Physics 190 Introduction
Physics 190 / Fall 2010
Welcome to Physics 190. I’m excited to be here and I hope you are too. We have a lot of great physics to learn this semester.
This course covers basic mechanics of single particles and of extended objects. Our goal is to cover introductory ideas about Special Relativity, and also material in chapters 1-14 in your textbook (see Schedule.xls for a list of topics). In all of our work we will concentrate on understanding the physics in a conceptual way and on translating physical situations to mathematical equations. This translation process (from the language of English to the language of Mathematics) is often the most challenging and rewarding part of our enterprise.
This class meets MWF at 10 am, and class attendance is quite important. In other words, you and I have appointments to work together every MWF from 10 to 10:50am. In addition to our 3 weekly appointments, I’ll have office hours and I encourage you to come and work with me when you have questions about lectures, assigned work, or exams.
Our text is Fundamentals of Physics by Halliday, Resnick, and Walker - a standard calculus based physics text that you will get to know very well this year. I think you will find it readable and I hope that you will be able to learn from it. We do not have time in three 50min lectures to cover all the good stuff that is part of this course; you will have to rely on the textbook. The book has many worked out examples that will help you master problem-solving techniques. Take a few minutes tonight and explore the text.
For our study of the Special Theory of Relativity and we will rely on an additional text, Basic Concepts in Relativity also by Resnick and Halliday, that is unfortunately out of print. I will post assigned readings as pdf documents on BlackBoard. You will find other reading assignments on BlackBoard too.
This course will make use of basic mathematics that you all know well: algebra, trigonometry, vector analysis, and geometry. Some of you have already taken calculus and you will be pleased to be able to apply it in this class. Others of you are taking it now for the first time. You will simultaneously be learning the elegant side of the math (in your calculus class) and the more rudimentary "what's it good for?" approach in this class. You will use the spreadsheet program Excel extensively to do numerical calculations and to do data analysis for lab work. You will use the mathematical software Maple to solve equations and to plot functions.
The grade for the course will be based on homework, labs, and exams as follows:
Special considerations during exams:
Students with properly documented disabilities may need extended time on exams. If you are eligible to receive an accommodation and would like to request it for this course, please discuss it with me and allow two weeks notice. You will need to provide Allen Harrison, Associate Dean of Students (KJ 104; ext. 4021) with appropriate documentation of your disability.
Special considerations for religious observances:
Students who have conflicts because of religious holidays this fall should talk to the instructor early in the semester so that we can make accommodations. For example, Rosh Hashana occurs on Thursday/Friday; if you have lab on Thursday but wish to observe the holiday you can switch to Wednesday for that week.
Lab begins this week and you can find a separate handout with lab policies in the labs folder in Course Documents. However, for extra emphasis I want to repeat information here about missed labs (which we strongly discourage!) The make-up policy for labs is straightforward. If you know ahead of time that you cannot come to lab one week, speak with your lab instructor. If the instructor agrees that the conflict is legitimate, then you can arrange to do the lab on a different day of the week than your assigned day. (It will normally not be possible for you to do the lab the next week.) If you miss a lab and have not communicated ahead of time with the instructor, there are 2 possibilities. 1) You bring a written medical excuse and 2) You do not. In the first case your lab grade will be calculated based on (n-1) lab grades instead of n. In the second a zero will be factored into your grade for the missed lab.
Working as part of a group
Once upon a time scientists worked on great problems all by themselves. Newton, for example, sat under the apple tree all alone, thinking about the mysteries of gravity. In general, though, that’s not the way science is done these days. Scientists work together in research groups and it is often more fun and usually more productive to work on physics with a group of people.
Your homework assignments will be divided into 2 sections. For section 1 (the longer part of the assignment) you are strongly encouraged to discuss the problems with other students. Please appreciate that you should only hand in work that reflects your own understanding. For section 2, you must work on your own. I will rely on the problems in this part of the homework for information about your individual ability to apply physical ideas.
Besides doing problem sets, you have the important jobs of keeping on top of the reading and participating fully during classes by asking and answering questions. The success of the course depends on all of us!