PC 251 --- Modern Physics

Instructors: Stephanie DiCenzo x6218 Barnes 222; Patricia Purdue x6172 Barnes 226

Nathaniel (paraprof) x8262 Olin 262; Jeff Steele (tech director) x6582 Olin 254

This is an introduction to 20th Century physics. We'll immerse ourselves in quantum mechanics, which will require us to review ( in many cases, to learn) quite a bit of math: calculus, differential equations, and complex algebra. You'll be allowed to use helpful sources, such as integrals.com, so as usual we'll avoid memorization.

Textbook: Bernstein, Fishbane, and Gasiorowicz, Modern Physics

Content: My plan is that we will focus on quantum mechanics, rather than covering a lot of topics. Quantum mechanics really is physics, for most practicing physicists. Unfortunately, it is hard to get used to and requires the application of mathematics you haven’t much used in classical mechanics. Our goal is to immerse you in it now, in the hope that the next time you see it, it will at least be familiar. Actually, I’m betting you’ll become pretty adept at it. We will do some serious math review in class. Helpful links ought to appear here.

General: Class will commence at 9 am each morning, except Mondays, when we'll meet at 1:30pm. We’ll generally begin with your questions and move on to my questions and proclamations, with a midmorning break. In this course we expect a lot of class participation from students - you all need to talk and to work problems on the board for the benefit of all. Homework will be just as important to the learning process as it was in introductory physics, and you are more than ever encouraged to work together on it. Your homework problems may or may not be graded or collected, but you already know that you have to do them in order to survive.

Labs: The lab will usually be available Tues-Fri afternoons (1-4pm) and Monday mornings (except the first Monday). The experiments will be set up in Olin 251. You should plan to do two labs per week. You need to do a total of six labs (there are seven experiments available). Because we only have one set of equipment for each experiment, you will need to rotate through the labs. Work in groups of two or three people, no more. Check-out will involve discussing your experiment and results with Patricia. Make sure you understand what you measured and what the results mean (i.e., why is this experiment important?).

Office hours: Whenever I'm in my office, which is most afternoons from about 2 pm till about 6 pm, unless the Avalanche, or my rec hockey team, has a game (all noted on the schedule) . On the first and third Mondays of the block I’ll be in a department meeting from noon till one pm, and we should all be at any physics seminars that may be scheduled during this block, usually on Fridays at noon. Most other noontimes I spend at the ice rink, so consider that as the morning winds to an end - I'll be wanting to leave. It is always OK to drop in to talk physics; I’ll let you know if there’s something else I absolutely need to do.

Tests: These will pretty much determine your grade in this course. There are likely to be three tests and a comprehensive final. Tests will usually be take-home tests, due Friday or Saturday mornings. Whether or not we offer our special replace-your-test-scores-with-your-final-exam-score deal, the final will still be worth a rather big chunk of your grade. All tests will be open-book, take-home ordeals. You will as always have to show your work and explain your thinking, and we will still not require you to memorize formulae. Information about tests will be posted.

Help: This might be a good block to get to know some of the more experienced physics majors. Some of them will be sweating blood in Quantum Mechanics; it’s hard to say whether this will help you. Come see me any time I’m around, as indicated under "office hours." And for heaven’s sake, get to know the other people in your class - you should all be helping each other.




polemics, etc.