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.
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.
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)
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.