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Courses for Non-majors

The Department of Physics & Astronomy offers several courses that might be of interest to non-majors.

PHYS 10073 – Concepts in Physical Science: A laboratory science course for those with no previous background in physics, designed to stress the formulation of physical concepts at different levels of abstraction. Especially useful for education majors to gain insight and experience with science content and for music majors as a prerequisite to an understanding of musical acoustics.

PHYS 10154 – General Physics I with Laboratory: Three hours lecture and one 2-hour laboratory per week selected to reinforce the concepts discussed in lecture. Prerequisites: High school algebra and trigonometry or MATH 10054 or approval of instructor. Part one of a two semester survey of general physics recommended for students in the life sciences and premedical program. Topics covered include mechanics of solids and fluids, thermodynamics, sound and wave motion. Emphasis will be given to the application of these concepts to problems in the life and health sciences. 

PHYS 10164 – General Physics II with Laboratory: Three hours lecture and one 2-hour laboratory per week selected to reinforce the concepts discussed in lecture. Prerequisites: PHYS 10154 (or PHYS 10153/10151), high school algebra and trigonometry or MATH 10054 or approval of instructor. Part two of a two semester survey of general physics recommended for students in the life sciences and premedical program. Topics covered include electricity and magnetism, optics, atomic and nuclear physics. Emphasis will be given to the application of these concepts to problems in the life and health sciences.

PHYS 10283 – Introductory Astronomy: Earth and Planets: Two hours of lectures and one 2-hour laboratory per week. Structure and origin of the solar system. Laboratory assignments may be scheduled in the evening.

PHYS 10263 – Introductory Astronomy: Cosmic Origins: This course will examine the development of the human understanding of the critical events in the origin and evolution of the Universe. Two hours of lectures and one 2-hour laboratory per week. Laboratory assignments may be scheduled in the evening.

PHYS 10293 – Archeoastronomy: Two hours of lectures and one 2-hour laboratory per week. The course will explore naked-eye astronomy, including motion of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars. Course will investigate the development of astronomy, calendars, writing and numeration among early civilizations, and how it supported or established their societies.

PHYS 10433 – Freshman Seminar in Physics: Utter Chaos: Chaos Theory plays a fundamental role in many aspects of our lives: from the workings of the human heart; the prediction of the weather; the motion of planets and galaxies; to the development of personality, to name a few. The course follows the development of the “Chaos Revolution” through a study of the personalities of the major contributors and the basic models they used to develop their ideas. Two weekly class meetings are divided between a discussion of the scientists and their ideas, and a computer lab where we explore the models.

PHYS 10433 – Freshman Seminar in Physics: The Cosmic Journey: Big Bang to Humans and Beyond: The history of the Universe from the Big Bang 20 billion years ago to the birth of stars, the synthesis of the building blocks for life, the origin and evolution of life on Earth and the emergence of humans and society. The change over the last 300 years in humans’ understanding of the cosmos and their role in it: from the static clockwork universe of Newton at the dawn of the age of reason to the expanding universe of Hubble and Einstein in the 20th century and the multidimensional universe of present-day string theory. Future human exploration of the cosmos and the future of the Universe itself.

PHYS 10503 – Energy: Two hours lecture and one 2-hour laboratory per week. The course will explore the fundamental laws and natural processes related to energy production, transport, storage, and uses.

PHYS 20053 – Physics of Music and Sound: Three hours lecture and one 2-hour laboratory per week. Nature and transmission of sound characteristics of musical instruments and speech, musical intervals, musical scales, musical temperament, and architectural acoustics. The laboratory includes experiments on vibration, resonance, objective and subjective characteristics of sound, and sound synthesis.

PHYS 30014 – Materials Science: Prerequisite: CHEM 10113 or CHEM 10114. Introduction to the physical, chemical, mechanical, electrical, and optical properties of metals, semiconductors, ceramics, and polymers. Emphasis on the relationship between these properties and how performance is influenced by microstructure and processing. Atomic bonding. Crystal structure. Phase equilibria. Deformation and fracture. Composite materials. Electronic, magnetic, dielectric and optical properties. Laboratory methods for characterizing materials emphasized. (Offered as both ENGR 30014 and PHYS 30014.)

PHYS 30163 – Evolution and Exploration of the Solar System: Prerequisites: GEOL 10113, or any one of PHYS 10164/12073/10283, or permission of instructor. Three hours of lectures per week. This course will launch you into space with past and present spacecraft missions and bring you back to Earth with meteorite research. Throughout the semester, this course will examine the geology and geologic processes occurring on and within planetary bodies throughout the Solar System. This course is intended for science and non-science majors. (Offered as both GEOL 30163 and PHYS 30163.)

PHYS 30473 – How the Human Body Works: Prerequisites: pre-calculus, PHYS 10164 or PHYS 20484 or permission of instructor. This course will explore the fundamental lows and natural processes related to the mechanics, biophysics, and biochemistry of the human body. It is designed for pre-health, kinesiology, biology nursing and physics students who want to understand the foundations and biophysical principles that govern human life. The course will focus on the science of physiological processes from simple mechanical motion, breathing, blood flow and oxygen exchange to vision, neuronal processes and the basics of genetics and proteomics. The biophysical elements of human function and human development in the context of environmental influences and live adaptation will be discussed. The evolution of approaches to understanding physiological functions as it has been governed by modern scientific developments will be briefly discusses. The course will also provide a simple understanding of recent technologies that have been applied to the study of physiological processes like muscle contraction, blood transport, cell function, neuronal processing, and DNA replication.

PHYS 30703 – Digital Electronics: Prerequisites: First year physics, MATH 10524, COSC 10403. An introduction to DC and AC circuits, diodes, transistors, amplifier circuits, basic digital circuits, logic circuits, digital readouts, counters, timing circuits, AD converters, microprocessors, and microcomputers.

PHYS 30843 – Biomedical Imaging: Prerequisites: PHYS 20484 or10164. An introduction to image formation for molecular and medical applications. This course covers the fundamentals of optic, x-ray and MRI, image creation, detectors, basics of image processing, quantitative analysis and a variety of applications in biophysics and in medicine. Includes off-campus lab work. (Cross-listed as BIOL/PHYS 30843.)