Catalog 2012-2013

Physics

253.535.7534
www.plu.edu/physics
physics@plu.edu

Physics is the scientific study of the material universe at its most fundamental level: the mathematical description of space and time and the behavior of matter from the elementary particles to the universe as a whole. A physicist might study the inner workings of atoms and nuclei, the size and age of the universe, the behavior of high-temperature superconductors, or the life cycles of stars.

Physicists use high-energy accelerators to search for quarks; they design new laser systems for applications in medicine and communications; they heat hydrogen gases to temperatures higher than the sun's core in the attempt to develop nuclear fusion as an energy resource. From astrophysics to nuclear physics to optics and crystal structure, physics encompasses some of the most fundamental and exciting ideas ever considered.

PHYSICS MAJOR

The physics major offers a challenging program emphasizing a low student-faculty ratio and the opportunity to engage in independent research projects. There are two introductory course sequences, College Physics and General Physics; the General Physics sequence incorporates calculus and is required for all majors and the minor.

BACHELOR OF ARTS MAJOR
44 semester hours

  • PHYS 153, 154, 163, 164, 223, 499A, 499B
  • Plus: 12 additional, upper-division semester hours in physics.
  • Required supporting courses: MATH 151, 152, 253; CSCE 144

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE MAJOR
56 semester hours

  • PHYS 153, 154, 163, 164, 223, 331, 332, 333, 336, 354, 356, 499A, 499B
  • Strongly recommended: PHYS 401
  • Chemistry 341 may be substituted for PHYS 333
  • Required supporting courses:
    • CHEM 115; MATH 151, 152, 253

A typical B.S. physics major program is as follows:

  • First Year: PHYS 153, 163; MATH 151, 152
  • Sophomore Year: PHYS 154, 164, 223, 354; MATH 253
  • Junior Year: PHYS 331, 332, 336, 356; CHEM 115
  • Senior Year: PHYS 333, 401, 499A, 499B

MINOR
22 semester hours

  • PHYS 153; 154; 163; 164; 223
  • Plus: 8 additional semester hours in physics (excluding PHYS 110), of which at least 4 hours must be upper division.

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE MAJOR APPLIED PHYSICS
70 semester hours


Also available is a major in Applied Physics, which includes a substantial selection of courses from engineering to provide a challenging and highly versatile degree. Applied Physics can lead to research or advanced study in such areas as robotics— with application in space exploration or joint and limb prosthetics; growth of single-crystal metals, which would be thousands of times stronger than the best steels now available; mechanics of material failure, such as metal fatigue and fracture; turbulence in fluid flow; photovoltaic cell research for solar energy development; or applications of fluid flow and thermodynamics to the study of planetary atmospheres and ocean currents.


While many Applied Physics graduates pursue professional careers in industry immediately after graduation from PLU, the program also provides excellent preparation for graduate study in nearly all fields of engineering.

  • PHYS 153, 154, 163, 164, 223, 331, 334, 354, 356, 499A, 499B
  • CSCE 131
  • Plus: four courses, one of which must be upper division, selected from:
    • CSCE 245*, 331, 345, 346**
    • PHYS 210, 221, 240, 333
    • PHYS 336 may be substituted for PHYS 240
    • CHEM 341 may be substituted for PHYS 333
  • Required supporting courses:
    • CHEM 115; CSCE 144; MATH 151, 152, 253

A typical applied physics program is as follows:

  • First Year: PHYS 153, 163; CSCE 131; MATH 151, 152
  • Sophomore Year: PHYS 154, 164, 221, 354; MATH 253
  • Junior Year: PHYS 223, 333, 356; CHEM 115; CSCE 144
  • Senior Year: PHYS 240, 331, 334, 499A, 499B; CSCE 245*

*CSCE 245 becomes 331 in Spring 2013
**CSCE 346 becomes 231 in Spring 2013