Undergraduate Courses in Physics and Astronomy

Astronomy Courses

All 100-level astronomy courses are designed for students who do not have technical backgrounds.  They require only high school algebra for their mathematics prerequisite.

ASTRON 101  Modern Cosmology
This course covers the most current views about the structure of the universe, its past, present, and its future.  The course is especially suitable for nonscience majors who seek to follow up ASTRON 120 with a more detailed course.

ASTRON 102  Milky Way Galaxy
This course covers the structure of our galaxy, star formation, interstellar clouds and dust, star clusters, neutron stars and black holes, the galactic center, and the future evolution of the sun and our solar system.  The course is especially suitable for nonscience majors who seek to follow up ASTRON 120 with a more detailed course.

ASTRON 103  Solar System
This course studies our solar system, including the planets and their moons, the Sun, comets, asteroids, and the Earth and the Moon.  It is especially suitable for nonscience majors who seek to follow up ASTRON 120 with a more detailed course.

ASTRON 111  Introduction to Astrobiology
This course presents the modern scientific perspective on the question of life elsewhere in the universe, including the prospects for life on Mars, the discovery of extrasolar planets, and the search for extrasolar biospheres.

ASTRON 120  Highlights of Astronomy
This is a descriptive course designed to acquaint students with modern ideas about the solar system, stars (including black holes, neutron stars, and supernovae), galaxies, and the Universe.  The emphasis is on the understanding of fundamental principles and underlying concepts, rather than on mathematics and quantitative analysis of facts and phenomena.  Includes observation sessions with the Dearborn telescope.

ASTRON 130  Imaging in Astronomy
Introductory course that discusses the wide range of telescopes used to gather astronomical data and the techniques utilized to reduce the data.  Material covered in this course is relevant to any field that uses extensive data or image analysis.  Three lectures, one computer lab.

ASTRON 220  Introduction to Astrophysics
Use of introductory physics (mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, and modern physics) to cover astrophysical topics starting with the solar system and ending with the large-scale structure of the universe and cosmology.  Prerequisites: PHYSICS 135-1,2,3 or the equivalent.

ASTRON 321  Observational Astrophysics
Geometric optics applied to the design of optical and X-ray telescopes; diffraction and the Airy disk; radio and optical interferometry and aperture synthesis; adaptive optics; recent developments in detector technology; quantum and thermal noise in astronomy.  Includes independent research projects using the CCD camera and 18-inch refractor in Dearborn Observatory.  Offered alternate years.  Prerequisite: ASTRON 220.

ASTRON 325  Stellar Astrophysics
Physics of stellar interiors, stellar atmospheres, and star formation.  Specific topics covered include: simple stellar models, nuclear energy generation, overview of evolutionary phases, white dwarfs, neutron stars, interstellar gas and dust grains, gravitational collapse.  Prerequisite: ASTRON 220.

ASTRON 329  Extragalactic Astrophysics and Cosmology
Big bang cosmology, thermal history of the Universe, primordial nucleosynthesis, microwave background, dark matter, large scale structure, galaxy formation, spiral and elliptical galaxies, groups and clusters of galaxies.  Prerequisite: ASTRON 220.

ASTRON 331  Astrophysics
Stellar structure and evolution: nucleosynthesis, supernova phenomena, white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes.  Prerequisite: PHYSICS 339-3.  Limited to students enrolled in ISP or by consent of the physics department.

ASTRON 399  Independent Study
Advanced study on a topic of interest to the student, under the direction of a faculty member.  Open to all students.  Consent of the instructor required.  More information about research opportunities.

Physics Courses

PHYSICS 103-0  Ideas of Physics
Ideas of Physics is a series of independent one-quarter courses on interesting topics in physics.  Course content during any year varies with faculty and student interest; recent offerings have included relativity, the physics of music, and the progress of physics through history.  Ideas of Physics requires only high school mathematics and is designed for nonscience majors.

PHYSICS 105-0  Music-Sound-Timbre
Introductory-level course dealing with the interface between art, technology, and science.  Topics include MIDI, musical analysis and composition, physical acoustics and psychoacoustics, construction and acoustics of instruments, signal generation, recording, and analysis.  Students have access to the Physics Department Sound Laboratory.

PHYSICS 125-1,2,3  Physics for ISP
This is a general physics course which uses calculus extensively.  The course content is similar to that of PHYSICS 135-1,2,3 but is more advanced and intended for ISP students.  (Physics majors may take PHYSICS 125-1,2,3 with permission of the department.)  There are three lectures, one discussion, and one two-hour laboratory per week.  A concurrent advanced calculus course (MATH 291-1,2,3) is offered by the mathematics department.  Prerequisite:  first-year standing in ISP or consent of the department.

PHYSICS 130-1,2,3  College Physics (see also Physics Workshops)
This is a three-quarter sequence in algebra-based physics.  It is intended primarily for premedical students who need a full year of physics, but do not need to take calculus-based physics.  The topics covered are similar to those of PHYSICS 135-1,2,3.  There are three lectures, one discussion, and one two-hour laboratory per week.  Prerequisites:  algebra and trigonometry.

PHYSICS 135-1,2,3  General Physics (see also Physics Workshops)
This is a three-quarter sequence in general, calculus-based classical physics with an introduction to modern physics in the third quarter.  It is intended for science and engineering majors and premedical students.  There are three lectures, one discussion, and one two-hour laboratory per week.  Prerequisites:  MATH 212-0, MATH 213-0, and concurrent registration in MATH 214-0 for PHYSICS 135-1.  PHYSICS 135-1,2,3 are sequential prerequisites.  The topics covered in each quarter are:

PHYSICS 135-1:  Particle kinematics, Newtonian dynamics, work and energy, collisions and momentum, torque and angular momentum, rigid-body statics and dynamics, harmonic oscillations, gravitation.

PHYSICS 135-2:  Electrostatics, magnetostatics, DC and AC circuits, time-varying fields, Maxwell's equations.

PHYSICS 135-3:  Mechanical waves, sound waves, electromagnetic waves, geometric optics, interference and diffraction, the quantum nature of particles and light, atomic and nuclear phenomena.

PHYSICS 252-0  Introduction to Computational Physics
Introduction to computing and its application to physics.  Topics covered include Monte Carlo simulation of physical systems and numerical integration of equations of motion, discrete element methods in electromagnetism, simulation of simply nonlinear systems, neural networks, statistical and graphical representation of data.  Prerequisites:  PHYSICS 135-3.

PHYSICS 330-1,2  Classical Mechanics
Introduction to classical mechanics and mathematical methods of physics.  The subject matter is treated so as to lead naturally to more advanced physics courses such as quantum mechanics.  There are typically three lectures and one discussion section per week.  Prerequisites:  PHYSICS 135-1 or equivalent; MATH 234, 240, 250, or the equivalent.

PHYSICS 330-1:  Kinematics, Newton's Laws, one-dimensional oscillator, solutions of ordinary differential equations, phase space, linear systems, Laplace transforms, Fourier series, matrices.

PHYSICS 330-2:  Conservation laws, collisions, torque and angular momentum, moment of inertia, multidimensional integrals, the gyroscope, gravitation, line integrals, central forces.

PHYSICS 332-0  Statistical Mechanics
This course covers the basics of statistical physics, including the ideal gas, Boltzmann distributions, transport phenomena, fluctuation theory, Bose-Einstein and Fermi-Dirac statistics, and other applications.  There are typically three lectures and one discussion per week.  Prerequisites:  PHYSICS 330-1, MATH 234, 240, 250, or the equivalent..

PHYSICS 333-1,2  Advanced Electricity and Magnetism
There are typically three lectures and one discussion per week.  Prerequisites:  PHYSICS 135-1,2,3; MATH 234, 240, 250, or the equivalent.

PHYSICS 333-1:  Review of vector calculus and basic electromagnetic phenomena.  Electrostatics and magnetostatics, multipole expansion, solutions of Laplace's equation by orthogonal function expansion, images, analytic functions.  Magnetic scalar and vector potentials.

PHYSICS 333-2:  Maxwell's equations, electrodynamics, electromagnetic wave propagation and radiation.  Conservation laws, electromagnetic fields in special relativity.

PHYSICS 335-0  Modern Physics for Nonmajors
This is a survey of modern physics intended for non-physics majors who have a technical background.  Topics included are relativity and quantum physics and their application to nuclear physics, atomic physics, molecular structure, and electrical conductivity.  There are three class meetings per week and one laboratory.  Prerequisites:  PHYSICS 135-1,2,3 or the equivalent.

PHYSICS 337-0  Introduction to Solid-State Physics
This course covers the physics of electrons in periodic lattices; phonon properties; the electrical, optical and magnetic properties of metals and semiconductors; and superconductivity.  There are typically three lectures and one discussion per week.  Prerequisites:  PHYSICS 339-1,2.

PHYSICS 339-1,2  Quantum Mechanics
This is a two-quarter introduction to quantum theory.  Emphasis is placed on applications to atomic and molecular systems, with some discussion of the experimental foundations of quantum theory.  Mathematical solutions for several simple systems (the harmonic oscillator, the one-electron atom, the hydrogen molecule, barrier penetration) are studied in detail.  There are three lectures and one discussion per week.  Prerequisites:  second-year standing in ISP or PHYSICS 330-1, 333-1, MATH 351.

PHYSICS 339-3  Particle and Nuclear Physics
Topics covered in this course include nuclei and their constituents, nuclear models, alpha and beta decay, nuclear reactions, nuclear fission and fusion, the strong, electromagnetic and weak interactions, and the fundamental particles and particle schemes.  There are three lectures and one discussion per week.  Prerequisites:  PHYSICS 339-1,2.

PHYSICS 357-0  Biophotonics Laboratory
Students in this laboratory course obtain hands-on experience with many optical techniques, including optical microscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, and optical scattering.  Prerequisites:  PHYSICS 135-3 or the equivalent.

PHYSICS 358-0  Nanolithography
This advanced laboratory course involves the fabrication of metallic nanometer-scale structures by electron-beam lithography.  Characterization of these structures is done by atomic force microscopy.  Prerequisites:  PHYSICS 135-1,2,3 or the equivalent.

PHYSICS 359-1,3  Physics Laboratory
This laboratory emphasizes independent work.  There are two one-hour lectures and two three-hour laboratories per week.  Prerequisites:  PHYSICS 333-1,2 or consent of instructor.  PHYSICS 359-1 is not a prerequisite for 359-3.

PHYSICS 359-1:  Introduction to modern electronics, construction of elementary analog and digital circuits.

PHYSICS 359-3:  Classic experiments in atomic, nuclear, and solid-state physics using modern electronics and microcomputers.

PHYSICS 361-0  Classical Optics and Special Relativity
This course covers advanced topics following from electrodynamics, including advanced classical optics, Fraunhofer and Fresnel diffraction, radiation from accelerated charges, wave guides and/or antennae, and special relativity, including dynamics.  Prerequisites:  PHYSICS 333-1, 2

PHYSICS 371-0  Nonlinear Dynamics And Chaos
This course covers the mathematics of nonlinear oscillations, fractal geometry, chaotic dynamics, the dynamics of complex systems, and physics applications of these ideas.  Projects involving applications of nonlinear dynamics and chaos are integral to this course.  Prerequisites:  PHYSICS 330-1,2 and some familiarity with computer programming.

PHYSICS 398  Honors Independent Study
Individual study under the direction of a faculty member.  Open only to advanced students pursuing departmental honors.  More information about research opportunities.

PHYSICS 399  Independent Study
Opportunity to study an advanced subject of interest under the individual direction of a faculty member.  Open to all students; consent of instructor required.  More information about research opportunities.

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September 20, 2013