Susan Watson
Office
McCardell Bicen Hall 528
Tel
(802) 443-5958
Email
swatson@middlebury.edu
Office Hours
Monday & Wednesday 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm by Zoom, Tuesday 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm in office
Additional Programs
Physics

Courses Taught

Course Description

On Time
Time is at once familiar and confounding. After eighteen years (568 million seconds) of existence, you know it intimately. But what is time, really? The truth is, we don’t know. Time doesn’t even appear in the most fundamental laws of physics. In this course we explore the history of time-keeping from mechanical clocks to atomic clocks, human perceptions of time, Einstein’s theory of relativity, and present-day theories on time. Readings include Longitude (Dava Sobel), Simply Einstein (Richard Wolfson), The Order of Time (Carlo Rovelli) and selected articles from neuroscience. We will also look back in time using the College Observatory. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021

Requirements

CW, DED

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Course Description

Posse Scholars Leadership Development
This course is designed to promote the intellectual, social, and civic development of first-year Posse scholars, both individually and as a group. Students will attend weekly workshops drawing from the Posse Foundation’s leadership curriculum. Workshops will also draw on the instructor’s areas of expertise and will focus on topics most pertinent to students’ goals and needs. Some workshops will include guest lectures, experiential learning, and student-facilitated discussion. Students will reflect on their learning in bi-weekly meetings with the instructor, as well as in writing. They will also identify initiatives or projects they wish to promote on campus or in the local community, applying what they have learned. (This course is only open to first-year students.) (This is a half credit course.)

Terms Taught

Fall 2023

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Course Description

Physics for Educated Citizens
In this course for nonscience majors we will explore topics of current interest—climate change, energy resources, nuclear processes, radiation, satellite communication—and show how each is understood within the context of physics. Our resources will be a textbook, Physics and Technology for Future Presidents, and non-technical articles of your choosing. Our goals will be to develop a working knowledge of physics as it applies to important topics, to effectively communicate that knowledge through discussions and oral presentations, and to develop an understanding of how science is grounded in data and thoroughly intertwined with society. 3 hrs. lect./disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021

Requirements

DED, SCI

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Course Description

Introductory Mechanics
This calculus-based course examines fundamental topics in motion and mechanics, including inertia, force, Newton's laws of motion, work, energy, linear momentum, collisions, gravitation, rotational motion, torque, angular momentum, and oscillatory motion, emphasizing applications in physics and engineering. Laboratory explorations of topics covered in lecture will build students’ physical intuition and problem solving skills. (MATH 0121; students may not receive credit for both PHYS 0108 and PHYS 0109) 3 hrs. lect/3 hrs. lab.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020

Requirements

DED, SCI

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Course Description

Electricity and Magnetism
The physical principles of electricity and magnetism are developed with calculus 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) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

DED, SCI

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Course Description

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 concurrent or prior; MATH 0122) 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021, Fall 2022

Requirements

DED, SCI

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Course Description

Quantum Physics and Applications
This course introduces quantum theory and statistical mechanics, and explores the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, the Schrödinger wave equation, and wave mechanics. These techniques are then applied to atomic, molecular, nuclear, and elementary particle systems. (PHYS 0201; PHYS 0212 concurrent or prior) 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

DED, SCI

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Course Description

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) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab.

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

DED, SCI

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Course Description

Intermediate Electromagnetism
The unified description of electricity and magnetism is one of the greatest triumphs of physics. This course provides a thorough grounding in the nature of electric and magnetic fields and their interaction with matter. Mathematical techniques appropriate to the solution of problems in electromagnetism are also introduced. The primary emphasis is on static fields, with the full time-dependent Maxwell equations and electromagnetic waves introduced in the final part of the course. (PHYS 0110; PHYS 0201 or by permission; PHYS 0212) 3 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

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Course Description

Experimental Techniques in Physics
This course will cover the design and execution of experiments, and the analysis and presentation of data, at an advanced level. Laboratory experiments will be chosen to illustrate the use of electronic, mechanical, and optical instruments to investigate fundamental physical phenomena, such as the properties of atoms and nuclei and the nature of radiation. Skills in computer-based data analysis and presentation will be developed and emphasized. This course satisfies the College writing requirement. (PHYS 0111 concurrent or prior; PHYS 0201 and PHYS 0202 and PHYS 0212; MATH 0200 recommended) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab/1 hr disc. (Approval required)

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Spring 2022, Fall 2023

Requirements

CW

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Course Description

Introduction to Solid State Physics
In this course, the properties of solids are shown to arise naturally from their atomic composition and their structure. Elementary quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, and statistical mechanics are invoked to explore fundamental properties of crystalline solids, including their classification as metals, insulators, semiconductors, and semimetals. Topics covered include crystal structure and diffraction; crystal vibrations; electrical and thermal conduction; and the response of solids to external electric and magnetic fields. (PHYS 0202 and PHYS 0212) 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

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Course Description

Independent Study and Special Topics
(Approval required)

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

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Course Description

Senior Project
Independent research project incorporating both written and oral presentations.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022, Fall 2023

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Course Description

Senior Research and Thesis
Independent research in the fall, winter, and spring terms culminating in a written thesis (two units total). (Approval required)

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

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