Major,

Minor

Physics & Astronomy

Explore and discover the origin and evolution of the expanding universe that surrounds us, and the processes that created the “star dust” of which we are composed. Find out what really happens when you travel into a black hole and hear the latest discoveries from the Mars Rover! This course provides a descriptive study of the origin and evolution of the universe and the nature of the solar system, the stars and galactic systems.

Explore and discover the origin and evolution of the expanding universe that surrounds us, and the processes that created the “star dust” of which we are composed. Find out what really happens when you travel into a black hole and hear the latest discoveries from the Mars Rover! This course provides a descriptive study of the origin and evolution of the universe and the nature of the solar system, the stars and galactic systems. Lab.

How can we understand the complexities of motion? What determines the arc of a basketball free-throw, or how can we model blood pressure in the humans? This course develops concepts of force, momentum and energy and applies them to a variety of phenomena ranging from the motion of elementary particles to the motion of the planets. High school algebra and trigonometry are used. Lab.

What dictates the complexities of motion? How can we use physics to understand energy issues or medical biophysics? To control the path of a probe launched to rendezvous with Mars? This course develops concepts of force, momentum, energy and heat, and applies them to a variety of phenomena ranging from the motion of elementary particles to the motion of the planets. Throughout, we consider colonialism's impact on physics, and what it would mean to decolonise physics. Lab.

You can change the direction of a baseball's motion by hitting it, but how do you curve light's motion to form the image on your retina? How can you move a beam of electrons without touching them? This course extends concepts like force and energy to realms that we cannot experience by touch. This course investigates the nature of electrostatics, electrical currents, magnetism, waves and optics, as well as a few concepts from modern Physics. Lab.

How is electricity created or lightning modeled? What is the fundamental nature of light? How can we use mirrors to create three-dimensional images? In this course, electrostatics, electromagnetism, electric and magnetic fields, waves and optics are treated using analytical techniques of calculus and vector analysis. Lab.

Studying our universe and the gas, stars, and galaxies within it provides insight into physical processes at the extremes of physical scales. This includes phenomena from the subatomic level to scales spanning the visible universe, at extremes of temperature, denisty, and energy, with relevant timescales of 10^-35 seconds to billions of years. This course will apply students' knowledge of physics and mathematical methods to exploration of the processes that govern the formation of evolution of stars, galaxies, and the universe as a whole.

Few ideas stretch the imagination or challenge the intuition as much as Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. In this course, you'll investigate special relativity, quantum Physics, atomic and nuclear Physics with elementary classical Physics as a foundation. In the study of special relativity, students will reason through the implications of Einstein's postulate and find how the predictions of his theory can be put to experimental tests. Elementary quantum mechanics, on the other hand, will show how scientists have sometimes had to change their conceptual framework when confronted with phenomena that cannot fit into an earlier paradigm. Lab.

This is a laboratory-oriented course dealing with analog and digital circuits. Circuit theory is developed for diodes, transistors, operational amplifiers and integrated circuits. These components are used to construct a range of devices, including power supplies, oscillators, amplifiers and logic circuits. Laboratory work will allow students to gain an operational understanding of these basic concepts. Skills debugging, circuit building, and reading circuit diagrams will be stressed. Lab.

Explores experimental techniques, such as programming and machining, associated with advanced undergraduate physics courses. Studying a wide range of physical phenomena, students will be exposed to a wide variety of experimental techniques. Emphasizing individual initiative and deep investigation, students will be able to direct their work to areas or questions of particular interest. Students develop skills in communicating scientific results in journal article format as well as through oral and poster presentations. Lab.

Applies mathematical techniques to the study of physical systems. Examines topics such as vector analysis, complex variables, Fourier series and boundary value problems. These topics are studied in the context of modeling and understanding physical systems. Students will see how individual techniques, once developed, can be applied to very broad classes of problems. This course develops skills in communicating scientific results in written form as well as in an oral presentation.

Examines basic concepts of thermodynamics such as internal energy, heat, work, temperature, reversibility and entropy. This course shows how the application of a few basic concepts from probability and statistics can elucidate a wide range of phenomena such as the kinetic theory of gases, osmotic pressure and changes in equilibrium states cause by variations in pressure or temperature. Quantum applications include Planck's theory of blackbody radiation and statistics for identical particles.

Examines statics and dynamics of particles, rigid bodies and continuous media, along with Lagrangian mechanics and normal coordinates. Students will extend their ability to analyze mechanical systems through math techniques such as differential equations, Fourier series, and solutions to systems of linear equations. Approximation techniques are introduced for dealing with systems for which no analytical solution is possible.

The development and application of electromagnetic field theory. This course covers material from PHYS 235 in greater detail, deepening the level of application of mathematical approaches that are useful in a wide range of Physics subjects, such as divergence, curl and Fourier techniques. The core of the course, Maxwell's equations, expresses the fundamental interrelationship between electric and magnetic phenomena, as well as radiation theory and an understanding of behavior of light.

An introduction to the techniques, problems and interpretation of quantum mechanics. The quantum conditions, Schrodinger's equation and other formulations are applied to the rectangular potential well, the harmonic oscillator and the hydrogen atom. Also considers perturbation theory, identical particles and multiparticle systems. Students will gain familiarity with quantum systems, and the implications of quantum theory. Mathematical skills such as integrating Gaussian functions and partial differential equations will be developed.

Students and faculty meet to discuss topics of current interest in physics. These topics focus either on some area of Physics or on an area in which Physics overlaps with other disciplines.

Collaborative research funded by Faculty/Student Research Fund.

Majors must successfully complete comprehensive examinations during the Senior year. Offered both semesters.

Notice of Nondiscriminatory Policy as to Students

Earlham admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.

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