PHYS 225 Modern Physics • 5 Cr.


Presents the special theory of relativity, key phenomena, and experiments of modern physics that led to a break from classical views. Includes an introduction to quantum mechanics. Research based active engagement, pedagogical methods and hands on activities assist conceptual development. Prerequisite: MATH& 153 or MATH& 254 and PHYS 123. Recommended: MATH 238 or concurrent enrollment.


After completing this class, students should be able to:

  • Special Relativity
  • Differentiate between Galilean Relativity and Special Relativity
  • Correctly calculate time dilation and length contraction effects
  • Represent appropriate quantities using four vectors
  • Perform Lorentz Transformations between reference frames
  • Identify proper time and proper velocity
  • Make appropriate computations using the Energy-Momentum 4-vector 
Limits of Classical Physics 
  • Identify the limitations of classical physics 
Mysteries and Failures
  • Identify what was mysterious about particular historical experiments (such as the ones listed here) or describe where classical physics fails to explain aspects of these or similar experiments.
  • Atomic Spectra
  • Photoelectric Effect
  • Blackbody Radiation
  • Heat Capacities of Solids
  • Atomic Theory
  • Electrical Conduction
Thinking differently about classical physics
  • Construct and solve problems using the Hamiltonian
  • Derive wave functions
  • Construct and interpret energy Diagrams
Schroedinger's Equation
  • Articulate the wave particle duality and describe its basis in the Schroedinger Equation
  • Explain the purpose and meaning of the Schroedinger Equation
  • Cite and describe different philosophical interpretations of the Schroedinger Equation
  • Perform the computations that illlustrate the interpretations above and those that give rise to the Uncertainty Principle
  • Perform computations appropriate to the Time-Independent Schroedinger Equation
The Spherical Shroedinger Equation
  • Construct the solution to the Schroedinger equation for the Hydrogen Atom
Special Topics
  • Working individually or in teams students will utilize concepts deriving from the active engagement portions of the course in a project, paper or other assessment that illustrates how the modern view reconciles conflicts, mysteries or failures from classical physics.