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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Fall 2003

T C Phy341 • PHY 341: Selected Topics in Modern Physics

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
59320 MWF
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
PAI 4.42

Course Description

The discoveries and the methods of analysis that are the basis of Twentieth Century Physics have dominated our lives and in many cases set the tone of our intellectual debate. Unfortunately, in most undergraduate University curricula, this material is not covered. This omission is usually due to the need to prepare the students in both the requisite classical physics and mathematics. This course covers these subjects without the use of sophisticated mathematics but in a coherent and correct presentation of the discoveries of modern physics. The emphasis in the course will be on the conceptual development of the ideas. The course begins with a general review of several of the basic ideas that are relevant to all of physics but quickly relates them to discoveries made in the twentieth century. From this basis, we move into the modern theory of space and time. These are covered using the geometrical concepts to outline the basic ideas of special and general relativity. This is followed by a descriptive analysis of some of the more spectacular of the objects predicted by these theories. The later part of the course covers the development of the theory of microscopic matter. Again the emphasis is on conceptual foundations.

About the professor: Dr. Austin Gleeson, Professor of Physics, works on the field theory of strong interactions, the physics of superdense matter, and high-energy acoustic sources. Plan II students presented him the Chad Oliver Plan II Teaching Award for 1999-2000.

Grading Policy

The course has three lectures a week. Each student must also attend one discussion section per week. There is homework every week consisting of assigned problems and take-home laboratories. Some of the problems and all the laboratories deal with general science competency. There are two tests and a final. Students with a weak background in physics from high school are encouraged to take the special section of Phy 309K for Plan II students before enrolling in this course.


Introduction to Modern Physics. U.T. Physics Department. QED. Richard P. Feynman. A Traveler's Guide to Spacetime. Thomas A. Moore Innumeracy. John Alan Paulos


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