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Physics 448 Information

Fall 2013

Atomic and Quantum Physics

Description: First semester of a two-semester senior course. Review of atomic and other quantum phenomena and special relativity; introduction to quantum mechanics treating the more advanced topics of atomic physics and applications to molecular, solid state, nuclear, and elementary particle physics and quantum statistics. Experiments underlying this course are covered in Physics 407.

Prerequisites: Physics 205, 241, or 244, and Physics 311 and 322. Not open to those who have had Physics 531

Instructor: Thad Walker, 5322 Chamberlin, 262-4093,

Lectures: MWF 8:50, CHAMBERLIN 2241

Office Hours: MWF 7:45-8:30, TTh 8:00am--9:30am. Some days I may not be available. If you come by during office hours and I am not there, leave a note under the door and send me an email. I will make every effort to meet with you at the first opportunity.

    I strongly encourage you to take advantage of my office hours.  Yes,
    they are early in the day, but yes, you will find me helpful when you

Text: A Modern Approach to Quantum Mechanics by Townsend.  This text takes a different approach than most.  Excerpts from it reviewed well with 448/9 students from last year.
There are many good introductory quantum mechanics texts you might find helpful as well.  These include Quantum Mechanics by Basdevant and Dalibard (the text for the last 2 years), Modern Quantum Mechanics by Sakurai,  Introduction to Quantum Mechanics by Griffiths (a student favorite though in my view fairly old-fashioned),  and Lectures on Quantum Mechanics by Baym, all of which are on reserve in the physics library. There will also be some handout supplements that will appear periodically on the web page.

    I intend to roughly follow the text, but you should expect significantly different
    perspectives to be discussed and presented in the lectures.  Here's a quote from
    a recent student evaluation: "
Also, if you only have good lectures to learn from,
    and you miss class, then it is a significant problem
".  I agree.

Required supplemental material:  Mathematica.    Mathematica is a particularly powerful tool for algrebra, simulation, and graphics.  I encourage you to use it for your homework and there will be some work that will be required to do using Mathematica.  Other work will often be much easier done with Mathematica than by hand.  A student license is available at DOIT for $49, and Mathematica is also available for your limited free use on the physics library computers, in the physics club room, and in the Garage Physics room.

    One of my goals is computer literacy. Computation is an important skill for
    any scientist to master. 

Grading: The final grade will be determined from a weighting of the three components listed below. The total homework score and each of the exam scores will be curved to a 80(A)-70(AB)-60(B)-50(BC)-40(C)-20(D) scale before a final grade judgement is made.  Scores will be posted on the course Learn@UW page.

Homework: 25% of grade. Homework assignments will typically be due on Friday afternoons at 5:00, turned into the 448 slot next to Rennenbaum auditorium near our classroom. Late homework is not accepted. Just do it. The lowest homework score will be dropped. Each homework problem is worth 0-3 points and will be graded according to the following scale:




Garbage/Too Messy to grade


Tried but little progress


On the right path but significant errors


Correct or only minor errors

Historically, students who neglect their homework are at the greatest risk for low exam scores.   I strongly urge you to work together in small groups, but the work you hand in should be your own. My solutions will be posted on the web page.

Exams: 2 exams, 45% of grade.  Expected exam dates are given below. Exams may include both in-class and take-home components.

Final Exam: 30% of grade. Comprehensive. Time and Locations are given TBA.

Academic Misconduct:

In-class exams: you are allowed to bring one sheet of notebook paper.  Calculators are permitted, but no devices that can access the internet.

Take-home exams:  you are allowed to use any books, internet, Mathematica--any non-human resource to solve the problems.  As with any of your work, if you use an outside source you are required to properly cite it.  If you modify a homework solution, even your own, you must identify that as well.  This is important because your homework solutions will often be quite similar to each other due to working together. You are explicitly not allowed to discuss any aspect of the exam with any other human being using any form of communication.  This includes sharing information about what resources to use. 

Consequences: academic misconduct will result at a minimum with a 0 for the exam with greater punishments given at the instructor's discretion.

Web Page: Your source for homework and reading assignments, solutions, etc.  This page can also be accessed from the course Learn@UW page, where the grade book resides.
Schedule: typically 1 chapter/week in Townsend, excluding exam weeks.  Exam 1 roughly October 2, Exam 2 roughly November 20.  Precise dates will be announced in class when the time approaches.

Classroom Environment:  Quantum Mechanics is the basic language of modern physics.  There will be many new ideas to consider.   I want and need you to interact with me in the classroom.  Come ready to participate.  Another student evaluation quote:  "He strongly encouraged questions, and once we caught on to just how receptive he was, we really capitalized and it greatly enhanced the class."




Last updated: 01/22/2013

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