Introduction to Modern Physics (3)

UM-StL Physics 231 - Fall '96

Photons and the wave nature of particles; wave mechanics, Schroedinger equation, and applications to single systems; atomic physics and spectroscopy; molecular physics; nuclear models and reactions; the physics of solids; elementary particles; relativity.

Questions this course might help you answer...

  • What are electron energy levels, and how do they affect the man on the street?
  • How do I ace the Physics Graduate Record Exam?
  • For short-lived travelers, how does relativity improve prospects for inter-galactic travel?
  • How can single electrons diffract, but only if one respects their privacy in the process!
  • Why was the plexiglass maker in Star Trek IV so interested in transparent aluminum?
  • What is so special about two full rotations (720 degrees or 4pi radians)?
  • Why do the several electron-volt "free electrons" in metals not burn your fingers?
  • What is the "land speed record" for particles, and why are colliders a bargain?
  • How do nuclear clues in dust tell us about events before the solar system began?
  • What ways are there to "get small", and how does physics differ when we get there?
  • How do alpha particles "sneak out" of larger nuclei, without having to "go over the wall"?
  • What is the periodic table of elements in Flatland?
  • How are Michaelson interferometers used in computer, and other, industries?
  • Why do neutron-star dwellers find an iron atmosphere on the star's surface?
  • What are "fat electrons", and why try to map relative exit-surface deBroglie phase?
  • How fast might an earth-sized black hole evaporate?
  • Were lightspeed 55 mph, and Planck's constant a joule-second, then what...
  • What electron accelerators today are finding in biological cells, & crystal unit-cells.

    Other resources of possible interest:
  • What do Balinese candle dances and atoms have to do with each other?
  • Compare animated electron and photon wave packets. What's different?
  • 2-Wave Plots: Non-dispersive (like E&M or string waves),deBroglie, & deep water.
  • Gaussian Wave-Packet Plots
  • deBroglie's electrons and some remarkable TEM facts.
  • Browser-interactive solver for constant acceleration problems.
  • A question involving relativistic acceleration which contains what you need to solve it.
  • Try focussing a high-res electron microscope image on-line!
  • Does making a hotdog require 50 nanoseconds or more of life's power stream?
  • Is statistical physics a dead subject, or is there another paradigm change afoot?
  • In preparation: assignment list, example tests, course calendar, homework/exam solutions...
  • What other resources might help you? E-mail suggestions to
  • At UM-StLouis see also: a1toc, cme, i-fzx, phys&astr, programs, stei-lab, & wuzzlers.
  • Some current and previous courses: p111, p112, p231, p341, p400.
  • Cite/Link:
  • This release dated 15 Sep 1996 (Copyright by Phil Fraundorf 1988-1996)

    Assumed Background:

    Prerequisite or Concurrent:
  • Math 202: Linear Algebra & Differential Equations (3)
  • Physics 111: Mechanics and Heat (5)
  • Physics 112: Electricity, Magnetism and & Optics (5)
    Strongly Recommended:
  • Physics 200: Survey of Theoretical Physics (3)


    Prof: Phil Fraundorf 516-5933; Benton Hall 421 (office)
    Office Hours: after class and by appointment
    Text: Modern Physics by Thornton & Rex (Saunders, 1993)
    Lectures: MW 2-3:15pm Room B443

    Approximate Distribution for Grade:

  • (1) Collected HomeWork / Quizzes - 20%
  • (3) Three 1-Hour Exams - 50%
  • (3) Comprehensive Final Exam - 30%

    Some Suggested Supplementary Reading

    on subjects considered in this course...
  • Pauling & Wilson, Introduction to Quantum Mechanics: QC1741P38 (1953)
  • George Arfken, Mathematical Methods for Physicists (Academic Press, 1970 & later)
  • E. Taylor & J. Wheeler, Spacetime Physics (WH Freeman, 1966 & later)
  • R. P. Feynman - QED, The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, mentioned here.

    on stuff of more general interest...

  • Galileo Galilei - Dialog Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632, translated by Stillman Drake, UC Press, 1962)
  • Newton's Principia (in the 1600's sometime).
  • Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd edition (U. of Chicago Press, Chicago IL, 1970)
  • Jearl Walker - The Flying Circus of Physics (Wiley 1977)
  • Joel A. Barker, The Business of Paradigms (ILI Press, Lake Elmo MN, 1985)
  • R. P. Feynman - "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" (Bantam 1986)
  • K. Eric Drexler, Engines of Creation (Anchor Doubleday, New York NY, 1986)
  • Stephen W. Hawking - A Brief History of Time