Making Physics Real

Making Modern Physics Real

In the past 100 years, the development of quantum mechanics has revolutionized our understanding of Nature on scales that range from the sub‐atomic to the vastness of the Universe. It should not be surprising that Physics 390, Introduction to Modern Physics, is the essential course for undergraduates who have a serious interest in physics as a major and a possible future career. This is a lecture format course that introduces quantum mechanics as well as its consequences for atomic, solid state, nuclear and particle physics. The concepts of quantum mechanics are quite counterintuitive and even today some of the ideas of indeterminism that Einstein found so distasteful are still debated. Bringing a real concrete experience of this field to every student is the object of this project: creating a lab course, Physics 391 that will closely complement the Physics 390 lectures. This will include demonstrations of the quantization of light, the wave nature of matter and the atomic spectroscopy that led Bohr to the insights that underlie the foundations of modern physics and its technological consequences. Unlike previous lab courses at this level, Physics 391 will provide a new lab experience each week to create immediate hands-on familiarity with the concurrent lecture material.

Project Team:

Carl W. Akerlof, Professor of Physics, College of Literature, Science and Arts

Jeffrey J. McMahon, Assistant Professor of Physics, College of Literature, Science and Arts

Ramón Torres-Isea, Director, Advanced Physics Lab, College of Literature, Science and Arts