Feb 26, 2024  
College Catalog 2019-2020 
College Catalog 2019-2020 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physics and Astronomy

Full Time Faculty: John Cannon (Chair), James Doyle, James Heyman, Sung Kyu Kim, Tonnis ter Veldhuis, Anna Williams

Laboratory Supervisor: Brian Adams

The department of physics and astronomy offers courses that treat experimental, theoretical, philosophical and historical developments in the search to understand our physical universe. Emphasis is placed on developing critical thinking and problem solving skills in this context. In addition to the physics major program (described below), the department’s curriculum is also designed to support the needs of two other groups of students:

Non-science majors who want to study the conceptual foundations of physics and astronomy should consider PHYS 111 - Contemporary Concepts , PHYS 113 - Modern Astronomy I , PHYS 130 - Science of Renewable Energy  and PHYS 194 -level topics courses.

Science majors who seek a physics foundation for advanced science studies should consider the three-term sequence of introductory physics, PHYS 226 - Principles of Physics I ; PHYS 227 - Principles of Physics II ; and PHYS 331 - Modern Physics . This sequence uses calculus; at a minimum Physics 226 requires concurrent registration in Applied Calculus. These courses also serve as prerequisites for advanced courses leading to the physics major and minor.

In addition, PHYS 221 -PHYS 222  is a two-term sequence in introductory physics, which does not assume a working knowledge of calculus. These courses are regularly offered only in the Macalester Summer Physics Institute directed by Sung Kyu Kim.

General Distribution Requirement

All courses in the physics and astronomy department except some topics courses and those numbered PHYS 614 , PHYS 624 , PHYS 634  and PHYS 644  count toward the general distribution requirement in mathematics and natural science.

General Education Requirements

Courses that meet the general education requirements in writing, quantitative thinking, internationalism and U.S. identities and differences will be posted on the Registrar’s web page in advance of registration for each semester.

Additional information regarding the general distribution requirement and the general education requirements can be found in the graduation requirements  section of this catalog.

Honors Program

The physics and astronomy department participates in the honors program. Eligibility requirements, application procedures and specific project expectations for the department are available from either the department office or the Academic Programs and Advising Office.

Topics Courses

PHYS 194 , PHYS 294 , PHYS 394 , PHYS 494  

These temporary courses are offered by instructors at their own initiative or in response to student requests. The following are examples of recent offerings: Cosmology, Condensed Matter Physics, Nanoscience, Particle Physics, Biomechanics, Biophysics, Chemical Physics, and General Relativity. To be announced at registration. (2-4 credits)

Independent Study

The department offers independent study options in the form of independent projects, internships, preceptorships and Honors independent projects. For more information contact the department and review the Curriculum  section of the catalog.