Physics 390, Winter 2010: Introduction to Modern Physics

Room: 1230 USB
Time: MWF 11am-12pm

Instructor: Mark Newman
Office: 322 West Hall
Office hours: Thursdays 1:30-3:30pm

Description: This course provides an introduction to the physics of the 20th and 21st centuries. The first half of the course deals with the fundamental theory of quantum mechanics, which underlies essentially all of recent physics. The second half deals with applications of quantum mechanics, including atomic physics, nuclear physics, particle physics, and cosmology.

Textbook (required): Modern Physics, 5th edition, Paul A. Tipler and Ralph A. Llewellyn, Freeman, New York (2008), ISBN 0-7167-7550-6. Earlier editions of the book are not acceptable, because some of the material you will need is not included, but the 5th edition has been out for several years and used copies should be available for those who do not wish to buy a new copy. There is an accompanying web site that goes with the book here.

Course work and grading: There will be problem sets most weeks. They will be handed out on Fridays and due in a week later in class. Due dates are noted on the schedule below. No late homeworks will be accepted. The problem sets will also be available in electronic form for download from this web page no later than the Friday morning on which they are handed out.

Collaboration is allowed when solving the problem sets, but you are not allowed to simply copy solutions from another student. Copying from any other source, including the web, is also not allowed.

There will be reading assignments for each lecture. The assignments are listed on the schedule below. (Feel free to print out a copy of this page if you prefer to have the assignments on paper.) Students are expected to do the reading for each lecture in a timely manner.

There will be one mid-term and a final. The mid-term will take place on Wednesday, February 24 from 11am to 12pm in 1230 USB (the usual time and place). The final will take place on Wednesday, April 28 from 4pm to 6pm in 1230 USB (the usual classroom). Both exams will be open-book, meaning you may bring your copy of Tipler & Llewellyn, but you may not use written notes or solutions to coursework problems. Grade for the course will be 30% on the problem sets, 30% on the mid-term, and 40% on the final.

Problem sets

Course schedule:

DateTopicReadingOn-line resourcesNotes
Wednesday, Jan. 6Intro and concept reviewRelativity reviewTake-home math quiz
Friday, Jan. 8Quantization of mass and charge3.1
Monday, Jan. 11Black body radiation3.2
Wednesday, Jan. 13Photoelectic and Compton effects3.3-3.4
Friday, Jan. 15Atomic spectra4.1 Homework 1 handed out
Monday, Jan. 18No classMartin Luther King Day
Wednesday, Jan. 20Rutherford scattering4.2Simulation of Rutherford scattering
Friday, Jan. 22The Bohr model of the atom4.3Animation of Bohr modelHomework 1 due, Homework 2 handed out
Monday, Jan. 25X-ray spectra4.4-4.5
Wednesday, Jan. 27De Broglie waves5.1-5.2
Friday, Jan. 29Wave functions and wave packets 5.3-5.4Animation of a wave packetHomework 2 due, Homework 3 handed out
Monday, Feb. 1The uncertainty principle 5.5-5.7
Wednesday, Feb. 3 The Schrödinger equation6.1
Friday, Feb. 5The square well6.2 Homework 3 due, Homework 4 handed out
Monday, Feb. 8Pure states and combinations 6.3Combination of states simulation
Wednesday, Feb. 10Operators6.4
Friday, Feb. 12The simple harmonic oscillator6.5Solution of the harmonic oscillatorHomework 4 due, Homework 5 handed out
Monday, Feb. 15Reflection and transmission6.6
Wednesday, Feb. 17The potential barrier
Friday, Feb. 19Quantum mechanics in 3D 7.1Homework 5 due, no new homework this week
Monday, Feb. 22Review session
Wednesday, Feb. 24Mid-term exam Open book, but no course notes
Friday, Feb. 26No class
Winter BreakNo classHave a great break!
Monday, March 8The hydrogen atom7.2
Wednesday, March. 10Angular momentum7.3
Friday, Mar. 12Spin7.4-7.5 Homework 6 handed out
Monday, Mar. 15No class
Wednesday, Mar. 17More than one electron 7.6
Friday, Mar. 19The periodic table7.7-7.8 Homework 6 due, Homework 7 handed out
Monday, Mar. 22Statistical mechanics8.1
Wednesday, Mar. 24Quantum statistics 8.2-8.3
Friday, Mar. 26The Fermi gas8.5 Homework 7 due, Homework 8 handed out
Monday, Mar. 29Structure of the nucleus 11.1-11.2
Wednesday, Mar. 31Nuclear decay11.3-11.4
Friday, Apr. 2The liquid drop model11.5 and handout Liquid drop model handoutHomework 8 due, Homework 9 handed out
Monday, Apr. 5Fundamental particles and forces12.1-12.2
Wednesday, Apr. 7 Conservation laws and operators12.3
Friday, Apr. 9 Symmetries and quantum numbers12.4Homework 9 due, Homework 10 handed out
Monday, Apr. 12Stars13.1 and 13.3
Wednesday, Apr. 14 Neutron stars and black holes13.5
Friday, Apr. 16 Evolution of the universe13.7-13.8Homework 10 due
Monday, Apr. 19Review session
End of classes
Wednesday, Apr. 28Final exam 4pm–6pm. Open book, but no course notes

Mark Newman