Physics and Astronomy

Matthew Wood (Head)
Location: Science Building, Room 101, 903-886-5488
Physics and Astronomy Web Site: http://web.tamuc.edu/academics/colleges/scienceEngineeringAgriculture/departments/physicsAstronomy/default.aspx

The Department of Physics & Astronomy offers majors and minors for the Bachelor of Science and the Bachelor of Arts degrees. The programs have been designed for degrees with or without teacher certification. The department provides instruction in physics, applied physics, astronomy and astrophysics, computational physics, and microelectronics.

The physics and applied physics major programs are designed for students wishing careers as professional physicists or who wish to continue their studies at the graduate level in a number of technical areas including engineering. This program prepares students for industrial employment or other careers which utilize analytical or problem solving skills. The various teacher education curriculums are designed for pre-college teachers of science.

The physics department and computer science department jointly offer a series of courses in the fields of microcomputers, electronics, and signal processing for students who wish to prepare for careers in scientific data analysis, computer or computer-based scientific instrumentation, or telecommunications.

Students seeking a bachelor’s degree in the following majors must complete:

  1. degree requirements for a Bachelor of Arts or Science degree and
  2. University Studies Requirements (refer to those sections of this catalog).

In addition, courses in the major must be completed as shown below.

Teacher Education Programs

Secondary certification to teach physics, chemistry, and mathematics is achieved through completing the Major in Physics program.

The physics department participates fully in certification programs for K-4 teachers in cooperation with the elementary education department. Students interested in grades 4-8 certification in science and math-science are also directed to the appropriate advisor in elementary education.

Students seeking a bachelor’s degree in any of the following teacher education programs must complete:

  1. Degree requirements for a Bachelor of Arts or Science degree (refer to the bachelor’s degree requirements section of this catalog),
  2. University Studies Requirements (refer to that section of this catalog),
  3. Requirements for admission to and retention in the Teacher Education Program (refer to the Center for Educator Certification and Academic Affairs section of this catalog), and
  4. Professional development courses (refer to the appropriate departmental section in this catalog, i.e. Department of Elementary Education or Department of Secondary and Higher Education).

In addition, courses in the major must be completed as shown below.

ASTR 260 - Archaeoastronomy
Hours: 3
Archaeoastronomy - Three semester hours A course designed to study specific ancient structures and their associations with astronomical events. Topics will include many ancient sites including Paleolithic structures like Stonehenge, Mayan, Aztec, Native American culture, and the pyramids of Egypt.

ASTR 310 - Observational Astronomy
Hours: 4
Observational Astronomy - Four semester hours (3 lecture, 2 lab) This class focuses on astronomical observation techniques and analysis of data including practical experience with modern telescopes and imaging devices, computer-based reduction and analysis, and interpretation of astronomical data. Pre-requisite: ASTR 1411 or ASTR 1412

ASTR 337 - Introduction to Astrophysics
Hours: 3
Introduction to Astrophysics - Three semester hours This class provides an introduction to the physical laws governing the celestial mechanics of the planets, stars, galaxies, and structure of the universe. It will include a study of star formation, interstellar medium, orbital dynamics, stellar evolution. Pre-requisite: ASTR 1411 or ASTR 1412 or Instructor's approval

ASTR 450 - Nuclear Astrophysics
Hours: 3
Nuclear Astrophysics - Three semester hours Nuclear astrophysics describes the elemental and energy production in stars via nuclear reactions. It explains the occurrence of all the naturally occurring chemical elements in the universe from the simplest elements to the most complex. It also explains how astrophysical neutrinos [from the sun, cosmic rays and supernovae] are produced and detected and what they have to say about both neutrinos and the universe. Nuclear astrophysics also describes how the structure of compact stars (e.g. neutron stars) arises due to the interactions of protons, neutrons, electrons, and quarks and gluons. The course will also explain how the Universe evolved from a primordial state to the present epoch and will focus on the predictions that nuclear physics offers for the observed astronomical data of the ratio between matter and radiation and the abundances of the observed elements. Pre-requisites : PHYS 321

ASTR 489 - Independent Study
Hours: 4

ASTR 490 - Honors Thesis
Hours: 3

ASTR 491 - H Ind Honors Readings
Hours: 3

ASTR 497 - Special Topics
Hours: 4
Special Topics. One to Four semester hours. Organized class. May be repeated when topics vary. Some sections are graded on a Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (U) basis.

ASTR 1411 - Astronomy of Solar System
Hours: 4
ASTR 101(PHYS 1411) Four semester hours (3 lecture, 2 lab) A basic introductory course in the astronomy of the solar system. Included are a study of the sun, the planets and their satellites, comets, and other members of the solar system, and the inter-planetary medium. The use of appropriate scientific tools for the study of the solar system will be examined. Theories on the evolution and origin of the solar system will be examined within the context of supporting evidence. One two-hour laboratory per week, including night telescope viewing sessions.

ASTR 1412 - Introduction to Stars and the Universe
Hours: 4
ASTR 102 (1412) - Fours semester hours A descriptive survey of astronomy with emphasis on modern developments in stellar and galactic astronomy and the role of physical science in the measurement and interpretation of astronomical data. Included are studies of structure and evolution of stars and galaxies and of current cosmological theories. Prerequisite No.

PHYS 132 - Basic Electronics for Scientists and Engineers
Hours: 4
Basic Electronics for Scientists and Engineers. Four semester hours (3 lecture, 2 lab). AC and DC circuits, semiconductor devices, and linear integrated circuits. Applications include voltage dividers, timing circuits, power supplies, amplifiers, oscillators, and filters. Laboratory stresses basic electronic measurements and circuit prototyping.

PHYS 141 - Introduction to Musical Acoustics
Hours: 4
Intro to Musical Acoustic - Four semester hours (3 lecture, 2 lab) The course covers basic physical principles of waves required to understand the phenomenon of music, the characteristics of musical instruments and sound effects of rooms/halls for music majors and any one interested in the sciences behind the music, in musician-friendly format. Basic concepts such as frequency, harmonics, and pitch, physics-based questions on such topics as music acoustics, stringed instruments, wind instruments, singing and electronic instruments will be discussed in lectures. Hands on labs and web-based exercises will supplement the lectures. Pre-requisite: Math 141 or 175 or 179 or 191

PHYS 201 - Problem Solving in Mechanics
Hours: 1
Problem Solving in Mechanics. One semester hours. Extension of concepts developed in introductory mechanics with emphasis on problem solving techniques.

PHYS 202 - Problem Solving in Electricity and Magnetism
Hours: 1
Problem Solving in Electricity and Magnetism. One semester hour. Extension of concepts developed in introductory Electricity and Magnetism with emphasis on problem solving techniques.

PHYS 317 - Mathematical Physics I
Hours: 3
Mathematical Methods for Physics & Engineering - Three semester hours Mathematical techniques from the following areas: infinite series; integral transforming; applications of complex variables; vectors, matrices, and tensors; special functions; partial differential equations; Green's functions; perturbation theory; integral equations; calculus of variations; and groups and group representatives. Prerequisite Math 192, Corequisite Math 314 or 315, or consent of instructor.

PHYS 319 - Scientific Computing
Hours: 3
Scientific Computing. Three semester hours. Computer solutions to realistic problems in science and engineering using numerical, graphical, and simulation techniques. Includes the use of programming languages and mathematical software packages on computer workstations and distributed-parallel computer systems. Prerequisites: Phys 2425, 2426, and CSCi 151 or consent of instructor.

PHYS 321 - Modern Physics
Hours: 3
Modern Physics - Three semester hours An introduction to special relativity and elementary quantum mechanics. Topics include spacetime, relativistic energy and momentum, the uncertainty principle, Schrödinger’s equation, observables and operators, bound states, potential barriers, and the hydrogen atom. Prerequisite Phys 2426, Math 314, or consent of instructor.

PHYS 332 - Digital Logic and Circuitry
Hours: 4
PHYS 332 Digital Logic and Circuitry. Four semester hours (3 lecture, 2 lab). Boolean logic, digital circuits, digital integrated circuits, and programmable logic devices using VHDL . Laboratory instruction in basic digital instrumentation and circuit design tools.

PHYS 333 - Wave Motion, Acoustics, and Optics
Hours: 4
Wave Motion, Acoustics, and Optics. Four semester hours. (3 lecture, 2 lab) An introduction to vibrational and wave motion with applications to acoustics, optics, and electromagnetic phenomenon. Prerequisites: Physics 2425, 2426 or consent of the instructor.

PHYS 341 - Broadfield Physics I
Hours: 4
Broadfield Physics I - Four semester hours Core topics in advanced physics necessary for the in-depth understanding of the subject required for teaching high-school physics are discussed. Topics include classical mechanics, special relativity, electromagnetism and thermodynamics. Pre-requisites : PHYS 2425,2426

PHYS 342 - Broadfield Physics II
Hours: 4
Broadfield Physics II - Four semester hours Core topics in advanced physics necessary for the in-depth understanding of the subject required for teaching high-school physics are discussed. Topics include quantum mechanics, kinetic theory and statistical mechanics. Pre-requisites : PHYS 341

PHYS 389 - Independent Study
Hours: 1-3

PHYS 401 - Current Problems
Hours: 1
Current Problems. One semester hour. Current problems or topics in research, employment, and trends in physics are considered. The course may be taken each of four semesters for credit. Prerequisite: Junior standing.

PHYS 407 - Science and Society, Contemporary Issues
Hours: 3
Science and Society, Contemporary Issues. Three semester hours. (Same as Chem 407) In this University Capstone science course, two or three contemporary science issues of importance to global society will be studied from various points of view including scientific, political, and economic. This course cannot be used for a major or minor in science.

PHYS 411 - Mechanics I
Hours: 3
Mechanics I - Three semester hours A mathematical treatment of the fundamentals of classical mechanics. Topics include particle dynamics in one, two and three dimensions; conservation laws; dynamics of a system of particles; motion of rigid bodies; central force problems; central force problems; accelerating coordinate systems; gravitation; Lagrange’s equations and Hamilton’s equations. Prerequisite PHYS 2426, Corequisite Math 314 or 315

PHYS 412 - Advanced Electricity and Magnetism
Hours: 3
Advanced Electricity and Magnetism. Three semester hours. An advanced course in theoretical electricity and magnetism. Prerequisite: Physics 2426.

PHYS 414 - Thermodynamics and Kinetic Theory
Hours: 3
Thermodynamics and Kinetic Theory. Three semester hours. Introduction to the kinetic theory of matter and to thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, with applications to physical and chemical systems.

PHYS 418 - Undergraduate Research
Hours: 3
Undergraduate Research. Three semester hours. A conference course designed to enlarge the library and laboratory experiences of students with decreasing dependence upon the teacher. Problems will be assigned and progress evaluated by reports and frequent conferences.

PHYS 420 - Quantum Mechanics
Hours: 3
Quantum Mechanics - Three semester hours The Schrödinger equation; one dimensional systems; the Heisenberg uncertainty principle; magnetic moments and angular momentum; two and three dimensional systems; approximation methods; scattering theory. Prerequisite Phys 321, Math 314 or Math 315, or consent of instructor.

PHYS 421 - Materials Science
Hours: 3
Materials Science. Three semester hours. The physical, chemical and electrical properties of metals and semi-conductors and the relationship between these properties and the electronic and crystal structures of these materials is studied. Prerequisites: Phys 321 and 333.

PHYS 430 - Optics
Hours: 3
Optics. Three semester hours. Fundamentals of geometrical and physical optics and applications to optical instrumentation. Prerequisites: Physics 333 or consent of the instructor.

PHYS 432 - Advanced Electronics
Hours: 3
Advanced Electronics. Three semester hours (2 lecture, 2 lab). Embedded system design and programming. Topics include microcontroller selection, peripheral interfacing, low and high-level programming languages, and microcontroller development tools. Prerequisites: Physics 132 or 332 and Computer Science 151.

PHYS 437 - STOCHASC SIG PRO
Hours: 3
Nuclear Physics - Three semester hours The study of nuclear phenomena and properties including mass, stability, magnetic moment, radioactive decay processes and nuclear reactions. The application of nuclear principles to other fields such as astronomy, engineering, manufacturing, and medicine. Pre-requisites : PHYS 321

PHYS 441 - Advanced Physics Laboratory
Hours: 2
Advanced Physics Laboratory. Two semester hours. (4 lab) An introduction to the equipment and techniques of experimental physics. Experiments are selected from a wide range of fields in physics. Research grade equipment is used in many experiments. May be repeated for up to six hours credit. Prerequisites: PHYS 2425 and 2426, Junior standing in physics and consent of instructor.

PHYS 461 - Physics Research Project
Hours: 3
Physics Research Project - Three semester hours This is the first part of a two-semester course sequence. Each participating student will conduct literature surveys on a research topic agreed to between him/her and their local advisor. The research problem must be approved through the Consortium. Completion of the research will be consummated during the second semester. Areas of research will primarily be in those areas represented by the Consortium which include nuclear physics, high energy particle physics, medical/health physics, computational and mathematical physics, atomic and molecular physics, astrophysics, and other forefront areas. Pre-requisites : PHYS 321

PHYS 462 - Physics Research Seminar
Hours: 3
Physics Research Seminar - Three semester hours An experimental or theoretical project will be continued by the student and the results reported in a seminar. Students who have not yet taken the ETS Major Field Test in Physics are required to do so while enrolled in Seminar. Pre-requisites : PHYS 461

PHYS 489 - Independent Study
Hours: 1-4
Independent Study. One to four semester hours. Individualized instruction/research at an advanced level in a specialized content area under the direction of a faculty member. May be repeated when the topic varies. Prerequisite: consent of department head.

PHYS 490 - H Honors Thesis
Hours: 3
PHYS 490 - H Honors Thesis - Three semester hours Individualized instruction/research at an advanced level in a specialized content area under the direction of a faculty member. Prerequisite Consent of head. Note May be repeated when the topic varies.

PHYS 491 - H Ind Honors Readings
Hours: 3
[Print Course] AG 491 - H IND HONORS RDGS Hours: 3 Individualized instruction/research at an advanced level in a specialized content area under the direction of a faculty member. Prerequisite Consent of head. Note May be repeated when the topic varies.

PHYS 492 - Instrumentation and Control
Hours: 3
Instrumentation and Control. Three semester hours. Sensors and actuators in real-time systems. Topics include the physics of sensors and actuators, sensor signal conditioning, real-time data acquisition, elementary signal processing, motion control, and software for instrumentation and control.

PHYS 497 - Special Topics
Hours: 4
Special Topics. One to four semester hours. Organized class. May be repeated when topics vary.

PHYS 1401 - College Physics
Hours: 4
PHYS 1401) College Physics. Four semester hours (3 lecture, 2 lab). Mechanics and heat; including one two-hour laboratory period per week.

PHYS 1402 - College Physics
Hours: 4
(PHYS 1402) College Physics. Four semester hours (3 lecture, 2 lab). Magnetism, electricity, sound, and light, including one two-hour laboratory period per week.

PHYS 2425 - University Physics I
Hours: 4
(PHYS 2425) University Physics I. Four semester hours (3 lecture, 3 lab). Calculus based physics course in mechanics for science, mathematics and engineering students. Prerequisite: Math 2413 or consent of instructor.

PHYS 2426 - University Physics II
Hours: 4
(PHYS 2426) University Physics II. Four semester hours (3 lecture, 3 lab). Second semester of calculus based physics with topics in electricity and magnetism for science, mathematics, and engineering students. Prerequisite: Phys 2425 or consent of instructor.

Carlos Bertulani
Professor
B.S., M.S., University of Rio de Janeiro; Ph.D., University of Bonn.

Anil Chourasia
Professor
B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Nagpur University.

Boa-An Li
Professor
B.S., Lanzhou University; Ph.D., Michigan State University.

Kent Montgomery
Associate Professional Track and Planetarium Director
B.S., Montana State University; M.S., San Diego State University;Ph.D., Boston University

William Newton
Assistant Professor
MPhys, University of Oxford, MSc in Physics and DPhil in Physics, University of Oxford

Charles Rogers
Professor
B.S., M.S., Ph.D., University of Arkansas.

Kurtis Williams
Assistant Professor
B.S., The Pennsylvania State University; M.S., Ph.D., University of California Santa Cruz.

Matthew Wood
Professor and Department Head
BS., Iowa State University, MA., The University of Texas at Austin, Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin