Physics 1011

Ideas in Physics

Fall 2010

Tuesday, Thursday 13:30-14:45 Alan Geale 112

Instructor: Alec Habig

Office: Alan Geale 111

Office Hours:12:00-13:00M, 11:00-12:00W

(or by appointment)

Telephone: 0121-415-8451


Prerequisites: None. This course is in Liberal Education category 5, Physical and Biological Sciences without a Lab.

Text: Art Hobson's

Physics: Concepts and Connections (5th ed.)

w/ “Physics Place” website

Additional readings or assignments from other texts or the web might be assigned over the course of the semester, but arrangements will be made so you do not have to buy more books. This one is expensive enough.

Course Objectives: Liberal Education Objectives - Successful completion of this course will develop and exercise abilities in critical and creative thinking. It will also provide a conceptual understanding of physical phenomena that is important for substantive participation in public policy debates in an increasingly technological world.

This course introduces you to different topics in physics and make you more aware of the physics around you in everyday life so that you may appreciate and better understand the universe in which we live. We will concentrate on “Modern” rather than “Classical” physics, as that covers more of the cool new discoveries you'll see happening currently.

The topics to be covered include the following:

Grading: Course grades will be determined based on the following five areas, with their respective weights:

Letter grades will be assigned based upon the weighted average on a non-competitive curve. In order to keep the students informed as to their progress, a letter grade will be assigned after the mid-term exam or guesstimated upon request.

Homework: Homework in this class is in the form of reading assignments in the textbook and on the web, making use of the PhysicsPlace website's online questions and quizzes. Occasional written assignments, quizzes, or other exercises will also be assigned throughout the semester in conjunction with the reading assignments, and will form the “Other Stuff” part of the grade. Reading the assignments is important. You will hear about concepts in class. It is expected that the students will have read over what will be presented in class beforehand - lectures will be a lot more useful to you if you read in advance!

Tests: There will be two tests during the semester, given during the normal class period. The final exam is in the regular class time on December 16th. Make-up tests will be available only for documented medical or family reasons or mandatory university-sponsored events necessitating absence

from class.

Class Participation: Here in the SIE program, we have the luxury of a tiny class, so should make the most of the ability to have a much more interactive learning environment than is usual in a LibEd survey course. How this will be defined will by its very nature highly subjective, but not hard – come to class and participate, and you'll not lose any points. Short presentations are probably in the cards.

Note on disabilities: Individuals who have any disability, either permanent or temporary, which might affect their ability to perform in this class are encouraged to inform the instructor at the start of the quarter. Adaptation of methods, materials, or testing may be made as possible to provide for equitable participation.

Important Dates:

Final Exam, Thursday December 16, 13:30-14:45

Note: the final exam will not be available earlier



Week 1 (10/5,10/7)

Ch.1.1-8 Scientific Method

Week 2 (10/12,10/14)

Ch.5.5-6 Newtonian Worldview

Week 3 (10/19,10/21)

Ch.7.4 The Law of Entropy

Week 4 (10/26,10/28)

*Test #1 (10/26)

Week 5 (11/2,11/4)

Ch.10 Special Relativity

Week 6 (11/9,11/11)

Ch.11 General Relativity, Cosmology

Week 7 (11/16-11/18)

Ch.13 Quantum Mechanics

Week 8 (11/23-11/25)

*Test #2 (11/25)

Ch.14.1-4 The Nucleus, Radioactivity

Week 9 (11/30-12/2)

Ch.15.1-5 Fusion and Fission

Week 10 (12/7-12/9)

Ch.17.1-6 Quantum fields, gravity, and the Standard Model

Week 11 (12/14)


*Final Exam (12/16)

We will also bounce back to earlier chapters in the book as needed, to explain the concepts needed to understand the main topics. e.g., Newton's Laws and Gravity is needed to understand the Newtonian Worldview.

Course outline subject to change to meet the needs of the class, especially the test dates might wiggle around to better match what's been covered or not