Catalog Entry 2016-2017
Mercer University Physics Department

PHYSICS (PHY)
Jose Balduz, Chair and Assistant Professor
Sheng-Chiang "John" Lee, Associate Professor
Matthew Marone, Associate Professor
Chamaree De Silva, Assistant Professor
William Sams, Visiting Assistant Professor
 

The 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. 

Physics majors should ideally complete MAT 191/192 and PHY 161/162 during the freshman year, and PHY 305/306 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 3.5 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.

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, these students 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 imposed by other departments and schools, e.g. the requirement that mathematics, chemistry, and most engineering students must take one year of calculus-based physics. 

Major in Physics leading to the B.S. degree
62 semester credit hours with at least 40 credit hours in physics

CHM 111. General Chemistry I
CHM 112. General Chemistry II
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
Two hours of PHY 300. Physics Seminar
PHY 305. Modern Physics I

PHY 306. Modern Physics II
PHY 330. Thermal Physics
PHY 340. Analytical Mechanics
PHY 355. Electromagnetic Theory
PHY 450. Quantum Mechanics
At least four 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 leading to the B.A. degree
51 semester credit hours minimum with at least 27 credit hours in physics

CHM 111. General Chemistry I
CHM 112. General Chemistry II
MAT 191. Calculus I
MAT 192. Calculus II
MAT 293. Multivariable Calculus
MAT 330. Introduction to Differential Equations

PHY 115. Descriptive Astronomy
PHY 161. General Physics I
PHY 162. General Physics II
Two hours of PHY 300. Physics Seminar
PHY 305. Modern Physics I
PHY 306. Modern Physics II
At least three additional PHY courses numbered above 300
Successful completion of a senior comprehensive examination
 

Secondary Teacher Certification Program in Physics
Teacher certification in Physics (6-12) is available to Physics (B.A. or B.S. program) majors. Physics B.A. students will need to include PHY 330, and either PHY 370 or 460 in their list of physics electives. They will also need to include BIO 211/212, and either STA 126 or MAT 320 as part of their degree studies. Physics B.S. students will need to include either PHY 370 or 460 in their list of physics electives. They will also need to include BIO 211/212, either STA 126 or MAT 320, and either PHY 115, ENB 105, ENB 110 or ENB 220 as part of their degree studies. Students planning to teach Physics in secondary schools should notify their advisor and contact the secondary education advisor in Tift College of Education. Required courses in education include EDUC 210, 220, 256, 283, 357, 398, 399, 406, 423, 469, 476, 485, and 492. Please consult the Tift College of Education section of this catalog for more details. 
 

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
At least three additional PHY courses numbered 300 or above.
Note that PHY 300 may only be counted once toward the physics minor.

 

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 105. Discovering the Wonders (4 hours)
A one-semester introductory course for non-science majors. This course explores the physical principles behind daily observed phenomena through hands-on experience, scientific reasoning, and discussions in collaborative and small group settings. This course does not intend to cover introductory physics content at a lower mathematical level, but aims to cultivate genuine curiosity about the natural world in students and recognize the relevance of scientific reasoning in public and personal aspects of modern lives. 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.  We will cover a wide range of topics including astronomy, optics, acoustics, magnetism, mathematics and physical science. We will examine these topics in both their historical Asian context and using modern scientific principles. Three hours of lecture and three hours of lab per week. (Every two years)

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 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 year in the spring)

PHY 161. General Physics I  (4 hours)
Pre-requisite: a C or better in MAT 191.
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)
Pre- or co-requisite: MAT 192.
Pre-requisite: a C or better in PHY 161.
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. This course may not be applied to the physics major or minor. (offered occasionally)

PHY 300. Physics Seminar (1 hour)
Prerequisite: 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. (offered every 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)
Prerequisite: 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 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 courses. May be repeated, with different subtitles, and used to satisfy major or minor requirements any number of times. (offered occasionally)

PHY 325. Physical Optics (3 hours)
Prerequisites: MAT 192 and PHY 162.
Intermediate level optics, including the electromagnetic nature of light, thermal and coherent sources, interference phenomena, holography, polarization, Fourier transform spectroscopy, and nonlinear optics. The adjective physical in the title of this course emphasizes its foundation in electromagnetic theory, as opposed to geometrical optics, where the primary goal is to understand how optical instruments function, using ray tracing techniques. Two hours of lecture and a 3-hour laboratory per week. (offered every three years)

PHY 330. Thermal Physics (3 hours)
Prerequisites: MAT 192 and PHY 162.
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. Three hours of lecture per week. (offered 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. (offered every three years)

PHY 340. Analytical Mechanics (3 hours)
Prerequisites: MAT 293, MAT 330, and PHY 162.
Statics and dynamics of particles and rigid bodies; Newtonian, Lagrangian, and Hamiltonian description of systems; vibrating systems including normal modes. Three hours of lecture per week. (offered every two years)

PHY 355. Electromagnetic Theory (3 hours)
Prerequisites: MAT 293 and 330, and PHY 162.
Electrostatics, magnetostatics, electrodynamics, Maxwell's equations, electromagnetic waves. Three hours of lecture per week. (offered every two years)

PHY 365. Mathematical Physics (3 hours)
Prerequisites: MAT 293, MAT 330, and PHY 162.
Mathematical methods useful in upper-division physics courses are explored. Topics may include probability distributions, linear algebra, complex variables, waves and Fourier analysis, orthogonal functions, partial differential equations, chaotic dynamics, and group theory. Three hours of lecture per week. (offered every three years)

PHY 370. Experimental Physics (3 hours)
Prerequisite: 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. (offered every two years)

PHY 385. Computational Physics (3 hours)
Prerequisites: MAT 192 and PHY 162.
Introduction to the use of computing to solve physics problems and to methods of efficient communication of these solutions. Topics include: LaTex, computer algebra systems, computer programming and introduction to numerical methods. Two hours of lecture and a 3-hour computer laboratory per week. (offered every three years)

PHY 398. Internship in Physics (1-3 hours)
Prerequisites: junior or senior status.
An intensive practicum experience at an approved business, organization, or academic institution. Senior level students, under the direction of a faculty member and an on-site, agency supervisor are required to engage in projects or assignments requiring at least three, on-site hours per week for every hour of credit. Students will learn through active participation, regular discussions with the on-site supervisor and Mercer faculty member, and written 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. It does not count towards a minor in physics. However, with faculty approval, up to 3 hours may count towards a major in physics. (offered 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 courses, or an advanced topic of current importance not covered in other department courses. May be repeated, with different subtitles, and used to satisfy major or minor requirements any number of times. (offered occasionally)


PHY 430. Nonlinear Physics (3 hours)
Prerequisite: PHY 340.
This course discusses nonlinear phenomena in physical systems and how these nonlinear effects are analyzed. Two hours of lecture and a 3-hour laboratory per week. (offered every three years)

PHY 450. Quantum Mechanics (3 hours)
Prerequisites: MAT 293, MAT 330, and PHY 305.
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. Three hours of lecture per week. (offered 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. Variable credit (1-3 credits per semester): one credit hour for each three hours per week of research activity. May be taken for up to 6 credit hours. (offered occasionally)