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PHYS 226 A: Particles and Symmetries

Meeting Time: 
TTh 11:30am - 12:50pm
* *
Aurel Bulgac

Syllabus Description:

Dear all,

As you already know teaching and learning remotely is challenging for all of us, including for me. Personally I hate this teaching mode, but unfortunately we have no choice right now.

We  will be using zoom for both lectures and office hours. Lectures will be recorded and when available those recording will be accessible to you along with my slides in pdf format, in Files on CANVAS.

Zoom links   

Lectures and midterm: 

Office hours with instructor: 

Final exam: 

I will be monitoring the exams on zoom. Please use chat and my email: for questions during the exam.

The homework assignments and exams (more details later)  will be also online using Canvas. I will post the HWs assignments and you will have to upload your solutions as pdf files.

DRS approved students, instead of uploading the exams, will have to email them to me directly after finishing them according to the rules on time limits of the DRS office.

You can use a touch-screen tablet for your HW and exams and generate directly a pdf file.

Please all contact with me should  be through email only, not canvas.

This information it will be updated from time to time, but hopefully the important parts are here right now.

This course aims to introduce you to the wonderful world of nuclear and particle physics and to provide you with some of the tools needed to understand and analyze the dynamics and decays of relativistic particles. Three major tools are (i) facility with special relativity, (ii) determining the consequences of symmetries and (iii) making order-of-magnitude estimates.

You are assumed to have a working knowledge of the material covered in Elementary Mathematical Physics part 1 (PHYS 227) and introductory Quantum Mechanics (PHYS 225). These are the prerequisites for this course.

In lectures we will be using zoom: Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:30 am -12:50 pm. If and when there will be a transition to classrooms you will be notified.  

You will receive an email to register for zoom access. I have used this before, I followed the rules, I hope it works.

Even though the zoom meeting states that that it starts at 11:00 am, the lecture will start as scheduled at 11:30 am. I will likely start the meeting a few minutes before that.

You will also eventually receive an announcement on how to access PollEv.

Instructor:      Prof. Aurel Bulgac, email:

Office hours: online, Thursdays, 3-4:30 pm, online

TAs and their duties (to be added later):  

              Elias Lileskov,           email: 

                  Office hours Friday 1:30-3:00 pm

                  Zoom Link:

                  Grading: HW 1, 4, 7                               

              Christian Nave,       email:

                   Office hours Friday 2:00-3:30 pm    

                   Zoom Link: 

                   Grading: HW 3, 9

              Kent Wilson,           email:

                    Grading: HW 2,6  and midterm exam                        

              Haoran Zhao,

                    Grading: HW 5, 8 and final exam                              

For information about texts, homework assignments, exams, and grading see Course Information below.  Readings for each lecture are noted and class quizzes will assume these readings. HWs are due on Fridays by 11:59 PM, online in canvas.

Course Information


The syllabus will indicate what you are expected to read before lecture. You should read the material ahead of class so that, in lectures, you will be able to understand more deeply. To encourage this, some of the quizzes will be at the beginning of class and concern the material from the readings. The readings for Moore's textbook are given according to its 2nd edition. To translate the readings to its 3rd edition, use the table:

2nd ed. Ch. 1 Ch. 2 Ch. 3,4 Ch. 5 Ch. 6 Ch. 7 Ch. 8 Ch. 9 Ch. 10
3rd ed. Ch. 1 Ch. 2 Ch. 3 Ch. 4 Ch. 5 Ch. 6 Ch. 7 Ch. 8 Ch. 9


Required (both at available at the University Book Store). 

I have also made available a text generated by professors Yaffe and Ellis who have taught this class before. I will refer to it and you will find it useful to look at another perspective on some of the issues we will be discussing.

Recommended (for practicing additional problems and reviewing concepts)

A number of other texts can be found in Files on Canvas.



Black Holes and Time Warps by Kip Thorne

Blind Watchers of the Sky by Rocky Kolb

Read Einstein's 1905 paper (Links to an external site.)



Periodic Table (Links to an external site.)

Chart of nuclides. (Links to an external site.) (Brookhaven National Lab Nuclear Data).

Particle Data Group  (Links to an external site.)(lots of info about elementary particles---for fun, look at the Review of Lattice QCD, (Links to an external site.) written by Steven Sharpe from our department.)

PDG Live  (Links to an external site.)(a more accessible version of the information on the particle data group site)

"About Quarks (Links to an external site.)" at the Particle Adventure Site, which I recommend surfing.

Matter–antimatter symmetry violated

A website with the latest from particle accelerators from around the world


Speed of light measured with 15 digit precision precision

Discovery of gravitational waves - Nobel prize 2017

Albert Einstein documentary

What is Space, Fabric of the Cosmos (NOVA)

Fabric of the Cosmos, Illusion of time (NOVA)

Visualizing spacetime diagrams




There will be quizzes during classes, usually requiring about a minute each. We will use the system "PollEverywhere" so that cell phones and computers can be used without the need for additional costs. Correct answers will get 2 points, incorrect answers 1 point. At the end of the quarter, I will give you points assuming the a 4.0 grade for the quizzes for 70% of the highest points attained by any student in the class.

These are instructions I have found so far.

It is important that you register because only in this way I can correlate your answers with your uw netted and give you credit.

You also can use your computer or your phone to answer  at

When poll is active text AURELBULGAC633 to  22333 once to join

In the past the scores of some students were not properly recorded by the system, for reasons unclear. I strongly suggest that you use the computer and login using your UW credentials  and answer quizzes in this manner. Only answers from registered user (namely students registered in this course) are allowed and recorded properly. 


There will be weekly homework sets, 9 in all. For grading, I will take your best 8. The schedule is in the syllabus. They will be due by 11:59 pm on designated Fridays on Canvas as pdf files.  The HW sets will be posted on this web site (under Files>HW). You are encouraged to discuss the assignments with classmates, but the solutions you turn in must be your own work.


There will be one midterm (on Tuesday, 4/27) and a final exam (Wednesday, June 9 at 4:30-6:20pm).

The final exam is comprehensive.

Course grade

To pass this course, you must take the final exam.

The course grade will be determined by combining the results on the clicker quizzes, HWs, midterm and final, with the weights in the table:

quizzes 5%
HW 15%
midterm 35%
final 45%

I will drop the lowest HW score, which means that you can miss one HW. I will also take 70% of the maximal quizz points available as the real maximum, so, if you have to miss a few classes, you will not loose a significant portion of your grade.

Combining the components as just described yields a "total score". If your total score is 50% you will obtain at least a 2.0 in this class. I may lower this number a little but I will not raise it. The level to obtain a 4.0 is roughly 90%, although I may adjust this if I set unusually hard (or easy) exams.

You might also find the following cartoon interesting enough to ponder a bit.

Tentative schedule

References to Chapters in Moore are to Second editions.

Tue 3/30   11:30 am - 12:50 pm,   Lecture 1, Read Moore Ch. R1, R2

Thu 4/1     11:30 am - 12:50 pm,   Lecture 2, Read Moore Ch. R2, R3

Tue 4/6      11:30 am - 12:50 pm    Lecture 3, Read Moore Ch. R4, R5 

Thu 4/8     11:30 am - 12:50 pm    Lecture 4, Read Moore Ch. R6-7

Fri    4/9   HW1     Submit by 11:59 pm

Tue 4/13   11:30 am - 12:50 pm   Lecture 5, Read Moore Ch. R7, R8

Thu 4/15   11:30 am - 12:50 pm  Lecture 6,  Read Moore Ch.  R9

Fri    4/16  HW2    Submit by 11:59 pm  

Tue 4/20  11:30 am - 12:50 pm   Lecture 7,    Read Moore Ch.  R10, Yaffe-Ellis C. 1-4

Thu 4/22  11:30 am - 12:50 pm   Lecture 8,    midterm review

Fri    4/23   HW3    Submit by 11:59 pm

Tue  4/27  Midterm  11:30am - 12:50 pm    

Thu  4/29 11:30 am - 12:50 pm  Lecture 9,     Read Angular Momentum 1, McIntyre Ch. 2

Fri   4/30   HW4    Submit by 11:59 pm

Tue 5/4      11:30 am - 12:50 pm  Lecture 10,   Read Angular Momentum 2,  McIntyre Ch. 2 

Thu 5/6     11:30 am - 12:50 pm  Lecture 11,     Read Henley-Garcia Ch. 5 

Fri   5/7   HW5    Submit by 11:59 pm

Tue 5/11   11:30 am - 12:50 pm  Lecture 12,    Read Henley-Garcia Ch. 7.1-7.6

Thu 5/13   11:30 am - 12:50 pm  Lecture 13,    Read Henley-Garcia Ch. 8

Fri   5/14   HW6    Submit by 11:59 pm

Tue 5/18    11:30 am - 12:50 pm  Lecture 14,     Read Henley-Garcia 9.1-9.3

Thu 5/20    11:30 am - 12:50 pm Lecture 15,     Read Henley-Garcia Ch. 9.4-9.5 

Tue  5/25    11:30 am - 12:50 pm  Lecture 16,     Read henley-Garcia Ch. 9.5-9.6 

Thu  5/27   11:30 am - 12:50 pm  Lecture 17,    Read Henley-Garcia Ch. 9.7-9.8 10.1-10.3

Fri   5/28   HW7 and HW8   Submit by 11:59 pm

Tue  6/1       11:30 am - 12:50 pm  Lecture 18,    Read Henley-Garcia 10.4-10.5 11.1-11.3

Thu  6/43     11:30 am - 12:50 pm Lecture 19,     Read Henley-Garcia 11.11-11.13

Fri   6/5   HW9    Submit by 11:59 pm

Wed  6/9 Final Exam  4:30-6:20 pm



I am grateful to my colleagues, and particularly to Prof. Alejandro Garcia, for their help and for allowing me to use their contributions in organizing the materials for this course in previous years.

Catalog Description: 
Introduction to the fundamental constituents of matter and the symmetries which characterize their interactions. Topics include special relativity; strong, weak, and electromagnetic interactions; quarks and leptons; baryons and mesons; and neutrinos and nuclei. Prerequisite: minimum grade of 2.0 in PHYS 225 and PHYS 227 Offered: Sp.
GE Requirements: 
Natural Sciences (NSc)
Section Type: 
Last updated: 
January 26, 2021 - 2:21am