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PHYS 226 A: Particles and Symmetries

Meeting Time: 
TTh 11:30am - 12:50pm
PAA A118
Aurel Bulgac

Syllabus Description:

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.

Lectures: Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:30 am -12:50 pm.  

Instructor:      Prof. Aurel Bulgac, email:

Office hours:  Thursdays, 3-4:30 pm,  office PAB 478, fourth floor, North side of the main physics building

TAs and their duties (to be added later):  

Shen, Lingnan           HW2, HW3, HW4, HW5, Midterm, Final
Plenefisch, Adrian  HW6, HW7, Midterm, Final, Office hours, Fridays, 2:30-3:30 pm, PAC C108 
Zhao, Haoran          HW8, HW9, Midterm, Final
Rahman, Tahiyat    HW1, Midterm, Office hours, Wednesday, 2:30-3:30 pm, PAC C108


Midterm 1 grading:

Version A:
1-6 Shen, Lingnan
7-12 Zhao, Haoran


Version B:
1-6 Rahman, Tahiyat
7-12 Plenefisch, Adrian


              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 exam and one final exam.

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 40%
final exam 40%

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 3/29   11:30 am - 12:50 pm,     Lecture 1, Read Moore Ch. R1, R2

Thu 3/31     11:30 am - 12:50 pm,   Lecture 2, Read Moore Ch. R2, R3


Tue 4/5      11:30 am - 12:50 pm    Lecture 3, Read Moore Ch. R4, R5 

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

Fri    4/8   HW1     Submit by 11:59 pm


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

Thu 4/14   11:30 am - 12:50 pm  Lecture 6,  Read Moore Ch.  R9

Fri    4/15  HW2    Submit by 11:59 pm  


Tue 4/19  11:30 am - 12:50 pm   Lecture 7,    Read Moore Ch.  R10, Yaffe-Ellis C. 1-4

Thu 4/21  11:30 am - 12:50 pm   Lecture 8,    midterm review

Fri    4/22   HW3    Submit by 11:59 pm


TUE  4/26  1ST MIDTERM  11:30AM - 12:50 PM    

THU  4/28 11:30 am - 12:50 pm  Lecture 9,     Read Angular Momentum 1, McIntyre Ch. 2

Fri   4/29   HW4    Submit by 11:59 pm


Tue 5/3      11:30 am - 12:50 pm  Lecture 10,   Read Angular Momentum 2,  McIntyre Ch. 2 

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

Fri   5/6   HW5    Submit by 11:59 pm


Tue 5/10   11:30 am - 12:50 pm  Lecture 12,    Read Henley-Garcia Ch. 7.1-7.6

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

Fri   5/13   HW6    Submit by 11:59 pm


Tue 5/17    11:30 am - 12:50 pm  Lecture 14,     Read Henley-Garcia 9.1-9.3

Thu 5/19    11:30 am - 12:50 pm Lecture 15,     Read Henley-Garcia Ch. 9.4-9.5 

HW7 will be due next week together with HW8


Tue  5/24    11:30 am - 12:50 pm  Lecture 16,     Read henley-Garcia Ch. 9.5-9.6 

Thu  5/26   11:30 am - 12:50 pm  Lecture 17,    Read Henley-Garcia Ch. 9.7-9.8 10.1-10.3

Fri   5/27   HW7 and HW8   Submit by 11:59 pm


Tue  5/31       11:30 am - 12:50 pm  Lecture 18,    Read Henley-Garcia 10.4-10.5 11.1-11.3

THU  6/2     FINAL EXAM, 11:30 AM - 12:50 PM IN PAA118 

Fri   6/3   HW9    Submit by 11:59 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, 2022 - 2:53am