*Michael Fowler,
University of Virginia*

“Modern” physics means physics based on the two major breakthroughs of the early the twentieth century: relativity and quantum mechanics.

Physics based on what was known before then (Newton’s laws, Maxwell’s equations, thermodynamics) is called “classical” physics.

This course traces in some detail just how the new ideas developed. We examine the experimental and theoretical paradoxes that forced thinking out of the traditional path. This is a valuable exercise—the classical ideas are in much better accord with common sense (defined by Einstein as the layer of prejudices in place by age eighteen), so seeing how the new physics came about is helpful in overcoming that “common sense” and getting a better understanding of nature.

But this is not just a course on concepts: the lectures and homework are sufficient to give the student a basic technical grasp of special relativity, and of Schrödinger’s quantum mechanics.

- Galilean Relativity
- The Speed of Light
- Michelson-Morley Expt
- Special Relativity
- Time and length in relativity
- Relativity of simultaneity
- Lorentz transformations
- Consistency of time dilation
- Twin paradox and Doppler
- Velocity Addition
- Relativistic dynamics
- Mass and energy: the Box
- Energy-momentum formula
- Particle Creation
- Electric and Magnetic fields
- General Relativity
- Kinetic Theory of Gases

- Blackbody Radiation
- Blackbody Radiation: Notes
- Planck's Quantum
- The Photoelectric Effect
- Rays and Particles

- Brief Historical Review
- Atomic Spectra
- Vortices and Pudding
- Rutherford and the Nucleus
- The Bohr Atom

- Wave Equations
- Electron in a Box
- Finite Square Well
- Simple harmonic oscillator
- Barrier penetration
- Two-dimensional Wells
- 3-D waves, ang. momentum

The Lecture Notes on Special Relativity have been put together in one PDF File here.

*For German Readers*: All the lectures on Special Relativity have been translated into German by Christoph Scholz, who teaches high school physics (pupils aged 10-19) in Hagen, Germany. They can be downloaded in pdf format at einstein-deutsch.pdf. Scholtz' school URL is http://www.ha.shuttle.de/ha/hildegardis/mint/physik.htm. These notes are copyright. Students can make one copy for personal use, but the notes are not to be distributed commercially without permission of the author and the translator.

Old homeworks and exams can be found here.