Catalog 2013-2014

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.

Restrictions in Major and Minor

Restrictions for major in Physics (B.A. degree), major in Physics (B.S. degree), major in Applied Physics (B.S. degree), and the minor in Physics: an average grade of C (2.00) is required for the three-course introductory sequence (Physics 153, 154, and 223) for them to be counted for a major or minor.

BACHELOR OF ARTS DEGREE
Major in Physics

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 DEGREE
Major in Physics

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 DEGREE
Major in 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 231, 331, 345
    • 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 311

Physics (PHYS) Undergraduate-Level Courses

PHYS 110: Astronomy - NS, SM

Stars and their evolution, galaxies and larger structures, cosmology, and the solar system. Emphasis on observational evidence. Evening observing sessions. Prerequisite: MATH 115 or equivalent by math placement exam. (4)

PHYS 125: College Physics I - NS, SM

An introduction to the fundamental topics of physics. It is a non-calculus sequence, involving only the use of trigonometry and college algebra. Concurrent registration in (or previous completion of) PHYS 135 is required. Prerequisites: MATH 128 or MATH 140 (or equivalent by placement exam) with a C- or higher. (4)

PHYS 126: College Physics II - NS, SM

An introduction to fundamental topics of physics. It is a non-calculus sequence, involving only the use of trigonometry and college algebra. Concurrent registration in (or previous completion of) PHYS 136 is required. Prerequisite: PHYS 125 with a C-or higher. (4)

PHYS 135: College Physics I Laboratory

Basic laboratory experiments are performed in conjunction with the College Physics sequence. Concurrent registration in PHYS 125 is required. (1)

PHYS 136: College Physics II Laboratory

Basic laboratory experiments are performed in conjunction with the College Physics sequence. Concurrent registration in PHYS 126 is required. (1)

PHYS 153: General Physics I - NS, SM

A calculus-level survey of the general fields of physics, including classical mechanics, wave motion, and thermodynamics. Concurrent registration in (or previous completion of) PHYS 163 is required. Concurrent registration in (or previous completion of) MATH 152 is strongly recommended. Prerequisite: MATH 151 with a C- or higher. (4)

PHYS 154: General Physics II - NS, SM

A calculus-level survey of the general fields of physics, including electricity and magnetism, and optics. Concurrent registration in (or previous completion of) PHYS 164 is required. Prerequisites: MATH 152, PHYS 153 with a C- or higher. (4)

PHYS 163: General Physics I Laboratory

Basic laboratory experiments are performed in conjunction with the General Physics sequence. Concurrent registration in PHYS 153 is required. (1)

PHYS 164: General Physics II Laboratory

Basic laboratory experiments are performed in conjunction with the General Physics sequence. Concurrent registration in PHYS 154 is required. (1)

PHYS 190: FYEP190: Inquiry Seminar

A four-credit seminar to introduce students to the methods and topics of study within a particular academic discipline or field. Students practice the academic skills that are at the center of the General Education Program. (4)

PHYS 210: Musical Acoustics - NS, SM

A study of sound and music using physical methods; vibrating systems; simple harmonic motion; wave motion; complex waves and Fourier synthesis; wave generation in musical instruments; physiology of hearing; architectural acoustics; electronic recording and amplification. Includes weekly laboratory. No prerequisites in physics or mathematics beyond the PLU entrance requirements are assumed. (4)

PHYS 221: Waves and Fluids

A systematic introduction to waves and fluids under the unifying theme of physics of continuous systems. The course covers harmonic oscillations and waves in their most common physical realizations: mechanical, electromagnetic, and quantum. It discusses the statics and dynamics of ideal and viscous fluids, and some topics from nonlinear dynamics. Prerequisites: PHYS 153, 154 (or permission of instructor), MATH 151, 152. Co-requisite: MATH 253.

PHYS 223: Elementary Modern Physics

A selected treatment of various physical phenomena that are inadequately described by classical methods of physics. Interpretations that have been developed for these phenomena since approximately 1900 are presented at an elementary level. Prerequisites: PHYS 154 and MATH 253. (4)

PHYS 240: Engineering Statics

Engineering statics using vector algebra; equilibrium of rigid bodies; equivalent force and movement systems; centroids and center of gravity; trusses and frames; methods of virtual work; shear and bending moment diagrams; moments of inertia. Prerequisite: PHYS 153. (4)

PHYS 287: Special Topics in Physics

To provide undergraduate students with new, one-time, and developing courses not yet available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as ST: followed by the specific title designated by the academic unit. (1 to 4)

PHYS 288: Special Topics in Physics

To provide undergraduate students with new, one-time, and developing courses not yet available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as ST: followed by the specific title designated by the academic unit. (1 to 4)

PHYS 289: Special Topics in Physics

To provide undergraduate students with new, one-time, and developing courses not yet available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as ST: followed by the specific title designated by the academic unit. (1 to 4)

PHYS 291: Directed Study

To provide individual undergraduate students with introductory study not available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as DS: followed by the specific title designated by the student. (1 to 4)

PHYS 331: Electromagnetic Theory

Electrostatics, dipole fields, fields in dielectric materials, electromagnetic induction, and magnetic properties of matter, in conjunction with the development of Maxwell's equations. Prerequisites: PHYS 153, 154 and MATH 253. (4)

PHYS 332: Electromagnetic Waves and Physical Optics

Proceeding from Maxwell's equations, the generation and propagation of electromagnetic waves is developed with particular emphasis on their application to physical optics. Prerequisite: PHYS 331 with a c- or higher. (4)

PHYS 333: Engineering Thermodynamics

Classical, macroscopic thermodynamics with applications to physics, engineering, and chemistry. Thermodynamic state variables, cycles, and potentials; flow and non-flow systems; pure substances, mixtures, and solutions; phase transitions; introduction to statistical thermodynamics. Prerequisites: PHYS 153 and MATH 253. (4)

PHYS 334: Engineering Materials Science

Fundamentals of engineering materials including mechanical, chemical, thermal, and electrical properties associated with metals, polymers, composites, and alloys. Focus on how useful material properties can be engineered through control of microstructure. Prerequisites: PHYS 154, CHEM 115. (4)

PHYS 336: Classical Mechanics

Applications of differential equations to particle dynamics; rigid body dynamics; including the inertia tensor and Euler's equations; calculus of variations; Lagrange's equations and the Hamiltonian formulation of mechanics; symmetries and conservation laws. Prerequisities: PHYS 154 and MATH 253. (4)

PHYS 354: Mathematical Physics I

Ordinary differential equations, Laplace transforms, functions of a complex variable, and contour integration are developed in the context of examples from the fields of electromagnetism, waves, transport, vibrations, and mechanics. Prerequisites: PHYS 154 and MATH 253, or MATH 253 and enrollment in PHYS 154, or permission of the instructor. (4)

PHYS 356: Mathematical Physics II

Fourier analysis, boundary-value problems, special functions, and eigenvalue problems are developed and illustrated through applications in physics. Prerequisite: PHYS 354. (4)

PHYS 387: Special Topics in Physics

To provide undergraduate students with new, one-time, and developing courses not yet available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as ST: followed by the specific title designated by the academic unit. (1 to 4)

PHYS 388: Special Topics in Physics

To provide undergraduate students with new, one-time, and developing courses not yet available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as ST: followed by the specific title designated by the academic unit. (1 to 4)

PHYS 389: Special Topics in Physics

To provide undergraduate students with new, one-time, and developing courses not yet available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as ST: followed by the specific title designated by the academic unit. (1 to 4)

PHYS 401: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics

The ideas and techniques of quantum mechanics are developed. Prerequisites: PHYS 223 and 356, or permission of the instructor. (4)

PHYS 487: Special Topics in Physics

To provide undergraduate students with new, one-time, and developing courses not yet available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as ST: followed by the specific title designated by the academic unit. (1 to 4)

PHYS 488: Special Topics in Physics

To provide undergraduate students with new, one-time, and developing courses not yet available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as ST: followed by the specific title designated by the academic unit. (1 to 4)

PHYS 489: Special Topics in Physics

To provide undergraduate students with new, one-time, and developing courses not yet available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as ST: followed by the specific title designated by the academic unit. (1 to 4)

PHYS 491: Independent Studies

To provide individual undergraduate students with advanced study not available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as IS: followed by the specific title designated by the student. (1 to 4)

PHYS 495: Internship

To permit undergraduate students to relate theory and practice in a work situation. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as Intern: followed by the specific title designated by the instructor in consultation with the student. (1 to 12)

PHYS 499A: Capstone: Advanced Lab - SR

Selected experiments from both classical and modern physics are performed using state of the art instrumentation. With 499B meets the senior seminar/project requirement. Prerequisites: PHYS 223; two upper-division courses in physics, one of which may be taken concurrently with 499A. (1)

PHYS 499B: Capstone: Advanced Lab II - SR

Continuation of PHYS 499A with emphasis on design and implementation of a project under the guidance of the physics staff. With PHYS 499A meets the senior seminar/project requirement. Prerequisite: PHYS 499A. (1)