The electives described below are just some of the possibilities. Not all are given every year, and other electives may be offered. You may find a course in another department that you would like to use as a physics elective. If so, discuss it with the physics departmental representative.
Physics graduate courses make good electives, provided you are far enough along to take advantage of the course Here again, a discussion with the departmental representative is a good idea.
PHY 405 Modern Physics I: Condensed-Matter Physics (Spring term)
The course applies concepts from quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics to the properties of electrons in solids. Topics include phonons and lattice dynamics, electronic band structure, the tight-binding approximation, origin of exchange and magnetism, spin waves, Ginzburg Landau theory of phase transitions, and the BCS theory of superconductivity. Sample Reading List: Kittel - Introduction to Solid State Matter; Ashcroft and Mermin - Solid State Physics.
PHY 406 Modern Physics II: Nuclear and Elementary Particle Physics (Fall term)
Introduction to the Standard Model of particle physics describing elementary particles and their interactions. Specific topics include symmetries and conservation laws; electromagnetic, weak, and strong interactions between quarks, leptons, and gauge bosons; and experimental methods in particle physics. Selected topics covering current research in high energy physics will also be discussed. Sample Reading List: Griffiths - Introduction to Elementary Particles; Perkins - Introduction to High Energy Physics; Kane - Modern Elementary Particle Physics; Halzen and Martin - Quarks and Leptons; Cahn and Goldhaber - Experimental Foundations of Particle Physics.
PHY 408 Modern Classical Dynamics: (Spring term)
Discussion of the most beautiful and important parts of classical dynamics: variational principles, ergodicity and chaos, fluid dynamics of vortices, shock waves and solitons as well as the theories of developed turbulence. Sample Reading List: Arnold - Classical Dynamics; Landau and Lifshitz - Fluid Mechanics; Ruelle - Chaotic Evolution and Strange Attractors; Landau and Lifshitz - Mechanics.
PHY 412 Biological Physics: (Fall term)
The boundaries between traditional scientific disciplines have become extremely blurred. Some of today's most interesting scientific questions can only be addressed using techniques and concepts from more than one of the traditional sciences. As such, Biological Physics (or Biophysics or Physical Biology or any number of combinations of the words biology, physics, chemistry etc.) is one of the fastest growing areas in Physics. In this course, we will examine one of the central topics in biological physics, namely, how energy, force, and mechanics are used by living organisms. Sample Reading List: Nelson - Biological Physics; Howard - Mechanics of Motor Proteins and the Cytoskeleton.
AST 301/PHY 321 General Relativity: (Fall term)
Einstein's theory of general relativity and its astrophysical implications. Sample Reading List: Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler - Gravitation; Gott - Time Travel in einstein's Universe.
AST 401/PHY 401 Cosmology (Spring term)
A general review of extragalactic astronomy and cosmology. Topics include the properties and nature of galaxies, quasars, clusters of galaxies, superclusters, the large-scale structure of the universe, theories of the origin of structure in the universe, the big bang, the early universe, nucleosynthesis, baryogenesis, and inflation. Sample Reading List: Coles, Peter, Lucchin, and Francesco - Cosmology: The Origin and Evolution of Cosmic Structure; Dodelson and Scott - Modern Cosmology; Peacock and John - Cosmological Physics.
AST309/MAE309/PHY309 Nuclear Energy in a Carbon-Constrained World: Fission and Fusion (Spring term)
A potential renaissance of nuclear fission energy is being driven by concern about climate change and by improved operation of nuclear power plants. Interest in the practical application of fusion energy is increasing due to the recent international agreement to construct a major new experimental facility, ITER, to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion at industrial scale. This course introduces the history, physics, technology and economics of both fission and fusion, with special emphasis on both societal risks, such as nuclear weapons proliferation, and societal benefits, such as reduced CO2 emissions. Sample Reading List: Lewis - Fundamentals of Nuclear Reactor Physics; Bodansky - Nuclear Energy: Principles, Practices and Policies; Goldston and Rutherford - Introduction to Plasma Physics; Freidberg - Plasma Physics and Fusion Energy; Cirincione, Wolfsthal, and Rajkumar - Deadly Arsenals: Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Threats; Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report Summary for Policymakers, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Valencia, Spain, November 2007.
GEO371/PHY371 Global Geophysics (Spring term. Offered on alternate years starting in 2010)
An introduction to the fundamental principles of global geophysics. Four parts, taught over three weeks each in an order allowing the material to build up to form a final coherent picture of (how we know) the structure and evolution of the solid Earth: 1. Gravity and 2. Magnetism: the description and study of the Earth's magnetic and gravitational fields. 3. Seismology: body waves, surface waves and free oscillations. 4. Geodynamics: heat flow, cooling of the Earth, and mantle convection. The emphasis is on physical principles including the mathematical derivation and solution of the governing equations. Sample Reading List: Fowler - The Solid Earth, An Introduction to Global Geophysics, 2nd Ed.; Lowrie - Fundamentals of Geophysics, 2nd Ed.; Stacey and Davis - Physics of the Earth, 4th Ed.
GEO419/PHY419 – Earth as a Physical System
The Earth is a physical system whose past and present state can be studied within the framework of physics and chemistry. Topics include current concepts of geophysics and the physics and chemistry of Earth materials; origin and evolution of the Earth; and nature of dynamic processes in its interior. One emphasis is to relate geologic processes on a macroscopic scale to the fundamental materials properties of minerals and rocks. Sample Reading List: Fowler - The Solid Earth: An Introduction to Global Geophysics; Poirier - An Introduction to the Physics of the Earth's Interior.