MaconCatalog : College of Liberal Arts and Sciences : ACADEMIC DEPARTMENTS : PHYSICS (PHY)
 
PHYSICS (PHY)
Sheng Chiang Lee, Chair/Associate Professor of Physics
José L. Balduz, Assistant Professor
Chamaree de Silva, Associate Professor
Matthew Marone, Associate Professor
Frank McNally, Assistant Professor
Mani Pokharel, Lecturer
 
The Physics Department offers physics majors leading to the B.S. and B.A. degrees and a minor in physics. The program in physics offers courses to meet the needs of: (1) students desiring to pursue physics-related industrial or governmental careers, (2) students desiring to continue their education in advanced graduate programs, (3) students desiring a physics major as preparation for science teaching in secondary schools, (4) students needing courses in physics as part of their major program, and (5) students not majoring in the sciences, but desiring a general knowledge of physics.
The Physics major leading to the Bachelor of Science degree is appropriate for those wishing to immediately gain professional employment as a physicist with industry or government, or to continue their education in a physics graduate program. The Physics major leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree is appropriate for those wishing to prepare for science teaching in secondary schools, or to increase the breadth of their education with a second major. Students wishing to pursue a major or minor in physics should confer with the department chair as soon as this decision is made in order to plan a program of studies.
 
Major in Physics: B.S. degree
58 semester credit hours with at least 40 credit hours in physics
CHM 111. General Chemistry I
MAT 191. Calculus I
MAT 192. Calculus II
MAT 293. Multivariable Calculus
MAT 330. Introduction to Differential Equations
PHY 161. General Physics I
PHY 162. General Physics II
Students who have successfully completed PHY 141 and MAT 191 may be admitted to PHY 162 by instructor approval. If they successfully complete PHY 162, they may thereafter enroll in other physics courses with a PHY 162 prerequisite as well as pursue majors or minors in physics, replacing the PHY 161 requirement with PHY 141. Note that this does not affect requirements set by other schools and programs, e.g., the requirement that mathematics, chemistry, and most engineering students must take one year of calculus-based physics.
PHY 300. Physics Seminar (2 hours)
PHY 305. Early Quantum Theory and Its Application
PHY 306. Relativity, Particle Physics, and Cosmology
PHY 314. Mathematical Methods for Physics
PHY 330. Thermal Physics
PHY 340. Analytical Mechanics
PHY 355. Electromagnetic Theory
PHY 450. Quantum Mechanics
At least three additional PHY courses numbered above 300
Successful completion of a senior comprehensive examination
Additional coursework in mathematics is recommended but not required: MAT 340 (Linear Algebra), which together with its prerequisite, either MAT 225 or MAT 260, will complete a minor in mathematics.
 
Major in Physics: B.A. degree
51 semester credit hours minimum with at least 29 credit hours in physics
CHM 111. General Chemistry I
MAT 191. Calculus I
MAT 192. Calculus II
MAT 293. Multivariable Calculus
PHY 314. Mathematical Methods for Physics
MAT 330. Introduction to Differential Equations
PHY 115. Descriptive Astronomy
PHY 161. General Physics I
PHY 162. General Physics II
Students who have successfully completed PHY 141 and MAT 191 may be admitted to PHY 162 by instructor approval. If they successfully complete PHY 162, they may thereafter enroll in other physics courses with a PHY 162 prerequisite, as well as pursue majors or minors in physics, replacing the PHY 161 requirement with PHY 141. Note that this does not affect requirements set by other schools and programs, e.g., the requirement that mathematics, chemistry, and most engineering students must take one year of calculus-based physics.
PHY 300. Physics Seminar (2 hours)
PHY 305. Early Quantum Theory and Its Application
PHY 306. Relativity, Particle Physics, and Cosmology
At least two additional PHY courses numbered above 300
Successful completion of a senior comprehensive examination
 
Physics majors should ideally complete MAT 191–192 and PHY 161–162 during the freshman year, and PHY 305/306/314 and MAT 293/330 during the sophomore year.
Majors may attain Departmental Honors in physics by fulfilling the following requirements: (1) attaining a grade point average of at least 3.50 in all courses taken in the department, and (2) satisfactorily completing a research project, including preparation of a paper suitable for publication in a scientific journal and/or presentation at a scientific meeting.
Secondary Teacher Certification Program in Physics
A major in secondary science education with certification for teaching grades 6-12 is available in physics as a separate Bachelor of Science in Education degree through the College of Education. Students planning to teach physics in secondary schools should notify their advisor and contact the chair of teacher education in the College of Education. Please consult the COLLEGE OF EDUCATION section of this catalog for complete degree requirements. This certification is approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.
Students who want a major in physics as well as certification for teaching in grades 6-12 may either (1) complete the requirements for two bachelor’s degrees or (2) qualify for certification through a post-baccalaureate program such as the Master of Arts in Teaching. See the requirements for dual degrees in the ACADEMIC INFORMATION section of this catalog (under Second Degree); see the GRADUATE STUDIES section of this catalog, College of Education, for information about the M.A.T. program.
 
Minor in Physics
23 semester credit hours minimum
MAT 191. Calculus I
MAT 192. Calculus II
PHY 161. General Physics I
PHY 162. General Physics II
Students who have successfully completed PHY 141 and MAT 191 may be admitted to PHY 162 by consent of instructor. If PHY 162 is completed successfully, they may thereafter enroll in other physics courses with a PHY 162 prerequisite, as well as pursue majors or minors in physics, replacing the PHY 161 requirement with PHY 141. Note that this provision does not affect requirements set by other schools and programs, e.g., the requirement that mathematics, chemistry, and most engineering students must take one year of calculus-based physics.
At least three additional PHY courses numbered 300 or above.
Note that PHY 300 may be counted only once toward the physics minor.
 
Minor in Biomedical Physics 
23 semester credit hours with 15 credit hours in PHY 
MAT 191. Calculus I 
MAT 192. Calculus II 
PHY 161. General Physics I 
PHY 162. General Physics II
Students who have successfully completed PHY 141 and MAT 191 may be admitted to PHY 162 by consent of instructor. If they successfully complete PHY 162, they may thereafter enroll in other physics courses with a PHY 162 prerequisite, as well as pursue majors or minors in physics, replacing the PHY 161 requirement with PHY 141. Note that this provision does not affect requirements set by other schools and programs, e.g., the requirement that mathematics, chemistry, and most engineering students must take one year of calculus-based physics. 
PHY 322. Modern Medical Instruments 
PHY 328. Biophysics of Nucleic Acids 
Choose one: 
PHY 330. Thermal Physics  
PHY 300. Physics Seminar (1 hour) 
PHY 460. Research in Physics (1 hour) 
 
PHY 102. Acoustical Foundations of Music (4 hours)
A one-semester introductory course for non-science majors. This course will examine music and sound from a scientific point of view focusing on waves and frequencies, as well as notes and scales. Students will be introduced to the topics of sound waves, propagation of sound, frequency, harmonics, waves on strings and in tubes, effects due to the listening environment, perception and synthesis of music. Three hours of lecture and three hours of lab per week. (Every two years)
PHY 108. Ancient Chinese Science and Technology (4 hours)
An overview of ancient Chinese science and technological innovations. A wide range of topics including astronomy, optics, acoustics, magnetism, mathematics, and physical science will be covered. These topics are examined in both their historical Asian and modern science contexts. Three hours of lecture and three hours of lab each week. (Every other year)
PHY 109. Science of Heaven and Earth (4 hours)
A one-semester introductory course for non-science majors. This course explores the evolution of cosmology into a science, from ancient times to the modern era, to illustrate how our knowledge of the natural world grows as this pursuit becomes more scientific. Course material includes general properties of science, conceptual physics content, and problem-solving at the level of basic algebra and geometry. Students will learn what distinguishes science from non-science and pseudo-science. Three hours of lecture and three hours of lab per week. (Every two years)
PHY 115. Descriptive Astronomy (4 hours)
Problems in astronomy will be presented on a fundamental level and will serve to demonstrate how scientific principles are established, how these principles are sometimes revised or disproved by new data and methods, and how observations of the universe can be used by people to learn more about their place in the cosmos. A lecture and laboratory course. (Every spring semester)
PHY 141. Introductory Physics I (4 hours)
Prerequisite: MAT 133.
Algebra-based physics: motion, forces, mechanical and heat energy. Three hours of lecture and three hours of lab per week. (Every semester)
PHY 142. Introductory Physics II (4 hours)
Prerequisite: PHY 141.
Continuation of PHY 141: electrostatics, electric currents, dc circuits, magnetism, waves and optics. Three hours of lecture and three hours of lab per week. (Every semester)
PHY 161. General Physics I (4 hours)
Prerequisite: A grade of C or better in MAT 191, or consent of instructor.
Physics with calculus for majors in the physical sciences and engineering: motion, forces, energy, momentum, rotations, oscillations, and heat. Three hours of lecture and three hours of lab per week. (Every semester)
PHY 162. General Physics II (4 hours)
Prerequisite: A grade of C or better in PHY 161.
Co-or prerequisite: MAT 192.
Continuation of PHY 161: electrostatics, electric currents, dc and ac circuits, magnetism, waves, and optics. Three hours of lecture and three hours of lab per week. (Every semester)
PHY 198. Special Introductory Topics in Physics: (Subtitle) (1-4 hours)
Study of an introductory topic in Physics not covered in any of the departmental offerings. Students must engage in projects or assignments requiring at least one contact hour, or equivalent, per week for every hour of credit. This course may not be applied to the Physics major or minor. (Occasionally)
PHY 300. Physics Seminar (1 hour)
Prerequisites: junior or senior status and either PHY 142 or PHY 162 or instructor approval.
This is a weekly, one-hour seminar focusing on current topics at the frontiers of physics. Each student must make at least one presentation each semester. May be taken up to four times for credit, but only two credit hours may be applied toward the physics major and one credit hour toward the physics minor. (Every spring semester)
PHY 305. Early Quantum Theory and Its Applications (3 hours)
Prerequisites: MAT 192 and PHY 162.
Introduction to quantum aspects of light and matter: photons, matter waves, wave-particle duality, uncertainty and quantum probability, the Schroedinger equation, atomic and molecular structure, classical and quantum statistics, and solid state physics. Three hours of lecture per week. (Offered every year)
PHY 306. Relativity, Particle Physics, and Cosmology (3 hours)
Prerequisites: MAT 192 and PHY 162.
Introduction to the physics of spacetime, the very small, and the very large: special relativity, nuclear and particle physics, general relativity and cosmology. Three hours of lecture per week. (Offered every year)
PHY 314. Mathematical Methods for Physics (3 hours)
Prerequisites: MAT 192 and PHY 162.
Mathematical methods useful in physics courses beyond calculus-based physics: complex numbers, matrix methods, Fourier analysis, special functions, and vector calculus. (Every year)
PHY 320. Topics in Physics: (Subtitle) (1-4 hours)
Prerequisite: to be determined by the instructor.
Study of a topic of current importance not covered in other department course offerings. Students must engage in projects or assignments requiring at least one contact hour, or equivalent, per week for every hour of credit. May be repeated with different subtitles and used to satisfy major or minor requirements any number of times. (Occasionally)
PHY 321. Introduction to Scientific Modeling (3 hours)
Prerequisites: MAT 191 and C or better in PHY 142 or 162.
Introduction to scientific modeling through a symbolic computing environment such as Mathematica®. Students will learn how to perform computational tasks such as algebraic manipulation, equation solving, and visual presentation of numerical results and use these skills to model a significant problem in their discipline. (Occasionally)
PHY 322. Modern Medical Instruments (3 hours)
Prerequisite: PHY 142 or PHY 162; and a grade of C or better in BIO 212 if taken as BIO 391.
An exploration of technologies that give modern medicine the ability to diagnose and treat diseases in powerful new ways. Students will develop an appreciation for the interdisciplinary nature of biomedical studies by studying the interconnectedness of relevant scientific developments. Operational principles behind various medical instruments for diagnosis and treatment will be discussed; additional guest speakers will present case studies or applications when available. Students are expected to be competent in basic algebra. (Occasionally) 
PHY 323. Introduction to Quantum Computation (3 hours)
Prerequisites: MAT 192 and PHY 162.
Introduction to quantum information and quantum computation, including basic concepts in quantum physics and the algebra required for their use in this context. Topics include cloning, cryptography, teleportation, and quantum algorithms. No prior knowledge of quantum physics or linear algebra is assumed. (Occasionally)
PHY 326. Astrophysics (3 hours)
Prerequisites: PHY 142 or PHY 162, MAT 191. 
An application of physical principles to humanity's observations of the universe. Students will learn how physics explains and informs astronomical observations, and how those observations may change human understanding of the natural world. Topics may include Greek and Renaissance astronomy; the properties and detection of light, cosmic rays, neutrinos, and gravitational waves; stellar lifecycles; and cosmology. (Occasionally)
PHY 328. Biophysics of Nucleic Acids (3 hours)
Prerequisite: PHY 162 or a grade of C or better in BIO 212 or consent of instructor.
This course will explore the discovery and structure of nucleic acids, with a focus on biophysical aspects of nucleic acids research. Topics may include DNA nanotechnology and single-molecule imaging. Oral presentations on primary literature articles are emphasized, and a formal literature review article is required. (Occasionally)
PHY 330. Thermal Physics (3 hours)
Prerequisites: PHY 162 and MAT 192.
Introduction to statistical mechanics covering classical and quantum statistics, and connections with thermodynamics. Quantum statistics will include investigations of thermal properties of solids and low temperature phenomena. (Every two years)
PHY 335. Solid State Devices (3 hours)
Prerequisites: MAT 192 and PHY 162.
Exploration of the physics of solid state devices, including transistors and LEDs, basic properties of conduction in solids, simple quantum mechanics, crystal structures, solid state chemistry and electronic circuits. Two hours of lecture and a 3-hour laboratory per week. (Every two years)
PHY 340. Analytical Mechanics (3 hours)
Prerequisites: MAT 330, and PHY 162, and either MAT 293 or PHY 314.
Statics and dynamics of particles and rigid bodies; Newtonian, Lagrangian, and Hamiltonian description of systems; vibrating systems including normal modes. (Every two years)
PHY 355. Electromagnetic Theory (3 hours)
Prerequisites: MAT 330, PHY 162, and PHY 314.
Electrostatics, magnetostatics, electrodynamics, Maxwell’s equations, electromagnetic waves. (Every two years)
PHY 365. Mathematical Physics (3 hours)
Prerequisites: MAT 330, PHY 162, and PHY 314.
Mathematical methods useful in upper-division physics courses are explored. Topics may include probability distributions, linear algebra, complex variables, orthogonal functions, partial differential equations, chaotic dynamics, and group theory. (Occasionally)
PHY 370. Experimental Physics (3 hours)
Prerequisites: MAT 192 and PHY 162.
Introduction to experimental techniques including computerized data acquisition, data analysis, analog and digital electronics and instrumentation. Students will also learn the LabVIEW programming language. Two hours of lecture and a 3-hour laboratory per week. (Occasionally)
PHY 397. Preceptorship (1-2 hours)
Prerequisite: permission of department chair.
Selected students will serve as learning facilitators in a class typically at the 100-200 level. Preceptors commonly attend all classes, read assigned texts, participate in class discussions, and take on other duties as assigned, but are not allowed to grade the work of students enrolled in the course. Each preceptor will reflect on the preceptorship experience in accordance with departmental practices, usually by keeping a journal during the semester. At least three hours of work per week are required for every hour of credit. Successful completion of the course meets the EXP requirement (EXP 408). Graded S/U. May not be counted toward the major or minor. May be repeated once for a maximum of four credit hours. (As needed)
PHY 398. Internship in Physics (1-3 hours)
Prerequisites: junior or senior standing, and permission of department chair.
An intensive practicum experience at an approved business, organization, or academic institution. Students, under the direction of a faculty member and an on-site, agency supervisor must engage in projects or assignments requiring at least three, on-site hours per week for every hour of credit. Students will learn through observation, regular discussions with the on-site supervisor and Mercer faculty member, and writ- ten reflection. In addition, students may be required to attend training events, workshops or weekly seminars. This course may be repeated for a total of 9 hours and does not count toward a major or minor in Physics. Graded S/U. (Every year)
PHY 420. Advanced Topics in Physics: (Subtitle) (1-4 hours)
Prerequisite: to be determined by the instructor.
Study of a topic in greater depth than in other department course offerings, or an advanced topic of current importance not covered in other department course offerings. May be repeated with different subtitles and used to satisfy major or minor requirements any number of times. Students must engage in projects or assignments requiring at least one contact hour, or equivalent, per week for every hour of credit. (Occasionally)
PHY 450. Quantum Mechanics (3 hours)
Prerequisites: MAT 330, PHY 305, and PHY 314.
Introduction to the concepts and techniques of quantum mechanics. Mathematical formalisms, applications to discrete and continuous physical systems, and philosophical implications of quantum mechanics will be investigated. (Every two years)
PHY 460. Research in Physics (1-3 hours)
Prerequisite: to be determined by the student’s research advisor.
Training in the techniques of basic research in physics with application to a research project of current importance. May be spread over several semesters. Students must engage in projects or assignments requiring at least one contact hour, or equivalent, per week for every hour of credit. May be taken for up to 6 credit hours. (Occasionally)