The BA program is appropriate for students seeking an in-depth understanding of physics and the natural sciences within the context of a broader education. This curriculum allows the greatest freedom in choosing electives offered by other departments, and is ideal for students wishing to pursue dual degrees, matching physics with another discipline.
The Physics BA major is designed to develop in students:
After completing this program, students should:
- understand some fundamental principles of physics and their ability to apply these principles in the solution of problems in:
- CLASSICAL MECHANICS (such as kinematics, Newton's laws, work and energy, oscillatory motion, rotational motion about a fixed axis, dynamics of systems of particles, central forces and celestial mechanics, three-dimensional particle dynamics, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalism, noninertial reference frames, elementary topics in fluid dynamics)
- ELECTROMAGNETISM (such as electrostatics, currents and DC circuits, magnetic fields in free space, Lorentz force, induction, Maxwell's equations and their applications, electromagnetic waves, AC circuits, magnetic and electric fields in matter)
- OPTICS AND WAVE PHENOMENA (such as wave properties, superposition, interference, diffraction, geometrical optics, polarization, Doppler effect)
- THERMODYNAMICS AND STATISTICAL MECHANICS (such as the laws of thermodynamics, thermodynamic processes, equations of state, ideal gases, kinetic theory, ensembles, statistical concepts and calculation of thermodynamic quantities, thermal expansion and heat transfer)
- QUANTUM MECHANICS (such as fundamental concepts, solutions of the Schrödinger equation (including square wells, harmonic oscillators, and hydrogenic atoms), spin, angular momentum, wave function symmetry, elementary perturbation theory)
- ATOMIC PHYSICS (such as properties of electrons, Bohr model, energy quantization, atomic structure, atomic spectra, selection rules, black-body radiation, x-rays, atoms in electric and magnetic fields)
- SPECIAL RELATIVITY (such as introductory concepts, time dilation, length contraction, simultaneity, energy and momentum, four-vectors and Lorentz transformation, velocity addition)
- SPECIALIZED TOPICS Nuclear and Particle physics (e.g., nuclear properties, radioactive decay, fission and fusion, reactions, fundamental properties of elementary particles), Condensed Matter (e.g., crystal structure, x-ray diffraction, thermal properties, electron theory of metals, semiconductors, superconductors)
- have appropriate laboratory skills for the analysis of physical systems. These include data and error analysis, instrumentation, radiation detection, counting statistics, and dimensional analysis.
- be able to use mathematical methods to study physical models. Such mathematical methods include single and multivariate calculus, coordinate systems (rectangular, cylindrical, and spherical), vector algebra and vector differential operators, Fourier series, ordinary and partial differential equations, boundary value problems, matrices and determinants, and functions of complex variables
- have appropriate oral and written communication skills that enable students to explain their work to people from a wide variety of backgrounds.
- have a basic understanding of elementary principles of other natural science such as astronomy, chemistry, biology or geology and their ability to apply these principles in the solution of problems