George Mason University 1997-98 Catalog Catalog Index
Course Descriptions

Search the 1997-1998 Catalog:


Physics Courses (PHYS)


Physics and Astronomy

101 Light and Sound in Our World (3:3:0). Nature of light, color and sound, electromagnetic spectrum, optical instruments, mechanisms of vision and hearing, color addition and subtraction, synthesis of musical sounds, interference of waves, polarization, the Doppler effect, lasers, and holography.

103, 104 Principles and Development of Modern Physics (4:3:3), (4:3:3). PHYS 103 prerequisite to PHYS 104. For non-science majors. Topics include mechanics, relativity, cosmology, atomic physics, electricity and magnetism, nuclear physics, and elementary particles. Emphasis on historical, philosophical, and social aspects of modern physics.

106, 107 Physics for the Life Sciences (3:3:0), (3:3:0). Prerequisite: One year of college mathematics; PHYS 106 is prerequisite to 107. Topics include mechanics, properties of fluids and gases, sound, heat, electricity, light, the atom, the nucleus, and radiation. Basic principles of physics emphasizing applications to biological sciences.

201 Energy and Environment (3:3:0). Basic ideas of science and technology with emphasis on their interaction with our contemporary culture. Designed for science and nonscience majors with interests in current concerns of energy and environment. Origin, forms, uses, and distribution of energy and resulting environmental effects. May not be included for credit by physics majors within the 45 hours of physics courses required for the B.S. degree or within the 31 hours of physics courses required for the B.A. degree.

225 Problems in Physics I (1-3:0:0). Prerequisites: 24 hours and 3.0 GPA in physics and mathematics. Individual study of physics problems of current interest. May be taken three times.

250 University Physics I (4:3:1). Corequisite: MATH 114. The first semester of three-semester, calculus-based introductory physics sequence, designed primarily for science and engineering majors. Mechanics.

251 Introduction to Computer Techniques in Physics (2:2:0). Prerequisite: PHYS 250. An introduction to the use of computers in physics based on examples from mechanics and astronomy.

300/GOVT 300 Nuclear Weapons Technology and Politics (3:3:0). Prerequisite: 60 hours or permission of instructor. A study of the history and development of nuclear weapons and nuclear strategy, the physical basis of nuclear weapons and their biological and physical effects, the effects of a nuclear war and the possible effectiveness of civil defense, the possibility of limited and winnable nuclear wars, arms control, nuclear proliferation, and public opinion on nuclear issues. This course may not count toward the physics major requirement.

303 Classical Mechanics (3:3:0). Prerequisites: PHYS 352, 353, and MATH 214. Motion of a particle in one, two, and three dimensions; systems of particles; non-inertial coordinate systems; equations of Lagrange and Hamilton.

305/ECE 305 Electromagnetic Theory (3:3:0). Prerequisites: PHYS 352, 353 and MATH 214. Interaction of static charges, interaction of stationary currents, electromagnetic induction, and Maxwell's equations.

306 Wave Motion and Electromagnetic Radiation (3:3:0). Prerequisite: PHYS 305. Vibrating string, plane waves, interference, diffraction, polarization, electromagnetic waves, dispersion, and relativity.

307 Thermal Physics (3:3:0). Prerequisite: PHYS 352, 303, or permission of instructor. Classical concepts of energy and temperature, basic definitions, first and second laws of thermodynamics, properties of pure substances, equations of state, introduction to classical and quantum statistics and their application to physical systems.

311, 312 Mathematical Methods in Physics and Engineering (3:3:0), (3:3:0). Prerequisite: PHYS 352 and MATH 214 or 306; PHYS 311 or MATH 313 is prerequisite to PHYS 312. Math techniques as applied in physics and engineering. Ordinary and partial differential equations, special functions, Fourier series, Laplace transforms, integral equations, matrices, and complex variables.

326 Problems in Physics II (1:0:0). Prerequisites: 60 hours and 2.5 GPA in physics and mathematical sciences. Individual study of physics problems of current interest. May be taken three times.

328/ASTR 328 Introduction to Astrophysics (3:3:0). Prerequisites: PHYS 303, 305, 361 and MATH 214. Physical concepts. Magnitudes of stars. Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, stellar radiation. Stellar structure and stellar evolution. White dwarfs, red giants, supernovas, neutron stars, black holes. Interstellar matter, dust, and molecules. Cosmic rays and magnetic fields. Galactic structure, galaxies, quasars, and intergalactic matter. High-energy astrophysics, cosmology, and general relativity. Models of the universe.

343, 345 College Physics (3:3:0), (3:3:0). (One-hour recitation.) Prerequisites: 60 hours or one year of college-level science and one semester of college-level mathematics, or permission of instructor. PHYS 343 is prerequisite to 345. Two-semester basic physics course with emphasis on topics of classical and modern physics of particular importance to science majors. The principles of mechanics, heat, electricity, magnetism, optics, atomic and nuclear physics.

344, 346 College Physics Lab (1:0:2), (1:0:2). Corequisites: PHYS 343 (for 344) and 345 (for 346). Laboratory portion of two-semester basic physics course.

350 University Physics II (3:3:0). (One-hour recitation.) Prerequisite: PHYS 250; corequisite: MATH 213. Waves, thermal physics, and electricity.

351 University Physics II Laboratory (2:0:3). Corequisites: MATH 213 and PHYS 350. Experiments in mechanics, electricity, and magnetism.

352 University Physics III (3:3:0). (One hour recitation) Prerequisite: PHYS 350; corequisite MATH 214. Electromagnetism, optics, and modern physics.

353 University Physics III Laboratory (2:0:3). Corequisites: MATH 214 and PHYS 352. Experiments in optics and modern physics.

361 Modern Physics with Applications (3:3:0). Prerequisites: MATH 214 and PHYS 352, and PHYS 303 or 305. Study of modern physics with emphasis on applications. Topics include introductory quantum physics; modern optics; lasers; binding and energy bands in solids; electrical, thermal, and magnetic properties of solids; semiconductors; radioactivity; nuclear reactions; radiation detectors; and applications of nuclear physics to other sciences.

390 Topics in Physics (1-4:0:0). Selected topics in physics not covered in fixed content courses. May not be included for credit by physics majors within the 45 hours of physics courses required for the B.S. degree or within the 31 hours of physics courses required for the B.A. degree.

402 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics and Atomic Physics (3:3:0). Prerequisites: PHYS 303 and 361 or permission of instructor. Experimental basis of quantum mechanics; the wave function; systems in one, two, and three dimensions.

407 Senior Laboratory in Modern Physics (3:0:9). Prerequisite: 21 hours of physics courses. Experiments in modern physics involving advanced techniques in electronics, optics, nuclear physics, and solid state. Typical experiments: the Frank Hertz Experiment, Hall Effect, electron paramagnetic resonance, Mossbauer Effect.

408 Senior Research (2-3:0:0). Prerequisite: 21 hours of physics courses. The student works under the guidance of a faculty member on a research project in experimental or theoretical physics. May be taken twice with permission of the Physics Department.

409 Physics Internship (3:0:0). Prerequisites: 75 hours, PHYS 303, 305, and permission of department. See department for other requirements and application procedures prior to enrollment. On-the-job experience for physics majors in industry or government laboratories including summer programs.

416 Special Topics in Modern Physics (1:2:0). Prerequisite: 21 hours of physics courses. Topics of current interest in modern physics with emphasis on the breadth of physical understanding needed to approach many of today's problems.

417/GEOL 417 Geophysics (3:3:0). Prerequisites: GEOL 101, 102, 201, 301; MATH 113, 114; and PHYS 250. Corequisites: MATH 213 and PHYS 350, 351. Seismological and gravitational theory and application to an understanding of the earth's interior. The geology requirement may be waived for physics and engineering students with sufficient background.

428/ASTR 428 Relativity and Cosmology (3:3:0). Prerequisites: PHYS 352, MATH 214 or 216; and PHYS 303, 305 or permission of instructor. Special relativity, four-dimensional space-time, general relativity, non-Euclidian geometries, geodesic and field equations, tests of general theory of relativity, black holes, cosmology, models of the universe, remnant blackbody radiation, big bang cosmology, thermodynamics, and the universe.

500 Physics for High School Teachers (3:3:0). Prerequisite: Certification as a secondary school physics instructor or permission of department. Techniques of teaching high school physics. Introduction to modern physics with emphasis on concepts rather than mathematical formalism. Recent developments in physics.

501 Physics Laboratory Techniques for High School Teachers (3:3:0). Prerequisite: Graduate standing. Theory and performance of experiments applicable to high school teaching with practical sessions on use of lab apparatus and computer. Recommended for high school teachers of physics.

502/PHYS 402 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics and Atomic Physics (3:3:0). Prerequisite: PHYS 361 or permission of instructor. Experimental basis of quantum mechanics; the wave function; systems in one, two, and three dimensions.

510 Computational Physics I (3:3:0). Prerequisites: PHYS 303, 305 and FORTRAN or C++ programming. Study of the computational aspects of continuous media with emphasis on the application of various numerical algorithms and techniques for solution. Includes physical perspective, mathematical formulation, and computer solution of problems in physics and astrophysics concerning ideal and non-ideal fluids, waves in fluid media, shock formation, and magnetohydrodynamics. Some knowledge and experience in programming and PC operation desirable.

512 Solid State Physics and Applications (3:3:0). Prerequisite: PHYS 402 or 502. Crystal structures, binding, lattice vibrations, the free electron model, metals, semiconductors and semiconductor devices, superconductivity, magnetism.

513 Applied Electromagnetic Theory (3:3:0). Prerequisites: PHYS 305, 306 and MATH 313, 314 or equivalent. Classical electromagnetic theory with applications. Topics include electrostatics, magnetic fields and materials, electromagnetic wave propagation, waveguides, transmission lines, radiation, and antennas.

520 The Physics of Energy and Environmental Technology (3:3:0). Prerequisite: B.A. or B.S. degree in natural science or mathematics, or permission of instructor. Contemporary problems of energy and the environment with emphasis on the underlying principles of physics within the constraints of engineering and economics. Intended for those pursuing careers in energy research and development, business administration, economics, ecology, and high school science instruction.

540 Nuclear and Particle Physics (3:3:0). Prerequisite: PHYS 402 or 502. Accelerators, detectors and related electronics; nuclear and elementary particle structure; symmetries and conservation laws; the electromagnetic, weak, and hadronic interactions; nuclear models; the quark model; nuclear science and technology.

542 Acoustics (3:3:0). The acoustic wave equation in two and three dimensions. Propagation of sound in bounded media and enclosures. Radiation and scattering, underwater acoustics, and electrical-mechanical-acoustical elements and circuits.

575 Atmospheric Physics I (3:3:0). Prerequisites: PHYS 305, 352, and 350 or equivalent. Introduction to basic physical and chemical processes that operate in the earth's atmosphere. Emphasis on those concepts that provide a global description of the current atmospheric state and those processes that relate to global change and atmospheric evolution. Topics include equilibrium structure, radiative transfer models, thermodynamics of various atmospheric layers, and the various processes defining these layers.

590 Selected Topics in Physics (1-6:0-6:0). Prerequisite: Graduate standing or permission of instructor. Selected topics from recent theoretical developments and applications. Satisfies the needs of the professional community to keep abreast of current developments.

600 Special Topics in Physics (1-6:0:0). Inservice course to strengthen and update teachers' knowledge of physics and astronomy.

610 Modern Instrumentation (3:3:0). Prerequisites: PHYS 513 and an electronics course. Topics include sensors for radiation, particles, electric and magnetic fields, pressure, and motion; electronic instruments, computer data collection, instrumentation noise and noise reduction methods, and specialized instrumentation systems for various areas of applied physics.

611 Electro-optics (3:3:0). Prerequisites: PHYS 502 and 513. Optical modulators, display devices, types and operation of lasers, mode locking, Q-switching, photodetectors, and optical fibers.

612 Physics of Modern Imaging (3:3:0). Prerequisite: PHYS 513. Study of imaging methods using acoustic and electromagnetic waves to probe extended objects, and mathematical transformations to produce images from the scattered waves. Topics include classical imaging, physical optics, Fourier transform, holography, tomography, seismic mapping, underwater acoustic imaging and mapping, side-looking radar, antenna arrays, and applicable computer methods.

613 Computational Physics II (3:3:0). Prerequisites: PHYS 303, 305, and 510; PHYS 502 or equivalent recommended. Study of diverse physical systems with emphasis on modeling and simulation. Study and development of numerical algorithms and techniques to obtain both numerical results and visualization of these results. Projects undertaken will draw from such areas as many-body orbital dynamics, molecular interactions, quantum systems, radiative transfer in high-temperature plasmas, stellar interiors, hydrodynamics, and cosmology.

620 Continuum Mechanics (3:3:0). Prerequisites: PHYS 510. Study of continuum mechanics; topics include physical concepts, mathematical formulation and solution, elastic materials, ideal fluids, viscous fluids, waves in continuous media, turbulence, thermal convection, stability considerations, high-temperature gas flows, radiative processes for momentum and energy transport, shocks, and computational fluid dynamics.

676 Atmospheric Physics (3:3:0). Prerequisites: PHYS 303, 305, and 361, MATH 314. Introduction to basic physical and chemical processes that operate in the earth's atmosphere. Emphasis on concepts that provide a global description of the current atmospheric state and processes that relate to global change and atmospheric evolution. Primary topics include equilibrium structure, radiative transfer models, thermodynamics of various atmospheric layers, and the various processes defining these atmospheric layers. Other topics include cloud formation, atmospheric dynamics, waves and turbulence, ozone photochemistry, solar-terrestrial relationships, the greenhouse effect, Gaia hypothesis, atmospheric circulation, modeling, predictability, and climatic change.

701 Theoretical Physics (3:3:0). Prerequisites: PHYS 502, 510, 513, or permission of instructor. Study of the physical basis for selection of particular mathematical tools in physics; topics include curvilinear coordinates, tensors, matrices, differential equations, special functions, complex variables, and group theory.

705 Classical Mechanics (3:3:0). Prerequisites: PHYS 502, 510, 513, or permission of instructor. Study of classical mechanics; topics include Lagrangian mechanics, Hamiltonian mechanics, canonical transformations, Hamilton-Jacobi theory, non-integral systems, rigid body dynamics, normal modes of vibration.

711/CHEM 711 Statistical Mechanics (3:3:0). Formerly PHYS 511. Prerequisites: PHYS 502 and 510, or permission of instructor. Statistical methods, systems of particles, thermodynamics, macroscopic parameters, the ideal gas, kinetic theory, quantum statistics, and transport processes.

722 Electromagnetic Theory (3:3:0). Prerequisites: PHYS 513 and 510, or permission of instructor. Advanced study of electric and magnetic fields; topics include electrostatic fields, magnetostatic fields, boundary-value problems in field theory, multipoles, simple radiating systems, relativistic electrodynamics, and radiation by moving charges.

728/CSI 728 Simulation of Large-Scale Physical Systems (3:3:0). Prerequisites: PHYS 613 or equivalent, and FORTRAN or other high-level language programming. Study of diverse large-scale physical systems with emphasis on the modeling and simulation of these multifaceted systems. Study and development of numerical algorithms and techniques to obtain both numerical results and visualization of these results. Projects will be drawn from such areas as many-body dynamics, molecular dynamics and interactions, atmospheric structure and dynamics, high-temperature plasmas, stellar structure, hydrodynamics systems, galactic structure and interactions, and cosmology.

732 Quantum Mechanics (3:3:0). Formerly PHYS 514. Prerequisite: PHYS 502 or permission of instructor. Study of the fundamental concepts of quantum mechanics, time evolution, Schroedinger and Heisenberg formalism, harmonic oscillators, propagators, Feynman path integrals, rotations and angular momentum, angular momentum eigenvalues and eigenstates, Bell's inequality, symmetries, conservation laws, degeneracy, perturbation theory, WKB methods, and scattering theory.

736/CHEM 736 Computational Quantum Mechanics (3:3:0). Prerequisite: PHYS 502, 510, or permission of instructor. Study of the fundamental concepts of quantum mechanics from a computational point of view, review of systems with spherically symmetric potentials, many-electron-atom solutions to Schroedinger's equation, electron spin in many-electron systems, atomic structure calculations, algebra of many-electron calculations, Hartree-Fock self-consistent field method, molecular structure calculations, scattering theory computations, and solid-state computations.

780/CSI 789 Topics in Computational Physics (3:3:0). Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Selected topics in computational physics not covered in fixed-content computational physics courses. May be repeated for credit as needed.

790 Colloquium in Physics and Astronomy (1:1:0). Prerequisite: Admission to physics graduate program. Attendance of colloquium presentations in physics and astronomy by department faculty, staff, and professional visitors to the department. May be repeated twice for credit.

796 Directed Reading and Research (1-6:0:0). Prerequisites: Admission to master's program and permission of instructor. Reading and research on a specific topic in physics or related field under the direction of a faculty member. May be repeated as needed.

798 Research Project (3:0:0). Prerequisites: Nine hours of graduate-level course work and permission of instructor. Project chosen and completed under the guidance of a graduate faculty member, which results in an acceptable technical report.

799 Master's Thesis (1-6:0:0). Prerequisites: Nine hours of graduate-level course work and permission of instructor. Project chosen and completed under the guidance of a graduate faculty member, which results in an acceptable technical report and an oral defense.

800 Studies for the Doctor of Philosophy in Education (variable credit). Prerequisite: Admission to the Ph.D. in Education program to study in physics. Program designed by student's discipline director and approved by student's doctoral committee, which allows the student to participate in the current research of the discipline director and results in a paper that reports the original contributions of the student. Enrollment may be repeated.


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