Paths to designing a Physics 4B Honors project



Your project can and should be tailored to your own interests. We encourage you to work with a small group of like-minded individuals, but it's also possible to design and carry out a top-rate project on your own.

Here are three paths that you might consider when proposing an Honors Project. You can choose and adapt any one of these three, or blend them together into something that better suits your interests and prior skills.

Path A: Experimental Work.
The student will propose broad experimental designs to measure at least four different interesting physical phenomena, and perform enough calculations to decide whether it is plausible to carry out the experiment with available equipment. For at least one of these phenomena, you will perform a more detailed experimental design, obtain and learn to use the equipment you will need, and carry out the experiment. Your final report on your work should include an analysis both of the physical meaning of your data, and of random and/or systematic sources of uncertainty.

Path B: Numerical Modeling.
The student will, in collaboration with faculty, choose an interesting physical phenomenon that could be numerically modeled using a computer. The project will challenge and expand both the student’s coding skills (whether they are an experienced coder or starting from scratch) and their physical understanding. Ideally, it should be possible to compare the simulated behavior of the system to real-life data, either collected by the student or from other sources. Your final report should include an analysis of the ways in which your simulation might fail to capture reality, and suggestions for making it more realistic in future iterations.

Path C: Mathematical Depth.
Electromagnetism is an excellent subject in which to explore the interplay of physics and mathematics. The existing Physics 4B curriculum reflects this, with its emphasis on superposition integrals and power series expansions. A student who wants to delve into more advanced mathematics – full-blown vector calculus, differential equations, linear algebra and tensor theory, etc. – is welcome to design an Honors project exploring these interests. This path may blend and overlap with Path B.