PHY313/CEI544 Home Page

Fall 2014

Professor Joanna Kiryluk and Professor Barbara Jacak


The tour of The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at BNL was on Sept. 16

The first quiz on the reading will be on October 14, in class.

The second quiz on the reading will be on November 18, in class.

Extra credit quiz on lectures material will be on December 2, in class.

This is the home page for the PHY313 and CEI544 courses entitled "Mystery of Matter" and "From Quarks to the Cosmos" respectively for the Fall 2014 semester.

The course is intended to introduce and explain at a qualitative level the progress physics has made during the past century in understanding the way in which the universe works. We will surpass the "common sense" understanding each of us has learned through our five senses by exploring how the concepts of modern physics were discovered, what they mean, and how they impact our lives today.

Learning Objectives

  • Quantum Mechanics: The struggle to grasp how all things carry the seemingly opposite properties of both waves and particles. Why bound systems of particles such as electrons trapped by an atom of protons and neutrons residing in a nucleus are like notes on a musical instrument. How particles can leap forbidden regions to appear unscathed on the other side.
  • Radioactivity and Nuclei: What's inside atoms, and how atomic nuclei are made up of protons and neutrons. We will see what nuclear radioactivity consists of, how it works, and ways in which we can put it to good (and not so good) use. We will also see what quarks and gluons are and how they existed in a "quark gluon plasma" the Universe was a lot hotter and smaller.
  • Particle Physics: What kind of subatomic particles exist and how they fit together to make our world. We will talk about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs Boson.
  • Neutrinos: The measurement of neutrinos coming from the sun and how the mystery of the "missing solar neutrinos" was solved. How we finally figured out that these particles, long thought to be massless, do have some mass after all.
  • Antimatter: What it is and how it was predicted. How antiparticles were discovered experimentally and what's being studied now.
  • Stars: What stars are made of and how they work. The stellar lifecycle from birth to death to rebirth. We will also talk about supernovae and black holes.
  • String theory: What is it all about and what can it tell us about the universe?
  • Special Relativity: The fact that the experience of time itself is not common to all things, but varies with the velocity of a particle. How light speed becomes the ultimate speed limit.
  • Effects on our Lives: The physics learned in the twentieth and twenty-first century affects us all. This includes nuclear reactors, nuclear bombs, nuclear medicine, radiocarbon dating, and many other applications.
  • We'll also see how various technologies based on this science works.

The Players

  • If we look at matter extremely closely, we see that it is made of "atoms"...bound systems of electrons orbiting a positively charged nucleus.
  • Looking more closely, the nucleus is seen to be made from protons and neutrons bound together by a force different from the familiar gravity and electromagnetism.
  • Looking yet more closely, the protons and neutrons are themselves composed of smaller pieces called quarks and gluons.
  • If we turn our microscope around and look at phenomena at large scales, we see stars and galaxies, all the way to the edge of the visible Universe. We will discuss how the facts learned by studying the smallest scales impact our understanding how large objects work.
  • In this course we will also discuss how science is done.

The Textbook(s)

This course does not linearly follow a single textbook. It is based upon the material in the web links on the lecture pages and chapters from the two assigned books. There are also several books, written at the popular science level, that are pertinent to the course. We will read and discuss two of these, beginning with: We will then read one of the following books:

As we are using several books as texts, you should follow the lecture links as your principle resource. Roughly 1/2 of the material for the homeworks can be determined directly from the web links, however, the res will require your attendance in lecture. Please note that attendance is part of your grade.


The grade in the course is determined as follows:
  • 65% homework
  • 15% attendance
  • 10% quizzes on reading
  • 10% class participation


All homework assignments will be posted on the course web site and shown in class. Assignments will be due the following week and will be turned in at the beginning of class. Please refresh your browser after you have seen the lecture, to ensure that you answer the correct version of the homework!!!

PLEASE NOTE THAT HOMEWORKS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED ELECTRONICALLY. IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO MAKE IT TO CLASS, YOU WILL NEED TO GET IT TO MY OFFICE BEFORE 5:30PM ON TUESSDAY. Solutions to all assigned problems will also appear on this web site after the problems due date has passed. Just refresh your browser and you will see the answers! Late homework will not be accepted after the solutions have been published.

  • general instructions

    Homework assignments, and solutions:

    1. Homework #1 + solutions (due on Tuesday September 9, 2014).
      Homework1 graded by prof. Jacak
    2. Homework #2 + solutions (due on Tuesday September 23, 2014).
      Homework2 graded by prof. Kiryluk
    3. Homework #3 + solutions (due on Tuesday September 30, 2014).
      Homework3 graded by prof. Kiryluk
    4. Homework #4 + solutions (due on Tuesday October 7, 2014).
      Homework4 graded by prof. Jacak
    5. Homework #5 + solutions (due on Tuesday October 14, 2014).
      Homework5 graded by prof. Jacak
    6. Homework#6 + solutions (due on Tuesday October 21, 2014).
      Homework6 graded by a grader. If you have questions, please contact prof. Kiryluk.
    7. Homework #7 + solutions (due on Tuesday October 28, 2014).
      Homework7 graded by prof. Kiryluk
    8. Homework #8 + solutions (due on Tuesday November 4, 2014).
      Homework8 graded by prof. Kiryluk
    9. Homework #9 + solutions (due on Tuesday November 11, 2014.)
      Homework9 graded by prof. Jacak
    10. Homework #10 + solutions (due on Tuesday November 18, 2014.)
      Homework10 graded by prof. Kiryluk
    11. Homework #11 + solutions (due on Tuesday November 25, 2014.)
      Homework11 graded by prof. Jacak
    12. Homework #12 + solutions will be due on Tuesday December 2, 2014.
      Homework12 graded by prof. Jacak
    Solutions to all assigned problems will also appear on this web site after the problems due date has passed. Just refresh your browser and you will see the answers! Late homework will not be accepted after the solutions have been published.

    Location of Lecture

    Lectures take place on Tuesdays from 5:30 to 8:20 pm. The lectures will be held in Frey Hall 309.

    Office Hours

    Professor Jacak's office hours will be held in C-102 on Wednesday from noon-1pm, Friday from 2-3pm, and by appointment.--> The best way to make an appointment is to send an email to

    Professor Kiryluk's office hours will be held in C-109 on Wednesday 4-5pm or by appointment. The best way to make an appointment is to send an email to Joanna.Kiryluk (at)

    Prof. Kiryluk not available (in person during office hours and by email) during:
    08/30 - 09/08 (conference travel)
    09/12 - 09/22 (collaboration meeting travel)

    Lecture Links

    Material for the lectures can all be found on the web. The following web links represent material for the lectures. Links will appear during the semester, as the lectures take place.

    Although the links are helpful, they are not a textbook. Weaving these into a single consistent story will be done in the lecture.

    1. August 26 lecture. Read Q2C Ch. 1&2 Course introduction. Nature catches up with 19th century physics. Light: particle or waves?
    2. September 9 lecture. Read Q2C Ch. 1&2 The birth of quantum mechanics. We'll talk about particle waves, quantum numbers, wave functions, and the uncertainty principle.
    3. September 23 lecture. Discovery of the nucleus, how big it is, and radioactivity. Read Q2C Ch. 3&4.
    4. September 30 lecture. Read PFP Ch. 8&9. The structure of the nucleus, and how this affects decays. We'll talk about superheavy elements and also the effects of radioactivity.
    5. October 7 lecture. Read PFP Ch. 10,12,13. Nuclear Fission and Fusion; reactors, bombs and proliferation. Nuclear fusion energy.
      Quiz1 preparation: Q2C Ch. 1,2,3,4, and PFP Ch. 8,9,10,12,13
    6. October 14 lecture. Nuclear Fusion and fusion energy. How stars work, including their birth, life and spectacular death.
      Read Q2C Ch. 5&6.
    7. October 21 lecture. Star life cycle. Particle zoo, Standard Model of particles: quarks, gluons, Higgs Boson, and neutrinos. Read Q2C Ch.7&8
    8. October 28 lecture. Standard Model of particles: quarks, gluons, Higgs Boson, and neutrinos. Read Q2C Ch. 4
    9. November 4 lecture. Solar neutrinos; string theory.
    10. November 11 lecture. Black holes, the Big Bang, and dark stuff in the universe.
      Quiz2 preparation: Q2C Ch. 4-8
    11. November 18 lecture. All about energy. Read PFP Ch. 5-7 and 19-21
    12. November 25 lecture (last lecture this semester). Medical Imaging and Nuclear Medicine.
    13. December 2: Extra credit quiz only (on lectures material). No lecture.

    Some Cool Links Related to Course

    Americans with Disabilities Act

    If you have a physical, psychological, medical or learning disability that may impact your course work, please contact Disability Support Services, ECC (Educational Communications Center) Building - Rooom 128, (631)632-6748. They will determine with you what accomodations, if any, are necessary and appropriate. All information and documentation is confidential.

    Students who require assistance during emergency evacuation are encouraged to discuss their need with their professors and Disability Support Services. For procedures and information go to the following website:

    Religious Holidays

    There are homeworks due weekly, and there will be an extra credit quiz on the last day of class. If any of these assignments, or one of the class meetings, is in conflict with your religion's holidays, please let me know in an email by the end of the first week of classes. I will do my best to accommodate your needs. Please note that I cannot make changes in the course schedule after the first week of class, and no absence will be excused *after* the class meeting. You must let me know this week. No consideration will be made if someone approaches me about this matter close to the due date or quiz.

    Academic Integrity:

    Each student must pursue his or her academic goals honestly and be personally accountable for all submitted work. Representing another person's work as your own is always wrong. Faculty are required to report any suspected instances of academic dishonesty to the Academic Judiciary. For more comprehensive information on academic integrity, including categories of academic dishonesty, please refer to the academic judiciary website.

    Crisis Incident Management:

    Stony Brook University expects students to respect the rights, privileges, and property of other people. Faculty are required to report to the Office of Judicial Affairs any disruptive behavior that interrups their ability to teach, compromises the safety of the learning environment, or inhibits students' ability to learn. Faculty in the HSC Schools and School of Medicine are required to follow their school-specific procedures.

    For further information contact Professor Jacak:

    see Prof. Jacak in the middle of the PHENIX detector.