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PH424/524 General Information

Please read the Paradigms home page for information about texts, resources and in particular about the code of conduct and students with special needs.
Course Content:
PH424/524 is a course about waves. The basic language is developed in the context of harmonic (sinusoidal) waves, and these basic building blocks are used to build other waveforms and pulses. The context is mechanical and electrical waves to study non-dispersive systems, and quantum mechanical systems (Schroedinger equation) to study dispersive systems. In the quantum mechanical system, the formal mathematics is presented in both Dirac notation (similar to PH425) and in terms of the spatial wave function, which looks very similar to the classical systems. The language and interpretation are new and interesting. The QM part is closely related to PH425, Spins and Quantum Measurement. Course activities include one integrated laboratory, group problem solving activities, Maple worksheets and lectures. Independent work involves reading and homework assignments. It is important that students are familiar with their studies of waves in introductory physics (e.g. Knight, Ch 20 and 21), and the solution of Schroedinger's equation in the infinite well from PH314. PH424 Catalog description
By the end of the course students should:
  • master the basic quantities associated with wave motion
  • become familiar with solutions to non-dispersive and dispersive wave equations in the context of electromagnetism, classical mechanics, and quantum mechanics
  • understand the behavior of waves at interfaces (reflection, transmission, impedance) and the behavior in dissipative media (damping)
  • apply the principle of superposition to construct wave packets (and deconstruct using Fourier analysis), and calculate group velocity
  • further develop the basic principles of quantum theory, including eigenstates, measurement, expectation values, probability density
  • further develop the mathematical techniques of separation of variables, superposition, Fourier analysis
  • refine their problem-solving methodology, the foundation for a physicist's approach to the investigation of physical phenomena
Times, Dates and Locations:
  • Class meetings are in WGR 304.
  • Class meets MWF at 13:00 - 13:50 and TR at 12:00 - 13:50 from 02/06/2012 to 02/24/2012.
  • The 1-week PREFACE is a part of this course and also a part of PH425/525 and PH426/526.
  • Homework is assigned on Fridays and consists of two parts; one due on Wednesdays and one part due on Fridays. You are expected to work on all problems all through the week.
  • The final exam is on Monday 02/27/2012 at 19:00 - 21:00 in WGR 304 & 304F.
  • Note that this 2-credit course meets for 1/3 of the term. The workload is thus concentrated and is equivalent to TWO 3-credit courses meeting 3 days/week for the full term
Course Evaluation:
  • PH424: Homework 30%; Laboratory portfolio 20%; Final 50%.
  • Required homework problems will be graded. Assignments are posted on the class webpage. Solutions will be posted immediately after class, on the due date. Assignments turned in after solutions are posted may earn partial credit; you should always inform the instructor or TA beforehand if assignments will be late and explain why. Turn in partially completed assignments by the due date and the rest later for possible partial credit. Pay attention to your presentation - clarity, neatness, and logical structure contribute to the overall assessment. Make your solutions a model that a beginning sophomore in physics could work from.
  • Practice problems provide simple examples for you to check whether or not you understand the material as we go along. They will not be graded.
  • Laboratory portfolio: There is one laboratory that is part of the course. A complete portfolio includes records of data and computations. Laboratory and computer exercises are performed in teams, but each student must be responsible for his or her own report.
  • Final exam: The final exam involves problems mostly similar to those encountered in the homework assignments, and in the physical and computational laboratory experiences. (No Mathematica or other programming will be required).
Add-Drop, Withdraw & Final Exam Dates:
Special add/drop dates are in effect for the Paradigms courses. Please see the Paradigms home page for information. Final exams also have special days. PH424/524 in Winter 2012 is the second Paradigm of the term, so the final is on the Monday following the end of the class, as published in the Schedule of Classes.
The class makes use of Mathematica, a computer algebra program. The level is not advanced, and familiarity with MatLab or Maple or similar programss will easily allow you to achieve the necessary fluency. Please visit the Mathematica Information link on the course page. Familiarity with basic word processing (MS Word) and spreadsheets (MS Excel) is assumed.