(2010 Undergraduate Catalog)
Fred Olness, Department Chair
Fred Olness, Ryszard Stroynowski. Associate Professors:
Thomas Coan, Kent Hornbostel, Robert Kehoe, Roberto Vega, Jingbo Ye. Assistant Professors:
Jodi Cooley-Sekula, Pavel Nadolsky, Stephen Sekula. Senior Lecturer:
Randall Scalise. Lecturer:
Simon Dalley. Adjunct Lecturers:
John Cotton, Cas Milner. Research Professors:
Marc Christensen, Gary Evans, Peggy Gui, Tiankuan Liu. Emeritus Professors:
Jeff Chalk, George Crawford, Vigdor Teplitz.
The Physics Department offers a program consisting of course studies in broad areas of classical and modern physics, and research studies in both experimental and theoretical physics.
The research activities of the faculty are focused primarily in high energy, elementary particle physics and related fields. The advanced classes are small, so there is ample opportunity for students to work closely with Physics Department faculty, particularly in the advanced laboratories where students become familiar with state-of-the-art equipment. Undergraduate physics majors are strongly encouraged to participate in research activities. A majority of majors go on to pursue advanced degrees upon graduation from SMU.
This degree program is designed for students who plan careers in physics in industry, laboratories or academia. A candidate for the B.S. degree must complete a minimum of 40 hours in physics, including PHYS 1105, 1106, 1303, 1304 (or 1307 and 1308), 3305, 3340, 3344, 3374, 4211, 4321, 4392, 5382 and 5383. (PHYS 3345 may be substituted for 4321.) Additional courses may be chosen from a variety of physics electives or in related fields with departmental permission. A candidate for the B.S. degree must also complete 15 hours of courses in mathematics, including MATH 1337, 1338, 2339, 2343 and one advanced mathematics course. STAT 4340 also counts as an advanced mathematics elective. Finally, degree candidates must complete a minimum of three hours in computer science and engineering by completing CSE 1341 or 2341. Students planning to pursue graduate studies are encouraged to complete more than the minimum 40 credit hours in physics and 15 credit hours in mathematics.
This degree program is appropriate for students who wish to combine a physics curriculum with a broad liberal arts program with the aim of pursuing careers in medicine, teaching, business or government. A candidate for the B.A. degree must complete a minimum of 30 hours in physics, including PHYS 1105, 1106, 1303, 1304 (or 1307 and 1308), 3305, 3344, 4211, 4392 and 5382. Additional courses may be chosen from the available physics electives or in related fields with departmental permission. Additionally, a candidate for the B.A. degree must complete 15 hours in mathematics, including MATH 1337, 1338, 2339, 2343 and one advanced mathematics course.
Minor in Physics.
A minor in physics is particularly appropriate for majors in the natural sciences, including premed, mathematics and engineering. The departmental requirement for a minor in physics is 17 hours in physics, including PHYS 1105, 1106, 1303, 1304 (or 1307 and 1308), and nine hours of advanced coursework.
The Departmental Distinction Program.
A physics major achieving a B.S. degree may graduate “with departmental distinction” by successfully completing a special program of study in addition to the requirements stated above, while maintaining a minimum GPA of 3.5. The special program consists of independent reading, research and senior thesis under the direction of a departmental faculty member. The student must apply to the department for this designation during his or her junior year. The student will enroll in PHYS 4375 or 4390 during the program, and a senior thesis is to be written and presented to the faculty.
Simultaneous Degree Programs.
It is also possible to earn simultaneously a B.S. degree in physics from Dedman College and a degree in engineering from the Lyle School of Engineering. The undergraduate adviser of the Department of Physics should be consulted for detailed information on the simultaneous degree programs.
The Electrical Engineering Department and the Physics Department offer an integrated curriculum that enables a student to obtain both a B.S. degree in electrical engineering and a B.S. degree with a major in physics.
The minimum requirements for the dual degrees of B.S. in electrical engineering and B.S. in physics are as follows:
The Mechanical Engineering Department and the Physics Department offer a curriculum that enables a student to obtain both a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering and a B.S. degree with a major in physics.
The minimum requirements for the dual degrees of B.S. in mechanical engineering and B.S. in physics are as follows:
Any deviation from the ME and/or PHYS curricula requires approval of a petition submitted by the student to the appropriate faculty prior to the beginning of the term during which the student expects to complete the requirements for graduation.
1105. General Physics Laboratory.
One 3-hour laboratory period per week. Taken with PHYS 1303, 1307 if 8 hours of credit, including laboratory, are needed.
1106. General Physics Laboratory.
One 3-hour laboratory period per week. Taken with PHYS 1304, 1308 if 8 hours of credit, including laboratory, are needed. Prerequisite:
PHYS 1105 or self-test.
1301. The Ideas of Modern Physics.
Presents cosmology, relativity, quantum mechanics and particle physics in an essentially descriptive, nonmathematical framework accessible to all SMU students.
1303. Introductory Mechanics*.
For science and engineering majors. Vectors kinematics, Newtonian mechanics, gravitation, rotational motion, vibrations, waves and fluids. Prerequisite:
Concurrent registration in MATH 1337 is allowed based upon satisfactory completion of a calculus course in high school and approval of instructor.
1304. Introductory Electricity and Magnetism*.
For science and engineering majors. Electricity, magnetism, electromagnetic radiation, optics and special relativity. Prerequisite:
PHYS 1303. MATH 1338 recommended.
* Students with a strong high school preparation in physics may take a departmental placement examination to acquire credit for either PHYS 1303 or 1304; the placement exam must be taken during the student’s first term at SMU.
1307, 1308. General Physics.
Principles and concepts of physics; applications in the life sciences. Mechanics, thermodynamics, sound, optics, electricity, magnetism and modern physics. Prerequisite:
1311. Elements of Astronomy.
A course in planetary and stellar astronomy, including laboratory and observations.
1313. Fundamentals of Physics.
Contemporary concepts of physics, including Newtonian mechanics, gravitation, rotational motion, fluids, the gas laws, vibrations and waves, and sound. Intended for the nonscience major. No prior knowledge of physics is assumed.
1314. The Physical Perspective.
Principles and concepts of physics, including electricity, magnetism, the nature of light, Einstein’s theory of relativity, quantum theory, atomic physics and the Big Bang. Intended for the nonscience major. No prior knowledge of physics is assumed.
1320. Musical Acoustics.
Covers both the acoustics (physical sound properties) and the psycho-acoustics (psychological, perceptual properties) of music. Topics include sound in general, sound of musical instruments (including voice), sound characteristics of rooms, electronic production (synthesis) and reproduction of sound. No prior knowledge of physics is assumed. While this course requires no previous formal training in music theory, it is helpful if students have a basic understanding of musical scales and notation.
1403. General Physics.
Equivalent of PHYS 1303 and 1105.
1404. General Physics.
Equivalent of PHYS 1304 and 1106.
1407. General Physics.
Equivalent of PHYS 1307 and 1105. Prerequisite:
1408. General Physics.
Equivalent of PHYS 1308 and 1106. Prerequisite:
3305. Introduction to Modern Physics.
For science and engineering majors. Special relativity. Elements of quantum physics. Structure of atoms, molecules and solids. Nuclear physics. Elementary particles. Prerequisite:
3310. Introduction to Relativity and the Physics of Waves.
One-dimensional harmonic oscillator, coupled oscillators, longitudinal and transverse waves, sound and electromagnetic waves, interference and diffraction, Lorentz transforms and invariants, time dilation, length contraction, equivalence principle, and black holes. Prerequisites:
PHYS 3305 (can be taken concurrently), MATH 2339, MATH 2343 (can be taken concurrently).
3320. Physics of Music.
Covers the acoustics (physical sound properties) of music. Topics include sound in general, sound of musical instruments, acoustics, electronic synthesis, Fourier transforms, interference, diffraction and resonance. Prerequisites:
PHYS 1303 and 1304 or equivalent. PHYS 3344 recommended. While this course requires no previous formal training in music theory, it is helpful if students have a basic understanding of musical scales and notation.
3333. The Scientific Method (Debunking Pseudoscience).
Provides students with an understanding of the scientific method sufficient to detect pseudoscience in its many guises: paranormal phenomena, free-energy devices, alternative medicine, creationism and many others.
3340. Computational Physics.
Introduction to the modeling of physical systems. Emphasis is on algorithm selection and implementation for simulating classical and quantum physics. Prior programming experience recommended.
3344. Classical Mechanics.
The motion of a particle and of systems of particles, including oscillatory systems, accelerated coordinate systems, central-force motion, rigid-body dynamics, gravitation and Lagrangian mechanics. Prerequisites:
PHYS 1303 and MATH 2339 (or taken concurrently).
3345. Advanced Mechanics.
Topics in classical mechanics, including the motion of a system of particles, the two-body central-force problem, small oscillations of coupled systems, collision theory, Lagrange’s and Hamilton’s formulations, the vibrating string, and the special theory of relativity. Prerequisite:
3368. Principles of Astrophysics and Cosmology.
Cosmic distance scales. Physics of stars. Expansion of the universe. Cosmic nucleosynthesis. Selected other topics as appropriate. Prerequisite:
3374. Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics.
Basic concepts of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics with emphasis on quantum statistics. The laws of thermodynamics, entropy, Maxwell-Boltzmann, Bose-Einstein and Fermi-Dirac statistics. Prerequisites:
PHYS 3305. MATH 2343 recommended.
4112. Laboratory Physics II.
Intermediate-level experimental physics. Approximately one experiment per week. One 3-hour laboratory period per week. Prerequisites:
PHYS 1106, 3305.
4190, 4290, 4390.
Special Projects in Physics. Directed study of special topics. For physics majors only. Prerequisites:
Junior or senior classification and permission of department.
4211. Laboratory Physics I.
Introduction to experimental physics. Approximately one experiment per week. One 2-hour laboratory period per week. Prerequisites:
PHYS 1105, 1106, 3305.
4321. Methods of Theoretical Physics.
Matrices, determinants, linear algebra, complex variables, inhomogeneous equations, Sturm-Liouville theory, partial differential equations, special functions, Fourier series and integral transforms, integral equations, calculus of variations, and applications. Prerequisites:
MATH 2339, 2343.
For physics majors. Students will participate in physics research with a member of the faculty of the Department of Physics. Prerequisite:
Permission of instructor.
4392. Introduction to Electromagnetic Theory.
A development of electromagnetic theory from the experimental laws; Maxwell’s equations for the electromagnetic field. Electrostatics, magneto statics, steady currents, boundary-value problems, and time-varying electric and magnetic fields.
For Undergraduate and Graduate Students
5337. Introduction to Solid State Physics.
Crystal lattices and the reciprocal lattice. The free-electron model of metals. Crystal binding. Lattice vibrations phonons. Thermal properties of solids. Energy bands in solids.
5380. Concepts of Experimental Particle Physics.
Principles of elementary particle physics and the experiments by which we learn laws obeyed by these particles, with reading of scientific papers. Prerequisite:
PHYS 3305 or equivalent; PHYS 5382 recommended.
5382. Introduction to Quantum Mechanics.
A study of the development of quantum theory, including blackbody radiation, the Bohr atom and the photoelectric effect. Wave-mechanics and matrix-mechanics approaches will be studied, as well as a brief introduction to the Dirac formalism. Solutions to the Schrödinger equation for a variety of one-dimensional problems and for the hydrogen atom are discussed. Prerequisites:
PHYS 3305 and MATH 3353.
5383. Advanced Quantum Mechanics.
Applications and approximation methods in quantum mechanics. Applications to laser physics, solid-state physics, molecular physics and scattering are included. Prerequisite:
5393. Electromagnetic Waves and Optics.
Theory and applications of electromagnetic wave radiation, propagation and scattering. Geometrical and physical optics. Guided waves. Lasers, coherent optics, interferometry and holography. Prerequisite:
PHYS 4392 or equivalent, or permission of instructor.
5395. Introduction to Elementary Particles.
Modern theories of elementary particles, including relativistic kinematics, Feynman diagrams, quantum electrodynamics, quarks, weak interactions and gauge theories. Prerequisite: