Bard College at Simon's Rock: the Early College
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Physics Courses

Explore the laws that govern our universe with physics.

Physics student

Physics I

Physics 100 | Kramer | 4 credits

An introductory course, employing calculus, which presents the unifying principles of physics, a historical perspective on the development of physical sciences, and practice in analysis of physical phenomena. Topics include linear and rotational motion, Newton’s laws, work, energy, momentum, gravitation, and waves. Students enrolled in this course participate in the laboratory, for which there is a laboratory fee.

Corequisite: Mathematics 210. This course is generally offered once a year.

Physics II

Physics 101 | Bergman | 4 credits

This course continues the calculus-based physics sequence begun in Physics 100. Topics include thermodynamics, electricity, magnetism, optics, special relativity, and wave mechanics. Accompanying laboratory required.

Prerequisite: Physics 100. Corequisite: Mathematics 211. This course is offered once a year (in the spring).

Analog and Digital Electronics

Physics 210 | Bergman | 4 credits

This course introduces analog and digital electronic circuitry through both theory and laboratory work. It is suitable for science students wishing to become comfortable working in the laboratory, students with an interest in electronic art and music, students interested in computer science, and also those simply wanting a deeper understanding of the innards of integrated circuits. Analog topics include direct and alternating current circuits, filters, diodes and rectification, bipolar and field effect transistors, operational amplifiers, and oscillators. Digital topics include combinational and sequential logic, gates, flip-flops, and memory. Other topics may include audio signals, transducers, analog/digital conversion, and microprocessor basics.

Prerequisite: Mathematics 210 and permission of the instructor. This course is generally offered once every two years.

Introduction to Quantum Physics

Physics 220 | Bergman | 3 credits

This course examines the observations that led to the quantum theory, in particular, the wave nature of matter and the particle nature of light. Topics include the Bohr semi-classical model of the atom, the deBroglie wave-particle duality, Fourier analysis, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, the Schrodinger equation and the probabilistic interpretation of quantum mechanics, orbital and spin angular momentum, the hydrogen atom, the Pauli exclusion principle, and multi-electron atoms. The course provides an introduction to physics at the small scale that is necessary for those intending further study in physics and chemistry. Philosophical issues raised by the quantum theory are discussed.

Prerequisite: Physics 101. Suggested corequisites: Mathematics 220 and Physics 230. This course is generally offered once a year.

Relativity and Cosmology

Physics 221  | Kramer | 3 credits

This course introduces the concepts of special relativity, including time dilation, length contraction, and the famous equivalence of matter and energy. These concepts will be applied to understand earthbound and astrophysical phenomena. The course also introduces Big Bang cosmology, and reviews the evidence for dark matter and dark energy.

Prerequisite: Physics 100. This course is generally offered once every two years.

Modern Physics Laboratory

Physics 230 | Bergman | 1 credit

Experiments may include e/m of the electron, the photoelectric effect, the hydrogen and deuterium spectra, the Zeeman effect, electron spin resonance, X-ray diffraction, holography, and astronomical observations. Extended laboratory experiments and written reports.

Prerequisite: Physics 220 (may be taken concurrently). This course is generally offered once a year.

Classical Mechanics

Physics 303 | Kramer | 4 credits

Classical mechanics is a study of matter and energy in the limits that the quantization of nature is not observable and the speed of light can be considered to be infinitely fast. Topics include the harmonic oscillator, celestial mechanics, rigid body motion, rotation, and the Lagrangian formulation of mechanics. Other possible topics include fluids, statics, and nonlinear systems.

Prerequisite: Physics 101 and Math 220. This course is generally offered once a year.

Electricity and Magnetism

Physics 304 | Bergman | 4 credits

Electromagnetic forces pervade nature, responsible for such diverse phenomena as chemical bonding and friction. Maxwell’s formulation of electromagnetic theory remains the most complete and elegant description of any of the fundamental forces of nature. Topics include vector calculus, electrostatics, electric fields in matter, magnetostatics, magnetic fields in matter, electrodynamics, and Maxwell’s equations. Prerequisite: Physics 101. This course is generally offered once every two years.

Prerequisite: Physics 101.This course is generally offered once every two years.


Physics 306T | Kramer | 4 credits

Covers a range of topics at the interface of physics, chemistry, and biology. Topics may include: The shape and function of biological macromolecules, solute transport in organisms via diffusion and fluid flow, aspects of muscle contraction and vision, and an introduction to biomechanics.

Prerequisites: Physics 101 and Math 221 and permission of the instructor. This course is generally offered as a tutorial.

Fluid Mechanics

Physics 308T | Bergman | 4 credits

Fluid mechanics is of great practical importance to such fields as aerodynamics, chemical engineering, meteorology, oceanography, and geophysics. Although an understanding of the basic equations is a century old, aspects of fluid mechanics such as turbulence are also among the last, basic, unsolved problems in classical physics. In this course we will study the origin of the governing (Navier–Stokes) equations and the concept of nondimensional numbers, in particular the Reynolds number. We will then study the limits of low Reynolds number (viscous) flow and high Reynolds number (inviscid) flow. Further topics include boundary layers, drag and lift, convection, stratified flow, and rotating fluids. We will then study instabilities and transition to turbulence. The emphasis in this course will be on the physical phenomena, though the course will use mathematics freely.

Prerequisite: Physics 101. This course is generally offered as a tutorial.

Statistical Thermodynamics

Physics 320T | Kramer | 4 credits

Statistical thermodynamics connects the microscopic world with the macroscopic. The concepts of microscopic states (configuration space) and equilibrium are introduced, from which follow macroscopic quantities such as heat, work, temperature, and entropy. The partition function is derived and used as a tool to study ideal gases and spin systems. Other topics include free energy, phase transformations, chemical equilibrium, and quantum statistics and their application to blackbody radiation, conduction electrons, and Bose-Einstein condensates. This course is recommended for those with an interest in physical chemistry.

Prerequisite: Physics 220; no previous course in statistics necessary. This course is generally offered as a tutorial.

Foundations of Quantum Mechanics

Physics 330 | Bergman | 4 credits

The orthodox (Copenhagen) interpretation of quantum mechanics gives up on the certain predictions of classical mechanics, and instead provides only probabilities. Although quantum mechanics has been successful at understanding a wide range of phenomena, there have always been doubts about this philosophical underpinning. This course explores these philosophical issues rigorously, both in theory and in the laboratory. Topics include the wave-particle duality, the uncertainty principle, the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen (EPR) paradox, Bells theorem, Schrodinger's cat and the nature of measurement, and quantum computing. Students will explore entanglement, the quantum eraser, and delayed choice in the laboratory.

Prerequisites: Physics 220, Physics 230, and Mathematics 220.

Quantum Mechanics I

Physics 420T | BergmanKramer | 4 credits

A formal course in quantum mechanics. Operators, state vectors, observables, and eigenvalues. Solutions of Schrodinger’s equation with applications to the harmonic oscillator, the hydrogen atom, and solids. Suggested for those intending to go to graduate school in physics.

Prerequisites: Physics 220 and Mathematics 220. Some knowledge of electrodynamics is helpful but not required. This course is generally offered as a tutorial.

Quantum Mechanics II

Physics 421T | BergmanKramer | 4 credits

A continuation of Physics 420T. Topics include the time-dependent Schrodinger equation, with applications to radiation, perturbation theory, and applications of quantum mechanics to multi-electron atoms and nuclear physics. Suggested for those intending to go to graduate school in physics.

Prerequisite: Physics 420T. This course is generally offered as a tutorial.

Solid State Physics

Physics 422T | Bergman | 4 credits

Solid state physics is the study of the properties that result from the distribution and interaction of electrons in metals, insulators, and semiconductors. Topics include crystal structures, the reciprocal lattice, lattice vibrations, free electron theory, the Bloch theorem, band structure and Fermi surfaces, semiconductors, superconductivity, magnetism, and defects.

Pre­requisite: Physics 220. Some knowledge of statistical thermodynamics is helpful but not required. This course is generally offered as a tutorial.

General Relativity

Physics 440T | Kramer | 4 credits

Covers Einstein’s theory of gravity and its applications. Topics include the treatment of vectors and tensors in curved space-time, the Einstein field equations, the motion of particles in curved space-time, a thorough analysis of black holes, and (time-permitting) an introduction to cosmology.

Prerequisites: Physics 221 and Physics 303 or permission of the instructor. This course is generally offered as a tutorial.

Physics Tutorial

Physics 300/400 | Staff | 4 credits

Under these course numbers, juniors and seniors design tutorials to meet their particular interests and programmatic needs. A student should see the prospective tutor to define an area of mutual interest to pursue either individually or in a small group. A student may register for no more than one tutorial in any semester.