Physics (Ph) Undergraduate Courses (2016-17)
Ph 1 abc. Classical Mechanics and Electromagnetism. 9 units (4-0-5): first, second, third terms. The first year of a two-year course in introductory classical and modern physics. Topics: Newtonian mechanics in Ph 1 a; electricity and magnetism, and special relativity, in Ph 1 b, c. Emphasis on physical insight and problem solving. Ph 1 b, c is divided into two tracks: the Practical Track emphasizing practical electricity, and the Analytic Track, which teaches and uses methods of multivariable calculus. Students enrolled in the Practical Track are encouraged to take Ph 8 bc concurrently. Students will be given information helping them to choose a track at the end of fall term. Instructors: Hsieh, Martin, Alicea.
Ph 2 abc. Waves, Quantum Mechanics, and Statistical Physics. 9 units (3-0-6): first, second, third terms. An introduction to several areas of physics including applications in modern science and engineering. Topics include discrete and continuous oscillatory systems, wave mechanics, applications in telecommunications and other areas (first term); foundational quantum concepts, the quantum harmonic oscillator, the Hydrogen atom, applications in optical and semiconductor systems (second term); ensembles and statistical systems, thermodynamic laws, applications in energy technology and other areas (third term). Although best taken in sequence, the three terms can be taken independently. Instructors: Martin, Politzer, Cheung, Filippone.
Ph 3. Physics Laboratory. 6 units (0-3-3): first, second, third terms. An introduction to experimental techniques and instruments used in the physical sciences, covering topics in classical mechanics, basic electronic circuits, and optics. Special emphasis is given to data analysis techniques based on modern statistical methods. The weekly structure of the course includes one three-hour laboratory session, a conference with the instructor, a set of pre-lab problems, and analysis of experimental results. Graded pass/fail unless a letter grade is requested. Only one term may be taken for credit. Instructors: Black, Libbrecht.
FS/Ph 4. Freshman Seminar: Astrophysics and Cosmology with Open Data. 6 units (3-0-3): first term. Astrophysics and cosmology are in the midst of a golden age of science-rich observations from incredibly powerful telescopes of various kinds. The data from these instruments are often freely available on the web. Anyone can do things like study x-rays from pulsars in our galaxy or gamma rays from distant galaxies using data from Swift and Fermi; discover planets eclipsing nearby stars using data from Kepler; measure the expansion of the universe using supernovae data; study the cosmic microwave background with data from Planck; find gravitational waves from binary black hole mergers using data from LIGO; and study the clustering of galaxies using Hubble data. We will explore some of these data sets and the science than can be extracted from them. A primary goal of this class is to develop skills in scientific computing and visualization - bring your laptop! Not offered 2016-17.
Ph 5. Analog Electonics for Physicists. 9 units (0-5-4): first term. A laboratory course focusing on practical electronic circuits, with emphasis on analog electronics. The following topics are studied: RC circuits, electrical oscillations, operational amplifiers, diodes and transistors, combining circuit elements, and computer data acquisition. The course culminates in a two-week project of the student's choosing. Instructors: Rice, Libbrecht.
Ph 6. Physics Laboratory. 9 units: second term. Experiments in electromagnetic phenomena such as electromagnetic induction, properties of magnetic materials, and high-frequency circuits. Mobility of ions in gases; precise measurement of the value of e/m of the electron. Instructors: Rice, Politzer.
Ph 7. Physics Laboratory. 9 units: third term. Experiments in atomic and nuclear physics, including studies of the Balmer series of hydrogen and deuterium, the decay of radioactive nuclei, absorption of X rays and gamma rays, ratios of abundances of isotopes, and the Stern-Gerlach experiment. Instructors: Rice, Politzer.
Ph 8 bc. Experiments in Electromagnetism. 3 units (0-3-0): second, third terms. A two-term sequence of experiments that parallel the material of Ph 1 bc. It includes measuring the force between wires with a homemade analytical balance, measuring properties of a 1,000-volt spark, and building and studying a radio-wave transmitter and receiver. The take-home experiments are constructed from a kit of tools and electronic parts. Measurements are compared to theoretical expectations. Instructor: Spiropulu.
FS/Ph 9. Freshman Seminar: The Science of Music. 6 units (2-0-4): first term. This course will focus on the physics of sound, how musical instruments make it, and how we hear it, including readings, discussions, demonstrations, and student observations using sound analysis software. In parallel we will consider what differentiates music from other sounds, and its role psychically and culturally. Students will do a final project of their choice and design, with possibilities including a book review, analysis of recordings of actual musical instruments, or instrument construction and analysis. Freshmen only; limited enrollment. Instructor: Politzer.
Ph 10. Frontiers in Physics. 3 units (2-0-1); first term: Open for credit to freshmen and sophomores. Weekly seminar by a member of the physics department or a visitor, to discuss his or her research at an introductory level; the other class meetings will be used to explore background material related to seminar topics and to answer questions that arise. The course will also help students find faculty sponsors for individual research projects. Graded pass/fail. Instructor: Prince.
FS/Ph 11 abc. Freshman Seminar: Research Tutorial. 6 units (2-0-4): second, third terms of freshman year and first term of sophomore year. A small number of students will be offered the opportunity to enroll in this tutorial, the purpose of which is to demonstrate how research ideas arise, and are evaluated and tested, and how those ideas that survive are developed. This is accomplished by doing individual, original projects. There will be weekly group meetings and individual tutorial meetings with the instructor. Support for summer research at Caltech between freshman and sophomore years will be automatic for those students making satisfactory progress. Graded pass/fail. Freshmen only Instructor: Phillips.
Ph 12 abc. Waves, Quantum Physics, and Statistical Mechanics. 9 units (4-0-5): first, second, third terms. A one-year course primarily for students intending further work in the physics option. Topics include classical waves; wave mechanics, interpretation of the quantum wave-function, one-dimensional bound states, scattering, and tunneling; thermodynamics, introductory kinetic theory, and quantum statistics. Instructors: Prince, Filippone, Zmuidzinas.
FS/Ph 15. Freshman Seminar: Dance of the Photons. 6 units (2-0-4): second term. An exploration of experimental Quantum Mechanics from the beginnings to the future, based on weekly readings and class discussion from the book "Dance of the Photons" by Anton Zeilinger, plus other supplementary sources. No lectures. Interferometers, entanglement, teleportation, quantum computation, and other mysteries will be explored. Not offered 2016-17.
Ph 20. Computational Physics Laboratory I. 6 units (0-6-0): first, second, third terms. Introduction to the tools of scientific computing. Use of numerical algorithms and symbolic manipulation packages for solution of physical problems. Python for scientific programming, Mathematica for symbolic manipulation, Unix tools for software development. Instructors: Prince, Mach.
Ph 21. Computational Physics Laboratory II. 6 units (0-6-0): second, third terms. Computational tools for data analysis. Use of python for accessing scientific data from the web. Bayesian techniques. Fourier techniques. Image manipulation with python. Instructors: Mach, Prince.
Ph 22. Computational Physics Laboratory III. 6 units (0-6-0): second, third terms. Computational tools and numerical techniques. Applications to problems in classical mechanics. Numerical solution of 3-body and N-body systems. Monte Carlo integration. Instructors: Mach, Prince.
Ph 50 abc. Caltech Physics League. 4 units (1-0-3): first, second terms. This course serves as a physics club, meeting weekly to discuss and analyze real-world problems in the physical sciences. A broad range of topics will be considered, such as energy production, space and atmospheric phenomena, astrophysics, nano-science, and others. Students will use basic physics knowledge to produce simplified (and perhaps speculative) models of complex natural phenomena. In addition to regular assignments, students will also compete in solving challenge problems each quarter, with prizes given in recognition of the best solutions. Instructor: Refael.
Ph 70. Oral and Written Communication. 6 units (2-0-4): first, third terms. Provides practice and guidance in oral and written communication of material related to contemporary physics research. Students will choose a topic of interest, make presentations of this material in a variety of formats, and, through a guided process, draft and revise a technical or review article on the topic. The course is intended for senior physics majors. Fulfills the Institute scientific writing requirement. Instructor: Hitlin.
Ph 77 abc. Advanced Physics Laboratory. 9 units (0-5-4): first, second, third terms. A three-term laboratory course to familiarize students with equipment and procedures used in the research laboratory. Experiments illustrate fundamental physical phenomena in atomic, optical, condensed-matter, nuclear, and particle physics, including NMR, laser-based atomic spectroscopy, gamma and X-ray spectroscopy, muon decay, weak localization, superconductivity, positron annihilation, and others. Instructors: Black, Libbrecht.
Ph 78 abc. Senior Thesis, Experimental. 9 units: first, second, third terms. This research must be supervised by a faculty member, the student's thesis adviser. Laboratory work is required for this course. Two 15-minute presentations to the Physics Undergraduate Committee are required, one at the end of the first term and the second at the midterm week of the third term. The written thesis must be completed and distributed to the committee one week before the second presentation. Not offered on a pass/fail basis. Students wishing assistance in finding an adviser and/or a topic for a senior thesis are invited to consult with the chair of the Physics Undergraduate Committee, or any other member of this committee. A grade will not be assigned in Ph 78 or Ph 79 until the end of the third term. P grades will be given the first two terms, and then changed at the end of the course to the appropriate letter grade.
Ph 79 abc. Senior Thesis, Theoretical. 9 units: first, second, third terms. This research must be supervised by a faculty member, your thesis adviser. Two 15-minute presentations to the Physics Undergraduate Committee are required, one at the end of the first term and the second at the midterm week of the third term. The written thesis must be completed and distributed to the committee one week before the second presentation. Not offered on a pass/fail basis. Students wishing assistance in finding an adviser and/or a topic for a senior thesis are invited to consult with the chair of the Physics Undergraduate Committee, or any other member of this committee. A grade will not be assigned in Ph 78 or Ph 79 until the end of the third term. P grades will be given the first two terms, and then changed at the end of the course to the appropriate letter grade.
Ph 101. Order-of-Magnitude Physics. 9 units (3-0-6): third term. Emphasis will be on using basic physics to understand complicated systems. Examples will be selected from properties of materials, geophysics, weather, planetary science, astrophysics, cosmology, biomechanics, etc. Instructor: Phinney.
Ph 103. Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy. 9 units (3-0-6): second term. This course will review the basic spectroscopy of atoms and molecules, with applications to astrophysics, the terrestrial atmosphere, and the laboratory. Species to be discussed include hydrogen and simple multielectron atoms such as carbon, diatomic and polyatomic molecules, and some solids. Mechanisms and effects determining linewidths and lineshapes will be discussed for laboratory, atmospheric, and astrophysical conditions. Not offered 2016-17.
Ay/Ph 104. Relativistic Astrophysics. 9 units (3-0-6): third term. This course is designed primarily for junior and senior undergraduates in astrophysics and physics. It covers the physics of black holes and neutron stars, including accretion, particle acceleration and gravitational waves, as well as their observable consequences: (neutron stars) pulsars, magnetars, X-ray binaries, gamma-ray bursts; (black holes) X-ray transients, tidal disruption and quasars/active galaxies and sources of gravitational waves. Not Offered 2016-2017
Ph 105. Analog Electronics for Physicists. 9 units: first term. A laboratory course focusing on practical electronic circuits, with emphasis on analog electronics. The following topics are studied: RC circuits, electrical oscillations, operational amplifiers, diodes and transistors, combining circuit elements, and computer data acquisition. The course culminates in a two-week project of the student's choosing. Instructors: Rice, Libbrecht.
Ph 106 abc. Topics in Classical Physics. 9 units (3-0-6): first, second, third terms. An intermediate course in the application of basic principles of classical physics to a wide variety of subjects. Roughly half of the year will be devoted to mechanics, and half to electromagnetism. Topics include Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations of mechanics, small oscillations and normal modes, boundary-value problems, multipole expansions, and various applications of electromagnetic theory. Instructors: Weinstein, Golwala.
APh/Ph 115. Physics of Momentum Transport in Hydrodynamic Systems. 12 units (3-0-9): second term. Contemporary research in many areas of physics requires some knowledge of the principles governing hydrodynamic phenomena such as nonlinear wave propagation, symmetry breaking in pattern forming systems, phase transitions in fluids, Langevin dynamics, micro- and optofluidic control, and biological transport at low Reynolds number. This course offers students of pure and applied physics a self-contained treatment of the fundamentals of momentum transport in hydrodynamic systems. Mathematical techniques will include formalized dimensional analysis and rescaling, asymptotic analysis to identify dominant force balances, similitude, self-similarity and perturbation analysis for examining unidirectional and Stokes flow, pulsatile flows, capillary phenomena, spreading films, oscillatory flows, and linearly unstable flows leading to pattern formation. Students must have working knowledge of vector calculus, ODEs, PDEs, complex variables and basic tensor analysis. Advanced solution methods will be taught in class as needed. Instructor: Troian.
APh/Ph/Ae 116. Physics of Thermal and Mass Transport in Hydrodynamic Systems. 12 units (3-0-9): third term. Contemporary research in many areas of physics requires some knowledge of how momentum transport in fluids couples to diffusive phenomena driven by thermal or concentration gradients. This course will first examine processes driven purely by diffusion and progress toward description of systems governed by steady and unsteady convection-diffusion and reaction-diffusion. Topics will include Fickian dynamics, thermal transfer in Peltier devices, Lifshitz-Slyozov growth during phase separation, thermocouple measurements of oscillatory fields, reaction-diffusion phenomena in biophysical systems, buoyancy driven flows, and boundary layer formation. Students must have working knowledge of vector calculus, ODEs, PDEs, complex variables and basic tensor analysis. Advanced solution methods such as singular perturbation, Sturm-Liouville and Green's function analysis will be taught in class as needed. Instructor: Troian.
Ph/APh/EE/BE 118 abc. Physics of Measurement. 9 units (3-0-6): first and second terms. This course focuses on exploring the fundamental underpinnings of experimental measurements from the perspectives of responsivity, noise, backaction, and information. Its overarching goal is to enable students to critically evaluate real measurement systems, and to determine the ultimate fundamental and practical limits to information that can be extracted from them. Topics will include physical signal transduction and responsivity, fundamental noise processes, modulation, frequency conversion, synchronous detection, signal-sampling techniques, digitization, signal transforms, spectral analyses, and correlations. The first term will cover the essential fundamental underpinnings, while topics in second term will include examples from optical methods, high-frequency and fast temporal measurements, biological interfaces, signal transduction, biosensing, and measurements at the quantum limit. Instructor: Roukes.
CS/Ph 120. Quantum Cryptography. 9 units (3-0-6): first term. This course is an introduction to quantum cryptography: how to use quantum effects, such as quantum entanglement and uncertainty, to implement cryptographic tasks with levels of security that are impossible to achieve classically. The course covers the fundamental ideas of quantum information that form the basis for quantum cryptography, such as entanglement and quantifying quantum knowledge. We will introduce the security definition for quantum key distribution and see protocols and proofs of security for this task. We will also discuss the basics of device-independent quantum cryptography as well as other cryptographic tasks and protocols, such as bit commitment or position-based cryptography. Instructor: Vidick.
Ph 125 abc. Quantum Mechanics. 9 units (3-0-6): first, second, third terms. A one-year course in quantum mechanics and its applications, for students who have completed Ph 12 or Ph 2. Wave mechanics in 3-D, scattering theory, Hilbert spaces, matrix mechanics, angular momentum, symmetries, spin-1/2 systems, approximation methods, identical particles, and selected topics in atomic, solid-state, nuclear, and particle physics. Instructors: Brandao, Cheung.
Ph 127 abc. Statistical Physics. 9 units (3-0-6): first, second, third terms. A course in the fundamental ideas and applications of classical and quantum statistical mechanics. Topics to be covered include the statistical basis of thermodynamics; ideal classical and quantum gases (Bose and Fermi); lattice vibrations and phonons; weak interaction expansions; phase transitions; and fluctuations and dynamics. Instructors: Refael, Motrunich.
Ph 129 abc. Mathematical Methods of Physics. 9 units (3-0-6): first, second, third terms. Mathematical methods and their application in physics. First term includes analytic and numerical methods for solving differential equations, integral equations, and transforms, and other applications of real analysis. Second term covers probability and statistics in physics. Third term focuses on group theoretic methods in physics. The three terms can be taken independently. Instructors: Porter, Chen.
Ph 135 abc. Applications of Quantum Mechanics. 9 units (3-0-6): first, second, third terms. Applications of quantum mechanics to topics in contemporary physics. First term: introduction to condensed matter which covers electronic properties of solids, including band structures, transport, and optical properties. Ph 135a is continued by Ph 223 ab in second and third terms. Second term: introduction to particle physics which includes Standard Model, Feynman diagrams, matrix elements, electroweak theory, QCD, gauge theories, the Higgs mechanism, neutrino mixing, astro-particle physics/cosmology, accelerators, experimental techniques, important historical and recent results, physics beyond the Standard Model, and major open questions in the field. Third term: an overview of modern Quantum Optics with particular emphasis on quantum measurement science, the quantum-classical interface, quantum networks, and quantum many-body physics with atoms and photons. The course will concentrate on the essential roles of manifestly quantum (i.e., nonclassical) and entangled states of light and matter. The course covers theoretical tools for analyses of coherent light-matter interactions including the quantum master equation, and will combine examples on both theory and experiment from the current research literature. This is a one-term class aimed at advanced undergraduates as well as beginning graduate students. Terms may be taken independently. Instructors: Yeh, Endres, Patterson.
Ph 136 abc. Applications of Classical Physics. 9 units (3-0-6): first, second, third terms. Applications of classical physics to topics of interest in contemporary "macroscopic'' physics. Continuum physics and classical field theory; elasticity and hydrodynamics; plasma physics; magnetohydrodynamics; thermodynamics and statistical mechanics; gravitation theory, including general relativity and cosmology; modern optics. Content will vary from year to year, depending on the instructor. An attempt will be made to organize the material so that the terms may be taken independently. Ph 136a will focus on thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, random processes, and optics. Ph136b will focus on fluid dynamics, MHD, turbulence, and plasma physics. Ph 136c will cover an introduction to general relativity. Instructors: Hopkins, Phinney, Vallisneri.
Ph 171. Reading and Independent Study. Units in accordance with work accomplished: . Occasionally, advanced work involving reading, special problems, or independent study is carried out under the supervision of an instructor. Approval of the instructor and of the student's departmental adviser must be obtained before registering. The instructor will complete a student evaluation at the end of the term. Graded pass/fail.
Ph 172. Research in Experimental Physics. Units in accordance with work accomplished: . Students registering for 6 or more units of Ph 172 must give a 15-minute oral presentation to the Physics Undergraduate Committee at the Physics Undergraduate Research Seminar Day. Approval of the student's research supervisor and departmental adviser must be obtained before registering. Graded pass/fail.
Ph 173. Research in Theoretical Physics. Units in accordance with work accomplished: . Students registered for 6 or more units of Ph 173 must give a 15-minute oral presentation to the Physics Undergraduate Committee at the Physics Undergraduate Research Seminar Day. Approval of the student's research supervisor and departmental adviser must be obtained before registering. Graded pass/fail.
CNS/Bi/Ph/CS/NB 187. Neural Computation. 9 units (3-0-6): first term. This course investigates computation by neurons. Of primary concern are models of neural computation and their neurological substrate, as well as the physics of collective computation. Thus, neurobiology is used as a motivating factor to introduce the relevant algorithms. Topics include rate-code neural networks, their differential equations, and equivalent circuits; stochastic models and their energy functions; associative memory; supervised and unsupervised learning; development; spike-based computing; single-cell computation; error and noise tolerance. Instructor: Perona.
Ph 199. Frontiers of Fundamental Physics. 9 units (3-0-6): third term. This course will explore the frontiers of research in particle physics and cosmology, focusing on the physics at the Large Hadron Collider. Topics include the Standard Model of particle physics in light of the discovery of the Higgs boson, work towards the characterization and measurements of the new particle's quantum properties, its implications on physics beyond the standard model, and its connection with the standard model of cosmology focusing on the dark matter challenge. The course is geared toward seniors and first-year graduate students who are not in particle physics, although students in particle physics are welcome to attend. Not offered 2016-2017.