dilation, length contraction, Lorentz transformations, spacetime, relativistic momentum and energy; conservation laws. (Fall)
24. Mechanics and Wave Motion (3)
Gerbode, Saeta, staff. Kinematics, dynamics, linear and angular momentum, work and energy, harmonic motion, waves and sound. (Spring)
31. What's the Matter? (3)
Sparks. Students will examine ordinary objects and discuss what aspects of their composition determine their usefulness. The class will discuss how materials are described, classified, and tested, and look at them from the perspectives of physics, chemistry, materials science, geology, economics and psychology.
51. Electromagnetic Theory and Optics (3)
Donnelly, Townsend, staff. An introduction to electricity and magnetism leading to Maxwell’s electromagnetic equations in differential and integral form. Selected topics in classical and quantum optics. Prerequisites: Physics 23-24 and Mathematics 60, or concurrently. (Fall)
52. Quantum Physics (3)
Townsend. The development and formulation of quantum mechanics, and the application of quantum mechanics to topics in atomic, solid state, nuclear and particle physics. Prerequisites: Physics 51 and Mathematics 65. (Spring)
54. Modern Physics Laboratory (1)
Saeta, staff. Classical experiments of modern physics, including thermal radiation and Rutherford scattering. Nuclear physics experiments, including alpha, beta and gamma absorption, and gamma spectra by pulse height analysis. Analysis of the buildup and decay of radioactive nuclei. Prerequisites: Physics 22, Physics 52 or concurrently. (Spring)
80. Topics in Physics (3)
Saeta. An area of physics is studied, together with its applications and social impact. Possible areas include energy and the environment, climate change and sustainability. Active participation and group activities are stressed. Prerequisite: Physics 51. (Spring)
111. Theoretical Mechanics (3)
Saeta. The application of mathematical methods to the study of particles and of systems of particles; Newton, Lagrange and Hamilton equations of motion; conservation theorems; central force motion, collisions, damped oscillators, rigid body dynamics, systems with constraints, variational methods. Prerequisites: Physics 23-24 and Mathematics 25 and 45. (Fall)
116. Quantum Mechanics (3)
Staff. The elements of nonrelativistic quantum mechanics. Topics include the general formalism, one-dimensional and three-dimensional problems, angular momentum states, perturbation theory and identical particles. Applications to atomic and nuclear systems. Prerequisites: Physics 52. (Spring)
117. Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics (3)
Sahakian. Classical and quantum statistical mechanics, including their connection with thermodynamics. Kinetic theory of gases. Applications of these concepts to various physical systems. Prerequisites: Physics 52 and Mathematics 35. (Fall)
133. Electronics Laboratory (1)
Chen, Connolly,Sparks. An intermediate laboratory in electronics involving the construction and analysis of rectifiers, filters, transistor and operational amplifier circuits. Prerequisite: Physics 54. (Fall)
134. Optics Laboratory (2)
Haskell. A laboratory-lecture course on the techniques and theory of classical and modern optics. Topics of study include diffraction, interferometry, Fourier transform spectroscopy, grating spectroscopy, lasers, quantum mechanics and quantum optics, coherence of waves, and least-squares fitting of data. Prerequisites: Physics 51, 54. (Spring)
151. Electromagnetic Fields (3)
Eckert. The theory of static and dynamic electromagnetic fields. Topics include multipole fields, Laplace’s equation, the propagation of electromagnetic waves, radiation phenomena and the interaction of the electromagnetic field with matter. Prerequisites: Physics 111 or 116 and Mathematics 115. (Fall)
154. Fields and Waves (3)
Lyzenga. The theory of deformable media. Field equations for elastic and fluid media and for conducting fluids in electromagnetic fields. Particular emphasis on body and surface wave solutions of the field equations. Prerequisite: Mathematics 115. (Spring)
161. Topics in Quantum Theory (2)
Townsend. Scattering, including the Born approximation and partial wave expansion. Path integrals. Time-dependent perturbation theory. Quantum theory of the electromagnetic field. Prerequisite: Physics 116. (Fall)
162. Solid State Physics (2)
Sparks. Selected topics in solid-state physics, including lattice structure, lattice excitations, and the motion and excitations of electrons in metals. Prerequisite: Physics 117 or equivalent. (Spring)
164. Particle Physics (2)
Townsend. Topics in high-energy physics including the fundamental interactions, space-time symmetries, isospin, SU(3) and the quark model, and the Standard Model. Prerequisite: Physics 116. (Spring)
166. Geophysics (2)
Lyzenga. Special topics in geophysical methods and their application to construction of earth models. Prerequisite: Physics 23-24. (Spring)
168. Electrodynamics (2)
Eckert. Selected topics in electrodynamics including wave propagation in material media. Prerequisite: Physics 151. (Spring)
170. Computational Methods in Physics (2)
Sahakian. Typical numerical methods for solving a wide range of problems of current interest in physics. Examples are drawn from mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, solid state and chemical physics. Prerequisites: Physics 52 and the ability to program. (Spring)
172. General Relativity and Cosmology (2)
Sahakian. The principle of equivalence, Riemannian geometry, and the Schwarzschild and cosmological solutions of the field equations. Prerequisite: Physics 111 or permission of instructor. (Spring)
174. Biophysics (2) (Also cross-listed as Biology 174)
Gerbode. Selected topics in biolocomotion focusing on active research in the field. Possible topics include: bacteria motility, insect flight, water-walking, plant motions and slithering. Seminar format emphasizing oral presentations and group discussion. Prerequisites: Biology 52, Physics 51. (Spring)
178. Special Topics in Physics (1-2)
Staff. The study of an area in physics not covered in other courses, chosen each year at the discretion of the Department of Physics. Prerequisites: Depend upon the topic offered.
181. Advanced Laboratory (2)
Haskell. Experiments are selected from the fields of nuclear and solid-state physics, biophysics, quantum mechanics and quantum optics, and atomic, molecular and optical physics. Fast-time coincidence instrumentation and photon-counting detectors are employed, as well as an x-ray machine and a UV/VIS/NIR spectrophotometer. Prerequisite: Physics 134. (Fall)
183, 184. Teaching Internship (3)
Saeta. An Introduction to K-12 classroom teaching and curriculum development. Internship includes supervision by an appropriate K-12 teacher and a member of the physics department and should result in a report of a laboratory experiment, teaching module, or other education innovation or investigation. Internship includes a minimum of three hours per week of classroom participation. Prerequisite: Education 170G at Claremont Graduate University, or corequisite by permission of instructor. (Fall and Spring)
191, 192. Research (1-3)
Staff. Original experimental or theoretical investigations in physics undertaken in consultation with a faculty member. Projects may be initiated by the student or by a faculty member. Present faculty research areas include astronomy, atomic and nuclear physics, optics, solid-state and low-temperature physics, general relativity, quantum mechanics, particle physics, geophysics and biophysics. (Fall and Spring)
193, 194. Physics Clinic (3)
Donnelly, Haskell. Team projects in applied physics, with corporate affiliation. Prerequisite: Upper-division standing. (Fall and Spring)
195, 196. Physics Colloquium (0.5)
Gerbode. Oral presentations and discussions of selected topics, including recent developments. Participants include physics majors, faculty members and visiting speakers. Required for all junior and senior physics majors. No more than 2.0 units of credit can be earned for colloquium. Pass/No Credit grading. (Fall and Spring)
197, 198. Readings in Physics (1-3)
Staff. Directed reading in selected topics. 1-3 credit hours per semester. (Fall and Spring)
62. Introduction to Astrophysics (3)
Esin. A general survey of modern astrophysics. Topics covered include electromagnetic radiation, gravitation, stellar structure and evolution, the interstellar medium and the birth of stars, supernovae and the death of stars (including the physics of neutron stars and black holes), synthesis of the elements, and the formation, structure and evolution of galaxies and of the universe. Offered jointly with Pomona and Joint Sciences. Prerequisite: Physics 51 or equivalent. (Spring)
101. Observational Astronomy (3)
Staff. Complete survey of the techniques of observational astronomy, including optical, infrared, radio and X-ray astronomy. Four to six observational projects, including observations using The Claremont Colleges Table Mountain Observatory, plus computer projects analyzing radio and infrared data. Observational techniques used include CCD photometry, stellar spectroscopy, radio interferometry and analysis of infrared satellite data. In addition to observational techniques, the course will also cover the physics of basic emission mechanisms at the various wavelengths. Offered jointly with Pomona and Joint Sciences. Prerequisite: Astronomy 62 or permission of the instructor. (Fall)
120. Star Formation and the Interstellar Medium (2)
Staff. A survey of formation of stars and planets in the universe, the galactic interstellar medium, and the theoretical and observational aspects of understanding the physical state of matter in the galaxy. Topics include formation and detection of extrasolar planets and protostars, radio and infrared diagnostics of star forming regions and interstellar clouds, optical emission and absorption-line studies of the interstellar medium, and the role of supernovae in evolution of the interstellar medium and star formation. Offered jointly with Pomona and Joint Sciences. Prerequisites: Astronomy 62, Physics 52 or equivalent. (Offered alternate years; Spring)
121. Cosmology and Extragalactic Astrophysics (2)
Staff. Examines the large-scale structures of the universe and the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang to the present epoch. Topics include alternate cosmologies, dark matter, cosmic background radiation, and formation and evolution of galaxies and clusters of galaxies. Offered jointly with Pomona and Joint Sciences. Prerequisites: Astronomy 62, Physics 52 or equivalent. (Offered alternate years; Spring)
122. High Energy Astrophysics (2)
Esin. A survey of the physical processes and astrophysical systems that produce high-energy photons and presents a survey of the new ultraviolet, x-ray and gamma-ray observations. Topics include active galactic nuclei, black holes, neutron stars, supernova remnants and cosmic rays. Offered jointly with Pomona and Joint Sciences. Prerequisites: Astronomy 62, Physics 52 or equivalent. (Offered alternate years; Spring)
123. Stellar Structure and Evolution (2)
Staff. A rigorous treatment of stellar atmospheres and radiative transfer. Topics include spectral line formation, stellar energy generation, evolution on and away from the main sequence, and the internal structures of stars and other self-gravitating objects. Offered jointly with Pomona and Joint Sciences. Prerequisites: Astronomy 62, Physics 52 or equivalent. (Offered alternate years; Spring)
124. Planetary Astrophysics (2)
Staff. The physics and chemistry of the planets, their natural satellites and the small bodies of the solar system. Topics include evolution and dynamics of planetary atmospheres; planetary interiors, alteration processes on planetary surfaces; the formation and dynamics of the solar system, evolution of small bodies and extra-solar systems. Half-course. Prerequisites: Astronomy 62. Offered jointly with HMC and Joint Sciences. (Offered alternate years; Spring)