Sonoma State University
Department of Physics and Astronomy

Physics
from the 1996-98 catalog
Disclaimer: This is not the official catalog.

Those engaged in the discipline of physics have as their goal the discovery, elucidation, and application of the laws that govern the interactions of matter throughout the physical universe. In its most abstract form, physics is a search for the forces of nature and the source of the presently known fundamental forces of gravitation, electricity, and magnetism, and the weak and strong nuclear interactions, and for the elementary particles from which all matter is formed.

Physics provides a description of complicated phenomena in terms of a few simple principles and laws.

Physicists also use their knowledge of fundamental principles to solve more concrete problems. Problems in the properties of semiconductors, metals, and ceramics; in the theory, design, and applications of lasers; and the theory and design of modern electronic instrumentation, among many others, are amenable to solution using the techniques of physics. Such topics, usually described as "applied physics," often overlap with engineering. Indeed, many of the Department's graduates are currently employed in engineering positions.

The curriculum is divided into two degree patterns: a traditional, mathematically rigorous program leading to a BS degree, and a more flexible BA program. Both programs stress fundamental concepts and techniques, and both offer an unusually rich laboratory experience and significant computer use. A concentration in Applied Physics is offered as an option under the BS degree. With the selection of appropriate courses, students can use such instruments as a tunable dye laser, a five-watt argon ion laser, a neutron activation analysis system, x-ray diffraction and x-ray fluorescence systems, and a charge-coupled device (CCD) detector and computer-based image analysis system used with the observatory telescopes.

In addition, many of the junior- and senior-level theoretical courses are notable for the advanced treatment they give to major topics.

A substantial program in undergraduate astronomy includes many courses, listed in the catalog under Astronomy, which may be included in theh two degree programs.

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Courses and Degrees Department of Physics and Astronomy
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last updated 1997-12-05 by JST