PHY 313 - Mystery of Matter: Physics of water

Welcome to PHY 313. In the Fall of 2011 Mystery of Matter will be devoted to understanding the many different aspects of the physics of water. The aim of the course is to cover all length scales, ranging from the origin of the H2O molecule to the moons of Jupiter. The topics covered aim, not only to teach about the science of the most ubiquitous component on Earth (above the Earth's mantle), but also to teach you basic and applied concepts from :

  • Thermodynamics
  • Statistical Mechanics
  • Electromagnetism
  • Quantum mechanics

While none of these subjects are a prerequisite for the course, we will cover high level concepts, presented in an approachable way, without loss of rigor.

We will learn how different the physics that governs the atmosphere and oceanic processes is from that which determines the structure of water and ice. We will learn how water behaves in extreme environments. Topics covered include:

  1. Thermodynamics and anomalous properties of water: phase transitions and critical points (2 lectures)
  2. Structure of ice: quantum mechanics and isotope effects (2 lectures)
  3. Structure of water: electromagnetic interactions between electrons and ions (2 lectures)
  4. Experimental determination of the atomic structure of water (1 lecture)
  5. Physics of water in the atmosphere (1 lecture)
  6. Physics of water in Oceans, seas and lakes (1 Lecture)
  7. Water and Sports (Surfing, swimming, sailing) (1 lecture)
  8. Water in Biology (1 lecture)
  9. Green energy and Water (electrochemistry, photocatalysis) (1 lecture)
  10. Pollution and water cleaning (1 lecture)
  11. Water in the solar system: other planets and moons (1 lecture)


Your instructor is Prof. Marivi Fernandez-Serra. I may not be in my office much outside of office hours, so if you need to contact me outside those times please send me an email: (replace _at_ with @).

My office is B139 in the Physics Building.


You should read the course syllabus carefully as it contains all the important information about the organization of the course.

The calendar contains all the important dates for the semester.

You'll probably notice a lot of external links in these pages. Don't worry, you won't be required to know the content of these links! However, there are a lot of great physics resources on the internet and these links are to help you jump in to them and find extra information on topics that interest or challenge you. Check out this links page for a collection of good pages which I will continually update as I find them.

start.txt · Last modified: 2011/08/25 22:18 by marivi
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