A native of Seattle, Professor Sullivan earned his A.B. degree (with honors) in physics from the University of Chicago in 1976. After a 5-year stint in industry, he returned to Seattle and obtained his PhD in experimental condensed matter physics from the University of Washington in 1986.
Professor Sullivan added expertise in the area of nonlinear dynamics while doing post-doctoral research at UC-Santa Barbara and Los Alamos National Laboratory. He joined the faculty at Kenyon in 1991 and, together with his students, has done research in turbulent fluid dynamics, colloid physics and computational pattern formation.
Tim received a Traditional Fulbright award in Sri Lanka for the 2008-2009 academic year. He worked in the Department of Physics at the University of Peradeniya, Kandy, Sri Lanka where he developed a computational physics course for the department. Check out Tim's weblog on his travels and visit to Sri Lanka.
Computational condensed matter physics.
1986 — Doctor of Philosophy from University of Washington
1976 — Bachelor of Arts from Univ Chicago
Nuclear power produces needed energy, but nuclear waste threatens our future. Nuclear weapons make us strong, but dirty bombs make us vulnerable. Nuclear medicine can cure us, but nuclear radiation can kill us. Radiocarbon dating tells us about the past, but it can challenge religious faith. "Good Nukes, Bad Nukes" is designed to give each student the scientific knowledge necessary to understand and participate in public discussions of nuclear issues. The concepts include classification of nuclei, the types of energy (radiation) released in nuclear reactions, the interactions of that radiation with matter, including human health effects, and the design of nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. Hands-on demonstrations and experiments will explore radioactive decay, antimatter, transmutation of atoms, nuclear detectors and interactions of radiation with matter. We will apply the core concepts to understanding contemporary issues, such as electric power generation using nuclear energy, including its environmental effects; advances in nuclear medicine; the challenges of preventing nuclear weapons proliferation; the threat of "dirty bombs"; and dating the universe. We also will cover the history of the Manhattan Project and the use of nuclear weapons that brought an end to World War II. The course will offer a field trip to at least one significant nuclear site in Ohio. This course is designed to be accessible to any student. No prerequisite.
This laboratory course meets one afternoon each week and is organized around weekly experiments that explore the phenomena of classical mechanics and electromagnetism, including motion, forces, fluid mechanics, and conservation of energy and momentum. Lectures cover the theory and instrumentation required to understand each experiment. Experimental techniques emphasize computerized acquisition and analysis of video images to study motion. Students are introduced to computer-assisted graphical and statistical analysis of data as well as the analysis of experimental uncertainty. Corequisite: PHYS 130 (or PHYS 140 for sophomores enrolled in PHYS 140). Offered every fall semester.
This seminar will explore a significant current topic in physics that will challenge first-year students. The topic varies from year to year; in the past, the seminar has explored such topics such nanoscience, astrophysics, particle physics, biological physics and gravitation. In addition to introducing the fundamental physics connected with 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 solid preparation for PHYS 146. Prerequisite: Open only to first-year students who are concurrently enrolled in or have placed out of PHYS 140, including those first-years who enroll in PHYS 240. Offered every fall semester.
This lecture course is a continuation of the calculus-based introduction to physics, PHYS 140, and focuses on the physics of the 20th 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 Schrödinger equation), atomic physics, solid-state physics, nuclear physics and elementary particles. PHYS 145 is recommended for students who might major in physics and is appropriate for students majoring in other sciences or mathematics, particularly those who are considering careers in engineering. 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.
This laboratory course is a corequisite 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 131 or 141. Corequisite: PHYS 135 or 145. Offered every spring semester.
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: SCMP 118, PHYS 270 or permission of instructor.
This laboratory course is a corequisite for all upperclass students enrolled in PHYS 240. The course is organized around experiments demonstrating various phenomena associated with the special theory of relativity and electric and magnetic fields. Lectures cover the theory and instrumentation required to understand each experiment. Laboratory work emphasizes computerized acquisition and analysis of data, the use of a wide variety of modern instrumentation, and the analysis of experimental uncertainty. Prerequisite: PHYS 140 and 141 or equivalent. Corequisite: PHYS 240. Offered every fall semester.
The topics of oscillations and waves serve to unify many subfields of physics. This course begins with a discussion of damped and undamped, free and driven, and mechanical and electrical oscillations. Oscillations of coupled bodies and normal modes of oscillations are studied along with the techniques of Fourier analysis and synthesis. We then consider waves and wave equations in continuous and discontinuous media, both bounded and unbounded. The course may also treat properties of the special mathematical functions that are the solutions to wave equations in non-Cartesian coordinate systems. Prerequisite: PHYS 240. Offered every spring semester.
As modern computers become more capable, a new mode of investigation is emerging in all science disciplines using computers to model the natural world and solving model equations numerically rather than analytically. Thus, computational physics is assuming co-equal status with theoretical and experimental physics as a way to explore physical systems. This course will introduce students 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.
This lecture course covers the physics behind modern electronic components, such as field-effect transistors and operational amplifiers, as well as the design and analysis of digital and analog circuits. Prerequisites: PHYS 145 and MATH 112. Co-requisite: PHYS 281.
This laboratory course is required for the physics major and is a prerequisite for PHYS 481. The course meets for two afternoons each week and is organized around experiments in which students design, test, and analyze both digital and analog electronic circuits. Students will become familiar with the use of a wide variety of electronic devices, including logic gates, analog-to-digital converters, field-effect transistors, and operational amplifiers. The course will emphasize the use of computers to analyze and control electronic circuits and scientific instrumentation. Independent laboratory projects allow students to combine and expand upon what they have learned to create new circuits of their own design. Co-requisite: PHYS 280.
This 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 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.
The course begins with a discussion of the wave nature of light. The remainder of the course is concerned with the study of electromagnetic waves and their interactions with lenses, apertures of various configurations, and matter. Topics include the properties of waves, reflection, refraction, interference, and Fraunhofer and Fresnel diffraction, along with Fourier optics and coherence theory. Prerequisite: PHYS 350 or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.
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.
This course will build upon the foundation developed in PHYS 240 and 241 for measuring and analyzing electrical signals in DC and AC circuits, introducing students to many of the tools and techniques of modern electronics. Familiarity with this array of practical tools will prepare students for engaging in undergraduate research opportunities as well as laboratory work in graduate school or industry settings. Students will learn to use oscilloscopes, meters, LabVIEW and various other tools to design and characterize simple analog and digital electronic circuits. The project-based approach used in this and associated courses (PHYS 381 and 382) fosters independence and creativity, while the hands-on nature of the labs and projects will help students build practical experimental skills including schematic and data sheet reading, soldering, interfacing circuits with measurement or control instruments, and troubleshooting problems with components, wiring and measurement devices. In each electronics course, students will practice documenting work thoroughly, by tracking work in lab notebooks with written records, diagrams, schematics, data tables, graphs and program listings. Students will also engage in directed analysis of the theoretical operation of components and circuits through lab notebook explanations, worksheets, and occasional problem sets, and in each course students may be asked to research and present to the class a related application of the principles learned during investigations. This course is required as part of the 1 unit of upper-level experimental physics coursework to complete the major in physics. Prerequisite: PHYS 240. This course is offered once a year and runs the first half of the semester only.
In this course, students will explore circuit design and analysis for active and passive analog circuit elements, from the physics of the components (semiconductor diodes, transistors) to the behavior of multi-stage circuits. Experiments will explore transistors, amplifiers, amplifier design and frequency-sensitive feedback networks. Prerequisite: PHYS 380 (may be taken in the same semester). This course is offered in alternate years and runs the second half of the semester only.
In this course, students will explore applications of integrated circuits (ICs), the fundamental building blocks of electronic devices such as personal computers, smart phones and virtually every other electronic device in use today. Taking a two-pronged approach, the course will include experimentation with basic ICs such as logic gates and timers as well as with multipurpose ICs such as microcontrollers that can be programmed to mimic the function of many basic ICs. Prerequisite: PHYS 380 (may be taken in the same semester). This course is offered in alternate years and runs in the second half of the semester only.
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. An individual study course in physics is 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. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the registrar's deadline. Individual studies do not count towards the QR (quantitative reasoning) requirement. If a student wishes to satisfy the QR requirement through an individual study in physics, they must receive approval through the college petition process.
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. Each student will give sevearl presentation to the class throughout the semester. Prerequisite: SCMP 118 or PHYS 270, completion of at least .5 unit of an "intermediate" course and at least .5 unit of a contributory course, junior or senior standing, and permission of the instructor and the program director.
The Individual Study is to enable students to explore a pedagogically valuable topic in computing applied to the sciences that is not part of a regularly offered SCMP course. A student who wishes to propose an individual study course must first find a SCMP faculty member willing to supervise the course. The student and faculty member then craft a course syllabus that describes in detail the expected coursework and how a grade will be assigned. The amount of credit to be assigned to the IS course should be determined with respect to the amount of effort expected in a regular Kenyon class. The syllabus must be approved by the director of the SCMP program. In the case of a small group IS, a single syllabus may be submitted and all students must follow the same syllabus. Permission of the instructor and the program director are required. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the registrar’s deadline. No prerequisite. \n