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Module PY2P20 Modern Physics

Cohort: SF Science (Physics), SF Chemistry with Molecular Modelling

Credits: 10

This module combines four elements of modern physics as follows:

Special Relativity

Lecturers: Professor C. Patterson

Duration: 12 lectures *Taking place in Michaelmas Term*

Frames of reference and relativity principles. The Michelson-Morley experiment. Einstein's postulates, simultaneity, the Lorentz transformations, the Fitzgerald-Lorentz contraction, time dilation, transformation of velocities. Relativistic dynamics - mass, energy and momentum.

Nuclear and Particle Physics

Lecturers: Dr M. Stamenova

Duration: Hilary Term, 14 lectures

Models of the atom. Rutherford scattering. Cross-sections. Nucleons. Nuclear force. Nuclear binding. Nuclear masses. Mass defect. Mass dependence of binding energy per nucleon. Beta decay. Electron, positron emission. Electron capture. Decay chains. Alpha decay. Heavy element decay chains. Barrier penetration mechanism. Gamma decay. Radioactive decay law. Analysis of parent-daughter activity relationships. Nuclear fission. Liquid drop model. Fission products. Induced fission. Nuclear reactors. Neutron moderation. Control and delayed neutrons. Reactor types. Environmental and other concerns. Fuel cycle. Nuclear fusion. Fusion reactors. Fundamental particles, Leptons and Baryons, Quarks.

Observing the Universe

Lecturers: Professor A. Vidotto

Duration: Hilary Term, 12 lectures

Our place in the Universe, its contents (e.g. planets, stars, galaxies) and scale. Basic observational astronomy (e.g., electromagnetic spectrum, telescopes, coordinate system). Basic stellar information (e.g., distance, luminosity, colours). Life and death of stars. Planets and life in the Universe. The structure of our Galaxy and other galaxies. The origin and fate of the Universe.

Wave and Optics II

Lecturers: Professor D. McCloskey

Duration: Hilary Term, 12 lectures

Description: Maxwell equations in differential form. Coulomb's and Gauss' Laws; Biot-Savart and Ampere's Laws; absence of magnetic monopoles; Faraday’s Law and magnetic induction. Electric dipoles, dielectric polarisation and dielectric susceptibility; magnetic dipoles, magnetisation and diamagnetic susceptibility; continuity equation, displacement current and Maxwell’s generalisation of Ampere’s Law. Electromagnetic waves in vacuum and isotropic matter. Energy density in time-varying electromagnetic fields and Poynting vector. Reflection, refraction, plane, circular and elliptic polarisation of light; dichroism, birefringence; interference, interferometers, coherence, Young’s slits, near and far field diffraction.