## Affiliated Departments & Programs

- Physics
- Computing

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

In the early 17th century, Galileo's writings on physics and astronomy helped establish modern scientific thought. Three centuries later, Einstein's work on relativity and quantum theory helped transform it. The ideas of both men proved influential and ignited controversy far beyond the bounds of their scientific disciplines. In this class, we 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 observation and imagination, between genius and ethics, between science and religion? This course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. Offered every other year.

"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 space flight, 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 are several evening and weekend lab sessions, during which we design, build, test and fly model rockets powered by commercial solid-fuel engines. A willingness to build upon high school science and mathematics is expected. This course does not count toward the physics major. No prerequisite.

Around us we see a vast, expanding universe of galaxies. The galaxies are composed of stars, some of them orbited by planets. At least one of these planets 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. Astronomical observations, computer simulations and laboratory experiments supplement lectures and readings. This course does not count toward the physics major. 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. Except in rare instances, this course does not count toward the physics major. Prerequisite: concurrent enrollment in PHYS 130 (or PHYS 140 for sophomores enrolled in PHYS 140). Offered every fall.

This laboratory course meets one afternoon each week and is organized around weekly experiments that explore the phenomena of waves phenomena, geometrical and physical optics, elementary quantum theory, atomic physics, X-rays, radioactivity, nuclear physics and thermodynamics. Lectures cover the theory and instrumentation required to understand each experiment. Students continue to develop skills in computer-assisted graphical and statistical analysis of data as well as the analysis of experimental uncertainty. This course does not count toward the physics major. Prerequisite: PHYS 131 and concurrent enrollment in PHYS 135. Offered every spring.

This seminar explores a significant current topic in physics that challenges 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 exposes 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. It is required for the physics major. Prerequisite: first-year students who are concurrently enrolled in or have placed out of PHYS 140. Offered every fall.

This lecture course is the second in a three-semester calculus-based introduction to physics, focusing 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 combines lectures, in-class exercises, homework assignments and examinations. Open only to first-year and sophomore students. This course is required for the physics major. Prerequisite: PHYS 140 and MATH 111 or equivalent and concurrent enrollment in PHYS 146 and MATH 112 or equivalent . Offered every spring.

This laboratory course is a corequisite for all students enrolled in PHYS 145. The course meets one afternoon each week and is organized around weekly experiments exploring 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. This course is required for the physics major. Prerequisite: PHYS 131 or 141 and concurrent enrollment in PHYS 145. Offered every spring.

This lecture course is the third semester of the calculus-based introductory sequence in physics, which begins with PHYS 140 and PHYS 145. Topics include electric charge, electric and magnetic fields, electrostatic potentials, electromagnetic induction, Maxwell's equations in integral form, electromagnetic waves, the postulates of the special theory of relativity, relativistic kinematics and dynamics, and the connections between special relativity and electromagnetism. It may be an appropriate first course for particularly strong students with advanced placement in physics and mathematics; such students must be interviewed by and obtain permission from the chair of the physics department. This course is required for the physics major. Prerequisite: PHYS 140 or equivalent and concurrent enrollment in PHYS 241 (upper-class students) or PHYS 141 (first-years) and MATH 213 or equivalent. Offered every fall.

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 is spent understanding an alternate description to that of the Newtonian picture: the Lagrange-Hamilton formulation. The course also covers the topics of motion in a central field, classical scattering theory, motion in non-inertial reference frames and dynamics of rigid body rotations. This counts toward the theoretical elective for the major. Prerequisite: PHYS 245 and MATH 213. Offered every other fall.

From particle accelerators to galaxies and stars to the big bang, high-energy particle physics and astrophysics address the sciences' most fundamental questions. This course covers topics of contemporary relevance from the combined fields of cosmology, astrophysics, phenomenological particle physics, relativity and field theory. Topics may include the big bang, cosmic inflation, the standard model of particle physics, an introduction to general relativity, and the structure and evolution of stars and galaxiesâ€™ stellar structure and galactic evolution. This counts toward the theoretical elective for the major. Prerequisite: PHYS 350. Offered every other spring.

This course extends the formalism of quantum mechanics and applies it to a variety of physical systems. Topics covered may include atomic and molecular spectra, nuclear structure and reactions, NMR, scattering, perturbation theory, quantum optics, open-system dynamics and quantum entanglement. This counts toward the theoretical elective for the major. Prerequisite: PHYS 360. Offered every other spring.

Section 01 (0.25 units): In this course, students conduct research, synthesize and share experiences, attend professional presentations in the department, and present their research orally and in writing. Students complete three to four hours of independent research per week under the supervision of a faculty member and participate in discussion sections and other commitments as designed by the instructor. This course does not count toward any major requirement. Permission of instructor required. Offered every semester.\n\nSection 02 (0.5 units): This section carries the same requirements as Section 01, except that the time commitment is six to eight hours of individual research per week under the supervision of a faculty member, in addition to participation in other commitments as designed by the instructor. This section represents a significant commitment to a research project. Enrollment requires consultation with the department chair. This course does not count toward any major requirement. Permission of instructor required. Offered every semester.