Course Information


Electricity and magnetism

Instructor: Jens Nöckel. Location: Willamette 318. Times: MWF 11:00 - 11:50 am.
You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat.
Albert Einstein


The course will use the online textbook by
Richard Fitzpatrick,
"Classical Electromagnetism: An intermediate level course"

The starting chapter for PHYS 422 is "Electromagnetic Energy and Momentum"


  • MATH 282, several-variable calculus (including Gauss'/Stokes' theorems)
  • PHYS 413. Fitzpatrick's text up to the chapter on electromagnetic energy and momentum.



First half: Second half:
1: Transmission lines, impedance 15: Wave-guides
2: Characteristic impedance 16: Relativity and electromagnetism
3: Electromagnetic energy and momentum 17: The Lorentz transformation
4: Poynting vector and momentum 18: Transformation of velocities
5: Momentum conservation, Maxwell stress tensor 19: Tensors
6: The Hertzian dipole 20: Space-time, proper time
7: Electric dipole radiation 21: 4-velocity, 4-acceleration, potentials
8: Thompson, Rayleigh scattering 22: Gauge invariance, retarded potentials
9: Dielectric constant of a plasma 23: Tensors and pseudo-tensors
10: Birefringence 24: The electromagnetic field tensor
11: Faraday rotation 25: The dual electromagnetic field tensor
12: Propagation in a conductor 26: Potential and field due to a moving charge
13: Dielectric constant of a collisional plasma 27: Relativistic particle dynamics
14: Reflection at a dielectric boundary 28: The electromagnetic energy tensor


The course is primarily intended for students majoring in physics and is a continuation of PHYS 412. This intermediate-level course makes use of differential and integral calculus in three dimensions. Several other mathematical techniques will also be used: in particular, functions of complex variables and differential equations.

PHYS 412 mainly dealt with electricity and magnetism in free space and in the presence of conductors, focusing on Maxwell's equations and their solutions with the help of integral theorems and (vector) potentials.

PHYS 413 built on this knowledge to describe electric and magnetic fields in materials, which leads to practical applications in electronic circuits. In this context, fundamentals of the interaction between matter and fields are introduced, and conservation laws are formulated. Many devices and circuits can be understood under quasi-static conditions where the relativistic aspects of Maxwell's equations do not play a large role, and the central quantities are capacitance, inductance and resistance.

PHYS 422 is divided into two parts: In the first part, we go from transmission lines (an application of circuit concepts such as "impedance") back to the general Maxwell equations and its radiating solutions in different media. In the second part, a main goal is to understand radiation and conservation laws for moving charges in free space. This will require a detailed study of the theory of relativity, beginning with Lorentz invariance and ending with the tensor formulation of physical quantities.   


The course will use the online textbook by

Richard Fitzpatrick,
"Classical Electromagnetism: An intermediate level course"

You may also buy the bound version of the book, but that is not required.


Homework must be turned in on the due date at the beginning of the lecture. Grades will be determined by the following weighting.

Homework (weekly): 60%
Midterm (May 7): 15%
Final (10:15 Wednesday, June 13)): 25%

Spring 2009 (Package File)