PHYS 225 Modern Physics • 5 Cr.


Presents the special theory of relativity, key phenomena, and experiments of modern physics that led to a break from classical views. Includes an introduction to quantum mechanics. Research based active engagement, pedagogical methods and hands on activities assist conceptual development. Prerequisite: MATH& 153 or MATH& 254 and PHYS 123. Recommended: MATH 238 or concurrent enrollment.


After completing this class, students should be able to:

  • Special Relativity
    • Differentiate between Galilean Relativity and Special Relativity
    • Correctly calculate time dilation and length contraction effects
    • Represent appropriate quantities using four vectors
    • Perform Lorentz Transformations between reference frames
    • Identify proper time and proper velocity
    • Make appropriate computations using the Energy-Momentum 4-vector
  • Limits of Classical Physics
    • Identify the limitations of classical physics
  • Mysteries and Failures
    • Identify what was mysterious about particular historical experiments (such as the ones listed here) or describe where classical physics fails to explain aspects of these or similar experiments.
      • Atomic Spectra
      • Photoelectric Effect
      • Blackbody Radiation
      • Heat Capacities of Solids
      • Atomic Theory
      • Electrical Conduction
  • Thinking differently about classical physics
    • Construct and solve problems using the Hamiltonian
    • Derive wave functions
    • Construct and interpret energy Diagrams
  • Schroedinger’s Equation
    • Articulate the wave particle duality and describe its basis in the Schroedinger Equation
    • Explain the purpose and meaning of the Schroedinger Equation
    • Cite and describe different philosophical interpretations of the Schroedinger Equation
    • Perform the computations that illlustrate the interpretations above and those that give rise to the Uncertainty Principle
    • Perform computations appropriate to the Time-Independent Schroedinger Equation
  • The Spherical Shroedinger Equation
    • Construct the solution to the Schroedinger equation for the Hydrogen Atom
  • Special Topics
    • Working individually or in teams students will utilize concepts deriving from the active engagement portions of the course in a project, paper or other assessment that illustrates how the modern view reconciles conflicts, mysteries or failures from classical physics.