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Michael Allen, PhD
Senior Instructor
Physics & Astronomy
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Courses I teach


Semester-specific information for each of my courses is available to students, only, on the WSU learning management system.

Handy links:
WSU learning management system:learn.wsu.edu
WSU course schedules:schedules.wsu.edu
WSU course catalog:catalog.wsu.edu

Breadth requirement courses
ASTR 135Descriptive astronomyDescriptive treatment of the night sky, star formation and evolution, the Milky Way galaxy and the Local Group, and cosmology from Friedman models to acceleration and dark energy.
ASTR 138Planets and planetary systemsDescriptive treatment of planets, planet formation and evolution, minor planets, asteroids, comets, orbit theory, and exoplanets.
ASTR 150Science and the universeIllustrate the scientific method via special topics in astronomy.
ASTR 450Life in the universeSenior-level treatment of the universe's capacity for life, and to what extent this capacity is realized; covers biochemistry, stellar astrophysics, nucleosynthesis, planetary astrophysics, SETI, and extraterrestrial civilizations; requires lower division math, physical science, and biological science prerequisites; requires strong critical thinking skills. I experiment with project-based learning in this course.
Courses in the physics/astronomy major
ASTR 345Principles of astronomyPlanetary astrophysics; requires calculus; preferred prerequisites are computer science and modern physics.
ASTR 435Astrophysics IA senior seminar on stellar atmospheres and interiors; requires lower division physics and calculus.
ASTR 436Astrophysics IIA senior seminar on galaxies \& cosmology; requires lower division physics and calculus.
PHYS 188First-year seminarFirst-year students to WSU meet the faculty and learn about opportunities for undergraduate research; assignments focus on college survival skills.
PHYS 303Modern physics IIntroduction to early quantum theory and experiments, culminating in the derivation of Schrodinger's (spinless) hydrogen atom model.
PHYS 320Classical mechanicsContinuation of PHYS 201/205, this course is a differential-equation-based approach to the dynamics of point-like and solid bodies, including an introduction to Lagrangian mechanics.
Honors College courses
HONORS 290Science as a way of knowingHistory of western astronomy from Stonehenge to Galileo; the balance between contemplation and empiricism is highlighted; a particular study is made of the Galileo affair, via period readings and a dramatic reading of Brecht's "Life of Galileo".