PHYS 211 & 212 - waves, Optics, thermodynamics & modern physics


I teach PHYS 211 and PHYS 212, which I have developed for the first time in the Department of Physics. The principle aim is to complete the survey of physics, which is started by PHYS 101 (Mechanics) and PHYS 102 (Electricity and Magnetism). PHYS 211 covers Waves, Optics and Thermodynamics. PHYS 212 covers briefly all major topics in Modern Physics. In addition to completing the survey of physics, PHYS 211 & 212 aim to provide a step towards independent study and scientific research.

An essential and novel part of these courses is the free-format Course Project that each student undertakes and completes as part of the laboratory work of this course.  Although various possible topics are suggested, the student is free to choose her project, which should be completed using any resources available to her without any formal restrictions. The only requirements are that it should be (at least in part) an experimental project and should involve usage of knowledge that falls within the topics of PHYS 211 & 212. Some extremely interesting projects have been completed by our students in the first year these projects have been made; some examples are given. It is our hope that those who have made these projects will go on to become successful researchers.

A home-made cosmic particle detector was developed, which is essentially a “cloud chamber”, which has played a great role in the development of particle and nuclear physics in the 20th century.

Cosmic Particle Detector (watch the video to spot two visitors from outer space)

Another project demonstrated a Tesla Coil. Notice that spark is created between two pins that can be seen in the lower part of the picture, which essentially implements an on/off switch, cycling power.

Tesla Coil (or Wireless Power Transfer)

How would you like your Geiger counts delivered? With an Ardunio-based electronic readout platform, the possibilities endless (including, in principle, delivering the results directly to your smart phone).

Geiger Counter ... and Ardunio

Other projects resulted in the construction of telescopes that can show several of the moons of Jupiter, in addition to a detailed image of the craters on our Moon.

A Telescope to see the Moons of Jupiter with...

We have not yet managed to levitate full-size trains or even a frog as part of a PHYS 212 project, but lifting up a small puck with a setup you have constructed yourself is still fun and impressive, isn’t it?

One of the greatest things about PHYS 211 & 212 is that, whatever you have done, you know that you have done it.

Magnetic Levitation (not quite anti-gravity, but we are working on that too...)

Build a vacuum chamber and then you can do all of the following:

  1. Explode a Marshmallow Man,

  2. Crunch a plastic bottle,

  3. Boil water at room temperature.

Experiment performed by Kaan Basa. The pump has been extracted from an old refrigerator.

How to make a Marshmallow Man explode in a Vacuum Chamber


EEE 202 - circuit theory

This course is a basic introduction to circuit theory, which, in the course of teaching circuit analysis techniques, also very effectively serves towards developing basic mathematical analysis of linear systems with the concrete physical examples provided by circuits. We cover all major analysis techniques, including Laplace transforms and network functions. However, we focus completely on linear circuits.

The lectures are further supported by laboratory experiments, where the students freely design simple circuits to fulfill certain tasks. EEE 202 is naturally followed by EEE 313.

EEE 313 - circuit theory

Everything in EEE 202 concerns only with linear circuits. In contrast, EEE 313 is focused entirely on two most important nonlinear circuit elements, diodes and transistors. Throughout the course, analysis techniques are developed and main transistor types are introduced. As case studies, we consider various basic circuit blocks that find common usage, particularly in AC amplifiers.

Each student undertakes a term project, working on a common goal (which changes from year to year). However, each student comes up with his or her own design, own solution. For example, the project could be to build an audio amplifier. However, there are many different types of audio amplifiers, with various (often conflicting) design considerations. Each student is free to take a personal approach, simulating real life. Will you design for an audiophile amplifier, where accuracy, richness of the sound is top concern. Will you design for portable electronics, where power consumption has to be minimized, operating voltage is limited to a few volts, cost has to be minimum and sound quality is perhaps sufficient to be “just OK”.