P310/510 Environmental Physics
Indiana University
Fall 2013


A quantitative understanding of our world's energy is central to our future.  Environmental Physics is a distillation of the key problems facing us as we move through the early years of the 21st century.  I encourage you to come join us in preparing yourself to deal effectively with this quantitative world.

The Course: P310/P510 Environmental Physics (3 cr)
When:            Fall 2013, Tuesday & Thursday: 4:00-5:15 PM
Where:           In Swain Hall West 220

The Instructor :             Ben Brabson, Professor of Physics
More Information:        Call me at Tel: 855-3881
Or Send me an Email: brabson@indiana.edu

Bloods Hill, Norfolk
 Blood Hill, Norfolk, UK

Goals of the course: With increases in world population and in per capita energy use, we must understand the physics of energy and the consequences of our uses of this energy.  Avoiding serious problems both at the global level (acid rain, and global climate change) and at the local level (urban air and water pollution) places great demands on all of us. 

Your Role: Scientists and educators are on the front line in coming to grips with these problems. Solving environmental problems is essentially always an interdisciplinary effort and the discipline of physics is a major player in this effort.  As with most problems of science, a quantitative understanding is essential to their resolution. 
Environmental Physics P310/P510 is designed to enhance your quantitative capabilities.

If you are an Undergrad: Students from essentially all majors have taken Environmental Physics P310.  Many of the physical and biological science majors also take this course including majors from SPEA, Geology, Chemistry, Biology, Biochemistry, Mathematics, Computer Science, & Physics. 

If you are a Science Education major: this course should be of great value because of the highly interdisciplinary nature of secondary school education and the connections to real-world problems. 

If you are a Physics major: this course provides a wealth of applications of the theoretical laws of physics to these very real and demanding problems of the environment. 

If you are a student with interest in the environment: the course will broaden your base of attack strategies for this exciting array of problems.

If you are a Graduate Student: Environmental Physics P510 is designed specifically for graduate students outside of Physics.  The course requirements are identical to P310 with the exception of a final presentation accompanied by a 10 page research paper on the same topic.  In recent years graduate students in Education have found this course most useful.  The course has also been offered as a distance learning course for students who are not on the Bloomington campus.

Prerequisites for P310/P510 Environmental Physics:  Students will have taken a minimum of a semester of elementary physics at the level of P201 or P221, and a semester of calculus at the level of M119 or M211.

The Content of the Course:  Environmental Physics divides itself into four energy related areas, the identification of our current energy resources, the conversion of energy from less useful to more useful forms, the utilization of energy, and finally, the environmental consequences of our energy use.  We list these here with example sub topics.

     I. Identification of our current energy resources:
            - Fossil fuels, methane hydrates, hydroelectric, wind, geothermal
            - Nuclear, solar and tidal energies

    II. Energy Conversion Processes:
            - The first and second laws of thermodynamics.
            - The generation of heat from fuels, geothermal, nuclear fission, nuclear
                breeders, nuclear fusion, solar thermal processes.
            - Heat pumps, refrigerators, internal combustion engines, turbine engines.
            - Photovoltaics, magneto-hydrodynamics, battery development.
            - Heat management with cogeneration, and waste heat disposal.

    III. Energy Utilization:
            - Energy transmission, superconductivity.
            - Efficient use of energy in industry, transport and heating.

    IV. Environmental consequences of energy use:
            - Global climate change.
            - Tropospheric and stratospheric ozone.
            - The physics of El Nino.
            - Air and water pollution.
            - Nuclear radiation.
            - Heat and micro climate.



Wicklewood Mill, Norfolk, UK

Physics Minor with an
Environmental Concentration
A physics minor requires a total of 18 credit hours including the 10 hour introductory sequence in Physics (P201-P202 or P221-P222). An additional 8 hours required for the minor may be satisfied by taking, for example:

P301 Modern Physics (3 cr)

P309 Modern Physics Laboratory (2 cr) 

P310 Environmental Physics (3 cr).