Physics

Chairperson: Erik Aver
Professors: J. Bierman, J. Byrne (Emeritus), A. Greer, E. Kincanon
Associate Professors: E. Aver, A. FritschN. Moore
Assistant Professors:
 C. Fink, M. Geske
Senior Lecturers: H. Hoeck-Mills, J. Wilson
Lecturers: L. Aldridge, T. Bacha
Lab Specialists:
 D. Buckley, J. Kemper

The department offers two degrees, one major and one minor:

Bachelor of Science, Physics major
Bachelor of Arts, Physics major
Minor in Physics

Students are expected to declare their major in this area in their first year. Students who declare late or plan to study abroad can be accommodated by arrangement with the department.

The Bachelor of Science is designed as a terminal degree providing the basic foundation for direct employment opportunities. Students who are considering graduate school studies should plan on taking additional coursework aligned with their specific interests and goals. Students will be able to identify a four-year course of study with their advisor that will satisfy graduate school requirements.

Summer research opportunities within the department, as well as with other programs, such as Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs, are encouraged. Majors in Physics are expected to achieve a familiarity with scientific computation and the use of computers to model and solve physical problems. Both lower and upper division course offerings span hands-on, experimental physics and the development of theoretical physics.  

Students interested in majoring in Physics and attending medical school should meet with a Physics faculty member as early as possible to discuss four-year course planning and potential course substitutions for particular degree requirements.

Students may elect to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Physics, rather than a Bachelor of Science degree. The basic degree requirements for a B.A. degree are the same as the B.S. degree, except that rather than choosing two additional upper division PHYS courses, as the B.S. degree requires, the B.A. degree requires two courses from any area that are agreed to by the Department Chair. The B.A. degree is intended to better allow College of Arts and Sciences students to complete double majors; therefore, students who earn a B.A. degree with a Physics major must also be earning a B.A. degree in another College of Arts and Sciences department.

More information is available on the department’s external website and its internal MyGU website.

B.S. or B.A. Major in Physics: 54 Credits

Lower Division
PHYS 103 and PHYS 103L Scientific Physics I 5 credits
PHYS 204 and PHYS 204L Scientific Physics II 5 credits
PHYS 205 Modern Physics 3 credits
PHYS 208 Computational Physics 2 credits
PHYS 210 Introduction to Linear Electronics 2 credits
PHYS 217 Modern Physics Laboratory 2 credits
CHEM 101 and CHEM 101L General Chemistry 4 credits
CPSC 121 Computer Science I 3 credits
MATH 157 Calculus and Analytical Geometry I 4 credits
MATH 258 Calculus and Analytical Geometry II 4 credits
Upper Division
PHYS 300 Mathematical Methods 3 credits
PHYS 301 Intermediate Mechanics 3 credits
PHYS 306 Electricity and Magnetism 3 credits
PHYS 310 Intermediate Laboratory 2 credits
PHYS 464 Introduction to Quantum Physics 3 credits
Two of the following six courses:
6 credits
PHYS 307 Optics

PHYS 402 Advanced Mechanics

PHYS 407 Electricity and Magnetism II

PHYS 409 Nuclear and Particle Physics

PHYS 415 Cosmology and Astrophysics

PHYS 450 Statistical Physics

Physics majors are also encouraged to take:

MATH 259 Calculus and Analytical Geometry III
MATH 260 Ordinary Differential Equations
MATH 339 Linear Algebra
and additional CPSC courses.


Minor in Physics: 27 Credits

Lower Division
PHYS 103 Scientific Physics I 4 credits
PHYS 103L Scientific Physics I Laboratory 1 credit
PHYS 204 Scientific Physics II 4 credits
PHYS 204L Scientific Physics II Laboratory 1 credit
PHYS 205 Modern Physics 3 credits
MATH 157 Calculus and Analytical Geometry I 4 credits
MATH 258 Calculus and Analytical Geometry II 4 credits
Upper Division
PHYS 208 or above
6 credits
To satisfy the minor, at least one of the chosen electives must be a 3-credit course beyond PHYS 300. With department chair approval, PHYS 390, PHYS 490, PHYS 497, and PHYS 499 may count toward the minor. Also with department chair approval, PHYS 300 may satisfy two credits toward the minor.
Lower Division
PHYS 100 Conceptual Physics
3.00 credits
The basic principles of physics are covered in a descriptive (non-mathematical) manner. Designed for students not majoring in the natural sciences or those needing a very basic background in physics. Not regularly offered; offered upon demand.
PHYS 100L Conceptual Physics Laboratory
1.00 credit
Taken concurrently with PHYS 100. Two hours of laboratory. Not regularly offered; offered upon demand.
Concurrent:
PHYS 100
PHYS 101 General Physics I
4.00 credits
Algebra-based introductory physics. Mechanics, including Newton's laws, conservation laws, fluids, oscillations and waves. Five hours of lecture with experimental demonstrations and problems. Not accepted as a prerequisite for any advanced work. Fall.
PHYS 101L General Physics I Lab
1.00 credit
Taken concurrently with or after the lecture course PHYS 101. Three hours of laboratory. Fall.
Prerequisite:
PHYS 101 Minimum Grade: D
PHYS 102 Gen Physics II
4.00 credits
Algebra-based introductory physics. Thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, and optics. Five hours of lecture with experimental demonstrations and problems. Not accepted as prerequisite for any advanced work. Spring.
Prerequisite:
PHYS 101 Minimum Grade: D or PHYS 103 Minimum Grade: D
PHYS 102L General Physics II Laboratory
1.00 credit
Taken concurrently with or after the lecture course PHYS 102. Three hours of laboratory. Spring.
Prerequisite:
(PHYS 101L Minimum Grade: D or PHYS 103L Minimum Grade: D) and PHYS 102 Minimum Grade: D or PHYS 103L Minimum Grade: D
PHYS 103 Scientific Physics I
4.00 credits
Calculus-based introductory physics. Mechanics, including Newton's laws, conservation laws, fluids, oscillations, and waves. Five hours of lecture with experimental demonstrations and problems. Fall and Spring.
Prerequisite:
MATH 157 Minimum Grade: D
PHYS 103L Scientific Physics I Lab
1.00 credit
Taken concurrently with or after the lecture course PHYS 103. Three hours of laboratory. Fall and Spring.
Prerequisite:
PHYS 103 Minimum Grade: D
PHYS 104 Scientific Inquiry
2.00 credits
The course is designed and intended for non-science majors. The topics will be developed conceptually, with the required mathematics not exceeding high school algebra and trigonometry. The specific content will vary with instructor. The course title in Zagweb will identify the focus of the lecture course material. The combination of PHYS 104 and PHYS 104L will satisfy the Core Scientific Inquiry requirement. Fall and Spring.
Concurrent:
PHYS 104L
PHYS 104L Scientific Inquiry Lab
1.00 credit
Taken concurrently with PHYS 104. The lab experience focuses on developing an understanding of the scientific method and the processes of science, including measurement, modeling, and analysis. This experience includes hands-on activities and experiments highlighting the covered processes. Two hours of laboratory. The combination of PHYS 104 and PHYS 104L will satisfy the Core Scientific Inquiry requirement. Fall and Spring.
Concurrent:
PHYS 104
PHYS 110 Intro to Astronomy
3.00 credits
This course is designed for the non-science major. A wide range of topics is covered in order to give an overview of what is currently known about the structure and evolution of the universe. Most areas of observational and theoretical astronomy do not go beyond basic high-school algebra and trigonometry. Not regularly offered; offered upon demand.
PHYS 110L Intro to Astronomy Lab
1.00 credit
PHYS 110L is optional with concurrent enrollment in PHYS 110. It will consist of experiments and activities further investigating the topics of PHYS 110 involving astronomical measurements and analysis. The required mathematics will not exceed high school algebra and trigonometry. Two hours of laboratory. Not regularly offered; offered upon demand.
PHYS 125 Physics of Music and Sound
3.00 credits
The nature of vibrations and waves will be studied and investigated at the introductory level. Vibrations, properties of waves, addition of waves and the resulting wave phenomena will be covered with an emphasis on their relationship to sound production and interpretation via the ear. This class is designed for non-science majors. The required mathematics will not exceed high school algebra. Not regularly offered; offered upon demand.
PHYS 125L Physics of Music and Sound Lab
1.00 credit
PHYS 125L is optional with concurrent enrollment in PHYS 125. The course will further investigate topics from PHYS 125 involving the behavior of waves. The required mathematics will not exceed high school algebra and trigonometry. Two hours of laboratory. Not regularly offered; offered upon demand.
Concurrent:
PHYS 125
PHYS 140 Intro Geophysics
3.00 credits
This course will look at the basic principles of geophysics. Topics examined include earthquakes, tsunamis, land formations and erosion, geological exploration, and global warming. Mathematics is kept at a minimal level. Not regularly offered; offered upon demand.
PHYS 140L Intro Geophysics Lab
1.00 credit
This is a lab course to accompany PHYS 140. Experiments involve examination of crater formation, angle of repose, wave motion, rock classification, and buoyancy. Two hours of laboratory. Not regularly offered; offered upon demand.
Concurrent:
PHYS 140
PHYS 185 Spec Topic
1.00- 4.00 credits
Topic to be determined by instructor.
PHYS 193 FYS:
3.00 credits
The First-Year Seminar (FYS) introduces new Gonzaga students to the University, the Core Curriculum, and Gonzaga’s Jesuit mission and heritage. While the seminars will be taught by faculty with expertise in particular disciplines, topics will be addressed in a way that illustrates approaches and methods of different academic disciplines. The seminar format of the course highlights the participatory character of university life, emphasizing that learning is an active, collegial process.
PHYS 198 Lab Methodology
.00- 1.00 credits
PHYS 199 Special Topics
3.00- 4.00 credits
Topic to be determined by instructor.
PHYS 199L Special Topics Lab
.00- 1.00 credits
Concurrent:
PHYS 199
PHYS 204 Scientific Physics II
4.00 credits
Calculus-based introductory physics. Thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, and optics. Five hours of lecture with experimental demonstrations and problems. Fall and Spring.
Prerequisite:
PHYS 103 Minimum Grade: D and MATH 258 Minimum Grade: D
PHYS 204L Scientific Physics II Lab
1.00 credit
Taken concurrently with or after the lecture course PHYS 204. Three hours of laboratory. Fall and Spring.
Prerequisite:
PHYS 103L Minimum Grade: D and PHYS 204 Minimum Grade: D and PHYS 204 Minimum Grade: D
PHYS 205 Modern Physics
3.00 credits
Special relativity, development and an introduction to quantum mechanics and other selected topics. Spring.
Prerequisite:
PHYS 204 Minimum Grade: D
PHYS 208 Computational Physics
2.00 credits
An introduction to computational physics. Students will be introduced to many of the basic ideas, algorithms, and tools used by physicists to solve problems. Techniques learned here will be used in most upper level courses. Fall, even years.
Prerequisite:
PHYS 103 Minimum Grade: D and MATH 258 Minimum Grade: D
PHYS 210 Intro to Linear Electronics
2.00 credits
This course is primarily a laboratory in which students learn basic concepts of linear electronics and laboratory techniques through passive components, DC and AC applications, use of test equipment, operational amplifiers, basic transistor circuits, and more. Two hours of lecture and one three-hour laboratory exercise per week. Spring, even years.
Prerequisite:
PHYS 204L Minimum Grade: D
PHYS 217 Modern Physics Lab
2.00 credits
Usually taken concurrently with PHYS 205, this course looks at laboratory examples of topics covered in PHYS 205. Spring, odd years.
Prerequisite:
PHYS 205 Minimum Grade: D
PHYS 290 Sophomore Directed Reading
1.00- 4.00 credits
Directed reading in approved topics. Requires completion of a form, departmental approval and cannot be registered for via ZAGWEB.
Upper Division
PHYS 300 Mathematical Methods
3.00 credits
Survey of mathematical techniques used in upper division physics courses. Fall.
Prerequisite:
PHYS 204 Minimum Grade: D
PHYS 301 Intermediate Mechanics
3.00 credits
Particle and rigid body statics and dynamics in a rigorous vectorial calculus treatment. A fundamental introduction to theoretical physics. Spring, even years.
Prerequisite:
PHYS 300 Minimum Grade: D or (MATH 259 Minimum Grade: D and MATH 260 Minimum Grade: D and PHYS 204 Minimum Grade: D)
PHYS 306 Electricity and Magnetism
3.00 credits
Electrical and magnetic phenomena leading to a development of Maxwell's equations and electromagnetic field theory. Fall, even years.
Prerequisite:
PHYS 300 Minimum Grade: D or (MATH 259 Minimum Grade: D and MATH 260 Minimum Grade: D and PHYS 204 Minimum Grade: D)
PHYS 307 Optics
3.00 credits
Treatment of optical phenomena using the three major models for light: rays, waves, and photons. Spring, odd years.
Prerequisite:
PHYS 300 Minimum Grade: D or (PHYS 204 Minimum Grade: D and MATH 259 Minimum Grade: D and MATH 260 Minimum Grade: D)
PHYS 310 Intermediate Laboratory
2.00 credits
This course will discuss the major analytic techniques used in experimental physics through experiments in mechanics, heat, electromagnetism, and modern physics, and will apply these techniques to classic experiments. Fall, odd years.
Prerequisite:
PHYS 204L Minimum Grade: D
PHYS 390 Directed Study
1.00- 4.00 credits
Topic to be determined by faculty.
PHYS 402 Advanced Mechanics
3.00 credits
A continuation of PHYS 301 and extension to dynamics of particles, rigid bodies, and fluids by the use of Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalisms. Fall, even years.
Prerequisite:
PHYS 301 Minimum Grade: D
PHYS 407 Electricity & Magnetism II
3.00 credits
A continuation of PHYS 306; a study of advanced topics in E&M. Spring, odd years.
Prerequisite:
PHYS 306 Minimum Grade: D
PHYS 409 Nuclear and Particle Physics
3.00 credits
Study of experimental and theoretical aspects of nuclear interactions as they apply to nuclear structure and elementary particle characteristics. Spring, even years.
Prerequisite:
PHYS 205 Minimum Grade: D
PHYS 415 Cosmology and Astrophysics
3.00 credits
Study of the global evolution of the universe, including the expansion rate of the universe, big bang nucleosynthesis, the cosmic microwave background radiation, inflation, relativity, and other selected astrophysics topics. Spring, even years. Upon sufficient demand.
Prerequisite:
PHYS 300 Minimum Grade: D or (MATH 259 Minimum Grade: D and MATH 260 Minimum Grade: D and PHYS 204 Minimum Grade: D)
PHYS 432 CIS:
3.00 credits
The Core Integration Seminar (CIS) engages the Year Four Question: “Imagining the possible: What is our role in the world?” by offering students a culminating seminar experience in which students integrate the principles of Jesuit education, prior components of the Core, and their disciplinary expertise. Each section of the course will focus on a problem or issue raised by the contemporary world that encourages integration, collaboration, and problem solving. The topic for each section of the course will be proposed and developed by each faculty member in a way that clearly connects to the Jesuit Mission, to multiple disciplinary perspectives, and to our students’ future role in the world.
PHYS 450 Statistical Physics
3.00 credits
Study of thermal properties from microscopic and statistical viewpoints. Topics include: probability distributions, entropy, density of states, black body radiation. Fall, odd years.
Prerequisite:
PHYS 204 Minimum Grade: D
PHYS 464 Intro to Quantum Physics
3.00 credits
The development of the Schrödinger equation and its application to various potential energy functions. Fall, odd years.
Prerequisite:
(PHYS 205 Minimum Grade: D and PHYS 300 Minimum Grade: D) or (PHYS 205 Minimum Grade: D and MATH 259 Minimum Grade: D and MATH 260 Minimum Grade: D)
PHYS 468 Solid State Physics
3.00 credits
An introduction to the quantum-mechanical description of solid materials and their behaviors.
Prerequisite:
PHYS 464 Minimum Grade: D
PHYS 490 Directed Reading
1.00- 4.00 credits
Directed reading in advanced topics. Requires completion of form, and department permission.
PHYS 497 Internship
.00- 6.00 credits
Credit recognition of an internship or research experience, arranged by the student, directly related to the student's Physics Major and/or career plans, where said experience helps the student increase and develop practical physics knowledge and skills. Prior to registration, a student must secure participation in an internship or research experience, identify a faculty supervisor, complete and submit the Physics Department Internship Application form, and receive permission from the Physics Department.
PHYS 499 Senior Project
.00- 3.00 credits
May be undertaken by B.S. Physics Majors in their senior year. Permission from department required.
 

In addition to their major and minor areas of study, all undergraduate students follow a common program designed to complete their education in those areas that the University considers essential for a Catholic, Jesuit, liberal, and humanistic education. The University Core Curriculum consists of forty-five credits of course work, with additional designation requirements that can be met through core, major, or elective courses.

The University Core Curriculum is a four-year program, organized around one overarching question, which is progressively addressed through yearly themes and questions. Hence, core courses are best taken within the year for which they are designated. First year core courses encourage intellectual engagement and provide a broad foundation of fundamental skills. Second and third year courses examine central issues and questions in philosophy and religious studies. The fourth year course, the Core Integration Seminar, offers a culminating core experience. Taken at any time throughout the four years, broadening courses intersect with the core themes and extend students’ appreciation for the humanities, arts, and social and behavioral sciences. Finally, the designation requirements (writing enriched, global studies, and social justice) reflect important values and reinforce students’ knowledge and competencies.

Overarching Core Question: As students of a Catholic, Jesuit, and Humanistic University, how do we educate ourselves to become women and men for a more just and humane global community?
Year 1 Theme and Question: Understanding and Creating: How do we pursue knowledge and cultivate understanding?

  • The First-Year Seminar (DEPT 193, 3 credits): The First-Year Seminar (FYS), taken in the fall or spring of the first year, is designed to promote an intellectual shift in students as they transition to college academic life. Each small seminar is organized around an engaging topic, which students explore from multiple perspectives. The FYS is offered by many departments across the University (click here [PDF] for list of FYS courses).  
  • Writing (ENGL 101, 3 credits) and Reasoning (PHIL 101, 3 credits): The Writing and Reasoning courses are designed to help students develop the foundational skills of critical reading, thinking, analysis, and writing. They may be taken as linked sections. Writing (ENGL 101) carries one of the three required writing-enriched designations (see below).
  • Communication & Speech (COMM 100, 3 credits): This course introduces students to interpersonal and small group communication and requires the application of critical thinking, reasoning, and research skills necessary to organize, write, and present several speeches.
  • Scientific Inquiry (BIOL 104/104L, CHEM 104/104L, or PHYS 104/104L, 3 credits): This course explores the scientific process in the natural world through evidence-based logic and includes significant laboratory experience. Students pursuing majors that require science courses will satisfy this requirement through their major.
  • Mathematics (above Math 100, 3 credits): Mathematics courses promote thinking according to the modes of the discipline—abstractly, symbolically, logically, and computationally. One course in mathematics, above Math 100, including any math course required for a major or minor, will fulfill this requirement. MATH 100 (College Algebra) and courses without the MATH prefix do not fulfill this requirement.

Year 2 Theme and Question: Being and Becoming: Who are we and what does it mean to be human?

  • Philosophy of Human Nature (PHIL 201, 3 credits): This course provides students with a philosophical study of key figures, theories, and intellectual traditions that contribute to understanding the human condition; the meaning and dignity of human life; and the human relationship to ultimate reality.
  • Christianity and Catholic Traditions (RELI, 3 credits). Religious Studies core courses approved for this requirement explore diverse topics including Christian scriptures, history, theology, and practices as well as major contributions from the Catholic intellectual and theological traditions (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses) .

Year 3 Theme and Question: Caring and Doing: What principles characterize a well lived life?

  • Ethics (PHIL 301 or RELI, 3 credits): The Ethics courses are designed to help students develop their moral imagination by exploring and explaining the reasons humans should care about the needs and interests of others. This requirement is satisfied by an approved ethics course in either Philosophy (PHIL 301) or Religious Studies (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
  • World/Comparative Religion (RELI, 3 credits): Religious Studies courses approved for this core requirement draw attention to the diversity that exists within and among traditions and encourage students to bring critical, analytical thinking to bear on the traditions and questions considered. These courses carries one of the required two global-studies designations (see below) (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).

Year 4 Theme and Question: Imagining the Possible: What is our role in the world?” 

  • Core Integration Seminar (DEPT 432, 3 credits). The Core Integration Seminar (CIS) offers students a culminating core experience in which they integrate the principles of Jesuit education, prior components of the core, and their disciplinary expertise. Some CIS courses may also count toward a student’s major or minor. The CIS is offered by several departments across the University (click here [PDF] for list of CIS courses).

The Broadening Courses

  • Fine Arts & Design (VART, MUSC, THEA, 3 credits): Arts courses explore multiple ways the human experience can be expressed through creativity, including across different cultures and societies. One approved course in fine arts, music, theatre, or dance will fulfill this requirement (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
  • History (HIST, 3 credits): History courses are intended to develop students’ awareness of the historical context of both the individual and the collective human experience. One course in History (HIST 101, HIST 102, HIST 112, HIST 201, HIST 202) will fulfill this requirement.
  • Literature (3 credits): Literature courses foster reflection on how literature engages with a range of human experience. One approved course in Literature (offered by English, Classics, or Modern Languages) will fulfill this requirement (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
  • Social & Behavioral Sciences (3 credits): Courses in the social and behavioral sciences engage students in studying human behavior, social systems, and social issues. One approved course offered by Criminal Justice, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, or Women and Gender Studies will fulfill this requirement (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).

The Designations
Designations are embedded within already existing core, major, minor, and elective courses. Students are encouraged to meet designation requirements within elective courses as their schedule allows; however, with careful planning students should be able to complete most of the designation requirements within other core, major, or minor courses.

  • Writing Enriched (WE; 3 courses meeting this designation): Courses carrying the WE designation are designed to promote the humanistic and Jesuit pedagogical ideal of clear, effective communication. In addition to the required core course, Writing (ENGL 101), which carries one of the WE designations, students must take two other WE-designated courses (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
  • Global-Studies (GS; 2 courses meeting this designation): Courses carrying the GS designation are designed to challenge students to perceive and understand human diversity by exploring diversity within a context of constantly changing global systems. In addition to the required core course, World/Comparative Religion (RELI 300-level), which carries one of the GS designations, students must take one other GS-designated course (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
  • Social-Justice (SJ; 1 course meeting this designation): Courses carrying the SJ designation are designed to introduce students to one or more social justice concerns. Students must take one course that meets the SJ designation (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).

Major-specific adaptations to the University Core Curriculum

All Gonzaga students, regardless of their major, will complete the University Core Curriculum requirements. However some Gonzaga students will satisfy certain core requirements through major-specific programs or courses. Any major-specific adaptations to the core are described with the requirements for the majors to which they apply.