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Physics and Astronomy – Courses

Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced Courses

1082 {82} a - MCSR, INS. Physics of Musical Sound. Fall 2015. Karen Topp.

An introduction to the physics of sound, specifically relating to the production and perception of music. Topics include simple vibrating systems; waves and wave propagation; resonance; understanding intervals, scales, and tuning; sound intensity and measurement; sound spectra; how various musical instruments and the human voice work. Students expected to have some familiarity with basic musical concepts such as scales and intervals. Not open to students who have credit for a physics course numbered 1100 {100} or higher.

1083 a - MCSR, INS. Energy, Physics, and Technology. Fall 2014. Mark Battle and Madeleine Msall.

How much can we do to reduce the disruptions of the Earth’s physical, ecological, and social systems caused by global climate change? How much climate change itself can we avoid? A lot depends on the physical processes that govern the extraction, transmission, storage, and use of available energy. Introduces the physics of solar, wind, nuclear, and hydroelectric power and discusses the physical constraints on their efficiency, productivity, and safety. Reviews current technology and quantitatively analyzes the effectiveness of different strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Not open to students who have credit for Physics 1140 {104}. (Same as Environmental Studies 1083.)

1093 {93} a - MCSR. Introduction to Physical Reasoning. Fall 2014. Dale Syphers.

Climate science. Quantum Physics. Bioengineering. Rocket science. Who can understand it? Anyone with high school mathematics (geometry and algebra) can start. Getting started in physics requires an ability to mathematically describe real world objects and experiences. Prepares students for additional work in physical science and engineering by focused practice in quantitative description, interpretation, and calculation. Includes hands-on measurements, some introductory computer programming, and many questions about the physics all around us. Registration for this course is by placement only. To ensure proper placement, students must have taken the physics placement examination prior to registering for Physics 1093 {93}.

Prerequisite: Placement in Physics 1093 {93}.

1130 {103} a - MCSR, INS. Introductory Physics I. Every semester. Fall 2014. Mark Battle and Karen Topp. Spring 2015. The Department.

An introduction to the conservation laws, forces, and interactions that govern the dynamics of particles and systems. Shows how a small set of fundamental principles and interactions allow us to model a wide variety of physical situations, using both classical and modern concepts. A prime goal is to have the participants learn to actively connect the concepts with the modeling process. Three hours of laboratory work per week. To ensure proper placement, students are expected to have taken the physics placement examination prior to registering for Physics 1130 {103}.

Prerequisite: Previous credit or concurrent registration in Mathematics 1600 {161} or higher, and Physics 1093 {93}; or placement in Physics 1130, or permission of the instructor.

1140 {104} a - MCSR, INS. Introductory Physics II. Every semester. Fall 2014. Thomas Baumgarte. Spring 2015. The Department.

An introduction to the interactions of matter and radiation. Topics include the classical and quantum physics of electromagnetic radiation and its interaction with matter, quantum properties of atoms, and atomic and nuclear spectra. Laboratory work (three hours per week) includes an introduction to the use of electronic instrumentation.

Prerequisite: Physics 1130 {103} or placement in Physics 1140, and previous credit or concurrent registration in Mathematics 1700 {171}, 1750 {172}; or 1800 {181}, or permission of the instructor.

1510 {107} a - INS. Introductory Astronomy. Every spring. Spring 2015. The Department.

A quantitative introduction to astronomy with emphasis on stars and the structures they form, from binaries to galaxies. Topics include the night sky, the solar system, stellar structure and evolution, white dwarfs, neutron stars, black holes, and the expansion of the universe. Several nighttime observing sessions required. Does not satisfy pre-med or other science departments’ requirements for a second course in physics. Not open to students who have credit for Physics {62} or Physics 1560 {162}.

Prerequisite: Mathematics 1600 {161} or higher, or permission of the instructor.

2130 {223} a - INS. Electric Fields and Circuits. Every fall. Fall 2014. Dale Syphers.

The basic phenomena of the electromagnetic interaction are introduced. The basic relations are then specialized for a more detailed study of linear circuit theory. Laboratory work stresses the fundamentals of electronic instrumentation and measurement with basic circuit components such as resistors, capacitors, inductors, diodes, and transistors. Three hours of laboratory work per week.

Prerequisite: Physics 1140 {104} or permission of the instructor.

2140 {224} a - MCSR. Quantum Physics and Relativity. Every spring. Spring 2015. The Department.

An introduction to two cornerstones of twentieth-century physics: quantum mechanics and special relativity. The introduction to wave mechanics includes solutions to the time-independent Schrödinger equation in one and three dimensions with applications. Topics in relativity include the Galilean and Einsteinian principles of relativity, the “paradoxes” of special relativity, Lorentz transformations, space-time invariants, and the relativistic dynamics of particles. Not open to students who have credit for or are concurrently taking Physics 3140 {310}, or 3500 {375}.

Prerequisite: Physics 1140 {104} or permission of the instructor.

2150 {229} a. Statistical Physics. Every spring. Spring 2015. The Department.

Develops a framework capable of predicting the properties of systems with many particles. This framework, combined with simple atomic and molecular models, leads to an understanding of such concepts as entropy, temperature, and chemical potential. Some probability theory is developed as a mathematical tool.

Prerequisite: Physics 1140 {104} or permission of the instructor.

2220 {235} a. Engineering Physics. Every other spring. Spring 2016. Dale Syphers.

Examines the physics of materials from an engineering viewpoint, with attention to the concepts of stress, strain, shear, torsion, bending moments, deformation of materials, and other applications of physics to real materials, with an emphasis on their structural properties. Also covers recent advances, such as applying these physics concepts to ultra-small materials in nano-machines. Intended for physics majors and architecture students with an interest in civil or mechanical engineering or applied materials science.

Prerequisite: Physics 1140 {104} or permission of the instructor.

2230 {240} a. Modern Electronics. Every other spring. Spring 2015. Dale Syphers.

A brief introduction to the physics of semiconductors and semiconductor devices, culminating in an understanding of the structure of integrated circuits. Topics include a description of currently available integrated circuits for analog and digital applications and their use in modern electronic instrumentation. Weekly laboratory exercises with integrated circuits.

Prerequisite: Physics 1130 {103} or 1140 {104}, or permission of the instructor.

2240 {250} a - MCSR. Acoustics. Every other fall. Fall 2014. Madeleine Msall.

An introduction to the motion and propagation of sound waves. Covers selected topics related to normal modes of sound waves in enclosed spaces, noise, acoustical measurements, the ear and hearing, phase relationships between sound waves, and many others, providing a technical understanding of our aural experiences.

Prerequisite: Physics 1140 {104} or permission of the instructor.

2250 {251} a. Physics of Solids. Every other spring. Spring 2016. The Department.

Solid state physics describes the microscopic origin of the thermal, mechanical, electrical, and magnetic properties of solids. Examines trends in the behavior of materials and evaluates the success of classical and semi-classical solid state models in explaining these trends and in predicting material properties. Applications include solid state lasers, semiconductor devices, and superconductivity. Intended for physics, chemistry, or earth and oceanographic science majors with an interest in materials physics or electrical engineering.

Prerequisite: Physics 1140 {104} or permission of the instructor.

2260 {280} a. Nuclear and Particle Physics. Every other spring. Spring 2015. The Department.

An introduction to the physics of subatomic systems, with a particular emphasis on the standard model of elementary particles and their interactions. Basic concepts in quantum mechanics and special relativity are introduced as needed.

Prerequisite: Physics 2140 {224} or permission of the instructor.

2510 {262} a. Astrophysics. Every other fall. Fall 2014. Thomas Baumgarte.

A quantitative discussion that introduces the principal topics of astrophysics, including stellar structure and evolution, planetary physics, and cosmology.

Prerequisite: Physics 1140 {104} and 1510 {107}, or permission of the instructor.

2810 {257} a. Atmosphere and Ocean Dynamics. Every other fall. Fall 2015. Mark O. Battle.

A mathematically rigorous analysis of the motions of the atmosphere and oceans on a variety of spatial and temporal scales. Covers fluid dynamics in inertial and rotating reference frames, as well as global and local energy balance, applied to the coupled ocean-atmosphere system. (Same as Earth and Oceanographic Science 2810 {257} and Environmental Studies 2253 {253}.)

Prerequisite: Physics 1140 {104} or permission of the instructor.

[2900 {285}. Topics in Contemporary Physics. ]

2970–2973 {291–294} a. Intermediate Independent Study in Physics. The Department.

Topics to be arranged by the student and the faculty. If the investigations concern the teaching of physics, this course may satisfy certain of the requirements for the Maine State Teacher’s Certificate. Students doing independent study normally have completed a physics course numbered 2000–2969 {200–289}.

2999 {299} a. Intermediate Collaborative Study in Physics. The Department.

3000 {300} a. Methods of Theoretical Physics. Every fall. Fall 2014. Stephen Naculich.

Mathematics is the language of physics. Similar mathematical techniques occur in different areas of physics. A physical situation may first be expressed in mathematical terms, usually in the form of a differential or integral equation. After the formal mathematical solution is obtained, the physical conditions determine the physically viable result. Examples are drawn from heat flow, gravitational fields, and electrostatic fields.

Prerequisite: Physics 1140 {104} and Mathematics 1800 {181}, or permission of the instructor.

3010 {301} a. Methods of Experimental Physics. Every spring. Spring 2015. The Department.

Intended to provide advanced students with experience in the design, execution, and analysis of laboratory experiments. Projects in optical holography, nuclear physics, cryogenics, and materials physics are developed by the students.

Prerequisite: Physics 2130 {223} or permission of the instructor.

3020 {302} a. Methods of Computational Physics. Every other fall. Fall 2015. Thomas Baumgarte.

An introduction to the use of computers to solve problems in physics. Problems are drawn from several different branches of physics, including mechanics, hydrodynamics, electromagnetism, and astrophysics. Numerical methods discussed include the solving of linear algebra and eigenvalue problems, ordinary and partial differential equations, and Monte Carlo techniques. Basic knowledge of a programming language is expected.

Prerequisite: Physics 1140 {104} and Computer Science 1101{101}, or permission of the instructor.

3120 {370} a. Advanced Mechanics. Every other spring. Spring 2015. The Department.

A thorough review of particle dynamics, followed by the development of Lagrange’s and Hamilton’s equations and their applications to rigid body motion and the oscillations of coupled systems.

Prerequisite: Physics 3000 {300} or permission of the instructor.

3130 {320} a. Electromagnetic Theory. Every other spring. Spring 2016. The Department.

First, the Maxwell relations are presented as a natural extension of basic experimental laws; then, emphasis is given to the radiation and transmission of electromagnetic waves.

Prerequisite: Physics 2130 {223} and 3000 {300}, or permission of the instructor.

3140 {310} a. Quantum Mechanics. Every fall. Fall 2014. Stephen Naculich.

A mathematically rigorous development of quantum mechanics, emphasizing the vector space structure of the theory through the use of Dirac bracket notation. Linear algebra will be developed as needed.

Prerequisite: Physics 2140 {224} and 3000 {300}, or permission of the instructor.

3810 {357} a. The Physics of Climate. Every other spring. Spring 2015. Mark Battle.

A rigorous treatment of the earth’s climate, based on physical principles. Topics include climate feedbacks, sensitivity to perturbations, and the connections between climate and radiative transfer, atmospheric composition, and large-scale circulation of the oceans and atmospheres. Anthropogenic climate change also studied. (Same as Earth and Oceanographic Science 3050 {357} and Environmental Studies 3957 {357}.)

Prerequisite: One of the following: Physics 2150 {229}, 2810 {257} or 3000 {300}; or permission of the instructor.

4000–4003 {401–404} a. Advanced Independent Study in Physics. The Department.

Topics to be arranged by the student and the faculty. Students doing advanced independent study normally have completed a physics course at the advanced level (numbered 3000–3999 {300–399}).

4029 {405} a. Advanced Collaborative Study in Physics. The Department.

4050–4051 {451–452} a. Honors Project in Physics. The Department.

Programs of study are available in semiconductor physics, microfabrication, superconductivity and superfluidity, astrophysics, relativity, ultrasound, and atmospheric physics. Work done in these topics normally serves as the basis for an honors paper.

Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.


Online Catalogue content is current as of August 1, 2014. For most current course information, use the online course finder. Also see Addenda.