PH302 (Modern Physics) Fall 2010
Goals of Modern Physics
Modern Physics manages to wreak havoc on the formalisms of classical physics!
As in all physics courses, the goal is to gain a deep understand of matter and
energy. There are three parts to the course: First, Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, which upended our beloved ideas of space and time
as set down by Galileo and Newton; second,
Introductory Quantum Mechanics, which revolutionized our ideas about matter, especially on the small scale, and third, some
Statistical Physics, as applied to certain important physical systems (e.g. black bodies, solids)
Energy and momentum survive the transition as suitably
generalized ideas; wave theory is every bit as useful; statistical thinking becomes prominent.
Topics of study
The course lecture schedule may be found at
Relativity [Chapters 1 & 2] has surprises in store as we rethink what we mean by time and space! and energy and mass!
Quantization [Chapter 3] sets the stage for delving into the mysteries of the very small.
Nuclear Atom [Chapter 4] discusses the
"old" quantum theory of Bohr and its beautiful description of one-electron atoms.
Wavelike Particles [Chapter 5] brings in an entirely unexpected way of thinking about our old friend the
point mass: it can act like a wave under the right conditions!!
Elements of the Schrodinger Approach [Chapters 6 and 7] puts a particle into various kinds of "boxes". The goal is to understand the
Hydrogen atom, and more complicated atoms too.
Statistical Physics [Chapter 8] gives the quantum way of thinking about large assembledges of interacting particles.
We'll conclude with some selected topics, drawn from Molecular Physics [Chapter 9] and Solid State [Chapter 10], whose description
is driven by an understanding of Fermi-Dirac or Bose/Einstein quantum statistical physics.
Textbook Tipler & Llewellyn,
Modern Physics. In its 5th edition; not the most colorful text out there, but it more
than makes up for that lack by its clarity and its breadth. A great book! Electronic version available at www.coursesmart.com. The text's web site is
Each chapter has so-called MORE material on the site: sets of digressions into specific topics,
beyond the paper
text. They are wonderfully detailed and helpful. There are many other books with similar titles out there, and I encourage you to look around.
And, Wikipedia is
chock-full of well-written articles on all manner of subjects pertaining to the explosion in new physical thinking that is "modern physics".
Scott Heinekamp (firstname.lastname@example.org) Stratton 202 ext 3361
Class meets all MW 12:30-1:20 and many F 1:30-3:30, in order to accomodate conflicts.
Homework/class participation (35%) The set of homework assignments may be
Homework Assignment. Attendance will be noted and can only improve your grade.
Presentation/short paper (15%) Each person will give a 10-minute tutorial,
accompanied by a 5-7 page paper. This can be based on one of the "breakthrough" experiments that set modern physics on its way, or some other
subject that carries us beyond what we did in class.
Exams (50%) 3 of them, 20% each except that the lowest score is weighted 10%. The
third exam will take place at the time of the final.
This syllabus (web
address http://aurora.wells.edu/~swh/ph302/ph302syl.htm), is the course's home page.