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Most useful physics elective for geophysics?

  1. Oct 29, 2012 #1
    I'm a physics major and choosing my classes for next semester but I'm not sure which physics elective is most useful for geophysics. I'm only beginning to take geology classes so I'm not sure exactly what will be helpful from the physics side of things. I guess this thread could also be labeled under "academic guidance" but I would prefer to hear from earth science people specifically. I have 4 options and I'd like to take the one that will be most applicable in geophysics. I'm also interested possibly in space/atmospheric physics.
    My options are:

    Physics/Astronomy 3010: Introduction to Modern Astrophysics (3)
    Elements of stellar, and galactic astrophysics. Interpretation of observations and physical conditions of various astronomical objects including stars, gaseous nebulae, galaxies.
    - Probably only useful if I decide that I want to do something in the space physics realm

    Physics 4050: Electronic Laboratory (4)
    Acquaints students with techniques for the electronic acquisition and processing of physics data. Digital logic, integrated circuits, microprocessors, and interfacing. Two lectures, two labs weekly.
    - Seems to be the most broadly useful out of my choices but I may be wrong.

    Physics 4110: Light and Modern Optics (4)
    Interaction of light with matter, spectroscopic techniques, wave optics, interferometry, multilayer films, polarization, non-linear optics, design of optical instruments, matrix methods, waveguides, fiber optics, acusto-optic and photo-elastic modulation. Includes both lectures and laboratory.
    - Probably the most interesting to me but I'm not sure that it has any direct applications to geophysics

    Physics 4190: Physics and Chemistry of Materials (3)
    (same as Nuclear Science and Engineering 4319, and Chemistry 4490)
    This course will cover fundamental and applied aspects relating to the Physics, Chemistry and Biology of material with specific emphasis on Nanoscience and Nanomedicine. Consists of lectures and experiments in nanoscience.
    - Focus on nanoscience/medicine worries me but other topics may be helpful.

    I appreciate any advice.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 29, 2012 #2
    Actually light and modern optics really is relevant. Trust me, I'm a seismologist. If that's your favoured choice then I would say that's decision made.
  4. Oct 29, 2012 #3
    That's interesting. Can you elaborate a bit on this?
  5. Oct 29, 2012 #4
    Since I am not a geologist nor a geophysisist, I have no idea what these options imply but personally I don't think it's very relevant. The relevant thing is, why geophysics? What motivates you to go this direction. Which of the Earths enigma's would you like to contribute to resolving? Any idea of these mysteries in the first place? Or would you just want to dig up oil?

    If you can answer these questions, then the prioiity would follow sort of automatically. Personally I think that 3010 and 4190 would score high and I think you may want to have them both, if that's an option. 3010, because of reasoning deductively. What would the astrophysics mean/'force' to the geophysical processes on Earth? Think big.

    Just half of my two cents
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2012
  6. Oct 29, 2012 #5
    I've only more recently discovered geophysics and plan on exploring it a bit more to see if it's really for me... After spending the past year working in a neurobiology lab doing some modeling I've discovered that I'd really like to find something quantitative with more profound impacts and possibly some field work if I'm lucky. Seismology and volcanology have grabbed my interest and I intend on pursuing these interests. With that being said, I'm not interested in oil and gas. I'm much more interested in the workings of the earth and the physical processes that take place.

    I'm a physics major though and need to knock out some physics electives so I'm just trying to do so strategically. I agree that astrophysics could be useful in teaching me to think about physical systems found in nature but I'm not sure that the material being covered would be to useful. I'm also taking a physical geology class.
  7. Oct 29, 2012 #6
    Optics is the study of the propagation of light. Seismology is the study of the propagation of mechanical (seismic) waves (it's not just about earthquakes). The mathematics of wave propagation, e.g. the ray theoretical approximation, Fresnel zones, scattering, dispersion, attenuation, anisotropy and the like, are generally useful things that apply across the board.
  8. Oct 29, 2012 #7
  9. Oct 29, 2012 #8
    Yes we did, but still, how harmful it is to repeat the importance of aiming for a target?
  10. Oct 29, 2012 #9
    Very interesting point, I'd never quite thought of it like that actually. I had been pretty set on the electronics lab but I'm definitely going to consider optics. As I said, it's the most interesting to me anyway.

    Ironically :wink:
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