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Physics

The goal of Hamilton’s Physics Department is to provide a firm foundation in the physical laws governing the universe while encouraging opportunities for research that allow students to combine skills applying the scientific method with critical thinking and problem solving.

Beyond the dazzling concepts and mind bending equations, physics is simply a quest — an attempt to understand how the universe works. Physicists seek out the basic rules that govern all the natural complexity around us, from why water runs downhill to what makes stars shine. The study of physics and the related field of engineering has produced many of our most crucial scientific, technological and medical milestones: electricity and magnetism, the creation of metals, the existence and behavior of particles and waves, hydraulics, aerodynamics, space exploration, nuclear science, superconductors — the list is endless. But physics at Hamilton is not only about breakthroughs and not only for specialists. A knowledge and appreciation of the physical world sparks the imagination and makes us more fully human. And a fundamental grasp of physics allows us to live with confidence and insight in a technological society.

Physics at Hamilton is explored in small classes, with faculty members who know their students on an individual basis. That means one-on-one encouragement, personal direction and research opportunities suited to your needs and interests. In the best liberal arts tradition, courses stimulate analytical thinking, critical reading and the ability to write and speak with clarity, precision and authority. In addition, hands-on laboratory work in state-of-the art facilities is a central part of the curriculum from introductory courses to senior seminars.

The Hamilton physics program offers an excellent grounding in the ideas, thinking skills and laboratory experience necessary for postgraduate study in many science-based disciplines. Prospective engineers will be interested in Hamilton’s five-year, combined-degree programs with Columbia University, the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Washington University in St. Louis.

Most physics majors develop an interest in the field in high school, and bring a basic knowledge of algebra, trigonometry and calculus to their study at Hamilton. But the Physics Department also welcomes students who come to the discipline through other interests and are willing to pursue the preparatory courses necessary for a major or minor in physics.

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