PHYSICS | Teach, Build, Research, Explore

 

At Baker, physics students get more hands-on experience in one year than many students at larger universities get in their entire college careers. Our small classes, state-of-the art equipment, and balance between theory and experiment result in distinguished, talented graduates.

Your involvement is limited only by your desire to explore and learn.

VALUABLE INTERNSHIPS

Our students often find paid internships in environmental engineering, petroleum engineering, and nuclear energy and technology. Firms in Kansas City, Oklahoma City, and Memphis have all employed Baker students as interns.

PREPARATION FOR GRADUATE SCHOOL

Physics students at Baker have received full scholarships to Stanford University doctoral programs, pursued graduate degrees in medical physics at Vanderbilt University, and achieved at high levels in many other distinguished programs.

IN-DEPTH RESEARCH

Baker students have participated in major research projects with the National Science Foundation in Idaho and at Carnegie Mellon University and Stanford University.

ENGINEERING

Physics is a perfect major for students in Baker’s 3+2 pre-engineering program. These students finish with a bachelor of science from Baker as well as a degree from either the University of Kansas, University of Missouri at Kansas City, or Washington University in St. Louis.

SCIENCE AT BAKER UNIVERSITY

Baker science graduates go on to become doctors, researchers, educators, and even water slide engineers. How does Baker prepare students for success after graduation? What are some of our recent alumni are doing now? Watch the video to find out!

MADISON | Physics and Math Major, Class of 2018

“My REU this summer in New York City ignited my passion to go to grad school. It was so exciting and so amazing to see what learning looks like at so many levels. My professor Ran Sivron pushed me to apply. At Baker, you have small classes where you really get to know your professors and they help you feel confident in all of your decisions. New York was overwhelming at first, but I think it’s supposed to be. I now feel confident and excited in my decisions and it ignited my passion to go on to grad school. I’m already working on my GRE.”

CLINT | Physics and Chemistry Major, Class of 2016

“I finished my degree in physics and chemistry with the goal of continuing my education after Baker at a graduate program in chemical engineering. Baker’s faculty is very well connected to faculty from other universities and industry leaders. These connections make all the difference in getting that first-time internship or securing a job after graduation.”

CAREERS

Graduates of our physics program find jobs in a broad range of industries and governmental agencies. Some graduates also earn teacher licensure and encourage the next generation of scientists.

%

of graduates are employed full time or enrolled in graduate school within six months of receiving their diploma.

Course Descriptions

R: course can be repeated for credit; P/NC: course graded on a pass/no credit basis

Courses required for these programs are listed in the current catalog.

PC 125 – Introductory Physics I

This course provides an algebra-based introduction to mechanics, heat and thermodynamics, and wave motion. Key concepts include forces and Newton’s laws of motion, Newton’s law of gravitation, energy and momentum, heat and temperature, and sound. These concepts are further explored in laboratory sessions. The course consists of three lectures and one laboratory session per week. Prerequisite: MA 145. Co-requisite: MA 146 or permission of the instructor. (4 credit hours)

PC 126 – Introductory Physics II

This is a continuation of PC 125, providing an algebra-based introduction to electricity and magnetism. Topics covered include electric charge, current, and simple electrical circuits. Basic ideas in optics and the physics of the atom are also covered. The course consists of three lectures and one laboratory session per week. Prerequisite: PC 125. (4 credit hours)

PC 140 – Astronomy

This course provides an overview of astronomical topics and is designed primarily for non-science majors. Topics include the birth, evolution, and death of stars; white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes; and galaxies and cosmology. Astronomy is a quantitative science and students are expected to solve numerical problems. Prerequisite: MA 145 or 221 or equivalent. (3 credit hours)

PC 141 – The Solar System

This course provides an overview of the bodies of the solar system, the physical processes responsible for their observed properties, their interactions, and the formation of the sun, the earth, and the solar system as a whole. The course, designed primarily for non-science majors, aims to develop students’ understanding of the origin and nature of our corner of the universe, as well as an understanding of the methods used to uncover the properties of the bodies of the solar system. Prerequisite: MA 145 or 221 or equivalent. (3 credit hours)

PC 225 – General Physics I

This course is a calculus-based introduction to classical mechanics. Key concepts include Newton’s laws of motion, Newton’s law of gravitation, conservation of energy and momentum, and rotational motion. These concepts are further explored in the laboratory sessions where basic data analysis techniques are also introduced. The course consists of three lectures and one laboratory session per week. Prerequisite or co-requisite: MA 171. (4 credit hours)

PC 226 – General Physics II

This is a continuation of PC 225 providing a calculus-based introduction to electricity and magnetism. Key concepts include electric force and charge, the electric field, Gauss’s law, the electrostatic potential, electrical energy, current, simple circuits, the magnetic force and field, Ampere’s law, and electromagnetic induction. The course consists of three lectures and one laboratory session per week. Prerequisite: PC 225. Prerequisite or co-requisite: MA 172. (4 credit hours)

PC 325 – General Physics III

This course provides an introduction to geometric optics and modern physics. Topics include special relativity, the wave-particle duality of light and matter, Bohr’s model of the hydrogen atom, and the Schroedinger equation. These topics are motivated by a discussion of the failure of classical physics to explain certain phenomena such as the photoelectric effect. More sophisticated data analysis techniques than those discussed in PC 225 are presented. The course consists of three lectures and one laboratory session per week. Prerequisite: PC 226. (4 credit hours)

PC 332 – Electronics

This course provides an introduction to electronics. Topics include DC and AC circuits, semiconductors, diodes, rectifiers, regulators, bi-polar transistors, field effect transistors, operational amplifiers, timers, logic gates, flip-flops, and many applications. The course consists of three lectures and one laboratory session per week. Prerequisite: PC 226 or permission of instructor. (4 credit hours)

PC 340 – Astrophysics

This course provides a mathematical treatment of the properties of the universe and the bodies within it. Topics include the Big Bang model and the very early universe; primordial nucleosynthesis; cosmological models; the formation, structure, and evolution of the stars; the formation and evolution of galaxies; and the ultimate fate of the universe. Prerequisites: PC 225 and MA 271. (3 credit hours)

PC 359 – Mathematical Methods of Physical Science

This course introduces students to mathematical techniques beyond those covered in MA 271 that are of fundamental importance in the physical sciences. Topics covered include the gradient, divergence, curl and del operators; line, surface, and volume integrals; and Fourier series. Prerequisite: MA 271 with a grade of C or higher. (Cross-listed as MA 359.) (3 credit hours)

PC 361 – Thermodynamics

This course concentrates on the properties of systems containing a large number of particles, primarily from a macroscopic perspective. Topics covered include equations of state, heat flow, the mechanical equivalent of heat, heat capacity, enthalpy, entropy, reversible and irreversible processes, and the Carnot cycle. Kinetic theory is also discussed. Prerequisites: CH 138, MA 172, and PC 226. (3 credit hours)

PC 365 – Wave Motion and Optics

This course extends the introductory discussions of oscillatory motion presented in PC 225 and optics presented in PC 325. Topics covered include the mathematics of wave motion, the superposition of waves, interference, diffraction, polarization, coherence, and Fourier optics. Prerequisite: PC 325. (3 credit hours)

PC 381 – Statics

This course covers in-depth the simplest physics systems. In such systems the linear and angular displacement of objects are zero. This course is taken by most engineers and applied scientists. Topics covered may include: 3-D vectors; force and torque (moment) diagrams; structural analysis; internal forces; friction; moment of inertia; and virtual work. Application will include strengths of bridges, hinges, struts, beams, and much more. Prerequisite: PC 225, MA 172. Co-requisite: MA 281. (3 credit hours)

PC 441 – Nuclear Physics

This course is intended to familiarize the student with the basic concepts of nuclear physics, including measurement techniques and important applications. Nuclear structure is studied in the framework of models highlighting different properties of nuclei and the forces acting between nucleons. The course also covers some applications of nuclear physics techniques within medicine, materials analysis and dating, and energy production from nuclear fission and fusion. Prerequisite: PC 325 and MA 372 or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

PC 460 – Elementary Particle Physics

This course provides an introduction to the physics of elementary particles. Topics covered include a discussion of the historical background of the field; key experiments that underpin the current state of knowledge; conservation laws; the phenomenology of the electromagnetic, weak, and strong forces; and particle lifetimes and cross sections and the Feynman diagrams used to depict them. Prerequisite: PC 325. (3 credit hours)

PC 470 – Advanced Electricity and Magnetism

This course represents a deeper and more sophisticated treatment of electricity and magnetism than that given in PC 226. Topics covered include electrostatics, electrical circuits, capacitance, dielectrics, magnetism, induction, displacement currents, and Maxwell’s equations. Prerequisites: PC 226 and MA 372 or permission of instructor. (3 credit hours)

PC 480 – Advanced Mechanics

This course represents a deeper and more sophisticated treatment of classical mechanics than that given in PC 225. Coordinate systems other than the Cartesian system are used to analyze complex three-dimensional motion. Other important topics include damped harmonic motion, the analysis of motion in noninertial frames of reference, the stability of orbits, and the mathematical formulations of Lagrange and Hamilton. Prerequisite: PC 225 and MA 372. (3 credit hours)

PC 490 – Quantum Mechanics

This course builds on the introductory discussion of quantum mechanics presented in PC 325. The course material includes an exploration of relevant concepts in classical mechanics and a review of the failure of classical physics to explain quantum phenomena. The postulates of quantum mechanics are used to motivate the mathematical framework for investigating quantum systems. Prerequisites: PC 325 and MA 372. (3 credit hours)

PC 491 – Senior Projects

This course is the capstone course of the Physics program and must be taken by all Physics majors. For students intending to continue their studies at the graduate level, the course is used primarily as preparation for the physics GRE. Individual study programs for students with other career plans will be developed by the student and a supervising faculty member. Prerequisite: Senior status in Physics (junior status for pre-engineering students). (1-3 credit hours)

Scholarships

The Department of Computer Science, Mathematics, and Physics gives these awards with financial prizes to be applied to the following year’s tuition:

  • Mildred Hunt Riddle Departmental Recognition Scholarship for Computer Science, Mathematics, and Physics
  • Dr. Calvin Foreman Memorial Scholarship
  • Howard T. Bonnett Scholarship
  • Jennifer Burton Memorial Scholarship
  • Grace Barnhill Champlin Memorial Scholarship
  • Platt-Butler Endowed Scholarship

STUDENT LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

DIALOGOS RESEARCH SYMPOSIUM
Dialogos creates opportunities for the free exchange of ideas among scholars. Students from every part of the academy present original works, in a variety of forms and mediums, and engage with an interdisciplinary community of peers, staff and faculty. The symposium also features a keynote address from a prominent Baker alum. Through open and critical discussion, participants learn from and contribute to the betterment of the whole. At Dialogos, to quote John Wesley, we "think and let think."
Dialogos creates opportunities for the free exchange of ideas among scholars. Students from every part of the academy present original works, in a variety of forms and mediums, and engage with an interdisciplinary community of peers, staff and faculty. The symposium also features a keynote address from a prominent Baker alum. Through open and critical discussion, participants learn from and contribute to the betterment of the whole. At Dialogos, to quote John Wesley, we "think and let think."
BOOK Program
Students are encouraged to participate in the BOOK Program (Baker Organizational Observation for Knowledge) to enhance their internship experiences. The program encourages students to look deeper into organizations by researching the history, mission, structure, products and services, finances and management of the company. At the conclusion of the program, presentations are given in front of a panel of judges who choose the winner of a cash prize.
BOOK Program
Students are encouraged to participate in the BOOK Program (Baker Organizational Observation for Knowledge) to enhance their internship experiences. The program encourages students to look deeper into organizations by researching the history, mission, structure, products and services, finances and management of the company. At the conclusion of the program, presentations are given in front of a panel of judges who choose the winner of a cash prize.

FACULTY

Dr. Ran Sivron

Associate Professor of Physics | ran.sivron@bakerU.edu

B.A. Israeli Institution of Technology, Ph.D. Montana State University
Expertise: black hole astrophysics, astronomy, astronomy pedagogy
Office: Boyd Science Center 223 | 785.594.4501

CONTACT US

Kathy Wright
Department Assistant
Biology & Chemistry
Math, Physics, & Computer Science
Office: Boyd Science Center 227
785.594.8419
kathy.wright@bakerU.edu