What does the Department of Physics and Astronomy offer?
Physics is the study of the physical universe. By means of observation, experiment, theoretical constructions and computer simulations, this science attempts to find the principles which describe the universe. Among the topics of physics are motion and force, energy, sound, electricity and magnetism, light, atomic and nuclear structure, nuclear reactions, electronic properties of conductors and semiconductors, materials important for energy applications, elementary particles and their interactions, particle accelerators, and the physics of living systems. The study of physics provides the basic understanding of nature and develops the analytical skills which are essential for progress in science and technology, e.g., conducting scientific research, solving environmental problems, advancing biomedical systems, and inventing cutting-edge technology.
Astronomy is the study of the universe beyond Earth. The laws of physics, as they are known from laboratory experiments, are applied to stars, interstellar gas, galaxies, and space itself in an attempt to understand the detailed physical states of these entities. Astrophysics frequently involves a study of matter under extreme conditions that cannot be duplicated in the laboratory. From this point of view the universe becomes a laboratory in which naturally occurring phenomena subject matter to very large ranges of physical parameters. Cosmology, a branch of physics and astronomy, attempts to use theory and current observations to comprehend the history and evolution of the universe.
The department offers diverse courses in physics and astronomy. Undergraduate programs with different emphases may be planned through an appropriate choice of electives from the departmental courses. Other interests may be pursued by concentrating the electives in mathematics, chemistry, biology, computer science, physics education, or other branches of science and engineering.