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Semester 1

Modern Physics (PHYS08045)


Physics and Astronomy





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Course Summary

This course is designed for pre-honours physics students continuing from PH1. It provides an introduction to special relativity and quantum physics. It serves both as a preparation for further study in physics-based degree programmes, and as a stand-alone course for students of other disciplines, including mathematics, chemistry, geosciences, computer science and engineering. The course consists of lectures to present new material, and workshops to develop understanding, familiarity and fluency.

Course Description

Modern 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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