Dr. Joseph ("Joe") Barranco |

Undergraduate, upper division. Intermediate course in Newtonian mechanics: kinematics in 3D, motion caused by non-constant forces (e.g. linear and quadratic air resistance), numerical methods to solve equations of motion, oscillations (e.g. damped and forced oscillations, resonance, coupled oscillations), conservation of linear momentum and momentum flow problems (e.g. the rocket equation), work by non-constant forces and conservation of energy, central force motion and Keplerian orbits, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian dynamics.

Syllabus for Physics 330 (PDF)

Undergraduate, lower division. This course is an introduction to Newtonian mechanics, which is the study of motion of macroscopic objects (at speeds much less than the speed of light). Topics include: vector algebra, kinematics (position, velocity, acceleration, linear motion, projectile motion, circular motion, relative motion), Newton's Three Laws of Motion (inertia/inertial frames, F=ma, action-reaction) & the concept of force (weight, gravity, normal forces, tension, spring forces, friction, etc.), impulse & linear momentum, work & kinetic energy, potential energy & conservation of energy, elastic & inelastic collisions, torque & angular momentum, planetary motion, rigid body statics & dynamics, and oscillatory motion (springs, pendulums).

Syllabus for Physics 220 (PDF)

Graduate level. Introduction to the physics of plasmas, often called the fourth state of matter. A plasma is an ionized gas, a "soup" of positive and negative ions. Particles are accelerated by electric and magnetic fields; in turn, the motion of ions generates currents and magnetic fields. Because of the long-range nature of electromagnetic forces, plasmas exhibit "collective" effects. Topics include: what are plasmas, single-particle motion, plasmas as fluids (magnetohydrodynamics), waves in plasmas, diffusion & resistivity, equilibrium & stability, kinetic theory, and nonlinear effects in plasmas. Applications include both laboratory (fusion research, laser produced plasmas, propulsion systems) & geophysical/astrophysical plasmas (geodynamo, solar wind/magnetosphere interactions, star formation, pulsars, intergalactic medium).

Syllabus for Physics 712 (PDF)

Graduate & undergraduate, upper division. Introduction to stellar astrophysics: Stellar atmospheres & spectra, stellar structure (hydrostatic equilibrium & equations of state), stellar energy sources & transport (thermonuclear reactions, radiative transport, convective transport), stellar evolution & death (white dwarfs, neutron stars, black holes). Course will consist of lectures and a laboratory component (e.g. analysis of real spectral data, computational modeling of stellar interiors).

Syllabus for Astronomy 400/700 (PDF)

Graduate & undergraduate, upper division. This course is an introduction to computational algorithms to solve realistic problems in many branches of classical and modern physics, with an emphasis on methods that are directly relevant to current research. In the lecture component, the instructor will develop the theoretical basis for various algorithms and highlight applications to relevant physics problems. In the laboratory component, students will implement the algorithms and investigate applications. Topics may include: numerical differentiation & integration; parameter fitting to experimental data; coupled ordinary differential equations for initial value problems; Fast Fourier Transforms (FFTs); finite-difference and spectral methods for partial differential equations (diffusion and wave equations); Monte Carlo techniques for statistical physics.

Syllabus for Physics 440/740 (PDF)

Co-taught with Prof. Petra Dekens. Seminar on glaciers and ice sheets: history over past 50 million years; current observations; theory of flow dynamics and instability; positive feedback in climate change.

Flyer for Geology 795 (PDF) Syllabus for Geology 795 (PDF)

Graduate level. Introduction to theoretical astrophysics. Topics: Radiative processes in astrophysics (radiative transfer, blackbody radiation, Bremsstrahlung radiation, synchrotron radiation, Comptom scattering); accretion power in astrophysics (spherical accretion & the Eddington limit, Bondi accretion, accretion dusks and angular momentum transport, applications for accretion onto stellar black holes, neutron stars, white dwarks, galactic supermassive black holes, protstars.

Syllabus for Physics 722 (PDF)

Topics: Mechanical waves, wave interference and normal modes, sound and hearing,electrical field, Gauss's law, electric potential, capacitance and dielectrics,current, resistance, electromotive force, DC circuits.

Topics: Telescopes, the interstellar medium (dust, gas, star formation), the Milky Way Galaxy (morphology, kinematics, spiral structure), the nature of galaxies (classification, regular and active galaxies, interactions, extragalactic distance scale), and an introduction to cosmology (expansion of the universe, Newtonian cosmology, general relativity, the Big Bang, dark matter, inflation, nucleosynthesis).