Physics 114, Section  A

 Introduction to Mechanics

 Winter 2006

Instructor:            Aurel Bulgac
Class:                   MTuThF,  1:30-2:20 pm, PAA A102
Office:                  PAB B478
Phone:                 (206)685-2988
Office Hours:       Th 2:30-3:20 pm, PAA Study Center AM018  and by appointment.

TA:                       Brandon Lee Wall
Office hours:         9:00 am - 12:00 pm, in PAA Study Center, AM018 and by appointment

Course web page:
Lab, Phys 117  information

Epost for Phys 114, Winter 2006

Use Epost to start a discussion group, find buddies to study with, etc.  I shall only ocasionally check this discussion board.  

Send an anonymous message to the instructor

Unless you sign the message, there is no way for me to know who sent the message or the sender's email. The best thing is to use the link above to my e-mail if you want me to know who you are, as then your e-mail address will show up. Several times I tried to to reply to anonymous e-mails, in which the author sent me an e-mail address and he/she expected an answer, but the e-mail address supplied was wrong.

   James S. Walker, Physics, Prentice Hall

The material in Chapter 1 will not be discussed in class, but you will be expected to review it yourself. I suggest that you do that a few times during the quarter, as your perspective on various topics will evolve in time and so will your understanding of the material presented in this chapter. In each chapter I suggest that you solve at least 20-25 problems. Since answers are provided only for odd-numbered problems, I suggest that you solve a subset of these problems. For example you may choose to solve the problems 1, 5, 9, ... 99, 103 in chapter 2 and  the problems  1, 3, 5, ... 53, 55 in chapter 3, and so forth. It is important that you solve problems relevant to all sections of a given chapter.<>

Homework assigment:

Homework is not required, but it is strongly advised that you do it. One cannot master the material unless one is able to solve correctly problems. As a matter
of fact this is how you are going to be tested in exams, by solving problems and providing exact numerical answers. Unless you practice by solving problems
the most likely outcome of the exams will be failure. As you already know, unlike many other fields of human inquiry,  physics is an exact science.

You must have a computer account for email and work. Your homework will be done on the web using a system called Tycho, developed at the University of Illinois.  This system is still under development and so far it has been greatly appreciated by the students using it. There are essentially two things we will use: homework  and  gradebook.

In the homework portion, every week several problems will be posted for you to solve. As you will discover immediately, there are two types of problems:
a) Standard Homework Problems have a numerical answer. You will get immediate feedback as to whether the answer supplied is correct or not. In many
problems, you can ask for pre-programmed help. Full credit is given (if done before the deadline) for the correct answer, independent of how many submissions were needed to obtain it. b) Interactive Examples are often somewhat more difficult problems. Help in these problems usually comes in the form of more questions. The hope of the writers is that solution of these problems will lead to better conceptual understanding rather than just
equation manipulation.

Since some problems unfortunately still have bugs, you might run into the unpleasant  situation that you have the correct solution but the computer will not budge and will not accept it. If you are 200 % confident that your solution is correct, send me a detailed e-mail, containing the name of the problem, your numerical input  (NB these numbers differ from student to student), describe your approach and write your answers. The first five students who run into such difficulties and send me a correct solution will have their score to that particular problem raised by 50%. Those points will be added to your final homework grade at the end of the course.

Click on the link to login to the Tycho sytem and do your graded homework. Follow the
instructions on the login page. Your homework, exam and final grades will be posted using the Tycho system as well. The sudent database is updated daily
during the first week of the quarter daily and every two days during the second week. If you experience difficulties logign into the Tycho system please write to Laura Clement


THERE WILL BE NO MAKEUPS.  If for some reason you miss one of the midterms, the one you missed will be your low grade.  Please arrange your vacation schedule so you take the final exam at the proper time.

There will be three one-hour mid-term exams and one final exam. Each hourly exam (from 1:30 pm to 2:20 pm sharp) will consist of multiple-choice questions and these will be machine graded. No partial credit will be given. The exams are closed book, but you will be permitted to have one  8 1/2" x 11" sheet of hand written notes to aid you, no xerox copies or any other copies of any kind. In addition you will only be allowed to have a calculator, an eraser,  a #2 pencil and a pen. Scratch paper will be provided.  Do not forget to bring a bubble sheet (Standard Answer Sheet). You can get them at the Hub, By George and other places around the campus.

The final exam will cover all the material studied during the quarter. The problems on the exams will be chosen from  the Tycho homework, the end of the chapter problems, or they will be problems created specifically for the exam, but similar to Tycho or textbook problems. On each hourly exam there will be approximately 10-12 multiple-choice problems and approximately 20-24 problems on the final exam. You will be expected to solve numerically each problem and choose the correct answer among the 4-5 alternatives suggested.  On a typical exam the average student will provide correct answers to about 5-7 problems, with a standard deviation of approximately 2.

Cheating will be dealt with harshly.


Grading will be done on a curve, with the class average being about 2.7. This will vary depending on the performance of the class as a whole. Approximately 10-15 % of the class will receive 4.0, and 0.7 will be the lowest passing grade.

Each hourly exam will count for 25 % of the grade, while the final two-hour exam will count as two one-hour exams for 25 % of the grade. Thus there will be five exam grades, with the final exam grade being counted twice. Your score on each exam will be normalized so that each exam, regardless of the number of questions or the difficulty of the exam, will count the same. This score for each exam will be converted to an exam grade point (2.3, 3.2, etc.).  The approximate (it can change slightly!) formula which will be used to compute each grade for each exam is

Your Grade = (Your exam score - Average exam score)/Standard Deviation + 2.7

At the end of the quarter, your lowest examgrade will be dropped and your course grade will be the average of the remaining  four examgrades and, if that is the case the extra credit for the homework. The graded homework on Tycho is not required for the grade. However,  if you have worked out the assigned problems and obtained the correct answers before the posted deadline you can received up to 0.3 point towards your final grade (on top of the grade based on exam results). 0.3 will be awarded for 100% correct  answers.

The instructor reserves the right to modify this grading procedure in any way as long as no student receives a course grade lower than one calculated by the method described above.

Partial Credit?

General remarks

All the mathematics you need to know to be able to take this course is summarized in Appendix A of the textbook. Please review various number notations, solving linear and quadratic algebraic equations and systems of 2-3 linear equations with respectively  2-3 unknowns, plane geometry, areas and volumes and basic trigonometry.

This physics course provides the basis for all applications of physics, and future physics, biophysics, and chemical physics courses or topics you may
have to or be willing to explore. The subject matter of PHYS 114 is mechanics, which according to the dictionary means [the] science that deals with energy and forces and their effect on bodies. This definition actually covers just about all of physics! But don't worry, here we will focus on what we can learn about the motion of ordinary-sized objects (for example, bigger than a molecule but smaller than a galaxy) moving at speeds much less than the speed of light. Objects outside these limits require quantum mechanics and relativity, which you will hear about if and when you take PHYS 116.

Specifically, we are going to learn about Newtonian mechanics, which as every schoolchild knows, relates the falling of an apple to the motion of a planet in its orbit. Isaac Newton's triumph in bringing the heavens down to earth came when he was 24 years old, and he had to invent calculus to finish the job. Our task will be much easier! We will scrupulously avoid any whiff of math beyond the high school level, although by the time we are finished you should be able to understand what calculus is all about and appreciate its power.

Most 114 students are not planning to major in a mathematical science like physics or chemistry, or an engineering field. But whether your interests are in
the life sciences, social sciences, arts, or humanities, the content of PHYS 114 is fundamental for scientific literacy, a commodity which seems to be getting
in shorter supply even as our world gets more and more technological.

In class, you will learn a few facts about mechanics, and how to make a few calculations that someday might be handy contesting a speeding ticket, but
mostly we will focus on the process of thinking used in science. Sometimes this is called the scientific method. Really, it is an approach to analyzing
information that has been found to be astonishingly successful - so much so, that it took us from Newton's world of witch-burnings and horse-drawn
transportation to our world of instant communications and jet aircraft in only 300 years. It provides a way to distinguish what is probably right from
what is probably wrong, in an agreed-upon manner. Unfortunately it is not universally agreed-upon, even yet - witch hunts still go on... Above all,
science is about clear and unambiguous communication of ideas.

Please feel free to ask questions in class, to ask for a revision of some material "in different words," and to use the office hours for a "smaller group"
discussion of particular topics and try also Epost  as well. It is very important that you keep up your reading and advance through the homework problems as the course progresses. It is almost impossible to get a good grade without working a fair number of homework problems.

The Physics Department runs a Study Center where assistance with course work is available for many hours Monday through Friday. There are a number
of computers in this room as well where you can access the  Internet. The Study Center is located in this building,  downstairs from the Foucault pendulum. In the Study Center there are tables assigned to different courses. Depending on the time of the day, there may be one, two, or three Teaching Assistants working through the tables answering  questions. At some times there will be additional faculty assistance.  Some students have found it useful to form "groups" who work homework together.

NB Some of the material here has been borrowed from my colleagues' webpages.

                                              Tentative Syllabus
 Dates  Topics  Chapter

 January 3-6   1D Kinematics, Vectors         Ch. 2, 3

 January 9-13
  Vectors, 2D Kinematics
       Ch. 3, 4 

 January 16 Holiday   Martin Luther King Day

 January 17-20
   Newton's Laws
        Ch.  5

 January 20, Friday
        Chapters 2-4

 January 23-27   Applications of Newton's Laws
       Ch.  6

 January 30 - February 3
  Work and Kinetic Energy
       Ch.  7

 February 6-10
   Potential Energy
       Ch.  8

 February 13-16
   Linear Momentum
       Ch. 9

February 17, Friday   

     Chapters 5-8

 February 20   Holiday   Presidents Day

 February 21-24
  Rotational Kinematics
       Ch.  10

 February 27-March 2
  Rotational Dynamics
       Ch.  11

 March 3, Friday
       Chapters 8 - 10

  March 6-10
   Gravity        Ch.  12

 Monday, March 13
          2:30- 4:20 pm


     Everything !