PHYS 142
Foundations of Modern Physics Spring 2025
Division III Quantitative/Formal Reasoning

Class Details

Newtonian Mechanics, spectacular as it is in describing planetary motion and a wide range of other phenomena, only hints at the richness of behaviors seen in the universe. Special relativity, which extends physics into the realm of high speeds and high energies, requires we rethink our basic notions of space and time. Quantum mechanics successfully describes atoms, molecules, and solids while at the same time calling into question our expectation of what can be predicted by a physical theory. Statistical physics reveals new behaviors that emerge when many particles are present in a system. This course will survey ideas from each of these three arenas, and can serve either as a terminal course for those seeking to complete a year of physics or as the basis for future advanced study of these topics.
The Class: Format: lecture/laboratory; lecture, three hours weekly; laboratory, 2-3 hours most weeks, alternating between 'hands-on' sessions and problem-solving/discussion sessions
Limit: 14/L
Expected: 30
Class#: 3575
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: weekly homework, labs, two hour tests, and a final exam, all of which have a substantial quantitative component
Prerequisites: PHYS 141 and MATH 130, or equivalent; PHYS 131 may substitute for PHYS 141 with the permission of instructor; students may not take both PHYS 142 and PHYS 151
Enrollment Preferences: first-year students
Distributions: Division III Quantitative/Formal Reasoning
QFR Notes: Heavily problem-solving focused, involving algebraic manipulations, single-variable calculus, generating and reading graphs, etc.

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