Physics B

Physics B covers the three main classical areas of physics: Electromagnetism, Dynamics and Thermodynamics. In Electromagnetism and Thermodynamics you are led through the subject┬ástarting from the basics – either electro/magneto-statics or the laws of thermodynamics. On the other hand Dynamics is more of a compilation, and ranges from Lagrangian dynamics, rigid body motion (think precession) to the basics of fluid mechanics. As ever all the courses go quite rapidly, so textbooks will help you get some deeper insight.

There are weekly C++ programming assessments in Michaelmas, where you are encouraged to tweak and write your own code to model things like ideal gases and planetary orbits. There are no classes where you are taught how to program, but the course starts off with very simple cases, and help is given in sessions where demonstrators are present.

Besides a couple, (hysteresis in Michaelmas and microwave guides in Lent) practical classes will tend to be based more on material from physics A. Those doing both physics A and B will do a group project in Lent where you carry out a set investigation (for 2014 this was “How accurately can you determine the wavelength of a laser using diffraction techniques”), analyse the results and give a presentation.

Physics B is less commonly taken as a single physics option than physics A, but if you choose to you aren’t at any disadvantage, and the course does cover some very interesting and applicable topics. The course is described as somewhat more advanced mathematically than physics A, though in all honesty I haven’t noticed the difference.

The Natural Sciences Society of St John's College