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Academics: Courses

Physics and astronomy courses

Physics: introductory courses

132 Matter, Light, and Energy (4). F. This course provides an introduction to physical interactions involving matter, light, and energy. Topics include: observational astronomy; the atomic model of matter and the behavior of solids, liquids, and gases; temperature, heat, and thermodynamics; waves and sound; geometric optics and the wave-particle duality of light; atomic nuclei, nuclear reactions, and radiation; quarks and the Standard Model of particle physics. This course also surveys key historical developments in physics as well as foundational scientific methods and assumptions. Laboratory. Prerequisite: High school physics and completion of (or concurrent registration in) a calculus course, or permission of the instructor.

133 Introductory Physics: Mechanics and Gravity (4). S. An introduction to classical Newtonian mechanics applied to linear and rotational motion; a study of energy and momentum and their associated conservation laws; introductions to oscillations and to gravitation. Attention is given throughout to the assumptions and methodologies of the physical sciences. Laboratory. Prerequisites: normally, concurrent registration in Mathematics 172. Students taking Mathematics 169 or 171 may enroll with permission of the instructor.

195 Physics and Astronomy Student Seminar (0). F and S. This course gives students a broad overview of the fields of physics and astronomy through guest lectures, presentations by Calvin students and professors, group discussions, and other activities. A student may earn honors credit in an approved introductory physics course by completing a paper and, at the instructor’s option, a class presentation on an approved topic. This course may be taken multiple times.

212 Inquiry-Based Physics (4). F. This course provides a hands-on study of important concepts in physics. The course is designed specifically to meet the needs of teacher-education students who wish to be elementary- or middle-school science specialists, but is open to other students who satisfy the prerequisites. Topics covered include mechanics (energy, force, friction, work, torque, momentum, and simple machines), pressure, waves, sound, light, resonance, electricity, magnetism, and radioactivity. Reflections on the nature of physical science and the physical world are included; connections to everyday experience and to technology are discussed. Prerequisite: Science Education Studies 121 or high-school physics.

221 General Physics (4). F. This course is designed for those who do not intend to do further work in physics. Topics covered in the two-semester sequence (Physics 221- 222) include Newtonian mechanics, fluids, waves, thermodynamics, electricity, magnetism, light, optics, atomic physics, and nuclear radiation. Attention is given throughout to quantitative analysis, empirical methods, experimental uncertainties, perspectives on the assumptions and methodologies of the physical sciences, and the use of physics in the life sciences. Laboratory. Prerequisites: high-school algebra and trigonometry.

222 General Physics (4). S. A continuation of Physics 221, which is a prerequisite. Laboratory.

223 Physics for the Health Sciences (4). S. An introduction to those topics in physics that are applicable to a variety of health science fields, with special emphasis on understanding various physical aspects of the human body. Topics include basic laboratory techniques and instruments for physical measurements, data analysis, basic mechanics, fluids, heat, electrical circuits, sound, optics, radioactivity and x-rays, a discussion of the nature of physical science, and a Christian approach to science. Laboratory integrated with lecture. Prerequisites: High school geometry and algebra. Not open to those who have taken or plan to take Physics 221.

235 Introductory Physics: Electricity and Magnetism (4). F. A study of electric and magnetic forces, fields, and energy, and of the integral form of Maxwell’s equations, which describe these fields; electric circuits. Laboratory. Prerequisites: Physics 133 and at least concurrent registration in Math 270 or 271.

237 Einstein's Theory of Relativity (1). F. This course focuses on the principles and predictions of Einstein's special theory of relativity. Topics include: invariance of the speed of light and physical laws, length contraction and time dilation, relativisitic momentum, mass-energy equivalence, and Lorentz transformations. Ideas from the general theory of relativity may also be introduced. Prerequisite: Phys-133 or Phys-221 or their A.P. equivalents. Not offered 2014-2015.

246 Waves, Optics, and Optical Technology (3). S, alternate years. This course offers a combination of theoretical and experimental investigations into light and its interaction with matter. The electromagnetic-wave model and the photon model are developed and applied in the context of optical materials and instruments. Coverage includes assorted topics relating to lasers and other light sources, detectors, spectrometers, interferometers, thin films, gratings, polarizers, phase retarders, fiber optics, nonlinear crystals, and electro-optical technologies. Laboratory integrated with lecture. Prerequisites: Physics 235 or Physics 222 and Mathematics 172. Computer Science 106 is recommended. Not offered 2014-2015.

296 Studies in Physics, Technology and Society (1). F and S. This course is identical to Physics 195, except that each student must pursue an instructor-approved project that will produce an in-depth paper as well as an oral presentation.Not open to first-year students. This course may be taken multiple times.

Physics: advanced theory courses

306 Introduction to Quantum Physics (4). S, alternate years. This course introduces non-classical phenomena and their explanation in quantum mechanics. Topics include wave-particle duality of matter and light, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, Schroedinger’s wave mechanics, spin, quantum mechanical treatment of atoms, the quantum mechanical description of solids, introduction to nuclear physics, radioactivity, strong and weak nuclear force, and elementary particles. Prerequisites: Physics 235 and Mathematics 270 or 271. Computer Science 106 is recommended.

335 Classical Mechanics (4). F, alternate years. Theory and applications of the Newtonian framework, covering systems of particles, conservation laws, the harmonicoscillator, central forces, orbital motion, motion in non-inertial reference frames, rotations of rigid objects, cojupled oscillators and normal modes, the principle of least action, and Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics. The status of Newtonian determinism and the question of predictability are also addressed. Prerequisites: Mathematics 172 and at least concurrent enrollment in Physics 235. Mathematics 270 or 271 and Computer Science 106 are recommended.

345 Electromagnetism (3). F, alternate years. The foundational equations of electromagnetism are developed and applied to simple charge and current distributions. Further applications are made to electromagnetic energy and electromagnetic properties of matter. Prerequisite: Physics 235 and Mathematics 270 or 271. Mathematics 231 and Computer Science 106 are also recommended.

346 Advanced Optics (3). S, alternate years. The systematic application of Maxwell’s Equations to electromagnetic radiation, including the interaction of light with matter, electromagnetic wave propagation, polarization, interference and diffraction. Includes a study of technologically significant systems such as waveguides, optical filters and fibers, laser cavities, and some electro-optical technologies. Prerequisites: Physics 246 and either Physics 345 or Engineering 302.

347 Relativistic Electrodynamics (1). S, alternate years. Special relativity is reformulated in terms of 4-vectors and this new understanding is used to explicitly articulate the relativistic nature of Maxwell’s equations. An introductory understanding of special relativity is assumed. Prerequisites: Physics 237 (or Physics 134, listed in the 2013-2014 catalog) and concurrent registration in Physics 346.

365 Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics (4). F. alternate years. Equations of state, heat capacities, and the laws of thermodynamics. The thermodynamic potentials. Application to some simple systems and changes of phase. Kinetic theory. Statistical mechanics with emphasis on the canonical ensemble. Determination of entropy and the thermodynamic potentials with application to solids and gases. Introduction to quantum statistical mechanics. Prerequisite: Mathematics 231, Physics 306, and either Physics 132 or Engineering 209.

375 Quantum Mechanics (3). F, alternate years. The main emphasis is on wave mechanics and its application to atoms and molecules. One-electron atoms are discussed in detail. Additional topics discussed are electronic spin and atomic spectra and structure. Nuclei, the solid state, and fundamental particles are also considered. Prerequisite: Physics 306 and Mathematics 231. (Concurrent registration in Mathematics 231 is allowed with permission of the Instructor.) A course including linear algebra is recommended. Not offered 2014-15.

376 Quantum Mechanics (3). S, alternate years. A continuation of Physics 375, which is a prerequisite. Not offered 2014-15.

390 Independent Study in Physics. F, I, and S. Independent readings and research in physics under the supervision of a member of the departmental staff. Prerequisite: A faculty sponsor and permission of the chair.

Physics: laboratory courses

339 Advanced Classical Mechanics Laboratory (2). F, alternate years. Students perform multi-week experimental investigations related to classical mechanics. Possible topics include gravitation, torsion and rotation, damped and driven oscillation, coupled oscillators, waves in elastic or fluid media, and classical chaos. Concurrent enrollment in Physics 335 or permission of instructor is required. Not offered 2014-2015.

349 Advanced Electromagnetism and Optics Laboratory (2). S, alternate years. Students perform multi-week experimental investigations related to electric, magnetic, and optical effects in materials and devices. Possible topics include the Hall effect, electronic noise, magnetic resonance, optical spectra, optical interferometry, light scattering, imaging, polarization effects, electro-optic devices, and non-linear optics. Concurrent enrollment in Physics 346 or permission of instructor is required.

379 Advanced Quantum Physics Laboratory (2). S, alternate years. Students perform multi-week experimental investigations related to electric, magnetic, and optical effects in materials and devices. Possible topics include: laser spectroscopy of atomic energy states, the Zeeman effect, electron diffraction, measurement of the muon lifetime, magnetic resonance, the Compton effect, nuclear radiation, and quantum entanglement. Concurrent enrollment in Physics 376 or permission of instructor is required. Not offered 2014-2015.

395 Physics Research, Writing, and Presentation (0-3). F, I, and S. Completion of an approved experimental or theoretical research with presentation of results. The research may be done entirely as part of this course or through another avenue (e.g., summer research with a faculty member or an Advanced Laboratory course). Normally, each student is required to submit a formal, written report and to present results in a department seminar and/or poster presentation. This course may be repeated twice. Prerequisites: A faculty sponsor and approval of the department.

Astronomy courses

110 Planets, Stars, and Galaxies (4). A survey of the major astronomical objects, including planets, stars, and galaxies; a study of their characteristics and their organization into a dynamic, structured universe; an investigation of the processes now occurring in the universe and the methods used to study them; a presentation of the history and development of the universe. The course examines scientific perspectives on the natural world, various relationships between science and culture, the role of Christianity in the development of science, and relationships between Christianity and current scientific findings. Not open to students who have taken, or wish to take, Astronomy 111 or 112. Students who meet the prerequisites of Astronomy 211 or 212 are encouraged to take one of those courses instead. Laboratory. Not offered 2014-2015.

111 The Solar System (4). This course is similar to Astronomy 110 in providing an introduction to astronomy from a Christian perspective, but emphasizes the contents of our solar system (ranging from planets and satellites down to meteorites and dust), their interrelatedness, and their development over time. Not open to students who have taken Astronomy 110, but open to students who have taken or plan to take Astronomy 112. Students who meet the prerequisites of Astronomy 211 or 212 are encouraged to take one of those courses instead. Laboratory. Not offered 2014-2015

112 Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe (4). This course is similar to Astronomy 110 in providing an introduction to astronomy from a Christian perspective, but emphasizes objects beyond our solar system (including stars, black holes, and galaxies), their function and development, and how they fit into the structure and development of the universe as a whole. Not open to students who have taken Astronomy 110, but open to students who have taken or plan to take Astronomy 111. Students who meet the prerequisites of Astronomy 211 or 212 are encouraged to take one of these courses instead. Laboratory. Not offered 2014-2015.

211 Planetary and Stellar Astronomy (4). S, alternate years. This course is an introduction to modern astronomy and astrophysics for students with some science and mathematics preparation. The first portion of the course includes a study of the planets and other objects in the solar system, including their physical processes and development and the formation of the solar system as a whole. The second portion of the course emphasizes the physical structure of stars, their origin and development, and their end results (white dwarfs, neutron stars, black holes). Students may take both Astronomy 211 and 212, but one is not a prerequisite for the other. Laboratory. Prerequisites: one course in college calculus (such as Mathematics 132, 170 or 171) and one course in high school or college physics, or permission of the instructor. Not offered 2014-2015

212 Galactic Astronomy and Cosmology (4). S, alternate years. This course is an introduction to modern astronomy and astrophysics for students with some science and mathematics preparation. The first portion of the course includes a study of our own Galaxy, its structure, its contents (including the interstellar medium and dark matter), and its formation and development. The second portion of the course covers other galaxies, including their classification, clustering, and development, as well as active galaxies and quasars. The final portion of the course covers physical cosmology, including expansion of the universe, its age and ultimate fate, and the formation of elements. Students may take both Astronomy 211 and 212, but one is not a prerequisite for the other. Laboratory. Prerequisites: one course in college calculus (such as Mathematics 132, 170 or 171) and one course in high school or college physics, or permission of the instructor.

384 Modern Observational Astronomy (2). S, alternate years. Students will learn techniques of modern observational astronomy by doing observing projects in each of three wavelength regimes: optical, radio, and one other (e.g., Xray). Optical observations will use CCD detectors to do multi-color photography, photometry, astrometry, and spectroscopy. Radio observations made with the Very Large Array will be used for interferometric imaging. NASA archival data will be used for other wavelengths. Prerequisite: Concurrent registration in or completion of Astronomy 211 or 212. Not offered 2014-2015.

390 Independent Study. F, I, and S. Independent readings and research in astronomy. Prerequisite: A faculty sponsor and permission of the chair.

395 Astronomy Research, Writing, and Presentation (0-3). F, I, and S. Completion of an approved experimental or theoretical research with presentation of results. The research may be done entirely as part of this course or through another avenue (e.g., summer research with a faculty member). Normally, each student is required to submit a formal, written report and to present results in a department seminar and/or poster presentation. This course may be taken up to three times. Prerequisites: A faculty sponsor and approval of the department.

Secondary

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