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PHYS 311 — Modern Physics

PHYS 311 — Modern Physics — Fall 2008
Updated 2008 Oct 04 Sun

Location:  MP-301         Time:  MWF 10:40-11:30am
Prerequisites:  PHYS 309 — Intro. Modern Physics MP-301
Text:  Modern Physics by Kenneth Krane, 2nd edition
Class web page:
Instructor:  Dr. Hanna     (208)426-3775     MP-423
Office Hours:  MW 3:40-4:30pm, or by appointment

WeekMon dateTopics
Part 1: Relativity (Exam 1 over Chapter 2 and Sections 15.1-15.3 on Wed Sep 24)
1.8/25Classical relativity;  Einstein’s postulates;  Relative length
Reading:  2.1 (20-23);  2.2,2.3,2.4a (23-28);  2.4b (28-32)H1 due 9/3:  2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6
2.9/1(Labor Day Holiday);  Adding velocities;  Doppler and Lorentz
Reading:  2.4c,d (32-35);  2.5a,b (35-38)
H2 due 9/8: 2.8, 2.10, 2.11, 2.14, 2.15
3.9/8Simultaneity and twin paradox;  Momentum;  Energy
Reading:  2.5c,2.6 (38-42);  2.7a (42-44);  2.7b (44-49)
H3 due 9/15: 2.27, 2.28, 2.30, 2.32, 2.33
4.9/15Collisions;  General Relativity 1;  General Relativity 2
Reading:  2.7c (49-51);  15.1 (488-491);  15.2,15.3 (491-497)
H4 due 9/22: 2.34, 2.35, 15.1, 15.4, 15.6
5.9/22Review Part 1;  EXAM 1 (Wed Sep 24);  E.M. & Relativity
Reading:  2.8 (51-57);  (Exam 1)
Part 2: Nuclear Physics (Exam 2 over Chapters 12 and 13 on Wed Oct 29)
6.9/29Atomic nuclei;  Nuclear binding energy;  Nuclear force
Reading:  12.1-12.2 (374-379);  12.3 (379-382);  12.4 (382-384)
H5 due 10/6: 12.4, 12.6, 12.8, 12.9, 12.12, 12.13
7.10/6Radioactivity;  Conservation laws and alpha decay;  Beta and gamma decay
Reading:  12.5 (384-388);  12.6,12.7 (388-393);  12.8,12.9 (393-398)
H6 due 10/13: 12.20, 12.26, 12.32, 12.34, 12.36
8.10/13Natural radioactivity; Types of nuclear reactions; Radioisotope production
Reading:  12.10 (399-403);  13.1 (412-417);  13.2 (417-419)
H7 due 10/20: 12.38, 13.4, 13.7, 13.8, 13.9
9.10/20Low-energy reaction kinematics; Fission; Fusion
Reading:  13.3 (419-422);  13.4 (422-428);  13.5 (428-435)
H8 due 10/27: 13.16, 13.20, 13.21, 13.26,  13.32
10.10/27Review of Part 2; EXAM 2 (Wed Oct 29); Forces and particles
Reading:  13.6 (435-440);  (Exam 2);  14.1-14.3 (448-455)
Part 3: Particles, Stars, & Cosmology (Final Exam on Wed Dec 17)
11.11/3Conservation Laws; Particle decay; Energetics of decay
Reading:  14.4 (455-460);  14.5 460-465();  14.6 (465-468)
H9 due 11/10:  14.2, 14.6, 14.11, 14.12, 14.13
12.11/10Energetics of reactions; The Standard Model;  Stellar Evolution
Reading:  14.7 (468-473);  14.8,14.9 (473-480);  15.4,15.5 (497-506)H10 due 11/17:  14.18, 14.24, 15.8, 15.10, 15.12
13.11/17Electron degeneracy; White Dwarves; Neutron stars
Reading:  10.7 (326-329);  15.6 (506-507);  15.7 (508-511)
H11 due 12/1:  15.15, 15.16, 15.18, 15.22, 15.24
14.12/1Black holes; Expansion and Background Radiation; Cosmology
Reading:  15.8 (511-514);  16.1,16.2 (522-530);  16.3,16.4 (530-535)
H12 due 12/8:  16.1, 16.2, 16.8, 16.17, 16.20
15.12/8Big Bang; Formation of Matter; Future of the Universe
Reading:  16.5 (535-539);  16.6,16.7 (539-545);  16.8 (545-548)
16.12/11FINAL EXAM  (Wed Dec 17, 10:30am-12:30pm, MP-301)


To acquaint students with the key concepts of special relativity and subatomic physics, and to apply these concepts to describe the characteristics of atomic nuclei, elementary particles, and selected astrophysical phenomena. Topics include introductions to Einstein’sspacetime, the equivalence of mass and energy, radioactive decay, nuclear fission and fusion, antimatter, the Standard Model of elementary particles, stellar corpses, and cosmology. The course objectives will be accomplished through lecture and discussion of selected topics in class, through group exercises, and by students working through the assigned parts of text, including all assigned homework problems. Assessment will come from the tests (which will be based on the assigned parts of the text, the assigned homework problems, and the lectures) and the assigned homework.


The syllabus describes the intended progression of the course. The syllabus and homework assignments will be revised as needed.  Students should attend class lectures and check frequently for updates to the syllabus.


75% of your grade is based on the exams.  Exams will be based on homework problems, worked examples in the text, and lectures.ALL EXAMS WILL BE COUNTED, AND NO MAKE-UP EXAMS WILL BE GIVEN.  There will be three exams, including the final exam, each worth 25%.  Only simple scientific calculators allowed during exams: no calculators that are capable of graphing, integration, differentiation, or symbolic algebra are allowed.  You may bring one 8.5″ by 11″ sheet of formulas for each one-hour exam, along with your formula sheets from your previous PHYS 309 exams. All formula sheets must be labeled at the top by exam number, be signed andhandwritten by you on both sides, and be turned in with your exam. Your formula sheet should contain only numbered formulas from those sections of the chapters that are covered on the exam, and you must write the textbook equation number next to each formula. No other formulae, comments, drawings, or other information are allowed on the formula sheet. It is your responsibility to know the meaning of every symbol on your formula sheet, and to understand the meaning, applicability, and use of every equation you include on your formula sheet.


25% of your grade is based on the homework. Homework assignments and their due dates are listed on the syllabus that is posted on the course website, which should be checked frequently for changes.  All homework assignments listed on the course syllabus refer to homework problemsnot to homework questions. Hand in the homework you have completed on the due date, at the beginning of class.NO LATE HOMEWORK WILL BE ACCEPTED. Homework problems will form the basis for many of the exam problems. Look over your graded homework carefully and make sure you can work and understand every assigned homework problem. You are strongly encouraged to talk to the instructor about homework problems that you do not understand.


Consult the syllabus and read the assigned sections before the material is covered in class. As you read, write down any questions you have and bring them to class, and work every example given in the assigned parts of the text. Ask questions in class.

Academic Honesty:

Although you are encouraged to discuss the class lectures, readings, and assignments with your classmates, all the work that you turn in must be your own. NO CHEATING OR PLAGIARISM (PRESENTING OTHER PEOPLE’S WORK AS IF IT WERE YOUR OWN) WILL BE TOLERATED, INCLUDING ANY USE OF HOMEWORK SOLUTIONS FOUND ON THE INTERNET OR ELSEWHERE. If you make use of sources besides the class lectures or textbooks, you must provide explicit written references to the sources you use.  Failure to follow these rules of academic honesty, or any others listed in the Student Code of Conduct, could have drastic consequences, including (but not limited to) ejection from the course with a failing grade.


A- to A+ = 90 – 100,   B- to B+ = 75 – 90,   C- to C+ = 60 – 75,   D- to D+ = 45 – 60