Ben Schumacher works in the emerging field of quantum information theory, studying the surprising relationships between quantum mechanics, information theory, computation, thermodynamics, and black hole physics.

### Areas of Expertise

Quantum Mechanics, Information Theory, Computation, Thermodynamics, and Black Hole Physics

### Education

1990 — Doctor of Philosophy from Univ Texas Austin*

1982 — Bachelor of Arts from Hendrix College

### Courses Recently Taught

IPHS 225

## Galileo to Einstein

#### IPHS 225

In the early seventeenth Century, Galileo's writings on physics and astronomy helped to establish modern scientific thought. Three centuries later, Einstein's work on relativity and quantum theory helped to transform it. The ideas of both men proved influential and ignited controversy far beyond the bounds of their scientific disciplines. In this class, we will read essential works by Galileo and Einstein (among others) and explore, not only their discoveries, but also their wider views of Nature and the human striving to understand her. What principles guide the scientific quest? Are there limits to scientific knowledge? What are the relationships between between observation and imagination, between genius and ethics, between science and religion?

PHYS 101

## Rocket Science

#### PHYS 101

"Rocket science" may be proverbial as a complex subject impossible for the ordinary person to understand, but in fact its essential principles are entirely accessible to any Kenyon student. Our course explores the basic concepts of rocket propulsion and spaceflight, including Newton's laws of motion, ballistics, aerodynamics, the physics and chemistry of rocket motors, orbital mechanics, and beyond. Simple algebra, numerical calculations, and data analysis help us apply the principles to real situations. We also delve into the history of astronautics, from the visionary speculations of Tsiolkovsky and Goddard to the missiles and space vehicles of today. Finally, we take a look at some of the developments in technology and space exploration that may lie just around the corner. In addition to the regular class meeting, there will be several evening and weekend lab sessions, during which we will design, build, test, and fly model rockets powered by commercial solid-fuel engines. No prerequisite. A willingness to build upon high school science and mathematics is expected.

PHYS 105

## Frontiers of Gravity and Astrophysics

#### PHYS 105

Gravity is at once the most familiar and most mysterious of the basic forces of nature. It shapes the formation, structure and motion of stars, galaxies and the cosmos itself. Also, because gravity affects everything, it enables us to investigate parts of the universe that are otherwise invisible to us. This course, accessible to all students, will explore the role of gravity in three vibrant areas of contemporary astrophysics: the search for planets beyond our solar system, the discovery of giant black holes in the nuclei of galaxies, and the evidence for dark matter and dark energy in our universe. In addition to the scheduled lecture/discussion meetings, students will be required to meet a few times during the semester for evening laboratories. No prerequisite.

PHYS 107

## Astronomy: Stars and Galaxies

#### PHYS 107

Accessible to all students, this course surveys current knowledge of the physical nature of stars and galaxies. Topics include the sun and other stars, the evolution of stars, interstellar matter, the end products of stellar evolution (including pulsars and black holes), the organization of stellar systems such as clusters and galaxies, and the large-scale structure of the universe itself. Evening laboratory sessions will include telescopic observation, laboratory investigations of light and spectra, and computer modeling and simulation exercises. No prerequisite.

PHYS 109

## Origins

#### PHYS 109

Around us we see a vast, expanding universe of galaxies. The galaxies are composed of stars around some of which orbit planets. At least one of these planets in the universe is inhabited by an astoundingly complex set of living things. Where did all this come from? This course presents an overview of the formation and evolution of the universe, the solar system, planet Earth, and life on our planet. Lectures and readings will be supplemented by astronomical observations, computer simulations, and laboratory experiments (at times to be arranged.) No prerequisite.

PHYS 110

## First-Year Seminar in Physics

#### PHYS 110

The goal of this seminar is to explore a specific topic in physics that is of current significance as well as challenging to first-year students. Generally, the topics will vary from year to year; in the past, the seminar has explored topics such as material science, nanoscience, astrophysics, particle physics, biological physics, and gravitation. In addition to introducing the fundamental physics related to these topics, the course will expose students to recent developments, as the topics are often closely related to the research area of faculty teaching the seminar. The seminar meets one evening a week for lectures, discussions, laboratory experiments, and computer exercises. This course fulfills the concurrent laboratory requirement of PHYS 140 and serves as a solid preparation for PHYS 146. Prerequisite: Open only to first-year students who are concurrently enrolled in or have placed out of PHYS 140. Offered every fall semester.

PHYS 145

## Modern Physics

#### PHYS 145

This lecture course is a continuation of the calculus-based introduction to physics, PHYS 140, and focuses on the physics of the twentieth century. Topics include geometrical and wave optics, special relativity, photons, photon-electron interactions, elementary quantum theory (including wave-particle duality, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, and the time-independent Schrodinger equation), atomic physics, solid-state physics, nuclear physics, and elementary particles. PHYS 145 is recommended for students who may major in physics, and is also appropriate for students majoring in other sciences or mathematics. The course will be taught using a combination of lectures, in-class exercises, homework assignments, and examinations. Prerequisite: PHYS 140 and MATH 111 or permission of instructor. Corequisite: PHYS 146 and MATH 112 taken concurrently or permission of department chair. Open only to first-year and sophomore students. Offered every spring semester.

PHYS 146

## Introduction to Experimental Physics

#### PHYS 146

This laboratory course is a co-requisite for all students enrolled in PHYS 135 or 145. The course meets one afternoon each week and is organized around weekly experiments demonstrating the phenomena of waves, optics, x-rays, and atomic and nuclear physics. Lectures cover the theory and instrumentation required to understand each experiment. Experimental techniques include the use of lasers, x-ray diffraction and fluorescence, optical spectroscopy, and nuclear counting and spectroscopy. Students are introduced to computer-assisted graphical and statistical analysis of data, as well as the analysis of experimental uncertainty. Prerequisite: PHYS 110 or 141. Corequisite: PHYS 135 or 145. Offered every spring semester.

PHYS 219

## Complex Systems in Scientific Computing

#### PHYS 219

The underlying laws governing nature are usually fairly simple, yet the phenomena of nature are often extremely complex. How can this happen? In this course we discuss several definitions of "complexity" and use computers to explore how simple rules can give rise to complex behavior. We will construct cellular automata and related models to simulate a variety of systems: the growth of random fractals, the spread of forest fires, magnetic materials near phase transitions, the statistics of avalanches, the movements of flocks of birds, and even the formation of traffic jams. A number of common ideas and characteristics will emerge from these explorations. Since the computer is our primary tool, some knowledge of computer programming will be required. Prerequisite: MATH 118, or PHYS 270, or permission of instructor.

PHYS 270

## Introduction to Computational Physics

#### PHYS 270

As modern computers become more capable, a new mode of investigation is emerging in all science disciplines: the use of the computer to model the natural world and solving the model equations numerically rather than analytically. Thus, computational physics is assuming a co-equal status with theoretical and experimental physics as a way to explore physical systems. This course will introduce the student to the methods of computational physics, numerical integration, numerical solutions of differential equations, Monte Carlo techniques, and others. Students will learn to implement these techniques in the computer language C, a widely used high-level programming language in computational physics. In addition, the course will expand students' capabilities in using a symbolic algebra program (Mathematica) to aid in theoretical analysis and in scientific visualization. Prerequisite: PHYS 240 and MATH 112 or permission of instructor. Offered every spring semester.

PHYS 340

## Classical Mechanics

#### PHYS 340

This lecture course begins by revisiting most of the Newtonian mechanics learned in introductory physics courses but with added mathematical sophistication. A major part of the course will be spent in understanding an alternate description to that of the Newtonian picture: the Lagrange-Hamilton formulation. The course will also cover the topics of motion in a central field, classical scattering theory, motion in non-inertial reference frames, and dynamics of rigid body rotations. Prerequisite: PHYS 245 and MATH 213. Offered every other year.

PHYS 370

## Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics

#### PHYS 370

This introduction to thermodynamics and statistical mechanics focuses on how microscopic physical processes give rise to macroscopic phenomena; that is, how, when averaged, the dynamics of atoms and molecules can explain the large-scale behavior of solids, liquids, and gases. We extend the concept of conservation of energy to include thermal energy, or heat, and develop the concept of entropy for use in determining equilibrium states. We then apply these concepts to a wide variety of physical systems, from steam engines to superfluids. Prerequisite: PHYS 245 and MATH 213. Offered every other year.

PHYS 493

## Individual Study

#### PHYS 493

Individual studies may involve various types of inquiry: reading, problem solving, experimentation, computation, etc. To enroll in individual study, a student must identify a physics faculty member willing to guide the course and work with that professor to develop a description. The description should include: topics and content areas, learning goals, prior coursework qualifying the student to pursue the study, resources to be used (e.g., specific texts, instrumentation), a list of assignments and the weight of each in the final grade, and a detailed schedule of meetings and assignments. The student must submit this description to the Physics Department chair. In the case of a small-group individual study, a single description may be submitted, and all students must follow that plan. The amount of work in an individual study should approximate the work typically required in other physics courses of similar types at similar levels, adjusted for the amount of credit to be awarded. Ordinarily, individual study courses in physics are designed for .25 unit of credit. Individual study courses should supplement, not replace, courses regularly offered by the department. Only in unusual circumstances will the department approve an individual study in which the content substantially overlaps that of a regularly offered course. Students contemplating individual study should plan well in advance, preferably the semester before the proposed project.

PHYS 498Y

## Senior Honors

#### PHYS 498Y

This course offers guided experimental or theoretical research for senior honors candidates. Prerequisite: permission of department chair.

SCMP 401

## Scientific Computing Seminar

#### SCMP 401

This capstone course is intended to provide an in-depth experience in computational approaches to science. Students will work on individual computational projects in various scientific disciplines. This year the course will focus on applications of parallel computing using Kenyon's Beowulf-class computing cluster and other resources at the Ohio Supercomputer Center. Prerequisite: MATH 118 or PHYS 270, completion of at least 0.50 unit of an "intermediate" course and at least 0.50 unit of a contributory course, junior or senior standing, and permission of the instructor and the program director.