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Physics Department
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The Physics Major

The major program in physics presents fundamental physical concepts and principles in such a way as to emphasize their general usefulness and lays a strong foundation for further work in a broad range of technical fields. The challenge of physics lies in uniting its laws and definitions, expressed through algebra, trigonometry and calculus, with the integrative reasoning so essential in solving new problems. A bachelor of science degree is awarded.

Some of the topics treated in the sequence of courses are the origin, propagation and reception of waves of all kinds; field concepts; theory of relativity; basic theory of quantum mechanics; and statistical mechanics. All are studied with the object of developing an open-minded and creative approach to the physical world -- an approach increasingly important to those who will be leaders in the modern Navy. The physics major is particularly suitable for those midshipmen entering the nuclear power program, but many recent physics majors have opted for Navy air, surface line and Marine Corps as well. Advanced degrees are available to qualified physics majors prior to graduation, immediately after graduation and later in their careers.

Learning Outcomes: The foundation of our physics majors program is designed around five main learning outcomes. These outcomes encapsulate our vision of graduates as leaders who are technically competent in the application of physics principles to the challenges of the fleet and the Marine Corps under all operating conditions, during peacetime and at war. The learning outcomes are to:

(1) Demonstrate detailed knowledge and comprehension of the principles of introductory and intermediate classical physics.

(2) Demonstrate the ability to apply and synthesize the principles of introductory and intermediate classical physics for higher-order problem solving and experimental analysis.

(3) Demonstrate knowledge and comprehension of the principles of introductory quantum, relativistic and statistical physics and the associated mathematical methods.

(4) Fashion and carry out experiments to evaluate known principles in classical and modern physics.

(5) Apply and synthesize the principles of classical or modern physics to novel research and/or a curricular capstone research experience.

Three tracks have been approved for physics majors starting with the class of 2007! These tracks add depth, flexibility, and new avenues into the program that make the physics major more broadly appealing. Here is a brief description,

PHYSICS: The new matrix for physics adds SP352 (Problem Solving Methods II) to help with the challenges of junior year physics. This is the best track for those students planning on going to graduate school in a traditional physics curriculum.

APPLIED PHYSICS: This track adds flexibility to the physics curriculum. It removes SP425 (Physics of the Atom II) and SP444 (Thermal Physics) and adds a physics elective (for a total of three rather than two physics electives) and a math/science/engineering elective (for a total of two math/science/engineering electives rather than one). This allows you to concentrate in an area of interest or to sample a wide range of physics related subjects.

ASTROPHYSICS: Starts with APPLIED PHYSICS, adds SP310 (Astronomy), and uses the three physics electives for an astrophysics sequence: SP445 (Astrophysics I), SP447 (Observational Astrophysics), and SP446 (Astrophysics II).

Here's a more detailed look at the major field requirements (the core is identical for all three tracks),

3/C Fall SP221 3-2-4 Physical Mechanics I    
3/C Spring SP222 3-2-4 Electricity & Magnetism I    
SP226 3-2-4 Heat, Sound, and Light    
2/C Fall SP327 3-0-3 20th Century Physics    
SP333 4-0-4 Physical Mechanics II    
SP351 3-0-3 Problem Solving Methods I    
2/C Spring SP324 3-2-4 Physics of the Atom I    
SP342 4-0-4 Electricity and Magnetism II    
SP352 3-0-3 Problem Solving Methods II    
    SP310 3-0-3 Astronomy
1/C Fall SP425 3-2-4 Physics of the Atom II Physics Elective SP445 3-0-3 Astrophysics I
Math/Science/Engineering Elective    
Physics Elective   SP447 2-2-3 Observational Astrophysics
1/C Spring Free Elective    
SP444 3-0-3 Thermal Physics Math/Science/Engineering Elective  
Physics Elective   SP446 Astrophysics II
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