There are key experiments in the history of physics that revolutionized our way of thinking about the fundamental structure of nature and the ensuing laws that characterize physical processes. Some of these experiments can be done by upper level physics majors. These
experiments also serve to expose the student to advanced skills indispensable in today’s advancing
technological evolution impacting many industries. Some of the more traditional experiments include:
Michelson Morley interferometer Experiment which confirmed the invariance of the speed of light in a vacuum. This experiment formed the basis for the famous E = mc2 >relation which is at the heart of nuclear fission (i.e. atomic bombs, nuclear power plants, etc.) and nuclear fusion (the energy from the sun, and potentially future energy machines which produce less radioactive bi-products tha
n conventional nuclear power plants).
Millikan Oil Drop Experiment – that measured the charge on an electron.
X-Ray Diffraction for discovering the crystal structure of compounds.
Davisson Germer Experiment which revealed the duality principle of matter (i.e. what we call a particle can sometimes behave as a wave) – “matter waves.”
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance – atomic nuclei, when placed in magnetic fields, will occupy different energy levels that can be excited and de-excited through electromagnetic radiation. This is relevant in many fields, particularly medicine. Other important experiments impact nuclear physics, laser physics, semiconductors, superconductivity, nanostructures, etc. These labs are the cornerstone of a student’s immersion into, and understanding of, physics. Physics lab courses are the stepping stones into student’s participation in faculty led research. This Lab ensures the production of high caliber students able to assist faculty in their research efforts.