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This subject is designed for students with a sound background in physics, whose interests lie mainly in applications of physics to systems in the physical sciences, technology or engineering. Topics include:
Fluids: water and air pressure, breathing, hydraulics, flight (pressure in fluids, buoyancy, fluid flow, viscosity, surface tension).
Thermal physics: heating and cooling, energy balance in environments, engines, refrigerators (temperature and thermal energy, kinetic theory, phase changes, heat transfer mechanisms, first law of thermodynamics, diffusion).
Electricity and magnetism: electrical devices, lightning, household electricity and electrical safety, electric motors, power generation and transmission, Earth’s magnetic field, particle accelerators, communications (electric charge and field, conductors and insulators, electric potential, capacitance, resistance, electric circuits, magnetic field, Faraday’s law of induction, Maxwell’s equations, electromagnetic waves).
Quantum and atomic physics: spectroscopy, lasers (photon, blackbody radiation, matter waves, quantisation in atoms, interaction of light with matter, x-rays).
Nuclear physics and radiation: nuclear energy, radiation safety, formation of atoms in stars, carbon dating (the atomic nucleus, radioactive decay, half-life, ionising radiation, nuclear fission and fusion).
Intended learning outcomes
To enable students to understand the importance of physical principles to the physical, technological and engineering sciences, and develop their capacity to:
- understand and explain the physics principles of fluids, thermal physics, electricity and magnetism, quantum, atomic and nuclear physics;
- apply these principles using logical reasoning, together with appropriate mathematical reasoning, to a variety of familiar and novel situations and problems in the physical, technological and engineering sciences; and
- acquire experimental data using a range of measurement instruments and interpret these data.
A student who completes this subject should be able to:
- explain their understanding of physics principles and applications lucidly, both in writing and orally;
- acquire and interpret experimental data and design experimental investigations;
- participate as an effective member of a group in tutorial discussions, laboratory and study groups;
- think independently and analytically, and direct his or her own learning; and
- manage time effectively in order to be prepared for regular practical and tutorial classes, tests and the examination.
Last updated: 7 September 2023