# Physics (PHYS)

Thomas P. Espinola, Glaxo Wellcome Professor of Physics, Chair

Donald A. Smith, Associate Professor

Peter H. Nelson, Visiting Assistant Professor

Physics is the study of how the universe works. From the smallest of sub-atomic particles to the largest clusters of galaxies, physicists try to take apart the pieces of reality and observe how they fit together. When a piece of the puzzle fits into place in your understanding, the world around you looks different. From this understanding, one can see more clearly the dance of nature and the rules that govern it.

Physics students at Guilford come from a variety of backgrounds and have a broad spectrum of interests and career goals. About one- third of our physics majors plan for employment in a technical field immediately after graduation. Another third pursue graduate study in physics or astronomy. The remaining third go on to advanced study in another field. The common thread connecting the different goals and focuses of our students and faculty is the physicist’s approach to thinking about, modeling and understanding the universe. This process relies on clear, analytical and often abstract thinking but is ultimately grounded in concrete reality as exposed by experiment. These skills are of value in not only science and engineering but also business, law, medicine and many other endeavors.

To embrace the diverse interests of our student population, the physics curriculum is flexible and personalized. We emphasize research and experimentation throughout our program, allowing students to follow their interests. In introductory courses, students learn to work with equipment, quantify experimental uncertainties and hone their scientific writing. The experimental physics sequence stresses laboratory techniques, cooperative research, and clear, thoughtful presentation of results. In this sequence of courses, students design experiments, act as principal investigators, write journal articles and give talks for peer review. In short, they learn how to perform self-directed research. This research experience culminates in a thesis project that must be original and designed by the student. The program thus provides a coherent developmental process that gives students the skills they need to succeed.

## Degree Offered

The Bachelor of Science degree is offered in physics.

We offer the following tracks:

- B.S. in Physics for students pursuing employment in a technical field
- B.S. in Physics for students preparing for graduate study
- B.S. in Physics for students preparing for graduate study in astrophysics
- B.S. in Physics for students preparing for engineering

**Note**: PHYS 101 Physics for Nonscientists (variable title)., PHYS 104 Elementary Electronics (CTIS 104), PHYS 107 The Solar System, PHYS 108 Realm of the Stars, and PHYS 109 Beyond the Stars do not apply toward major or minor.

## Scholarships and Research Awards

To recognize superior work in physics, the department annually offers the E. Garness Purdom Scholarship to a rising senior physics major. The department also offers three awards to support student research – the Michael Jeglinski Physics Award, the Winslow Womack Research Award and the Adelberger Research Award. Physics majors also are eligible for the Glaxo-Wellcome Women in Science Scholarship, awarded annually to an outstanding rising junior woman science major, and the E.G. Purdom Memorial Award for Women in Physical Science.

**PHYS 101.**

**Physics for Nonscientists (variable title)..**

**4.**

Introductory course, intended for students with limited mathematical background and centered on one of several topics such as an in-depth look at the physics of energy or a survey of modern physical thought. The relevance of physical laws to both society and the environment is discussed. Fulfills natural science/mathematics requirement (1998 & 2019).

**PHYS 104.**

**Elementary Electronics (CTIS 104).**

**4.**

Introduces students to the behavior of the fundamental building blocks of modern electronic devices and the underlying scientific principles that make these devices work. Topics will be derived from analog and digital electronics and include resistance, capacitance, diodes, signal filtering, positive and negative feedback, operational amplifiers, Boolean logic, logic gates, and digital to analog conversion. This course is designed for the general student population (but not physics majors and physics minors) who are interested in exploring the fundamentals of electronics.

**PHYS 107.**

**The Solar System.**

**4.**

This course covers the physical description of the planets, their satellites, the sun, asteroids and comets, with a strong emphasis on recent information from landers and fly-by probes. This course includes discussions of how science is known, learned and taught, which will be of interest to future teachers and others who may wish to combine work with students and science. Fulfills natural science/mathematics requirement (1998 & 2019).

**PHYS 108.**

**Realm of the Stars.**

**4.**

Concentrates on the study of stars. Topics include stellar observation and the life, evolution and death of stars. Fulfills natural science/mathematics requirement (1998 & 2019).

**PHYS 109.**

**Beyond the Stars.**

**4.**

Concentrates on the study of extra-galactic astronomy. Topics include nebulae, galaxies and cosmology. Fulfills natural science/mathematics requirement (1998 & 2019).

**PHYS 111.**

**Introduction to Physics for the Life Sciences I.**

**4.**

The laws of physics describe the constraints and possibilities within which living organisms must thrive. Organisms must support themselves against gravity, must move through fluids, and must manage the thermodynamics of energy production and consumption. A thorough understanding of the tools and concepts of physics can undergird a richer understanding of the properties and processes of life and the technologies we use for research and medicine. This course will embed the ideas and modeling skills of physics in a rich biological and medical context, emphasizing analytic skills, modelling and problem-solving.

**PHYS 112.**

**Introduction to Physics for the Life Sciences II.**

**4.**

The laws of physics describe the constraints and possibilities within which living organisms must thrive. Organisms must support themselves against gravity, must move through fluids, and must manage the thermodynamics of energy production and consumption. A thorough understanding of the tools and concepts of physics can undergird a richer understanding of the properties and processes of life and the technologies we use for research and medicine. This course will embed the ideas and modelling skills of physics in a rich biological and medical context, emphasizing analytic skills, modelling and problem- solving.

**PHYS 114.**

**Introduction to Electronics for Scientists.**

**4.**

4. Introduces students to the behavior of the fundamental building blocks of modern electronic devices and the underlying scientific principles that make these devices work. Topics will be derived from analog and digital electronics and include resistance, capacitance, diodes, signal filtering, positive and negative feedback, operational amplifiers, Boolean logic, logic gates, and digital to analog conversion. This course is designed for students majoring or minoring in physics and is also appropriate for other math and science students with good quantitative skills who are interested in exploring the fundamentals of electronics.

**PHYS 117.**

**Physics I.**

**4.**

For science majors and other interested students whose mathematics background includes algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. Topics chosen are primarily from mechanics.

**PHYS 118.**

**Physics II.**

**4.**

For science majors and other interested students whose mathematics background includes algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. Topics chosen are primarily from optics and modern physics.

**PHYS 121.**

**Classical and Modern Physics I.**

**4.**

For physics majors and others interested in physics. This course is not a survey but an introduction to the thinking and analysis processes of physics, with classroom and laboratory topics chosen from modern and classical physics to emphasize the skills needed to think like a physicist. Corequisite: Math 220 or instructor permission. Fulfills natural science/mathematic requirement. Spring.

**PHYS 131.**

**Experimental Expl. of Physics.**

**1-4.**

Project-based introduction to experimental design, hypothesis testing, and data analysis. Students will develop guided inquiry questions and design experiments to test their hypotheses. (1)

**PHYS 132.**

**Intro. to Experimentation.**

**3-4.**

**PHYS 150.**

**Special Topics.**

**8.**

May also be offered at 250, 350 and 450 levels.

**PHYS 204.**

**Electronics.**

**4.**

Introduces students to the behavior of the fundamental building blocks of modern electronic devices and the underlying scientific principles that make these devices work. Topics will be derived from analog and digital electronics and include resistance, capacitance, diodes, signal filtering, positive and negative feedback, operational amplifiers, Boolean logic,logic gates, and digital to analog conversion. This course is designed for students majoring or minoring in physics and those other students who have completed an introductory calculus-based course in electricity and magnetism and are interested in applying this background to electronics.

**PHYS 210.**

**Observatory Practice.**

**4.**

For physics majors and others interested in learning to use the J. Donald Cline Observatory at Guilford. The course includes astronomical background drawn from solar system, stellar and extra-galactic astronomy but the emphasis is on the use of the equipment, methods of data acquisition and analysis of results. . Fulfills natural science/mathematics requirement (1998 & 2019).

**PHYS 223.**

**Classical and Modern Physics III.**

**4.**

The final semester of the introductory physics sequence. Topics are chosen from modern and classical physics to complement those discussed in PHYS 121.

**PHYS 224.**

**Classical & Modern Physics III.**

**4.**

The thermal properties of matter are studied from the applied approach of thermodynamics and the theoretical analysis of statistical mechanics. Topics include the laws of thermodynamics, equations of state, first order phase transitions, partition functions, entropy and the quantum statistics of particles.

**PHYS 231.**

**Experimental Physics I.**

**2.**

Intermediate-level laboratory course to develop experimental design and measurement techniques, data reduction and analysis methods, and oral and written presentation skills. Experiments vary as equipment and technologies evolve. Prerequisite PHYS 122 or instructor permission. Fall.

**PHYS 232.**

**Experimental Physics II.**

**2-4.**

Intermediate-level laboratory course to develop experimental design and measurement techniques, data reduction and analysis methods, and oral and written presentation skills. Experiments vary as equipment and technologies evolve.

**PHYS 241.**

**Scientific Computing (MATH 241).**

**3-4.**

Scientific Computing is a course designed jointly by Math & Physics faculty to serve students of the sciences. We will use spreadsheets (Excel, Numbers, Sheets) to analyze data using formula computation and representational graphics. We will use the programming language Python and a variety of the standard libraries (especially numpy,matplotlib, vpython) to do similar analyses and complex simulations. We will emphasize the documentation and presentation of results to peers. The course is to betaught in the three week “Prolog Term” of the Fall Semester..

**PHYS 250.**

**Special Topics.**

**8.**

**PHYS 260.**

**Independent Study.**

**1-8.**

May also be offered at 360 and 460 levels.

**PHYS 290.**

**Internship.**

**1-8.**

May also be offered at the 390 level.

**PHYS 320.**

**Mathematical Physics (MATH 320).**

**4.**

4. Introduces students to mathematical techniques of particular importance to scientists and engineers. Topics include: complex numbers, Fourier series and the solution of differential equations (with special emphasis on harmonic oscillators). Both analytical and numerical methods are studied.

**PHYS 350.**

**Special Topics.**

**1-8.**

**PHYS 360.**

**Independent Study.**

**1-8.**

**PHYS 370.**

**Physics Research.**

**1-4.**

The presentation of independent research projects completed during summers (e.g. the National Science Foundation-sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates) or industrial internships. Students who are unable to undertake research at other institutions may design and complete their research on campus under the guidance of Guilford faculty.

**PHYS 390.**

**Internship.**

**1-8.**

**PHYS 421.**

**Mechanics.**

**4.**

The study of forces and energy and their effect on the motion of particles. Topics include the motion of a particle in a force field, the dynamics of rigid bodies, and the detailed study of damped, forced and coupled oscillators. Newtonian and Lagrangian formulation of mechanics as well as computational methods of solution will be studied.

**PHYS 422.**

**Electromagnetism.**

**4.**

The study of the theory of electric and magnetic fields and their interactions with matter. Topics include the use of vector calculus, Gauss’s law, Ampere’s law, diamagnetism, multi-pole fields and the law of Biot-Savart.

**PHYS 423.**

**Quantum Mechanics.**

**4.**

The study of the theory of the interaction of particles, waves and fields in atomic and subatomic systems. Topics include the Schrödinger formulation, operator formalism and perturbation theory.

**PHYS 441.**

**Advanced Modern Physics.**

**4.**

Topics in applied modern physics including the hydrogen atom and other atomic systems, nuclear physics, condensed matter and elementary particles.

**PHYS 442.**

**Advanced Classical Physics.**

**4.**

Advanced topics in classical mechanics and electromagnetism. Topics may include Hamiltonian mechanics, motions of particles in non-inertial reference frames, the Maxwell equations, electromagnetic radiation and the dynamics of relativistic particles and electromagnetic fields.

**PHYS 443.**

**Astrophysics.**

**2-4.**

The study of the application of physics to astronomical systems. Topics may include stellar structure and evolution, energy generation and nucleosynthesis, the interstellar medium, radiative transfer and degenerate stars.

**PHYS 450.**

**Special Topics.**

**1-8.**

**PHYS 460.**

**Independent Study.**

**1-8.**

**PHYS 461.**

**Physics Research Seminar.**

**1.**

All students writing theses or doing other research within the physics department are required to take this course in which students and faculty exchange suggestions, ideas and insights into their research. Fall and spring. CR/NC. Students may take this course more than once and may count up to 4 credits of Physics Research Seminar toward graduation.

**PHYS 470.**

**Research, Thesis and Defense.**

**1-8.**

Independent research projects that culminate, with guidance, in a well-defined research thesis. The thesis must be presented both orally and in writing. The thesis should be written in the standard form for technical papers in physics as currently set forth in Volume 10 of the Journal of Undergraduate Research in Physics. Students are encouraged to present their papers at NCUR or another appropriate conference. Fall and spring.

**PHYS 480.**

**Physics Department Seminar.**

**0.**

All students taking PHYS 121 or above are required to attend the Physics Department Seminar. During the semester, each student will give presentations on some aspect of the physics work on which he or she is currently working. Fall and spring.

**PHYS 490.**

**Honors Research, Thesis and Defense.**

**1-8.**

Although enrollment is normally during the fall of the final year, the student is expected to begin work during the intermediate years on independent research projects that will culminate, with guidance, in a well- defined research thesis. The thesis must be presented both orally and in writing. The thesis should be written in the standard form for technical papers in physics as currently set forth in Volume 10 of the Journal of Undergraduate Research in Physics. Students are encouraged to present their papers at NCUR or another appropriate conference.