Santa Clara University

Physics department

Courses Descriptions

1. Hands-On Physics (DeHart)
Emphasizes hands-on experience with sci­entific methods of thought and investiga­tion. Students build models to gain an understanding of fundamental physics prin­ciples. Includes term research projects in which students design experiments, collect and analyze data, and present results. Fall and winter quarters. (4 units)

2. Introduction to Astronomy: The Solar System (staff)
An introduction to astronomy with a partic­ular focus on the origin and evolution of the solar system, and planets and their satellites. Topics include a brief history of the science of astronomy, telescopes and observational methods, gravitation, spectra and the sun, asteroids, comets, astrobiology, and searches for new planetary bodies and extraterrestrial life. Special emphasis is given to the Earth as a planet, with comparisons to Mars and Venus. Students should be familiar with arithmetic and basic algebra. Observational lab meets five times during the quarter. Fall and spring quarters. (4 units)

3. Introduction to Astronomy: The Universe (staff)
An introduction to astronomy with a partic­ular focus on the origin and evolution of the universe, galaxies, and stars. Topics include a brief history of the science of astronomy, telescopes and observational methods, grav­itation, spectra and the sun, black holes, nebulae, the big bang, and the expansion and ultimate fate of the universe. Special emphasis is given to theories of the cosmos from Stonehenge to the present. Students should be familiar with arithmetic and basic algebra. Observa­tional lab meets five times during the quar­ter. Fall and spring quarters. (4 units)

4. The Physics of Dance (Barber & Popalisky)
An exploration of the connection between the art of dance and the science of motion with both lecture/discussion sessions and movement laboratories. Topics include: mass, force, equilibrium, acceleration, energy, momentum, torque, rotation, and angular momentum. Movement laboratory will combine personal experience of movement with scientific measurements and analysis, in other words: "dance it" "measure it." This is a lab science, not a dance technique course. Fall Quarter (4 units)

5. The Physics of Star Trek (Kesten)
Examines the physics and other science depicted in the Star Trek television shows and movies. Topics include Newton's and Einstein's physics, the Standard Model of particle physics, and the physics that underlies inertial dampers, transporter beams, warp drive, and time travel. Considers the impact on society of interplanetary travel, including the relationship between the space program and the advance of technology, the political ramifications of the mankind's race to space, and the implication of the discovery of extraterrestrial life on religion and faith. (4 units)

8. Introduction to Space Sciences (staff)
An introduction to space exploration and how observations from space have influ­enced our knowledge of Earth and of the other planets in our solar system. This is synthesized within the context of the field of astrobiology, an interdisciplinary study of the origin of the Universe and the evolution and future of life on Earth. Winter and spring quarters. (4 units)

9. Introduction to Earth Science (staff)
Overview of geology and its significance to man. Earthquakes, volcanism, plate tectonics and continental drift, rocks and minerals, geologic hazards, mineral resources. Emphasis on basic geologic principles and the role of geology in today's world. Winter and spring quarters. (4 units)

11. General Physics I (staff)
Vectors. Newtonian law of motion. Law of gravitation. Work. Kinetic and potential energy. Momentum and impulse. Rotational energy and momentum. Kepler’s Laws. Torque. Equilibrium. Elastic deformation of solids. Density and pressure of fluids. Bernoulli’s principle. Buoyant forces. Surface tension. Fall quarter. Prerequisites: MATH 11 or permission of the instructor. The PHYS 31/32/33 sequence and the PHYS 11/12/13 sequence cannot both be taken for credit. (4 units)

12. General Physics II (staff)
Temperature scales. Thermal expansion of sol­ids and liquids. Thermal energy. Heat transfer. Specific heat. Mechanical equivalent of heat. Work and heat. Laws of thermodynamics. Kinetic theory of gases. Ideal gas law. Entropy. Vibration and wave motion. Hooke’s law. Electric fields and potential. Ohm’s law. Potential difference. Electric potential. Energy stored in capacitors. Electric cur­rent. Resistance and resistivity. Electric energy and power. Kirchhoff’s Rules. RC circuits. Lab.Winter quarter. Prerequisite: PHYS 11. The PHYS 31/32/33 sequence and the PHYS 11/12/13 sequence cannot both be taken for credit. (5 units)

13. General Physics III (staff)
Magnetism. Magnetic force on a current car­rying conductor. Torque on a current loop. Motion of a charged particle in a magnetic field. Ampere’s Law. Magnetic field of a sole­noid. Induced EMF. Faraday’s Law of Induc­tion. Lenz’s Law. Self inductance. RCL series circuit. Power in an AC circuit. Resonance. Transformers. Optics: reflection, refraction, mirrors, and lenses. Total internal reflection. Diffraction. Youngs’s double slit interference. Polarization. Optical Instruments. Relativity. Wave-particle duality. Photoelectric effect. X-rays. Pair production and annihilation. Bohr Atom. Spectra. Uncertainty principle. Quan­tum numbers. Radioactivity. Nuclear particles and reactions. Lab. Spring quarter. Prerequisite: PHYS 12. The PHYS 31/32/33 sequence and the PHYS 11/12/13 sequence cannot both be taken for credit. (5 units)

19. General Physics for Teachers (staff)
A general physics course designed for future teachers. Topics covered include mechanics, properties of matter, heat, sound, electricity and magnetism, light, atomic and nuclear physics, and astronomy. Fall quarter. (4 units)

31. Physics for Scientists and Engineers I (Barber, Birmingham, Kesten, Weber, Young)
Measurement. Vectors. Straight-line kinematics. Kinematics in two dimensions. Laws of inertia, mass conservation, and momentum conservation. Center-of-mass and reference frames. Force. Newtonian mechanics and its applications. Work and kinetic energy. Potential energy and energy conservation. Rotational dynamics. Winter quarter. Prerequisite: Math 11.  (4 units)

32. Physics for Scientists and Engineers II (Barber, Birmingham, Kesten, Weber, Young)
Simple harmonic motion. Gravitation. Kepler's laws. Fluids. Waves. Thermal properties and kinetic theory of gases. Thermodynamics. Geometrical optics. Interference, diffraction, and polarization. Weekly laboratory included. Measurement theory. Statistical reduction of data. Computer graphing techniques. Experiments directly related to Newton's Laws and to conservation laws. Experiments in periodic motion. Mechanical equivalent of heat. Use of oscilloscope. Lab quizzes. Spring quarter. Prerequisite: Physics 31 and Math 11. Math 12 may be taken concurrently.(5 units)

33. Physics for Scientists and Engineers III (Barber, Birmingham, Kesten, Weber, Young)
Electrostatics. Gauss's law. Potential. Capacitance. Electric current. Resistance. Kirchhoff's rules. DC circuits. AC circuits. Magnetic force. Electromagnetic induction.  Weekly laboratory included. Laboratory Experiments with simple circuits involving capacitors and resistors. Experiments in magnetism and circuits involving inductors. Geometrical optics and computer ray tracing. Lasers. Lab quizzes. Fall quarter. Prerequisite: Physics 32, Math 12. Math 13 may be taken concurrently. (5 units)

34. Physics for Scientists and Engineers IV (Kesten)
Special relativity. Historical development of modern physics: black body radiation, photoelectric effect, Compton scattering, X-rays, Bohr atom, DeBroglie wavelength, Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Quantum waves and particles. Schrodinger equation. Nuclear structure and decay. Statistical physics. Solids. Semiconductors. Laboratory (Young). Winter quarter. Prerequisite: Physics 33. (5 units)

70. Electronic Circuits for Scientists I (Birmingham)
Linear electric circuits. D-C analysis, network theorems, phasor a-c analysis, transients. Diode circuits. Physics of p-n junction. Junction diodes, field-effect devices, bipolar junction transistors, operational amplifiers, logic gates, boolean algebra. Laboratory. Winter quarter. Prerequisite: Physics 33. (5 units)

103. Analytical and Numerical Methods in Physics (Ramon)
Review of linear algebra and matrix theory. Basic elements of programming in MATLAB. Linear systems of equations: coupled harmonic oscillators. Special functions. Numerical integration. Ordinary and partial differential equations. Spectral analysis (discrete Fourier transform). Selected applications. Prerequisites: MATH 22 or AMTH 106. (5 units)


104. Analytical Mechanics (Ramon)
Calculus of variations. Hamilton’s principle. Lagrangian and Hamiltonian approaches to classical dynamics. Central force motion. Non-inertial reference frames. Dynamics of rigid bodies, Selected topics in classical dynamics. Prerequisite: PHYS 103. (5 units)

111. Electromagnetic Theory I (Barber)
Review of vector calculus. Dirace delta function. Electrostatic fields. Work and energy. Laplace’s and Poisson’s equations. Separation of variables.  Fourier’s trick.  Legendre equation.  Multipole expansion.  Computational problems. Prerequisite: PHYS 33.  Co-requisite PHYS 103. (5 units)



112. Electromagnetic Theory II (Barber)
Magnetostatics. Induced electromotive forces. Maxwell’s equations. Energy and momentum in electrodynamics. Electromagnetic stress tensor. Electromagnetic waves.  Potential formulation.  Computational problems. Dipole radiation. Prerequisite: PHYS 111. (5 units)

113.  Advanced Electromagnetism and Optics (Weber)
Advanced topics in electromagnetic theory, classical optics and introductory quantum optics. Prerequisites: PHYS 112 and PHYS 122. (5 units)

116. Physics of Solids (Young)
Crystal structure. Phonons. Free electron theory of metals. Band theory of solids. Magnetism. Superconductivity. Spring quarter. Prerequisites: Physics 34, Physics 120, and senior standing. (5 units)

120. Thermal Physics (Young)
Laws of thermodynamics with applications to ideal and nonideal systems. Elementary kinetic theory of gases. Entropy. Classical and quantum statistical mechanics. Selected topics from magnetism and low-temperature physics. Fall quarter. Prerequisite: Physics 34. (5 units)

121. Quantum Mechanics I (Ramon)
The Schrödinger equation. The wave-function and its interpretation. Hilbert space, observables, operators and Dirac notation. Square potentials. Harmonic oscillator. The Hydrogen atom. Angular momentum and spin. Prerequisites: PHYS 34, PHYS 101, and PHYS 131 and either PHYS 102 or PHYS 132. (5 units)

122. Quantum Mechanics II (Ramon)
Identical particles. Time-independent perturbation theory. Variational principles. WKB approximation. Time-dependent perturbation theory. Scattering theory. Other advanced topics, such as quantum information and computation. Physics 122 is taught as a capstone course. Prerequisite: PHYS 121. (5 units)

141.  Modern Topics in Physics (staff)
A selection of current topics in physics research.  (5 units).

151. Advanced Laboratory (Young)
Laboratory-based experiments in the areas of atomic, nuclear, and quantum physics. Emphasis on in-depth understanding of underlying physics, laboratory techniques, data analysis, and dissemination of results. Design and implementation of independent table-top project. Introduction to LabVIEW™. Written and oral presentations. Prerequisite: Senior standing. (6 units)

161. Introduction to Astrophysics (Staff)
A survey of astronomy for science majors, focused on the physics and mathematics that astronomers use to interpret observations of planets, stars, and galaxies. For example, regarding the solar system, we can use Kepler's laws of planetary motion and Newtonian gravity to calculate transit times and launch speeds for space probes bound for Mars, and understand tidal heating of Jupiter's moons. To study stars, we can use characteristics of blackbody radiation described by the Planck equation plus Wien's and Stefan-Boltzmann's laws to determine temperatures and diameters of stars, and the curve of nuclear binding energy to gain insight into stellar lifetimes and evolution. Pondering cosmological questions, we can use measurements of galaxy redshifts, properties of the cosmic microwave background, and the chemical composition of the oldest stars to look back to the first three minutes after the 'big bang'. Prerequisite: PHYS 33. PHYS 34 recommended (5 units)





190. Senior Seminar (staff)
Advanced topics in selected areas of physics. Enrollment by permission of instructor. (2 units)

198. Undergraduate Physics Research (staff)
Departmental work under close professorial direction on research in progress. Permission of the professor directing the research must be secured before registering for this course. Restricted to physics majors, engineering physics majors, and honors students with a 3.0 or higher grade point average. Fall, winter, and spring quarters.

199. Directed Reading in Physics (staff)
Detailed investigation of some area or topic in physics not covered in the regular courses; supervised by a faculty member. Permission of the professor directing the study must be secured before registering for this course. Restricted to students with a 3.0 or higher grade point average. Fall, winter, and spring quarters.

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