On Sabbatical 2013-2014. A native of Seattle, Professor Sullivan earned his A.B.-Honors 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. Radio-carbon dating tells us about the past, but challenges our 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, anti-matter, 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 Creation. We will also 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 Kenyon student, so there are no prerequisites.
This laboratory course meets one afternoon each week and is organized around weekly experiments that demonstrate the phenomena of classical mechanics, including projectile motion, rotation, electrical circuits and fields, 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. Co-requisite: PHYS 130 or 140. Offered every fall semester.
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. Prerequisites: 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 will build upon the foundation developed in PHYS 240 and 241 for measuring and analyzing electrical signals in DC and AC circuits, introducing you to many of the tools and techniques of modern electronics. Familiarity with this array of practical tools will prepare you well for engaging in undergraduate research opportunities as well as laboratory work in graduate school or industry settings. You 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, PHYS 382) fosters independence and creativity, while the hands-on nature of the labs and projects will help you build practical experimental skills including schematic and spec sheet reading, soldering, interfacing circuits with measurement or control instruments, and trouble-shooting problems with components, wiring, and measurement devices. In each of these three courses, you will practice documenting your work thoroughly, by tracking your work in your lab notebook with written records, diagrams, schematics, data tables, graphs, and program listings. You 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 you may be asked to research and present to the class a related application of the principles you learn during your investigations. This course is required as part of the one unit of upper-level experimental physics coursework to complete the major in physics. Prerequisites: PHYS 240 and PHYS 241. Offered every spring semester.
In this course, you will explore circuit design and analysis for active and passive analog element circuits, from the physics of the components (semiconductor diodes, transistors) to the behavior of multi-stage circuits. Experiments will include voltage source and current source power supplies, transistors, gain and isolation amplifier designs, and frequency-sensitive feedback networks. Prerequisite: PHYS 380 (may be taken concurrently). Offered every other year in the spring semester.
In this course, you will investigate the operation of integrated circuit chips (ICs), the fundamental building blocks of electronic devices, from personal computers, cell phones, and iPods to sophisticated control systems in use across the spectrum of research and industry today. Experiments will touch on applications such as counting, timing, multiplexing, analog-to-digital conversion, and instrument control. Prerequisite: PHYS 380 (may be taken concurrently). Offered every other year in the spring semester.
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.
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. Prerequisites: 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.