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Semester 1

Classical and Modern Physics (PHYS08044)


Physics and Astronomy





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Course Summary

This course is designed for pre-honours direct entry School of Physics and Astronomy students only and cannot be taken as an outside course. It provides an introduction to classical dynamics, waves, special relativity and quantum physics. The course consists of lectures to present new material, and workshops to develop understanding, familiarity and fluency.

Course Description

Classical Physics (20 lectures)*Revision of elementary statics & dynamics - Statics forces, resolution of forces into components. Force diagrams. - Laws of motion in two and three dimensions: Newton's Laws in vector form. Conservation of linear momentum. - Concept of reference frames, relative motion, laws of motion in this notation.- Force/Work relation, conservation of energy (kinetic and potential), dynamic and static friction. *Further dynamics - Centre-of-mass of points and solid bodies - Linear momentum of system of particles, centre-of-mass frame, elastic collision in centre-of-mass frame. - Full dynamics in one-dimension: use of differential equations, Rocket equations, friction, air resistance etc). - Rotational motion, torque, angular acceleration and angular momentum of set of particles. - Moment-of-inertia of sets of particles and rigid bodies, central axis theorem, angular equations of motion, energy relations. *Waves & vibrations- Introduction to waves, waves propagating in 1 dimension, the wave equation- Superposition principle, interference, normal modes, the Fourier principle - Classical wave theory of light, Huygens principle, diffraction, link to quantum mechanics, Young's slits - Electromagnetic theory of light, refractive indices, refraction, total internal refraction - Mechanical waves, Doppler effects, Mechanical vibrations, simple harmonic motion, dampingModern Physics (20 lectures)* Special Relativity - Definition of inertial reference frames and invariance of speed of light (postulates of SR). Michelson Morley experiment. Role of the observer.- Time dilation and Lorentz contraction. Events. Synchronisation. Moving clocks. Synchronised clocks in one frame viewed from another moving frame. - Doppler (red shift) and its implications, the Lorentz factor, addition of velocities. Twins paradox. Rod and Shed paradox. - Geometric formulation of SR (Minkowski Diagrams), and their relation to time dilation, Lorentz contraction, order of events, relativistic Doppler, world lines - Momentum and relation to mass and energy as a relativistic property. *Introduction to Quantum Physics - Planck's radiation formula, Photoelectric effect, Einstein's photon theory - Compton effect, De Broglie hypothesis, Correspondence Principle - Bohr atom, atomic spectra - Wavefunction, probability interpretation, Uncertainty Principle - Time dependent Schr¨odinger equation, quantum mechanical operators - Probability density function, outcomes of measurements - Time independent Schr¨odinger equation, stationary states, eigenfunctions and eigenvalues, commutators - Solutions of time independent Schr¨odinger equation for unbound states, reflection and transmission coefficients, quantum mechanical tunnelling - Solutions of time independent Schr¨odinger equation for bound states, quantisation, zero point energy

Assessment Information

Written Exam 80%, Coursework 20%, Practical Exam 0%

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