College of Science

Course Descriptions

UPDATED FOR THE NEW SEMESTER COURSE OFFERINGS! 

Combined Lecture/(L)ab or Lecture/(A)ctivity courses are listed together and must be taken as co-requisites. Optional recitation activity sections available for select courses are denoted by asterisks (e.g. A*). The semesters/terms in which particular courses are offered are indicated by the F, Sp, Su notations. If a course is not offered every year, then the alternating calendar years (even/odd) in which it will be offered are also given.

AST 1010 - Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe (3) FSp

Survey of the universe including lifecycles of stars, supernovae and creation of the chemical elements, collapsed objects (white dwarfs, pulsars and black holes), the Milky Way and other galaxies, distances to stars and galaxies, expansion of the universe, and Big Bang cosmology. Emphasis on the basic principles of physics needed to interpret astronomical observations. Course fulfills GE area B1.

AST 3050 - Archaeoastronomy (3) Sp (Even Years)

Cross Listed as: ANT 3050
Archaeoastronomy is a course synthesizing ancient and modern astronomical concepts. Themes of early science and empiricism emphasizing ancient cultures and their concepts of astronomy, cosmology, and time. Technological tools used by ancient societies to obtain and record astronomical data and knowledge will be studied. Examples will be drawn from ancient world cultures such as the Maya, the Aztec, Ancient Greece, Ancient China and others. An introduction to modern astronomical instrumentation and astrophysical insights will provide context for understanding the achievements and limitations of ancient scientists. Course fulfills GE synthesis area B5.
  
Prerequisite(s): C- or better in GE Areas A1-A3 and B1-B4.

AST 3240/A - Observational Astronomy (2/1) Sp

An introduction to astrophysical data collection and analysis from both ground-based and space-based telescopes. Concepts, techniques, skills and resources needed to plan, obtain, reduce, and interpret astronomical observations across the electromagnetic spectrum.
  
Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 1520 or PHY 133. Pre or Corequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 2530 or PHY 234. 

AST 3420 - Life, the Universe, and Everything (3) SpF (Odd Years)

An examination of the origins of life in the universe based on astronomy, cosmology, biology, and planetary science. Topics may include the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), the history of life in our solar system, and the origins of the chemical elements through Big Bang nucleosynthesis and galactic recycling plants. Course fulfills GE synthesis area B5.
  
Prerequisite(s): GE Areas A1-A3 and B1-B4.

AST 4240/A - Astrophysics I: Stars and Planetary Systems (3/1) F

Physical processes governing the formation and evolution of stars and planetary systems. Topics include gravitation, celestial mechanics, physical properties of Solar System objects, stellar atmospheres and spectra, stellar structure and evolution, and extrasolar planetary systems.
  
Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 2530 or C- or better in PHY 234. Pre or Corequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 2540 or PHY 235.

AST 4250/A - Astrophysics II: Galaxies and the Universe (3/1) Sp

Physical processes governing the formation and evolution of galaxies and the universe as a whole. Topics include physical properties of the interstellar medium, black holes and other compact objects, galaxy dynamics, cosmological models, and applications of the general theory of relativity.
  
Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 2530 or C- or better in PHY 234. Pre or Corequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 2540 or PHY 235. 

 

PHY 1020 Fundamentals of Physics (3) F

The basic principles that govern the behavior of matter and energy. These principles will be explored in both fundamental contexts (e.g. the nature of measurement, space, time) and applied contexts (e.g. energy issues, the scientific basis of modern electronic technology). Course fulfills GE area B1.

PHY 1050/L Physics of Musical Sound (2/1) Sp

The fundamentals of acoustics and its application to music vibrations, wave, hearing, pure tones, complex tones, resonance, scales, consonance, and the physics of musical instruments. Course fulfills GE area B1.

PHY 1210/L - Physics of Motion, Fluids, and Heat (3/1) FSpSu

Introduction to Newtonian mechanics and thermodynamics: Kinematics, forces, conservation laws, viscous fluids, heat transfer, and the microscopic nature of gases. Emphasis on biological applications.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in MAT 106, MAT 1060 , MAT 114, MAT 1140/MAT 1140A, or MAT 112GE Area(s): B1

PHY 1220/L - Physics of Electromagnetism, Circuits, and Light (3/1) FSpSu

Electric and magnetic forces and fields, DC and AC circuits, oscillations, electromagnetic waves, optics, and analogies between diffusion and electrostatics.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 122, PHY 122B, PHY 1210, or PHY 1210B. 

PHY 1510/L/A* - Introduction to Newtonian Mechanics (3/1/1*) FSpSu

Introduction to mechanics, including Newton’s laws, vectors, statics, kinematics, conservation laws, rotational motion, Newtonian gravity, fluids, and simple harmonic motion.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in MAT 114 or MAT 1140. GE Area(s): B1

PHY 1520/L/A* - Introduction to Electromagnetism and Circuits (3/1/A*) FSpSu

Introduction to electricity and magnetism, including electrostatics, dc circuits, magnetostatics, electrodynamics, and Maxwell’s equations.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in MAT 115 or MAT 1150; and C- or better in PHY 132, PHY 132B or PHY 1510.

PHY (or AST) 2000 - Special Study for Lower Division Students (1-3) FSpSu

Individual or group investigation, research, studies, or surveys of selected problems. Proposals to be initiated by student(s) with guidance from faculty. Total credit limited to 6 units, with a maximum of 3 units per semester.

PHY 2120/L - Physics for Elementary Educators (2/1) FSp

Introduction to physics concepts including interactions and energy, forces, wave properties, and electromagnetic radiation. Modeling of effective K-8 curriculum, teaching and assessment practices as described in the state adopted framework and content standards. The course includes a fieldwork component. Course fulfills GE area B1.

PHY 2530/L/A* - Introduction to Electromagnetic Radiation and Special Relativity (3/1/1*) FSp

Introduction to wave phenomena, electromagnetic radiation and relativity, including general wave theory, electromagnetic waves, geometrical optics, physical optics, and special theory of relativity. Note: PHY 2530L is a co-requisite for Physics majors only.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in MAT 116 or MAT 1150; and C- or better in PHY 123, PHY 133, PHY 1220, or PHY 1520.

PHY 2540/L/A* - Introduction to Thermal and Quantum Physics (3/1/1*) FSp

Introduction to thermal physics and quantum phenomena, including thermodynamics, kinetic theory of gases, origins of quantum theory, wave mechanics, particle-wave duality, and atomic energy levels. Note: PHY 2540L is a co-requisite for Physics majors only.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 234 or PHY 2530.

PHY (or AST) 2990, 2990A, 2990L Special Topics for Lower Division Students (1-3) FSpSu

Group study of a selected well-defined topic or area not covered by a regularly offered course. Total credit limited to 6 units applicable to a degree, with a maximum of 2 sections per semester.

PHY 3010 Energy and Society (3) Sp

Study of how petroleum, solar, nuclear, and other energy sources generate electricity, power vehicles, and the like. Emphasis is on elementary physics principles. Coverage includes historical patterns of societal energy use, renewable and nonrenewable resources, fuel conservation methods, and environmental impacts. Course fulfills GE synthesis area B5.

Prerequisite(s): GE Areas A1-A3 and B1-B4.

PHY 3020 - Physics for Future Presidents (3) F

The physics needed to understand the technological and scientific dimensions of economic and political issues in today’s world and beyond. Topics will include energy, climate change, communications technologies and their applications, remote sensing, satellites, and medical technology. Course fulfills GE synthesis area B5. Minimal mathematical or scientific background is required.

Prerequisites: One course from each of Sub-areas A1, A2, A3, B1, B2 (Physics), B3, and B4

PHY 3040/L - Electronics for Scientists (2/1) Sp

Fundamentals of electronic circuits and solid state devices. Primarily analog electronics with some digital circuitry with an emphasis on scientific applications.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 133 or PHY 1520; and C- or better in PHY 133L or PHY 1520L.

PHY 3060 - History of Physics (3) F

Addresses questions such as: How did Physics begin in the ancient Greek world? Why was the scientific tradition continued and developed in the Islamic world while Western Europe fell into a dark age? Why did the Scientific Revolution occur in the time and place that it did? How has the relationship of science and religion changed through time? How have the discoveries of modern Physics modified our worldview? What is it about Physics that makes it a unique way of learning about the world? Course fulfills GE synthesis B5.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in GE Areas A1-A3 and B1-B4.

PHY 3210/A - Advanced Classical Mechanics (3/1) Sp

Review of Newtonian mechanics. Conservation laws, oscillations, resonance, coupled oscillators, rigid body motion, and central forces. Development and application of Lagrangian mechanics, and introduction to the Hamiltonian formalism.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 2530; C- or better in MAT 201 or MAT 2010; and C- or better in MAT 216 or MAT 2250.

PHY 3440/A - Applied Optics (2/1) Sp

Basic principles of ray and wave optics, including mirrors, lenses, filters, gratings, and light detection. Emphasis on applying these principles to modern technologies, particularly imaging systems and sensors.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 123, PHY 133, PHY 1220, or PHY 1520. 

PHY 3600/A - Mathematical Methods of Physics I (3/1) F

Mathematical techniques and concepts for advanced study of physics. Linear algebra, vector analysis, Fourier series and transforms, orthogonal functions, and partial differential equations.

Prerequisites: PHY 235, MAT 215, 216.

PHY 3610 - Mathematical Methods of Physics II (3) Sp 

Selected advanced mathematical techniques with applications to physics, with emphasis on modern examples drawn from the instructor’s expertise. Topics may include tensors, functions of a complex variable, special functions, and nonlinear differential equations.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 309 or PHY 3600.

PHY (or AST) 4000 - Special Study for Upper Division Students (1-3) FSpSu

Individual or group investigation, research, studies, or surveys of selected problems at advanced level. Proposals to be initiated by student(s) with guidance from faculty. Total credit limited to 6 units, with a maximum of 3 units per semester.

PHY 4010/A - Quantum Mechanics I (3/1) F

IFundamentals of quantum mechanics, including the Schroedinger equation with applications in one and three dimensions, spin, the simple harmonic oscillator and the hydrogen atom, the quantum mechanical postulates, algebraic methods, and matrix mechanics.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 309 or PHY 3600.

PHY 4020 - Quantum Mechanics II (3) Sp 

Continuation of fundamentals of quantum mechanics, including perturbation theory and its applications, identical particles, multi-electron atoms, theory of angular momentum, electromagnetic interactions, and symmetries.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 402 or PHY 4010.

PHY 4040 - Introduction to High Energy Physics (3) Sp (Odd Years)

History and concepts of high energy and elementary particle physics; fundamental interactions; quantum numbers, invariance principles and conservation laws; particle detectors and accelerators.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 401 or PHY 4010.

PHY 4060 - Introduction to Condensed Matter Physics (3) F (Even Years)

Introduction to the properties of condensed materials, mainly solids. Topics include crystal structure, atomic lattice vibrations, energy band models, insulators, semiconductors, metals, superconductors and magnetic materials.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 309 or PHY 3600.

PHY 4090/A - Computational Physics (2/1) F

Computer simulation techniques applied to physics problems, including differential equation solvers, nonlinear dynamics, wave equations, relaxation methods and potentials, and random walks.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 123, PHY 133, PHY 1220, or PHY 1520; C- or better in MAT 201 or MAT 2010; and C- or better in MAT 216, MAT 224, MAT 2240, or MAT 2250.

PHY 4100 - Biophysics (3) Sp

Cross Listed as: BIO 4100
A quantitative exploration of biological systems and the physical mechanisms underlying their operation. Topics may include membrane physics, the relationship between blood flow and metabolic scaling laws, diffusion and random walks, and a unified treatment of heat, fluid, solute, and electrical transport in biological systems.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 123, PHY 133, PHY 1220, or PHY 1520.

PHY 4140/A - Electricity and Magnetism I (3/1) Sp

Fundamentals of electric and magnetic phenomena, including electrostatics, potentials, electric fields in matter, magnetostatics, and magnetic fields in matter.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 309 or PHY 3600.

PHY 4150 - Electricity and Magnetism II (3) F

Continuation of fundamentals of electric and magnetic phenomena, including electrodynamics, conservation laws, electromagnetic waves, radiation, and relativity.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 315 or PHY 4140.

PHY 4170/L - Wave Optics (2/1) F

Principles and applications of wave optics, including the electromagnetic wave equation, reflection, refraction, polarization, interference and diffraction phenomena. Lasers, spectroscopy, fiber optics, Fourier optics, and holography may also be introduced.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 234 or PHY 2530; and C- or better in PHY 234L or PHY 1520L.

PHY 4220 - Plasma Physics (3) F (Odd Years)

Theoretical and applied plasma physics, including basic atomic theory, elementary kinetic theory of gases, motion of charges in electric and magnetic fields, plasma properties, plasma generation and devices, electrodes and discharge characteristics, plasma diagnostics, and miscellaneous plasma applications.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 235 or PHY 2540.

 

PHY 4330/A - Thermal and Statistical Physics (3/1) F

Fundamentals of thermal physics, including energy, entropy, heat engines, refrigerators, thermodynamic potentials, phase transformations, Boltzmann statistics, and quantum statistics.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 235 or PHY 2540; C- or better in MAT 214 or MAT 2140; and C- or better in MAT 216 or MAT 2250.

PHY 4410 - Internship in Physics (1-2) FSpSu

On-the-job training and work experience in physics under the guidance of a faculty internship coordinator and on-site job supervisor. The internship is arranged by the student and may not be a continuation of an ongoing job or volunteer experience. A minimum of 4 hours per week (60 hours/semester) per unit credit. Total credit limited to up to 3 units. Student must be enrolled in PHY 4410 during the term in which work at the internship site is done. Hours worked in one term may not carry over into another. May be taken up to two times for a total credit of 4 units.

PHY 4510L/A - Advanced Laboratory Physics - Advanced Instrumentation Laboratory (1/1) FSp

Experiments in selected physics topics with emphasis on modern instrumentation and advanced techniques and analysis. Example instrumentation may include lock-in amplifiers, electrometers, atomic force microscopes, digital storage oscilloscopes, pulsed NMR, computer interfacing through data acquisition boards, general purpose interface buses, and LabVIEW programming.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 235 or PHY 2540; and C- or better in PHY 235L or PHY 2540L.

 

PHY 4520L - Advanced Laboratory Physics - Contemporary Experiments Laboratory (1/1) FSp

Advanced experiments in selected contemporary topics in physics not normally encountered at the introductory level. Example experiments may include microwave propagation, electric polarization, viscosity, Hall effect, magnetic susceptibility and optical and nuclear spectroscopy.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 235 or PHY 2540; and C- or better in PHY 235L or PHY 2540L.

 

PHY 4610 - Senior Project I (1) F

Selection and initiation of a project under faculty supervision. Projects typical of problems which graduates must solve in physics careers. Project progress is presented in an interim report at the end of the semester.

Prerequisite(s): Instructor consent.

PHY 4620 - Senior Project II (2) Sp

Execution, completion, and reporting of a project under faculty supervision. Projects typical of problems which graduates must solve in physics careers. Project results are presented in final written and oral/poster reports at the end of the semester.

Prerequisite(s): Instructor consent.

PHY 4630 - Undergraduate Seminar (1) Sp

Technical presentations by students on current developments in physics and astronomy, and discussions of journal articles and other primary sources at an appropriate level.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in PHY 235 or PHY 2540.

PHY (or AST) 4990/4990A/4990L - Special Topics for Upper Division Students (1-3) FSpSu

Group study at an advanced level of a selected well-defined topic or area not covered by a regularly offered course. Total credit limited to 6 units applicable to a degree, with a maximum of 2 sections per semester.