PH111L (Fundamentals of Physics I) Spring 2015

Scott Heinekamp ( ( Stratton 302 ext 3361
Office Hours Tues 9:30-11:00 & Wed 11:30-12:30 or by appt
Teaching Assistant: Tyler Morris (
Course Goals
-- to understand the fundamental measureable physical dimensions of time, length and mass, and the units in which those dimensions are expressed;
-- to gain intuition about the universal kinematical notions of position, displacement, velocity, speed, and acceleration;
-- to successfully apply differential calculus to the mathematical and physical relationships among these notions; intertia and force;
-- to move beyond mere description of the kinematics of a massive object, but to explain the kinematics: dynamics;
-- using simple integral calculus, to define work and how it is related mathematically to the all of the what has come before;
-- to exploit the principle of energy and, when appropriate, energy conservation;
-- by defining at system of objects that interact via forces, to lay down the fundamental principle of momentum conservation, and to use it to understand how to describe the kinematical and dynamical behavior of such systems;
-- throughout, to use these methods in various combinations to solve real-life physics problems and obtain numerically accurate results;
-- as a sort of culmination of our work, to look at the kinematics and dynamics of extended rigid bodies (in particular, rotational motion), which will entail the study and comprehension of moment of inertia, torque and angular momentum, and their interrelationships;
Course Description
Here is the Lecture Schedule, where you will find the topics discussed, on which days. Fundamentals of Physics I is the first of the two-part introductory physics series, intended for scientists, 3/2 engineers, and pre-health-sciences students. The subject: to learn how to DESCRIBE and EXPLAIN motion (both translational and rotational), using ideas of force, energy and momentum. To succeed, you "should" have taken high-school physics, and have sufficient calculus experience too (MATH 111 or its equivalent is a pre-requisite).
        That said, when calculus is used, the needed concepts will be thoroughly introduced, and it's possible that you'll find that calculus is easier to grasp through use of physics examples!
        Please be ready to remain curious about the physical world, and to try to get its workings into your mind. Your physical intuition will develop as you think visually and mathematically. It's simple, really -- we will restrict ourselves to the simplest phenomena imaginable: giving a mathematical description to problems of motion in a three-dimensional world. It's really about learning to think in the most direct way, about nature.
Textbook and Other Tools
Physics for Scientists and Engineers, (8th edition) by Serway and Jewett.
A scientific calculator (no graphing capability is necessary; I prefer the "reverse" or "RPN" style) and if possible the manual for it.
A few colored pencils (blue, green, orange, red) for notetaking.
Reserve Materials and Other Aids
In the third-floor library area, you'll find other books, including the following: Tipler's Physics and Giancoli's Physics for Scientists and Engineers, both very clear; Schaum's Outline Beginning Physics, the classic student resource; Harcourt/Brace/Jovanovich's Outline College Physics.
Your Responsibilities in the Course, and Basis of Grading
Class attendance is required every day. AND PLEASE BE PUNCTUAL: CLASS STARTS AT 8:15!! I fully understand the challenge of getting to class at 8:15 twice a week. But look at it this way: by 9:30 on those days your mind will be alive with physical insight and you'll apply the ideas of Newtonian mechanics to your world for the remainder of the day. Read the book before you get to class!! You'll understand much better what is said in class, and you'll be in a position to ask good questions to further enhance your understanding. If you decide to participate in a study group (a good plan, in general), be prepared to carry your weight in term of working on homework problems and dealing with conceptual subtleties in the material.
Attendance, Homework and Class Participation (25%) Here are the regularly updated Homework Page 1 and Homework Page 2. The homework will be challenging, and by attacking it with energy you'll better understand the material, do well on the exams, and generally enjoy the course. Class participation is determined by your attendance (as mentioned, attendance is required; two missed classes will be forgiven and then you'll be docked for each additional missed day), questions (at any moment during class), and general level of involvement.
Laboratory (20%) Hands-on experience is one of the best things about PHYS 111L. In order to maximize your fun (and to avoid getting hurt) please "dress down" for lab. You'll be moving, lifting, bending, getting dirty at times, and occasionally operating (somewhat) dangerous equipment. Usually a short report form will be required. You may miss any one lab without penalty.
Exams (2x12.5% + 10% + 20% = 55%) We will have three "hourlies" (lowest score weighted less) and a final.