Undergraduate Physics Course Descriptions
(revised April 26, 2021)
Unless they are identified as advisory, the prerequisites and co-requisites listed on this page will be enforced by the Student Information System during registration. Students who do not have a required prerequisite may request a permit from the course instructor to override this requirement. Students who don’t have an advisory prerequisite or co-requisite should consult with the instructor before enrolling in the course; if you skip this step; you will take the course at your own risk.
CWRU students can find syllabi for physics courses at http://www.phys.cwru.edu/courses/syllabi/ (CWRU login required). (NOTE: As of 12/18/2020, this site is not accessible and there is no word when this will change. Students can, however, request syllabi from current and past instructors of each course.)
Physics faculty teach or have taught a variety of First and University Seminars; you can find some of these seminars near the bottom of this page.
PHYS 113A. Principles of Physics Lab Mechanics (1)
The laboratory portion of the first semester introductory physics. Prereq: Departmental permission. (available fall and spring semesters)
PHYS 113B. Principles of Physics Lab Electricity and Magnetism (1)
The laboratory portion of the second semester of physics. Prereq: Departmental permission. (available fall and spring semesters)
PHYS 115. Introductory Physics I (4)
First part of a two-semester sequence directed primarily towards students working towards a B.A. in science, with an emphasis on the life sciences. Kinematics; Newton’s laws; gravitation; simple harmonic motion; mechanical waves; fluids; ideal gas law; heat and the first and second laws of thermodynamics. This course has a laboratory component. Students may earn credit for only one of the following courses: PHYS 115, PHYS 121, PHYS 123. (available fall and summer)
PHYS 116. Introductory Physics II (4)
Electrostatics, Coulomb’s law, Gauss’s law; capacitance and resistance; DC circuits; magnetic fields; electromagnetic induction; RC and RL circuits; light; geometrical optics; interference and diffraction; special relativity. Introduction to quantum mechanics; elements of atomic, nuclear and particle physics. This course has a laboratory component. Prereq: PHYS115. Students may earn credit for only one of the following courses: PHYS 116, PHYS 122, PHYS 124. (available spring and summer)
PHYS 121. General Physics I. Mechanics (4)
Particle dynamics. Newton’s laws of motion, energy and momentum conservation, rotational motion, and angular momentum conservation. This course has a laboratory component. Advisory Prereq: MATH121, MATH123, MATH125 or one year of high school calculus. [NOTE -This prereq is advisory only because the Student Information System cannot check high school courses for prerequisites. Students who do not have the appropriate background should not enroll in PHYS 121 without first consulting the instructor.] Students may earn credit for only one of the following courses: PHYS 115, PHYS 121, PHYS 123. (available fall, spring & summer)
PHYS 122. General Physics II. Electricity and Magnetism (4)
Electricity and magnetism emphasizing the basic electromagnetic laws of Gauss, Ampere, and Faraday. Maxwell’s equations and electromagnetic waves, interference, and diffraction. This course has a laboratory component Prereq: PHYS121 or PHYS123. Prereq or Coreq: MATH122, MATH124 or MATH126. Students may earn credit for only one of the following courses: PHYS 116, PHYS 122, PHYS 124. (available fall, spring & summer)
PHYS 123. Physics & Frontiers I – Mechanics (4)
The Newtonian dynamics of a particle and of rigid bodies. Energy, momentum, and angular momentum conservation with applications. A selection of special frontier topics as time permits, including fractals and chaos, special relativity, fluid mechanics, cosmology, quantum mechanics. This course has a laboratory component. Admission to this course is by invitation only. Students may earn credit for only one of the following courses: PHYS 115, PHYS 121, PHYS 123. (available fall semesters)
PHYS 124. Physics & Frontiers II – Electricity and Magnetism (4)
Time-independent and time-dependent electric and magnetic fields. The laws of Coulomb, Gauss, Ampere, and Faraday. Microscopic approach to dielectric and magnetic materials. Introduction to the usage of vector calculus; Maxwell’s equations in integral and differential form. The role of special relativity in electromagnetism. Electromagnetic radiation. This course has a laboratory component. Prereq: PHYS123 and MATH122 or MATH124 or consent of department. Students may earn credit for only one of the following courses: PHYS 116, PHYS 122, PHYS 124. (available spring semesters)
PHYS 137 Scientific Frontiers: Origins (3)
This course will provide undergraduates, both science and non-science majors, with a general perspective of the modern state of our physical understanding of the universe, including outstanding puzzles at the forefront of modern science, focusing on the questions of origins: the origin of the universe, of our galaxy, of matter, of life, etc. (This course has not been offered since fall 2007 and there are no plans to offer it in the near future but students who find it interesting should check out the Institute for Origins program at https://origins.case.edu/about/#. This program is closely associated with the CWRU Department of Physics and includes courses and a degree program.)
PHYS 147 Augmented Reality for Teaching in Science (2)
Augmented reality application for teaching and demonstrating concepts in science. An introduction to virtual reality and mixed reality platforms. Discussion on the benefit of augmented reality applications for teaching and training. Programming and application development using Unity and C Sharp. Students will develop a mixed reality application with lab time to implement the application. (This course is approved to be offered one time, in fall of 2019. Whether it will be offered again after that is to be determined.)
PHYS 150 An Introduction to the Universe and to the Meaning of Everything (3)
This class will tackle the big questions of human existence including the origins of the universe, life and human civilization, the nature of thought and the development of our tools for examining these questions such as science, mathematics, computing, engineering, philosophy and art. The course will be anchored in lectures by the two primary instructors but will feature a large cast of guest lecturers representing many departments of the College of Arts and Sciences and other schools and colleges at the University as well as neighboring institutions such as the Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History. A major goal of the course is to introduce students to the extraordinary intellectual resources of the University and its affiliated institutions. (PHYS 150 is cross-listed as ARTH 150.)
PHYS 166 Physics Today and Tomorrow (1)
This course will provide students with an opportunity to learn about the most exciting and timely research areas in physics, as well as other topics germane to being a professional physicist. These discussions will cover fields such as nanoscience, ultrafast optics, exotic materials, biophysics, cosmology, string theory and the role of physicists in developing new technologies. Each week a member of the faculty will meet with students to discuss a topic of current interest, how a physicist approaches the problem, and how physicists interact with others to find a solution. Other topics germane to being a professional physicist also will be discussed, including the relationship among academic, industrial, and governmental laboratories; ethics; and non-traditional careers for students trained in physics. (PHYS 166 is graded on a PASS/NOPASS basis.) (available fall & spring semesters but commonly restricted to first-year students in the fall semester)
PHYS 188. On Being a Scientist (1) [PHYS 188 is a cross-listing of a course that is controlled by the Department of Astronomy.]
This course will focus on the question “What makes a good scientist?” using a weekly discussion of articles chosen from the “Science Times.” It will build important oral communication skills via a discussion of the broader context and implications of the science discussed. Cross-listed with ASTR 188, ANTH 188, GEOL 188, PSCL 188, SOCI 188, and WMST 188.
PHYS 196. Energy and Society (3)
Global and national perspectives on the problems of energy supply and demand, global warming, oil cartels, solar, nuclear and wind energy, energy history, politics and economics of fossil fuels and alternative energy sources. Cross-listed as GEOL196, HSTY196 and POSC196. (This course has not been offered for several years and there are no plans to offer it in the near future. Physics faculty members have, however, taught a related SAGES seminar course, Energy and Society, plus two new climate change courses first offered in spring and summer 2021.)
PHYS 203. Analog and Digital Electronics (4)
Elements of both analog and digital electronics from the practical viewpoint of the experimental scientist; AC circuits, linear and non-linear operation of op-amps, logic gates, flip-flops, counters, display, memory, transducers, A/D and D/A conversion. Laboratory work involves quantitative investigation of the operation of all these elements, together with projects that explore their combination. Advisory Prereq: PHYS122 or PHYS124. (available fall semesters)
PHYS 204. Advanced Instrumentation Laboratory (4)
Principles of experimental design: limits of resolution via band-width, thermal noise, background signals; data acquisition and control by computer; computer simulation; signal processing techniques in frequency and time domains, FFT, correlations, and other transform methods; counting techniques. Applications include lock-in amplifiers, digitizing oscilloscopes and data acquisition systems. Advisory Prereq: PHYS221 , Prereq: PHYS203. (available spring semesters)
PHYS 208. Instrumentation and Signal Analysis Laboratory (4)
AC circuit theory, Fourier series, discrete Fourier series. Fourier integral, discrete Fourier integral; analysis in time and frequency domains, correlation, cross correlation and other transform techniques; computer control of experiments via IEEE488 interface; advanced instrumentation; DMM, arbitrary waveform generator, multiplexing and digitizing oscilloscopes; experimental design, noise; design, construction, and testing of a lock-in amplifier. Prereq: ENGR210, Advisory Prereq: PHYS221. (available spring semesters)
PHYS 221. Introduction to Modern Physics (3)
Concepts in special relativity, statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics and their impacts on modern technology. Applications to atomic structure, and selected topics in nuclear, condensed matter physics, particle physics, and cosmology. Prereq: PHYS116, PHYS122 or PHYS124. (available fall & spring semesters)
PHYS 250. Computational Methods in Physics (3)
Numerical methods, data analysis, and error analysis applied to physical problems. Use of personal computers in the solution of practical problems encountered in physics. Interpolation, roots of equations, integration, differential equations, Monte Carlo techniques, propagation of errors, maximum likelihood, convolution, Fourier transforms. Prereq: ENGR 131 or EECS 132. Prereq or Coreq: MATH 224 (or MATH 228) and PHYS 221 (available spring semesters)
PHYS 260 Introduction to Climate Change: Physics, Forecasts, and Strategies (3)
This is a one-semester introduction to the physical processes that determine Earth’s past, present, and future climate. The course focuses on quantitatively understanding the human impact on climate, including the historical development of steadily more sophisticated physical models, and ever more complete data. Particular emphasis will be placed on understanding climate change projections, as well as the ethical, political, economic, and communications challenges associated with various strategies going forward. The course is appropriate for all majors. (Cross-listed as EEPS 260.)
PHYS 261 Our Knowledge of Climate Change: What do we know and how do we know it? (3)
Traditional theories of knowledge have concentrated on the actions and beliefs of individuals, and how they marshal evidence from the world to support or refute their scientific hypotheses. This traditional epistemological framework has been challenged by the developments of the modern era of Big Science, resulting in the development of new approaches to a social epistemology of science. Reflective of how science is done, this epistemological framework in turn can provide guidance for the robust prosecution of the scientific enterprise. Perhaps nowhere is this more important than in climate science, where on the one hand the underlying dynamics of climate change pose an existential threat to our civilization, and on the other, there are active and well organized efforts to derail the scientific process and to denigrate the scientists.
This course will first develop classical notions of the epistemology of science, including the role of models and issues of uncertainty (statistical, systematic, and gross) as well as the challenges of developing a robust scientific process resistant to fraud. These issues will be illustrated by consideration of various classical experiments. The course will then expand the epistemological framework to the collaborative context of modern big science, illustrating the issues by examples from the field of high energy physics (which saw the development of the World Wide Web by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, to allow physicists from around the world to share and collectively analyze data). With this in hand the course will explore the history and current state of climate science in the framework of a social epistemology of big science. Students will develop a good understanding of the role of hierarchical models of climate science, the empirical basis for our current understanding of anthropogenic climate change, the role and development of international coordination of climate science and its implications for policy, and the challenges posed by hostile, well-organized efforts to disrupt the scientific process, the public understanding of the science, and ultimately the processes necessary for addressing the challenges of climate change. (Cross-listed as PHIL 261. PHYS 261 will be offered for the first time in summer 2021.)
PHYS 301. Advanced Laboratory Physics I (3)
Problem solving approach with a range of available experiments in classical and modern physics. Emphasis on experimental technique and data and error analysis, and the formal presentation of the work performed. Advisory Prereq: PHYS204. Coreq: PHYS 303 and must be a physics or astronomy major or minor. (available fall semesters)
PHYS 302. Advanced Laboratory Physics II (4)
Several projects using research-quality equipment in contemporary fields of experimental physics. Each requires reading appropriate literature, choosing appropriate instrumentation, performing data acquisition and analysis, and writing a technical paper. Topics include particle counting techniques, neutron activation, gamma-ray spectroscopy, a range of condensed matter experiments including temperature dependent properties between 10 and 350 K, modern optics, ultrahigh vacuum surface science. Prereq: PHYS301. (available spring semesters)
PHYS 303. Advanced Laboratory Physics Seminar (1)
Students will discuss various issues associated with physics research. These include how to judge the quality of an experiment and data (error analysis), how to present your work in written and oral formats, safety and ethical concerns in the laboratory. PHYS 303 plus PHYS 352 is an approved SAGES Departmental Seminar. Advisory Prereq: PHYS 250. (available fall semesters)
PHYS 306. Nuclear Physics and Nuclear Technology (3)
This course is intended for upper-division physical science and engineering majors. We will spend the first half of the semester discussing basic principles of nuclear physics: nuclear binding energies, decays, shell structure, and reactions, and particle interactions with matter. We will briefly discuss environmental radioactivity and nuclear astrophysics. For the second half of the semester, we will discuss nuclear technology, focusing on nuclear power. We will cover neutron thermalization and capture, reactivity, reactor control and stability conditions, and survey a number of historic and modern reactor designs. Two weeks of non-reactor technology lectures will cover nuclear weapons, nuclear medicine, accelerator technology, and fusion reactors. The course will have a computing component using nuclear engineering tools. Prereq: PHYS 221. (first offered in fall 2021 : CHEM 336 is also an acceptable prereq but a permit to enroll might be needed)
PHYS 310. Classical Mechanics (3)
Lagrangian formulation of mechanics and its application to central force motion, scattering theory, rigid body motion, and systems of many degrees of freedom. Advisory Prereq: PHYS221 and either MATH223 or MATH227. (available spring semesters)
PHYS 313. Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics (3)
Thermodynamic laws, entropy, and phase transitions from the quantum mechanical viewpoint. Gibbs and Boltzmann factors. Ideal, degenerate fermion, degenerate boson, photon, and phonon gases. Correlation functions and transport phenomena. Applications ranging from solid state physics to astrophysics. Prereq: PHYS221. (available fall semesters)
PHYS 315. Introduction to Solid State Physics (3)
Characterization and properties of solids; crystal structure, thermal properties of lattices, quantum statistics, electronic structure of metals and semiconductors. Prereq: PHYS331 or PHYS 481. (formerly offered in the fall but moved to the spring starting in 2019)
PHYS 316. Introduction to Nuclear and Particle Physics (3)
The physics of nuclei and elementary particles; experimental methods used to determine their properties; models and theories developed to describe their structure. Prereq: PHYS331 or PHYS 481. (available spring semesters)
PHYS 317. Engineering Physics Laboratory I (3)
Laboratory course for engineering physics majors. Emphasis is on experimental techniques, data and error analysis, and written and oral presentation of work. Four experiments drawn from classical and modern physics are carried out. These emphasize condensed matter, material and optical physics. Experiments include electric fields, resistivity of materials, optical interference, chaotic systems and spectroscopy. Design of data analysis systems and software is required. Prereq: PHYS208. Co-req: PHYS 303. (available fall semesters)
PHYS 318. Engineering Physics Laboratory II (4)
Laboratory course for engineering physics majors. Several projects using research-quality equipment in contemporary fields of experimental physics. Open-ended experiments each require reading appropriate literature, designing the experiment, performing data analysis, and writing a technical paper. Topics are drawn from areas of modern physics, and concentrate on condensed matter, material, and optical physics. Prereq: PHYS317. (available spring semesters)
PHYS 320. Introduction to Biological Physics (3)
This course explores the intersection of physics and biology: how do fundamental physical laws constrain life processes inside the cell, shaping biological organization and dynamics? We will start at the molecular level, introducing the basic ideas of nonequilibrium statistical physics and thermodynamics required to describe the fluctuating environment of the cell. This allow us to build up a theoretical framework for a variety of elaborate cellular machines: the molecular motors driving cell movement, the chaperones that assist protein folding, the information-processing circuitry of genetic regulatory networks. The emphasis throughout will be on simple, quantitative models that can tackle the inherent randomness and variability of cellular phenomena We will also examine how to verify these models through the rich toolbox of biophysical experimental and computational technologies. The course should be accessible to students from diverse backgrounds in the physical and life sciences: we will explain both the biological details and develop the necessary mathematical / physical ideas in a self-contained manner. Prerequisite: (MATH 122 or 124) and (ENGR 131 or EECS 132) ( generally available spring semesters)
PHYS 321. Advanced Computational Methods in Physics (3)
Advanced numerical methods applied to physical problems. Use of personal computers in the solution of practical problems encountered in physics. Topics may include ordinary and partial differential equations, linear algebra, and Monte Carlo techniques. Focus is placed on developing, documenting, testing, and presenting solutions to physical problems. Standard, collaborative tools commonly used in research groups will be employed. Offered as PHYS 321 and PHYS 421. Prerequisite: PHYS 250. (Offered for the first time in fall, 2019.)
PHYS 324. Electricity and Magnetism I (3)
First half of a sequence that constitutes a detailed study of the basics of electromagnetic theory and many of its applications. Electrostatics and magnetostatics of free space, conductors, dielectric and magnetic materials; basic theory illustrated with applications drawn from condensed matter physics, optics, plasma physics, and physical electronics. Prerequisite: PHYS 116, 122 or 124. (available spring semesters)
PHYS 325. Electricity and Magnetism II (3)
Continuation of PHYS 324. Electrodynamics, Maxwell’s equations, electromagnetic waves, electromagnetic radiation and its interaction with matter, potential formulation of electromagnetism, and relativity. Prerequisite: PHYS 324 (available fall semesters)
PHYS 326. Physical Optics (3)
Geometrical optics and ray tracing, wave propagation, interaction of electromagnetic radiation with matter, interference, diffraction, and coherence. Supplementary current topics from modern optics such as nonlinear optics, holography, optical trapping and optical computing. Prerequisite may be waived with consent of department. Prereq: PHYS122 or PHYS124. (offered approximately every second year, moving between the fall and spring based on demand)
PHYS 327. Laser Physics (3) (This course was named “Quantum Electronics” before fall 2013.)
An introduction to theoretical and practical quantum electronics covering topics in quantum optics, laser physics, and nonlinear optics. Topics to be addressed include the physics of two-level quantum systems including the density matrix formalism, rate equations and semiclassical radiation theory; laser operation including oscillation, gain, resonator optics, transverse and longitudinal modes, Q-switching, mode-locking, and coherence; and nonlinear optics including the nonlinear susceptibility, parametric interactions, stimulated processes and self-action. Prereq: Physics 331 or 481. (offered approximately every second year, moving between the fall and spring based on demand)
PHYS 328 . Cosmology and the Structure of the Universe (3) [PHYS 328 is a cross-listing of a course that is controlled by the Department of Astronomy.]
Distances to galaxies. The content of the distant universe. Large scale structure and galaxy clusters. Physical Cosmology. Structure and galaxy formation and evolution. Testing cosmological models. (This course is an ASTR course with a PHYS cross-listing. Its title is similar to PHYS 336 Cosmology and you should consult with recent instructors for these courses if you need assistance with distinguishing between them. Note that ASTR/PHYS 328 has an ASTR 221/222 prerequisite.
PHYS 329. Independent Study (1-4)
An individual reading course in any topic of mutual interest to the student and the faculty supervisor. (available spring & fall semesters)
PHYS 330. Experimental Methods in Biophysics (3)
There is an extensive array of powerful and elegant tools used to obtain quantitative and qualitative information about the physics of biology. New, cutting-edge techniques are being developed by labs around the world every day. To solve important problems in biophysics, an understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the current instrumental methods is needed. This course will focus on the physical principles of biophysical instrumentation so that appropriate choices and efficient use of measurement tools can be made. Exposure to instrumentation in core facilities around campus will link lectures to practical demonstrations of the operation of instrumentation. Techniques applied to a diversity of biological macromolecules and assemblies from the molecular level of proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, up to higher organization of cells, cellular organisms and tissues will be discussed. Topics covered include spectroscopic methods (IR/vis/UV/X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, absorption, fluorescence, circular dichroism, dynamic light scattering, Raman, electron paramagnetic resonance, NMR), microscopy techniques (electron, atomic force, scanning tunneling, optical), separation techniques (sedimentation, centrifugation, chromatography), crystallography, calorimetry, mass spectrometry, single molecule detection, cell sorting, functional genomics and proteomics and laboratory evolution. Biological examples from historical and current literature will be used to demonstrate the merits of each of the methods. Offered as PHYS 330 and PHYS 440. Prereq: PHYS 122 or PHYS 124. (offered for the first time in fall 2020)
PHYS 331. Quantum Mechanics I (3)
Quantum nature of energy and angular momentum, wave nature of matter, Schroedinger equation in one and three dimensions; matrix methods; Dirac notation; quantum mechanical scattering. Two particle wave-functions. Prereq: PHYS221. (available fall semesters)
PHYS 332. Quantum Mechanics II (3)
Continuation of PHYS 331. Spin and fine structure; Dirac equation; symmetries; approximation methods; atomic and molecular spectra; time dependent perturbations; quantum statistics; applications to electrons in metals and liquid helium. Prereq: PHYS331. (available spring semesters)
PHYS 333. Science and Technology in France (3)
The course is an exploration of the development of science and technology in France, its rise in the 18th and 19th century, its subsequent decline until the mid-20th century, and its more recent renaissance–from both a scientific and humanities perspective. A significant component will focus on the contributions of women to science in France. Students will visit historical sites such as Marie Curie’s laboratory and the Foucault pendulum, as well as current research facilities such as the Soleil Synchrotron outside of Paris and the Large Hadron Collider in France/Switzerland. To supplement these site visits, readings will come from the fields of science and technology (e.g., popular journals such as Scientific American), history, and French literature–either in French or English translation as appropriate for the student and the enrollment choice. See http://liq-xtal.case.edu/FrenchScience.htm for details.
Offered as: FRCH 328, FRCH 428, WGST 333, WLIT 353 and WLIT 453. (available May term)
PHYS 336. Modern Cosmology (3)
An introduction to modern cosmology, and an explanation of current topics in the field. The first half of the course will cover the mathematical and physical basis of cosmology, while the second will delve into current questions and the observations that constrain them. Prereq: PHYS221. (This course might appear similar to PHYS 328 Cosmology, which is a cross-listing of ASTR 328. You should consult with a recent instructor for these courses if you need assistance with distinguishing between them. (PHYS 336 is offered approximately every second year, moving between the fall and spring based on demand. Check with the department academic representative to determine when the next offering is planned.)
PHYS 339. Seminar (1-3)
Conducted in small sections with presentation of papers by students and informal discussion. Special problem seminars and research seminars offered according to interest and need, often in conjunction with one or more research groups. Prereq: Consent of department. (Topical seminars may be available fall & spring semesters.)
TOPIC: Physics Review A-Z: This PHYS 339 seminar has been offered in both fall and spring semesters for several years.
PHYS 349 Methods of Mathematical Physics I (3)
Analysis of complex functions: singularities, residues, contour integration; evaluation and approximation of sums and integrals; exact and approximate solution of ordinary differential equations; transform calculus; Sturm-Liouville theory; calculus of variations. Prereq: (PHYS 121 or PHYS 123) and (MATH 224 or MATH 228)(available fall semesters)
PHYS 350. Methods of Mathematical Physics II (3)
(Continuation of PHYS 349.) Special functions, orthogonal polynomials, partial differential equations, linear operators, group theory, tensors, selected special topics. Prereq: PHYS349. (PHYS 350 will be not be offered every year. Students should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies to find out when it will next be available. If it is offered, it will be taught in the spring semester.)
PHYS 351. Senior Physics Project (4 credits total, 2 credits each semester)
A two semester course required* for senior BS and BA physics majors. Students pursue a project based on experimental, theoretical or teaching research under the supervision of a physics faculty member, a faculty member from another CWRU department or a research scientist or engineer from another institution. A departmental Senior Project Committee must approve all project proposals and this same committee will receive regular oral and written progress reports. Final results are presented at the end of the second semester as a paper in a style suitable for publication in a professional journal as well as an oral report in a public symposium. ( approved SAGES capstone ) Prereq: PHYS303, Coreq: PHYS 352. For more information, see Senior Projects/Senior Projects.htm . (available fall & spring semesters) (*PHYS 351 is not longer required.)
PHYS 352. Senior Physics Project Seminar (2 credits total, 1 credit each semester)
This two semester seminar is taken concurrently with the student’s two semester senior project. Students meet weekly to discuss their projects and the research experience. The class will include dialogues about professional issues such as ethics, graduate school, jobs, funding, professional organizations, public obligations, writing and speaking. Assignments include proposals, progress reports, and posters. PHYS 352 plus PHYS 303 is an approved SAGES Departmental Seminar. Coreq: PHYS 351 or PHYS 353. (available fall & spring semesters)
PHYS 353. Senior Engineering Physics Project (4 credits total, 2 credits each semester)
A two semester course required* for BSE Engineering Physics majors. Students are expected to complete a research project in their concentration area under the supervision of a faculty member in science, engineering, or, with approval, a researcher at another institution or company. The project may be calculational, experimental or theoretical, and will address both the underlying physics and appropriate engineering and design principles. A program Senior Project Committee must approve all project proposals and will receive regular oral and written progress reports. Final results are presented at the end of the second semester as a paper in a style suitable for publication in a professional journal as well as an oral report in a public symposium. (approved SAGES capstone) Prereq: PHYS318, Coreq: PHYS 352. For more information, see Senior Projects/Senior Projects.htm . (available fall & spring semesters) (*PHYS 351 is not longer required.)
PHYS 365. General Relativity (3)
This is a first course in general relativity. The techniques of tensor analysis will be developed and used to describe the effects of gravity and Einstein’s theory. Consequences of the theory as well as its experimental tests will be discussed. An introduction to cosmology will be given. Admission to this course requires consent of the department. (offered approximately every second year, moving between the fall and spring based on demand. Check with the department academic representative to determine when the next offering is planned.)
PHYS 386 Quantum Computing, Information, and Devices (3)
An introduction to the math, physics, engineering, and computer science underlying the rapidly emerging fields of quantum computing, quantum information, and quantum devices. The course is taught by a group of faculty from physics, engineering, computer science, and math, and is geared towards students with diverse backgrounds and interests in these fields. Students will select a concentration in one of these four areas, and the coursework, while still covering all topics, will be adjusted to focus on the selected area in the most detail. Note that the listed prerequisites depend on choice of concentration.
Topics will include:
1. (Mathematics) Introduction to linear algebra, convex geometry, fundamental theory of quantum information.
2. (Physics) Introduction to the quantum mechanics of two-level systems (qubits). Survey of physics and materials for qubit technologies.
3. (Computer Science) Basic quantum gates and circuits, introduction to the theory of algorithms, survey of quantum algorithms.
4. (Engineering) Quantum architectures, mapping algorithms onto circuits.
The course consists of lectures, homework, and group projects. Group projects will aim to synthesize the diverse backgrounds of the students and instructors to capture the interdisciplinary nature of the field. Students taking the course for graduate credit will complete an additional literature research project and presentation, in addition to enhanced problem sets.
Offered as PHYS 386 and PHYS 486.
Prereq: PHYS 331 and (MATH 223 or MATH 227) and (MATH 224 or MATH 228) and (ENGR 131 or CSDS 132 or ECSE 132) and (PHYS 122 or PHYS 124).
(As of 10/29/2020, this course is approved to be offered one time, in the spring of 2020, in conjunction with associated courses from the other departments described above. Some details may change with the requested permanent approval of these courses, expected in the next few months. These details include formal cross-listings and course prerequisites for the various versions.)
PHYS 390. Undergraduate Research in Physics (0-6*)
Research conducted under the supervision of a faculty member in the Department of Physics. Arrangements must be made with a faculty member and a written description of these arrangements must be submitted to and approved by the department before a permit will be issued to register for this course. A final report must be supplied to the department at the end of the semester. Prereq: Consent of department. For more information, see http://www.phys.cwru.edu/undergrad/PHYS390/PHYS390.htm . (available fall & spring semesters)
* Credit for PHYS 390 should conform to the university policy that 1 credit is equivalent to 3 – 4 hours of effort per week, on average.
PHYS 100T, PHYS 200T and PHYS 300T. PHYS 100, 200 or 300 Level Transfer Course (3 or more)
These course numbers are available to provide transfer credit for courses taken elsewhere that merit CWRU credit but which don’t correspond to a course offered by our department.
Descriptions of CWRU graduate courses can be found at https://physics.case.edu/graduate-studies/courses-gradstudies/.
SAGES FIRST & UNIVERSITY SEMINARS
FSCC 100. Life of the Mind
This four credit-hour course provides an introduction to various dimensions of academic life. It will be characterized by intense yet open-ended intellectual inquiry, guided by reading from primary as well as secondary sources, and will include practice in written and oral communication in small groups. Each seminar is led both by a faculty member and a writing co-instructor. The goals are to enhance basic intellectual skills of academic inquiry, such as critical reading, thoughtful analysis, and written and oral communication; to introduce basic information literacy skills; to provide a foundation for ethical decision-making; to encourage a global and multidisciplinary perspective on the learning process; to facilitate faculty-student interactions; and, in the most general sense, to provide a supportive common intellectual experience for first-year students at Case. This seminar is about finding our themes, both as individual writers, and as a class. Authors Gladwell, Foer and Sandel will provide the initial grist for our mill. Students will make as many choices as is feasible in setting the direction of the course. (offered in fall 2011 by P. Kernan)
FSCC 100. Life of the Mind
This four credit-hour course provides an introduction to various dimensions of academic life. It will be characterized by intense yet open-ended intellectual inquiry, guided by reading from primary as well as secondary sources, and will include practice in written and oral communication in small groups. Each seminar is led both by a faculty member and a writing co-instructor. The goals are to enhance basic intellectual skills of academic inquiry, such as critical reading, thoughtful analysis, and written and oral communication; to introduce basic information literacy skills; to provide a foundation for ethical decision-making; to encourage a global and multidisciplinary perspective on the learning process; to facilitate faculty-student interactions; and, in the most general sense, to provide a supportive common intellectual experience for first-year students at Case. (offered in fall 2009 by J. Ruhl and P. Kernan)
FSNA 103. Energy and Society
This four-credit-hour course provides an introduction to collegiate writing and to various dimensions of academic life, but will focus on the critical appreciation of the world of energy. Currently, most of the world runs on non-renewable resources; this course is designed to help students develop viewpoints about these issues, and to express themselves in a clear, coherent way. The class will involve both literacy and numeracy, and students will learn to become comfortable handling some of the quantitative measures of energy use. The class will be characterized by intense yet open-ended intellectual inquiry, guided by reading, lectures and discussion, and will include practice in written and oral communication individually and in small groups. (offered in fall 2012 and previous falls since 2005 by P. Taylor, G. Chottiner & J. Ruhl, fall 2013 -2015 by P. Taylor).
FSNA 124. The Challenge of Sustainability
This four-credit-hour course provides an introduction to collegiate writing and to various dimensions of academic life, but will focus on the critical appreciation of the challenges we face in transitioning – or failing to transition – to a sustainable society. Climate change, along with increased development and population, are altering the natural environment we live in and rely on. This course will review some of the current and future impacts of these changes, and explore alternate paths forward and how they might be forged. The class will involve both literacy and numeracy, and students will learn to become comfortable handling some of the quantitative measures relevant to sustainability issues. The class will be characterized by intense yet open-ended intellectual inquiry, guided by reading, lectures and discussion, and will include practice in written and oral communication. (offered in fall 2010, 2014, 2015 by J. Ruhl)
FSNA 138. Light
This course explores Light, otherwise know as visible electromagnetic radiation. We will examine what light is in its various forms; how it is created and detected; how we perceive it; and how it has influenced our evolutionary development, our technological, artistic, and religious cultures, and our conceptions of space and time. Students will discuss topics suggested by the course readings and by exposure to the many scientific activities, historical artifacts, and artistic works on the CWRU campus and at other local institutions that involve light in a significant way. (initial offerings in fall 2012 & 2014 by K. Kowalski, approved as a regular offering)
USNA 228. Time
This seminar course will explore the nature of time from many stances, including those of Psychology, Biology, Technology and Philosophy. Yet time is central to Physics, and in Physics we will orient our explorations of time. Our understanding of time has sharpened a great deal in the last few centuries, the most obvious markers being Newton’s Absolute time, which remains entrenched in modern culture, and its subsequent physical overthrow by Einstein’s relativity. Given the physical primacy of Einstein’s time, many questions arise: How malleable is the concept of time? Is there a fact of time? Can the present be defined? The past? The future? The successes of modern Cosmology lead us to ask: Was there a beginning of time? Will time end? The symmetry of fundamental physical laws with respect to the direction of time, counterpointed by asymmetric phenomena, lead to: Is there a master arrow of time? Is the flow of time an illusion? In this course we will investigate what “Time” is telling us about the natural world and ourselves. (offered in spring 2013, 2015, 2016 by P. Kernan)
USNA 263. Reading and Writing Science
This seminar will examine the ways in which science is communicated to the non-scientist public. The goals are to teach the students to be critical consumers (readers, viewers, and/or listeners) of science as it appears in the public sphere, and to teach the students how to write about science for non-scientists. The course is co-taught by a scientist with experience writing for and speaking to the public, and by a science journalist. Students will engage with popularized science in a variety of formats–including newspaper and magazine articles, radio and television news and talk shows, television documentaries, internet postings, public lectures and popular books. We will make particular use of University Circle opportunities, such as public lectures both at CWRU and at neighboring institutions (e.g. the Explorer series at CMNH)–attending the lectures and, if possible, interacting with the speakers as a class. Several local or visiting science authors will be invited to participate in class discussions on their books. We will pay particular attention to how scientific stories are told in “the media”, through weekly examinations of science news stories. In relation to all these forms of communication, we will learn to ask who the author(s) is/are, how his/her/their training and relation to the story, as well as other factors, affects how the story gets told, and how to interrogate authorial claims. We will also practice writing science stories, with each student producing at least one piece for possible publication through university internal communications channels, and perhaps, ultimately, for distribution to external news organizations. (offered in spring 2012 by G. Starkman)
USNA 288C. Physics for Future Innovators & World leaders
We live in an increasingly technological society. Advances in technology improve our lives in countess ways, but they sometimes produce problems and challenges that are so complex that the average business or political leader cannot understand them–and therefore cannot make effective decisions to address them. Whether the problem is what to do about climate change, how to identify investment-worthy energy sources, how to provide sufficient and sustainable food and energy to the world’s population, or how to determine if an investment trend is a dangerous bubble, we will find better solutions if we have leaders who have an adequate understanding of basic physical principles and how physical “laws”–such as conservation of energy, exponential growth and decay, and gravity–can dictate the sagaciousness or feasibility of various solutions and applications. This course is designed to equip students with that knowledge. Using very little math, we will consider how an understanding of basic physical principles related to energy, force, space, electromagnetism, waves, and exponential growth can help us make sense of some of our most pressing technological problems. In addition, we will also examine issues related to the social uses of technology, including realistic timelines for technological development, incremental versus radical improvements, rapid estimation, identification of need, cost-benefit analysis, identifying spin in news reports, intellectual property rules, and ethical citation of sources. Class time will consist of group discussion, student presentations, and “Fermi Problems” (complex, creative problem solving with order-of-magnitude estimations). (offered in spring 2012, 2015, 2016 by E. Caner)
INACTIVE COURSES (not offered recently, with no plans to offer in the near future)
PHYS 100. Space, Time and Motion (3)
An introductory course in physics for students of the liberal arts. Discussion of how physics is performed, what important discoveries about natural phenomena have been made by physicists, and what are the most exciting questions being tackled by physicists today . Connections to current work appearing in various popular media will be made. In particular, emphasis is made on the connections between the fundamental discoveries that led to our understanding of motion and the nature of light, and much of the ongoing research at the forefront of modern physics. (This course has not been offered since 2002 and there are no plans to offer it in the near future. For a list of comparable, general interest physics courses, see the list of SAGES & University First Seminars at the bottom of this page.)
PHYS 101. Distinguishing Science from Pseudo-Science (3)
There are many current issues arising in popular discourse, ranging from the believability of ESP to reincarnation, to “free energy” machines, which can benefit from simple physical analyses. This course will provide an introduction to the use of basic principles of physics to explore the viability of these ideas. A seminar format will be utilized with specific topics presented by students and by the instructor. Advisory Prerequisite: PHYS100, PHYS115, PHYS121 or PHYS123. (There are no plans to offer this course in the near future.)