The remarkable revolution in physics at the beginning of the twentieth century has influenced our worldview at all levels. In this first course on modern physics, we will introduce the counter-intuitive principles, relativity and quantum mechanics and relativity, that are the foundations of the laws of physics. Starting with Einstein’s insight that the speed of light is the same for all observers, even when they move with respect to each other, we deduce the theory of special relativity, with E = mc2 as it most well-known consequence. Next we show how the photo-electric effect indicates the existence of a smallest quantum of light. This makes clear that waves are particles as well, but the principles of quantum mechanics demand that the converse is also true. Particles are also waves, and this explains the stability of atoms. We explain the important role of quanta in the explanation of blackbody radiation, en the structure of the atomic nucleus. We conclude by describing how these new insights have shown that forces and particles are in essence the same thing, en how daring experiments such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN test these amazing principles with astonishing precision. The outlook towards modern physics given in this course is the first step to the research frontier.
-Special Relativity (postulates of Einstein, time dilation, length Contraction, Lorentz transformations, Doppler shift, relativistic energy and momentum)
-Basis of Quantummechanics (photoelectric effect, De Broglie waves, wavefunction, uncertainty principle)
-Atomic structure (electron orbits and the Bohr atom)
-From single to many body physics (statistical distributions/Maxwell-Boltzmann, the ideal gas, blackbody radiation and Planck)
-Nuclear structure (liquid-drop model, orbit-model, radioactive decay, nuclear reactions)
Mode of instruction
1 Midterm exam: 30% of the final grade
Final exam: 70% of the final grade
10 Weekly Problem assignents: 10% bonus on top of the final grade
Only the final exam can be retaken.
Instructions and course material can be found on Brightspace. Registration for Brightspace occurs automatically when students enroll in uSis via uSis by registration for a class activity using a class number
H.D. Young, R.A. Freedman, University Physics; Pearson; 14th ed. (2016)
Contact: Prof.dr. M.P. van Exter (Martin)