Physicists study how the natural world behaves at basic levels: the motion of matter and the forces that govern it. Even though these properties may seem simple, they can be used to address many challenging, contemporary questions: How do we decrease our carbon footprint? Where are we going to get energy for the next 50 years? Why is gravity so weak? How can we stretch computers to the physical limits to increase their processing power?
To address these questions and questions like them through physics, you'll learn problem-solving skills to break challenges into smaller parts and build them back up into a whole. Providing a solid background in math and critical thought, the physics major program prepares you to continue to address real-world questions through further studies in physics or engineering or careers immediately following graduation. The program also has a curriculum track geared toward preparing students for the dual-degree engineering program at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.
Among the most fundamental of sciences, physics can be applied to study the natural world in many different ways. Quantum mechanics - the physics of the atomic and subatomic - can be applied to chemistry to better understand discrete spectrums of light, and to computers to increase efficiency and processing power. Physics can be used in biology to model cellular processes, such as how proteins fold and bond - a process which could be studied to better understand how to prevent viruses from attaching to healthy cells.
A physics education at BVU helps you put theory into practice by teaching you how to apply abstract concepts to real-world issues. While lab courses let you regularly demonstrate what you're learning, the physics program provides further support for you to pursue research projects independently of class. The physics program also supports students who seek summer internships and Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs at other institutions.
In 2003, students built an eight node, eight gigaflop parallel computer. A parallel computer has multiple processors so that it can process data simultaneously and out of sequence, exponentially increasing its processing speed. Students later used the computer to research parallel computational artificial intelligence and to develop parallel algorithms to compress data files.
Research projects in 2009 and 2010 have included building a Michelson Interferometer; analyzing the three body problem; using lasers to study droplets of water to determine the smoothness of surfaces; and using computers to build simple brains with simulated neurons and attempting to program them to tend toward exhibiting certain behaviors.
I try to do at least one demonstration in class a day. Step by step, I explain where the concept being studied is used in real life. If we're looking at the expansion and contraction of metals, I'll take a blowtorch and show metal expanding. With conservation of angular momentum, I stand students on a rotating platform.
A group of Buena Vista University students and faculty spent the night camping on the Great Wall during their Spring Break trip to China. Read more...