May 22, 2024  
2020-2021 Catalogue 
2020-2021 Catalogue [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physics Minor

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Cody Leary, Chair
Susan Lehman
John Lindner
Niklas Manz

Why is the sky blue? Why is water wet? In seeking to understand natural phenomena as simply as possible, physicists have made a remarkable discovery: whatever questions they ask the answers ultimately involve the same elegant principles of energy and momentum, mass and charge. Physicists seek and study rhythms and patterns among natural phenomena, including those that are readily apparent (like the orbits of planets) and those that are apparent only to deep analysis and careful observation (like the quantum fluctuations of atoms). Abetted by the power of mathematics, they ultimately comprehend and express the fundamental regularities of the physical universe in uniquely human metaphors. In this way, the universe comes to know itself in human terms.

A Physics major provides a rigorous grounding in the scientific process and a firm scientific understanding of the world. It fosters critical thinking and provides broad practical training in science and technology. It can lead to graduate study and basic research (in a variety of disciplines), to stimulating jobs in industry, or to challenging and rewarding careers in teaching. Our faculty is engaged in original research, and our students are drawn early into collaborative research projects with faculty.

Special Notes

  • The Calculus Physics sequence PHYS 11100 , PHYS 11200  is a prerequisite for the selection of Physics as a major and is best taken the first year, although one can still complete the major if the sequence is taken the second year.
  • The Calculus sequence MATH 11100 , MATH 11200  must be taken at least concurrently with the Calculus Physics sequence, although MATH 10700 , MATH 10800  may substitute for MATH 11100 .
  • Students must have completed both the Calculus sequence (MATH 11100  and MATH 11200 ) and the Calculus Physics sequence (PHYS 11100  and PHYS 11200 ) with a grade of C- or better before enrolling in PHYS 20100 .
  • Those students considering graduate study in physics should also take PHYS 35000 , MATH 21100 , CHEM 11100 , CHEM 11200 , and as many advanced Physics courses as can be scheduled.
  • Those students considering astronomy or astrophysics as a career should major in Physics and take PHYS 10400 , PHYS 10500 , and PHYS 32000 .
  • For students interested in engineering, Physics is a natural basis for 3-2 engineering programs, which are described under Pre-Professional and Dual Degree Programs . However, such students must complete enough physics in three years to complete the major in the fourth year, if necessary.
  • PHYS 10300 , PHYS 10400 , PHYS 10500 , PHYS 10700 , and PHYS 10800  do not count toward a Physics major (except by special permission of the department).
  • No student may receive credit for both PHYS 10700  and PHYS 11100 , or for both PHYS 10800  and PHYS 11200 .
  • Advanced Placement: A student may receive credit if a score of 4 or 5 is obtained on any of the following AP examinations:

Physics 1
Physics 2
Physics C: Mechanics
Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism

  • Students need to check with the chairperson of the department to determine whether they will receive one or two credits toward graduation and at what level they should begin their college Physics courses. The advanced placement policy of the College is explained in the section on Admission . Students who have taken a college level physics course (other than Advanced Level or AP Exam) and would like to place beyond the first Physics course need to take a placement exam that the chairperson administers.
  • The laboratory and classroom components are closely integrated in Physics courses with a laboratory and must therefore be taken concurrently. The course grade and the laboratory grade will be identical and are based on performance in both components; the relative weight of the two components will be stated in each course syllabus.
  • Physics majors cannot use S/NC grading option for the required courses, and the department recommends they not use it for any course in Physics, Mathematics, or Chemistry.
  • Physics minors can use the S/NC grading option for no more than two of the required courses.
  • Only grades of C- or better are accepted for the major or minor.

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