Courses that fulfill
General Education Requirements:
- (A-AP) = Arts - Applied
- (A-TH) = Arts - Theoretical/Historical
- (A-AR) = Analytical - Abstract Reasoning
- (A-QR) = Analytical - Quantitative
- (D-D) = Diversity - Domestic
- (D-I) = Diversity - International
- (D-L) = Diversity - Language
- (ES) = Earlham Seminar
- (IE) = Immersive Experience
- (RCH) = Research
- (SI) = Scientific Inquiry
- (W) = Wellness
- (WI) = Writing Intensive
- (AY) = Offered in Alternative Year
Key to Course Numbering
Courses numbered in the 100s and 200s are aimed at first- and second-year students; courses numbered in the 300s and 400s are upper-level.
The second digit of the course number for Physics courses specifies its subfield within the discipline. Courses numbered #0# are courses of general interest; #1# courses (for example PHYS 115 or 415) are in astronomy; #2#, in mechanics; #3#, in electro-magnetism; #4#, in modern physics; #5#, laboratory-focused courses; #6#, mathematical physics; and #7#, thermal physics.
*PHYS 107 PHYSICS FOR FUTURE PRESIDENTS (3 credits)
This course covers physics relevant for future world leaders, whether in business or politics, or for an informed electorate. There are many economic and political issues that involve high technology content. This course will cover the science behind global warming, energy issues, counter-terrorism, space exploration and many more pertinent topics. (SI non-lab)
*PHYS 115 ENCOUNTERS WITH THE COSMOS (4 credits)
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. (A-QR, SI)
*PHYS 120 GENERAL PHYSICS I: MATTER In MOTION (4 credits)
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. (A-AR, A-QR, SI) (AY)
*PHYS 125 ANALYTICAL PHYSICS I: MECHANICS (4 credits)
What dictates the complexities of motion? How can we use physic to understand energy issues, or 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. Lab. Co-requisite: MATH 180 or background in Calculus. (A-AR, A-QR, SI)
*PHYS 150 EARLHAM SEMINAR (4 credits)
Offered for first-year students. Topics vary. (ES)
*PHYS 230 GENERAL PHYSICS II: INTANGIBLE PHYSICS — ELECTRICITY, MAGNETISM AND OPTICS (4 credits)
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. Prerequisite: PHYS 120. (A-AR, A-QR, SI) (AY)
*PHYS 235 ANALYTICAL PHYSICS II: ELECTROMAGNETISM AND WAVES (4 credits)
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. Prerequisite: PHYS 125. Co-requisite: MATH 280. (A-AR, A-QR, SI)
*PHYS 345 CHALLENGING CONCEPTS OF MODERN PHYSICS (4 credits)
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. Prerequisites: MATH 280 and PHYS 235. (SI)
PHYS 350 ELECTRONICS AND INSTRUMENTATION (3 credits)
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. Prerequisites: PHYS 230 or 235. Also listed as CS 350. (AY)
PHYS 355 ADVANCED PHYSICS LABORATORY (3 credits)
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. Prerequisite: PHYS 345 and junior/senior standing or consent of the instructor. (RCH)
*PHYS 360 MATHEMATICAL METHODS OF PHYSICS (3 credits)
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. Prerequisite: MATH 320. Corequisite: MATH 350. Also listed as MATH 360. (A-AR, A-QR, RCH)
PHYS 375 THERMAL PHYSICS (3 credits)
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. Prerequisites: PHYS 345 and MATH 280. (AY)
*PHYS 425 ANALYTICAL MECHANICS (3 credits)
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. Prerequisites: PHYS 235, MATH 320, MATH 350, PHYS/MATH 360 or consent of the instructor. (SI) (AY)
*PHYS 435 CLASSICAL ELECTRICITY AND MAGNETISM (3 credits)
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. Prerequisites: PHYS 235, MATH 320, MATH 350, PHYS/MATH 360 or consent of the instructor. (SI) (AY)
PHYS 445 INTRODUCTORY QUANTUM MECHANICS (3 credits)
An introduction to the techniques, problems and interpretation of quantum mechanics. The quantum conditions, Schroedinger'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. Prerequisites: PHYS 345, MATH 320, MATH 350 or MATH 360. (AY)
PHYS 480 SENIOR SEMINAR (3 credits)
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. Recent topics have included Cosmology and General Relativity, Solid-State Physics, and Computational Models in Biophysics. PHYS 480 may be counted toward the major more than once if the topic of the course is different. Prerequisite: PHYS 375 or PHYS 445, or permission of instructor.
PHYS 481 INTERNSHIPS, FIELD STUDIES AND OTHER FIELD EXPERIENCES (1-3 credits)
PHYS 482 SPECIAL TOPICS (3 credits)
Selected topics determined by the instructor for upper-level study.
PHYS 483 TEACHING ASSISTANTS (1-3 credits)
PHYS 484 FORD/KNIGHT RESEARCH PROJECT (1-4 credits)
Collaborative research with faculty funded by the Ford/Knight Program.
PHYS 485 INDEPENDENT STUDY (1-3 credits)
An investigation of a specific problem or topic.
PHYS 486 PHYSICS RESEARCH (1-3 credits)
Qualified students engage in independent research under the direction of a faculty supervisor. The research is typically part of ongoing research projects which in recent years have included a study of X-ray emission from active galactic nuclei, vibrational modes of drumheads and the physics of ultrasound. Offered by special arrangement.
PHYS 488 SENIOR CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE (0 credits)
Majors must successfully complete comprehensive examinations during the Senior year. Offered both semesters.