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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Physics and Astronomy : Undergraduate (School of Physics and Astronomy)

Undergraduate Course: Relativity, Nuclear and Particle Physics (PHYS10096)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Physics and Astronomy CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course covers three main topics: an advanced treatment of special relativity and an introduction to both, nuclear and particle physics. The aims are (i) to discuss relativistic kinematics and dynamics, particle scattering and decays, and to introduce the students to general relativity; (ii) to introduce students to the concepts of nucleon-nucleon interaction, nucleon angular momentum and spin, the nuclear shell model, excited states, alpha and beta decays; and (iii) to introduce students to the standard model of particles physics, including fundamental particles (quarks, leptons, gauge and Higgs bosons) and forces, conservation laws, the electromagnetic, weak and strong interactions and the Higgs mechanism. The course replaces Dynamics and relativity and Subatomic Physics.
Course description Relativity:
- Newton's Laws, Frames of References, Galilean Transformation.
- Two-body Systems, Conservation of Momentum and Energy, Centre-of-Mass and Laboratory Frames.
- Particle scattering: Differential Cross Section, Hard Sphere Scattering, Rutherford Scattering.
- Special Relativity: Einsteins Postulates, Synchronisation of clocks, Simultaneity of events, Lorentz Transformation, Minkowski Diagrams, Length Contraction, Time Dilation.
- Relativistic Kinematics: Proper Time, Relativistic Doppler Effect, Twins Paradox, Accelerated Motion, World lines and Event Horizons.
- Space-Time intervals: Spatial Rotations, Space-time Rotations, Invariance of the Interval, The Light Cone and Causality.
- Four-Vectors: Four-Velocity, Four-Acceleration, Four-Momentum, Scalar Product, Conservation of 4- Momentum.
- Relativistic Dynamics: Relativistic Energy, Energy-Momentum Relation, Invariant Velocity and Mass Zero Mass Particles, Generalising Newton's 2nd Law, Conservation Laws
- Particle Decays: Two-Body Decays, Three-Body Decays, Production thresholds.
- Relativistic Scattering: Elastic Scattering, Two-body collisions, Compton Scattering, Pair Production
(Antiparticles), Inelastic Scattering.
- Equivalence Principle: Inertial Mass and Gravitational Mass, Galileo's Principle and Einstein's Thought Experiments, The Strong Equivalence Principle,
- Curvature: Gravitational Redshift, Bending of Light Rays, Curved Space time.
- General Relativity: The Metric Tensor, Einsteins Field Equations, Properties of the Schwarzschild Solution, Black holes, Motion in Curved Space-time, Cosmology
Nuclear Physics:
- Big-bang, nucleosynthesis, binding of the deuteron by the strong force, energy-time uncertainty relation, definition of the width of a state, energy non-conservation over short times, Yukawa exchange model of n - n interaction, virtual pion as exchange particle/field quantum, range of nuclear force, Yukawa potential, comparison to electromagnetic force, definition of mesons and baryons, Delta resonance production in photoproton reaction, Magnetic moments of fundamental particles the electron, magnetic moments of neutrons and protons - not fundamental particles, Quark - gluon model of n and p, colour neutrality.
- The nucleon-nucleon interaction, charge independence of nuclear force, spin dependence of nuclear force, Nuclear sizes, electron nucleus scattering, electrons as example of leptons, momentum position uncertainty relation, precision measurements of nuclear size, diffraction effects, de Broglie relation, charge distributions, probes of matter distributions, evidence of surface diffuseness, Parameterisation of nuclear matter distribution, systematics of nuclear radii, evidence for liquid drop-type behaviour, saturation of the nuclear force, Nuclear mass and binding energy, atomic mass unit defined, binding energy per nucleon, understanding of surface, volume and Coulomb energy effects, nucleus viewed as a charged liquid drop.
- Line of Nuclear stability, stability of light N = Z nuclei, the need for quantum mechanics/the Pauli exclusion principle, concept of the Fermi level, evolution of line of stability with increasing atomic number, Z, stability of even-even nuclei and nuclear pairing energy, time reversed orbits, nucleon total angular momentum J from coupling of orbital angular momentum l and spin, s, explanation how pairing leads to all even-even nuclei having a total ground-state spin J = 0.
- The nuclear shell model, evidence for enhance binding at magic numbers, concept of filling of major shells, nucleons moving independently in central potential, the Woods-Saxon potential, the need a for a spin-orbit component to the nuclear potential, splitting of levels, examples of ground-state shell model configurations, the parity operator, parity as a multiplicative quantum number, the prediction of ground-state spin and parities.
- Excited states in nuclei, comparison to the shell model, mirror nuclei, excited states in even-even nuclei - low lying 2+ states, collective vibrational excitation modes of the nucleus, evidence for non-spherical nuclear shapes in gamma-ray cascades, superdeformed nuclei, the deformed nuclear shell model.
- Beta decay, an example of the weak interaction, decay viewed as a point-like interaction at the quark level, relation of range to masses of W particles, beta - decay - introduction of positron as anti-particle of electron, energy distribution of positrons, evidence for 3-bodies, postulation of the existence of the neutrino, beta + decay and the electron-capture process in neutron-rich nuclei, parity violation in nuclear beta decay, thermonuclear fusion in the sun, solar neutrino oscillations.
- Alpha-decay and spontaneous fission in high Z nuclei, the production of new elements, chain reactions, induced fission, liquid drop perspective ion fission, saddle and scission points, definition of neutron separation energy, fissile material, neutron capture resonances, nuclear reactor.
Particle Physics:
- Fundamental particles & forces. The Standard Model. Conservation laws.
- Particle decays & lifetimes. Scattering processes. Cross-sections.
- Particle acceleration & colliders.
- Interactions of particles in matter. Detectors.
- Introduction to Feynman diagrams. Electromagnetic processes. Coupling constant alpha (fine structure constant).
- Weak interactions. Charged & neutral currents. Pion, muon, tau decays. The CKM matrix.
- Strong interactions. Gluons. Colour. Strong coupling alpha_S. Introduction to confinement.
- The parton model. e+e - ยป hadrons.
- Electron-proton scattering. DIS. Quark model of hadrons. Isospin.
- Neutrino mass and oscillations. CP violation. Recent experimental results.
- Properties of W & Z bosons. Electroweak unification.
- Introduction to Higgs mechanism. Searches for and discovery of the Higgs boson.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( Dynamics and Vector Calculus (PHYS08043) AND Modern Physics (PHYS08045)) AND ( Quantum Mechanics (PHYS09053) OR Principles of Quantum Mechanics (PHYS10094))
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Electromagnetism and Relativity (PHYS10093) OR Nuclear and Particle Physics (PHYS10106)
Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 40, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Summative Assessment Hours 3, Revision Session Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 131 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 100 %, Coursework 0 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Degree examination, 100%
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)3:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Apply knowledge of core concepts in physics to more advanced topics in relativity, nuclear and particle physics;
  2. Formulate solutions to problems in relativity, nuclear and particle physics involving new concepts with limited guidance;
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of the frontiers of the discipline, for example, through cases where current theories fail to explain a set of experimental data;
  4. Locate and make use of detailed information on current topics in physics in the primary research literature;
  5. Summarise current thinking in relativity, nuclear and particle physics in a variety of written and oral forms, both alone and in collaboration with others.
Reading List
This course does not follow any particular textbook, such a book does not exist. However, most of the material in this will be covered in the following three books
- Dynamics and Relativity by W.D. McComb
- An Introduction to Nuclear Physics by Cottingham and Greeenwood
- Particle Physics, by B.R. Martin & G. Shaw, 3rd edition (Wiley 2008)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserProf Philip Woods
Tel: (0131 6)50 5283
Course secretaryMs Lucy Davis-Jenkins
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