Physical Sciences 2

Mechanics, Elasticity, Fluids, and Diffusion

An introduction to classical mechanics, with special emphasis on the motion of organisms in fluids. Topics covered include: kinematics, Newton’s laws of motion, oscillations, elasticity, random walks, diffusion, and fluids. Examples and problem set questions will be drawn from the life sciences and medicine.

Physical Sciences 3

Electromagnetism, Circuits, Waves, Optics, and Imaging

This course is an introduction to electromagnetism, digital information, waves, optics and sound. Topics covered include: electric and magnetic fields, electrical potential, circuits, simple digital circuits, wave propagation in various media, microscopy, sound and hearing. The course will draw upon a variety of applications to the biological sciences and will use real-world examples to illustrate many of the physical principles described. There are six laboratories.

Physical Sciences 12a

Mechanics from an Analytic, Numerical and Experimental Perspective

This is the first term of a two-semester introductory physical science and engineering course sequence.The focus is on quantitative scientific reasoning, with the first term’s exploration framed in the context of basic mechanics. Students will gain competence in both analytic (using pencil, paper and single-variable calculus) and numerical (using computer modeling) approaches to modeling simple physical systems and for the analysis of experimental data. Topics include kinematics, linear and rotational motion, forces, energy, collisions, gravitation, simple fluids and a brief introduction to waves. Examples are drawn from across the physical sciences and engineering.The course is aimed at first year students who have an interest in pursuing a concentration in the sciences and/or engineering. The course structure includes lecture, discussion and laboratory components.

Physical Sciences 12b

Electricity, Magnetism, and Waves

Physics 12b is the second half of a one-year physics sequence. It covers the basic phenomena of electricity and magnetism, elements of circuits with selected applications, Maxwell’s equations, electromagnetic waves, and optics.

Physics 15a

Introductory Mechanics and Relativity

Newtonian mechanics and special relativity. Topics include vectors; kinematics in three dimensions; Newton’s laws; force, work, power; conservative forces, potential energy; momentum, collisions; rotational motion, angular momentum, torque; static equilibrium, oscillations, simple harmonic motions; gravitation, planetary motion; fluids; special relativity.

Note: Principles of Scientific Inquiry (PSI) is the laboratory component of Physics 15. Topics include experimental design, model testing, error analysis, basic programming, oral presentations, and scientific writing. PSI will meet weekly throughout the semester. This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the General Education requirement for Science of the Physical Universe or Empirical and Mathematical Reasoning, but not both. This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the Core area requirement for Science A.

Physics 15b

Introductory Electromagnetism

Electricity and magnetism. Topics include electrostatics, electric currents, magnetic field, electromagnetic induction, Maxwell’s equations, electromagnetic radiation, and electric and magnetic fields in materials.

Physics 15c

Wave Phenomena

Forced oscillation and resonance; coupled oscillators and normal modes; Fourier series; Electromagnetic waves, radiation, longitudinal oscillations, sound; traveling waves; signals, wave packets and group velocity; two- and three-dimensional waves; polarization; geometrical and physical optics; interference and diffraction. Optional topics: Water waves, holography, x-ray crystallography, and solitons.

Physics 123

Laboratory Electronics

A lab-intensive introduction to electronic circuit design. Develops circuit intuition and debugging skills through daily hands-on lab exercises, each preceded by class discussion, with minimal use of mathematics and physics. Moves quickly from passive circuits, to discrete transistors, then concentrates on operational amplifiers, used to make a variety of circuits including integrators, oscillators, regulators, and filters. The digital half of the course treats analog-digital interfacing, emphasizes the use of microcontrollers and programmable logic devices (PLDs).

Physics 191r

Advanced Laboratory

Students carry out three experimental projects selected from those available representing condensed matter, atomic, nuclear, and particle physics. Included are pulsed nuclear magnetic resonance, microwave spectroscopy, optical pumping, Raman scattering, scattering of laser light, nitrogen vacancies in diamond, neutron activation of radioactive isotopes, Compton scattering, relativistic mass of the electron, recoil free gamma-ray resonance, lifetime of the muon, studies of superfluid helium, positron annihilation, superconductivity, the quantum Hall effect, properties of semiconductors. The facilities of the laboratory include several computer controlled experiments as well as computers for analysis.

Summer Physics: Phys S-1A


This course is an introduction to classical mechanics, with special emphasis on the motion in fluids of biological objects, from proteins to people. Topics covered include momentum and energy conservation, kinematics, Newton’s laws of motion, oscillations, elasticity, fluids, random walks, and diffusion. Examples and problem set questions are drawn from the life sciences and medicine. This course fulfills one of two semesters of physics for entrance to medical school. May be taken concurrently with PHYS S-1b.