Jacob Abbott Professor of Natural Sciencesratcliff at middlebury dot edu
Fax: fax (802) 443-2072
Office Hours: Mondays and Thursdays 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm, or by appointment.
Download Contact Information
Courses offered in the past four years.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
FYSE 1318 - Exploring Wilderness Writing
Out of the Wilderness and Onto the Page
For over a century, men and women have engaged in recreational exploration and mountaineering. Many have shared their experiences with the public through journal articles and books, that emphasize the highly personal nature of their adventures. Through readings of fictional and non-fictional accounts we will attempt to appreciate the joy, humor, and sorrow these adventurers have chosen to document. We will also examine debates in print on such issues as ethics, style, and outdoor education, and consider the relative merits of written and filmed accounts. 3 hrs. sem./disc./screening
FYSE 1425 - Physics of Musical Sounds ▲
The Physics of Musical Sounds
In this seminar we will study the physical phenomena associated with the creation and transmission of sounds, especially those related to conventional musical instruments (both acoustic and electric, including the human voice). The categorization of sounds according to their harmonic content will be discussed, and we will also consider electronic means of production, transmission, and processing of sound. (This course assumes familiarity with high-school trigonometry) 3 hrs sem./lab
PHYS 0110 - Electricity & Magnetism
Electricity and Magnetism
The physical principles of electricity and magnetism are developed and applied to the electrical structure of matter and the electromagnetic nature of light. Practical topics from electricity and magnetism include voltage, current, resistance, capacitance, inductance, and AC and DC circuits. Laboratory work includes an introduction to electronics and to important instruments such as the oscilloscope. (PHYS 0109; MATH 0122 concurrent or prior) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab.
Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014
PHYS 0111 - Thermo, Fluids, Waves & Optics
Thermodynamics, Fluids, Wave Motion, and Optics
This lecture and laboratory course covers concepts from classical physics that are not included in PHYS 0109 and PHYS 0110, and that serve as a bridge between those two courses. Topics include thermal properties of matter, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, wave motion, sound, and geometrical and physical optics. This course is strongly recommended for all students otherwise required to take PHYS 0109 and PHYS 0110 as part of a major or a premedical program, and is required for physics majors. (PHYS 0109, MATH 0121, or equivalent)
Winter 2011, Winter 2013
PHYS 0201 - Relativity And Quantum Physics ▲
Relativity and Quantum Physics
This course probes a number of areas for which classical physics has provided no adequate explanations. Topics covered include Einstein's special relativity, quantization of atomic energy levels and photons, the atomic models of Rutherford and Bohr, and wave-particle duality. (PHYS 0109, PHYS 0110, MATH 0122) 3 hrs. lect.
Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014
PHYS 0212 - Applied Math For Phys. Science
Applied Mathematics for the Physical Sciences
This course concentrates on the methods of applied mathematics used for treating the partial differential equations that commonly arise in physics, chemistry, and engineering. Topics include differential vector calculus, Fourier series, and other orthogonal function sets. Emphasis will be given to physical applications of the mathematics. Both analytic and numerical methods are employed. This course is a prerequisite for all 0300- and 0400-level physics courses. (MATH 0122; PHYS 0110 concurrent or prior) 4.5 hrs. lect.
Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013
PHYS 0221 - Electronics For Scientists
Electronics for Scientists
An introduction to modern electronic circuits and devices, emphasizing both physical operation and practical use. Transistors and integrated circuits are considered in both analog and digital applications. Examples and laboratory experiments stress measurement and control applications in the physical and biological sciences. Students will gain hands-on familiarity with the design, use, and troubleshooting of electronic instrumentation. (PHYS 0110 or by waiver) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab.
PHYS 0330 - Analytical Mechanics
An intermediate-level course in the kinematics and dynamics of particles and rigid body motion. The topics will include: analysis and application of Newton's law of mechanics; the concepts of work, energy, and power; energy conservation; momentum and momentum conservation; torque, angular momentum, and angular momentum conservation; oscillatory motion; and central-force motion. Lagrange's and Hamilton's formulations of classical mechanics will be introduced with emphasis placed on developing problem-solving strategies and techniques. (PHYS 0109 and PHYS 0212, or by waiver; MATH 0200 recommended) 3 hrs. lect.
Spring 2011, Spring 2013
PHYS 0360 - Topics In Contemporary Physics
Topics in Contemporary Physics
This course explores an area of current interest in physics. The topic varies from year to year, depending on faculty and student interest. The emphasis is on thorough exploration of a contemporary field of physics accessible to students with an intermediate undergraduate physics background. Students will be consulted before selection of the course topic, and a detailed description will be provided before fall term registration. (PHYS 0202 and PHYS 0212; additional prerequisites may be imposed.)
PHYS 0500 - Ind. Study & Special Topic ▲ ▹
Independent Study and Special Topics
Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015
PHYS 0704 - Senior Project
Independent research project culminating in both written and oral presentations.
Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013
PHYS 0705 - Senior Research & Thesis ▲ ▹
Senior Research and Thesis
Independent research in the fall, winter, and spring terms culminating in a written thesis (two units total). (Approval required)
Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015