Physics 335: Advanced Experimental Physics Projects
Instructor: H. J. Frisch;   HEP320;   702-7479
1. Course Description
P335 is a year-long course in which the intent is that you will learn
many of the essential aspects of making meaningful experimental
measurements, possibly including developing a keen sense of how to
realize theoretical predictions into hardware; the mundane but
difficult dealing with vendors, technical staff, and university
bureaucracy; various experimental techniques; how to design and build
equipment; the art of taking data, analyzing data, and presenting
data; and extracting and presenting results, among others. This is
done by working with a faculty member on a topic related to their
current research. It is an alternative to P334, the quarter-long
course that uses classic experiments to give you a more focused
experience with technique and data. (I am happy to recommend P334 if
you are unsure about the time commitment of P335)
2. Picking a Good Project
The Department description includes the following text:
Physics 335: In order to carry out an Advanced Experimental Physics
Project, the student must find a faculty sponsor who agrees to
supervise the work. The project must introduce the student to several
aspects of an experiment: building the equipment, data taking, data
analysis, and presentation. It is not necessary that the project
involve the student with all of the above aspects, but it is essential
that the student get some "hands-on" experience with apparatus and
that some analysis be performed of the data taken with the
Useful criteria are:
- The question interests you and you want to know the answer
- You like what the present grad students in the group are doing
- The project is non-trivial- it has an impact
- On the other hand, it's not too ambitious - it can be done in 3 quarters
- You will build some equipment, take and analyze data.
- The emphasis is on the P335 goals and not (exclusively) on getting started on a Ph.D topic.
I recommend getting familiar with
the web site Alibris and also the Seminary Coop (5751 S. Ellis Ave) as
sources for buying books- also you should get to know the Crerar library (!).
- Required: William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White, The Elements of Style (Macmillan)
- Recommended: John Taylor: An Introduction to Error
Analysis (2nd edition)
- Recommended: Frederick James: Statistical Methods in Experimental Physics (2nd edition)
4. How to get a project
- Look at the faculty web pages: Link to Faculty Web Pages
; talk to 2nd-year and other students; and come to the Friday faculty talks
- I am collecting a (partial) list of faculty who have projects
available and who would welcome a student. The list is linked it to this web
page: However, this is only a list of projects that faculty have told
me about- you should go and find your own opportunities.
List of Faculty
and their Proposed Projects
- Knock on faculty doors, make appointments (some faculty are email
folks, others aren't- you'll learn who, but
don't be offended if email isn't answered- some of us get hundreds of
emails per day and thus are phone people)
- Do not be shy- faculty welcome having a good student to work on something interesting.
5. List of Students Currently Doing Projects
The list of students and their projects is on this web page:
Students Currently Doing Projects:
Titles and Advisors
Three quarters is very short to accomplish anything meaningful
experimentally. Consequently we have to chose well, start early, and
go fast. I will try to have frequent check points (e.g. talks, draft
submissions, etc.) so that you don't fall behind. If you are falling
behind, please come see me early, so that you don't end up in a crunch.
The schedule for the whole year is very much a work in progress at present.
The present draft schedule is linked here:
Formats for written reports: I suggest using whatever is the standard in your field. In
mine, one uses LaTeX to word-process, and jpeg or pdf for figures. I can
provide you with templates and a 10-minute LaTeX lesson if you'd like
(phone me to arrange).
- Formats for talks: Independent of what program you use
(PowerPoint, KeyNote, etc..), please end up in pdf so not to have problems
projecting the talk during your presentations.
- Plots: Please make plots that are publication quality (you can
look up the PRL standards, e.g.). Label the axes clearly in large
font, put tic marks on all 4 sides (please), use large symbols, and
for both lines and symbols differentiate them so that they can be
separated in black-and-white. Put error bars on all points.
- Professionalism: Follow the rules in Taylor for propagation of uncertainties,
significant figures, and other marks that you know what you're doing.
- Help: If you have questions on any of this, please ask and I can
arrange a teaching session.