PHYS 3740: Introduction to Relativity & Quantum Mechanics (Modern Physics)

Instructor: Prof. Jordan Gerton
Office: 314 JFB
Phone: 801-585-0068 (I'm often not in my office - email is usually better)
TA: Luca Visinelli
Office: 452D INSCC
Prerequisites: PHYS 2220, MATH 2250
Lectures: Mon, Wed, Fri, 10:45 - 11:35 AM in L126 WEB (Warnock)
Presentations: Tues 10:45 - 11:35 AM in L114 WEB (Warnock)
Syllabus: Click here for a PDF copy of the syllabus
Help Sessions: Mondays » 11:35 AM - 1 PM in 445 INSCC (Luca)
Fridays » 9:30 AM - 10:30 AM in 1450 WEB (Jim and Chris)
Fridays » 11:35 AM - 1 PM in 314 JFB (Jordan)
Student Evals: This course is now closed, but you can download a PDF copy of the Fall 2011 Student Evaluation Report.

In this course, you will be introduced to some of the key concepts developed in the early 20th century, upon which our modern understanding of the universe rests. In particular, you will be introduced to Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity and to the Quantum Theory. These ideas transformed the way we think about the world, and represent the first real departures from classical (Newtonian) physics that you will encounter in your study of Physics. They are intellectually challenging and sometimes counter-intuitive, but enormously stimulating, so be prepared to work hard and have fun!

Sample topics to be covered:

Introduction to Special Relativity: Space-time diagrams, Lorentz transformations, the invariant Interval, 4-vectors & 4-momentum
Quantization of light: Planck black-body radiation, the photoelectric effect & x-rays, Bragg diffraction
Basic Quantum Ideas: Wave-particle duality, uncertainty relations, wave packets
Introduction to Quantum Mechanics: Schrödinger equation in one, two, & three dimensions, square-well barriers, harmonic oscillator, hydrogen atom
Quantum Properties of Spin & Angular Momentum: Zeeman effect, Stern-Gerlach experiment, atomic & molecular structure, covalent bonding; multi-electron atoms & the Periodic Table
Introduction to Classical & Quantum Statistics: Maxwell-Boltzman, Fermi-Dirac, Bose-Einstein, Pauli exclusion principle
Applications to Solid-State Physics: Band theory, introduction to magnetic resonance

Official Textbook:

Modern Physics

Modern Physics, 2nd Edition,
by Dr. Randy Harris. Published by Addison Wesley.
ISBN 978-0805303087, 656 pages, full-color, hardback.

To buy it online from the University book store, click here.


12/18/11: I am nearly finished grading your final exams! Your exam scores will be posted within the next day or two in Canvas and your final grades will be posted soon after on the campus information system. The final exam solutions can be found here.

12/11/11: This grade summary shows weighted scores for all students organized by UID. It includes all course elements except the final exam. Please see the notes at the bottom of the document.

12/07/11: Here are some guiding principles for quantum mechanics to help you study for the final exam and in your future courses.

12/05/11: Schedule for end of semester:
Tues (12/6) 10:30 - noon
» Jordan available for consultation in 314 JFB

Wed (12/7) in class
» Review for final exam

Wed (12/14) 10:30 - 12:30
» Final exam in L126 WEB. Here is a study guide.

Friday (12/16) noon - 2
» Pizza party at the Pie!!!

12/02/11: A new version of Lecture 38 has been uploaded. It contains one additional page of notes.

11/30/11: A corrected version of Lecture 37 has been uploaded.

11/15/11: HW10 is now posted - it is due on Tuesday, Nov. 22. Also, I have updated the presentation schedule. Please make sure you are aware of your scheduled presentation day.

10/17/11: In Problem 1 of Homework 6, the angle "theta" is not the same "theta" as in the lecture notes. In particular, in this problem, theta = phi/2, where "phi" is as defined in the lecture notes. What this boils down to is that theta (in this problem) is the angle of the incoming (or outgoing) beam with respect to the normal to the Bragg planes. In any case, you should be fine if you just use the provided formula and value for theta.

10/7/11: Homework 6 is now posted. It is due on Tuesday, OCT 18.

10/4/11: We discovered some errors in Homework 5. In problem 1(a), the question originally stated the "total energy" of the electron was 10 MeV, but used the symbol for kinetic energy, K. (Note that we'll accept your answer if you assumed E = 10 MeV or K = 10 MeV.) Also, in problem 5(b) and 5(c), the numerator of the integral should be x^3 rather than 1. We have also fixed some ambiguous wording on problem 2(b). The posted version is now correct. Sorry for the confusion!!!

10/3/11: No one signed up for a presentation tomorrow (Tuesday, 10/4), so class is cancelled. Homework 5 is now due Wednesday morning at the beginning of class.

10/3/11: New group assignments can be found here.

10/3/11: Here is the histogram of scores (out of 50) for Exam 1.

10/2/11: I have posted a new version of Exam 1 solutions. This new version adds some additional explanation to question 1, parts (a) and (d).

9/30/11: I posted a group problem for today's cancelled class (GP16). Please work through this problem alone or in groups and I'll post the solutions on Monday.

9/28/11: Class is cancelled this Friday, SEP 30 due to a special seminar on recent claims of superluminal speeds (faster than c) for neutrinos. The seminar will be given by Prof. Pearl Sandick from 10 am - 11 am in INSCC 110. Come learn about this important topic, which is directly related to our class!

9/28/11: Exam 1 solutions are now posted.

9/26/11: Homework 5 is now posted. It is due Tuesday, OCT 4 at the beginning of class.

9/21/11: Midterm exam #1 is scheduled for this Tuesday, 9/27/11. It will cover HW1 - HW4 and the material and group problems from those weeks. The exam will be held in L114 WEB at the normal class time. You will only be allowed to use one page, front and back, of prepared handwritten notes and a calculator. DON'T BE LATE!!!

9/21/11: Homework 4 solutions are now posted.

9/15/11: There was a typo in the first problem of Homework 4: the number "4" preceding He in the nuclear reaction was supposed to be a superscript to indicate one He nucleus composed of two protons and two neutrons rather than 4 separate helium nuclei. The posted version is now correct.

9/14/11: Homework 4 is now posted. It is due Tuesday, SEPT 20 at the beginning of class.

9/14/11: Group Problems #10 solutions (GP10 Sols.) are now posted.

9/12/11: Group Problems #9 solutions (GP9 Sols.) are now posted.

9/10/11: New reading assignment for next week! Hogg: §6.1 - 6.9 which covers relativistic mechanics.

9/10/11: New group assignments for Sept. 12.

9/9/11: Group Problems #8 solutions (GP8 Sols.) are now posted.

9/8/11: I found an error in Group Problems #7 solutions (problem 3b). The posted version is now correct.

9/8/11: Homework #2 solutions (HW2 Sols.) are now posted.

9/7/11: Homework 3 is now posted. It is due Tuesday, SEPT 13 at the beginning of class.

9/7/11: Group Problems #7 solutions (GP7 Sols.) are now posted.

9/6/11: I have added Harris: §2.4 as a reading assignment for this week. This is a nice treatment of the twin paradox.

9/6/11: I have posted a grading rubric for the student presentations.

9/3/11: Homework #1 solutions (HW1 Sols.) are now posted.

9/2/11: Group Problems #6 solutions (GP6 Sols.) are now posted.

8/31/11: I have re-posted a revised version of HW2. I fixed a typo and changed the last problem.

8/31/11: Group Problems #5 solutions (GP5 Sols.) are now posted.

8/29/11: New times for weekly help sessions have been set - see table at right.

8/29/11: Homework 2 is now posted. It is due Wednesday, SEP 7 at the beginning of class.

8/29/11: Group Problems #4 solutions (GP4 Sols.) are now posted.

8/27/11: Luca's first help session is this Monday, 8/29 on the 4th floor of INSCC. I will run a second help session on Tuesday during class time in L114 WEB.

8/26/11: Click here to see updated group assignments.

8/26/11: Group Problems #3 solutions (GP3 Sols.) are now posted.

8/24/11: I added Harris, Appendix A (Michelson-Morley Expt.) to the assigned reading for Friday, 8/26. Hogg §1.3 also covers M-M.

8/24/11: One of your class-mates pointed out an error in the GP1 Sols. The posted version is now correct.

8/24/11: Group Problems #2 solutions (GP2 Sols.) are now posted.

8/24/11: Click here to see updated group assignments.

8/23/11: Some students cannot attend Luca's help session. Please complete this doodle poll so I can determine the best time. Remember that homework is generally due on Tuesdays at the beginning of class.

8/23/11: Our classroom has changed!!! We are now in the Warnock building: our new location is L126 WEB for MWF lectures and L114 WEB for Tuesday presentations. We will meet in our new room beginning tomorrow, Wednesday 8/24.

8/23/11: Group Problems #1 solutions (GP1 Sols.) are now posted.

8/23/11: Homework 1 is now posted. It is due Wednesday, AUG 31 at the beginning of class.

8/22/11: Click here to see initial group assignments.

8/22/11: Tuesday 8/23/11 will be the first day for group problem solving activities. Please read the "rules of the game" for group activities.

Prof. Jordan Gerton | James Fletcher Building | Room 314 | 115 South 1400 East | Salt Lake City, UT | 84112
Office: +1-801-585-0068 | Email: