Physics 2033

Classical, Quantum Physics Lab

Spring 2018

T 9:00-12:50 MWAH 395

Instructor: Alec Habig

Office: MWAH 358

Office Hours: Small class! just drop in (or by appt.)

Telephone: 726-7214


Prerequisites: Phys 2021 & 2022 (concurrent registration is allowed)

Core Course: BSEP and BS, Physics

Text: No required texts to buy. See course webpage for books on reserve in the library or physically in the lab some reading will be assigned from. These will include:

Learning Outcomes: Experience some fundamental quantum effects by measuring them yourself.

  1. Students will practice physics measurement techniques, such as using laboratory apparatus; how to design experiments and improve measurements; and core data analysis methods including statistics and fitting.

  2. Students will apply this knowledge by writing comprehensive lab reports in the style of actual publications.

  3. ABET Criterion 3 outcomes assessed by this course:

    • (b) an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data

    • (g) an ability to communicate effectively

Topics Covered via Experiment include the following:

Course Description: Experience some classic measurements in physics related to the material you are seeing in the classical and modern physics courses. Using techniques typical of modern physics experiments, learn a set of basic laboratory hands-on skills that you can later build upon. The analysis and interpretation of experimental data will yield an understanding of randomness, bias, statistical tools, and standard error propagation techniques. Some of this is fundamental to experimental technique, some of this is fundamental to physics itself. Experience how to improve and report measurements. Finally, there will be an emphasis on writing skills in the context of experimental report styles.

Grading: To pass the course, you need to do five labs. Do not start the next lab until you have turned in the write-up for the previous lab. This means a typical schedule will involve two or three weeks with the apparatus, then you will turn in the lab report on Friday, review the materials for the next lab over the weekend and on Monday, and plan to start the next lab on Tuesday. You will work with a lab partner to make the measurements and for discussions, but your lab report should be your own work.

Your grade for the course is determined as follows. Completing five labs with excellent write-ups that include answers and discussion of the questions explicitly requested by the lab hand out will be worth a “B” in the course. You will be allowed to resubmit an improved lab report to address comments from the professor. Completing five labs with good write-ups (e.g., not resubmitting improved reports) will be worth a “C”. Completing four labs with excellent write-ups will also be a “C”, though odds are those who aim for this lower bar will probably only be turning in good write-ups, and so get a “D”.

To earn an “A”, you need to go beyond the stated required tasks for each lab. Some ways to do this: additional measurements or a followup topic; enhanced discussion of the theory; more sophisticated fitting; and/or simulation of the effect under study. To earn an “A” you should incorporate something extra for at least three of the five labs. You can choose things that suit your taste or preference, or things that stretch your skills and knowledge, or develop some depth or followup measurement, dig into the theory one more level, or a mix. In fact, judging what interesting things go beyond the lab is a research skill in itself, and I'm happy to consult with you on some possibilities. Less preferred: an alternate path to an “A” is offered - have at least a good write-up of the basic tasks for a sixth lab.

The class grades will be kept on UMD's eGradebook online system so you can have up to the minute access to your scores, although final letter grades will be set as described above.

Homework: There will be intermittent reading and a few homework exercises. You are expected to do them well: not doing so could take your grade as discussed above down a notch. We will use the one-hour class time to focus on the data analysis and statistical methods of experimental physics, and some followup activities based on the labs you have done.

Time Requirements: The time expectation for this two-credit course is one hour of class and three hours in the lab each week and four additional hours some of which you may also choose to devote to work in the lab. Spending thirty minutes reviewing the material and another thirty minutes doing the reading and assignments BEFORE lab will be the most helpful in keeping the time commitment within these bounds. Taking advantage of discussions with classmates and the professor to ask questions is also an essential way to ensure the optimal use of your time. Not doing either of these will cause unnecessary time stress, will benefit you less, and result in lower quality work that requires more revisions.

Tests: This is a lab class, so no tests.

Software: Analyzing the data you collect in lab and making nice figures and plots from it is an important part of this class. There is not a specific tool required: see the class webpage for a list of usual suspects you might choose from. Use the tool you are most comfortable with to get the job done.

Students with Disabilities: It is the policy and practice of the University of Minnesota Duluth to create inclusive learning environments for all students, including students with disabilities. If there are aspects of this course that result in barriers to your inclusion or your ability to meet course requirements such as time limited exams, inaccessible web content, or the use of non-captioned videos, please notify the instructor as soon as possible. You are also encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Resources to discuss and arrange reasonable accommodations. Call 218-726-6130 or visit the Disability Resources web site at for more information.

Standard UMD academic policies: are in force and described online at