PHYsics 1151

Principles of Physics I

Fall 2005

Lecture: Room 2153; 1200, 1300 MWF

Office Hours: 1100 M, 1400 W F

Labs: Room 2409; 1500 W, 0800 R, 1300 R, 1600 R

Dr Doug Davis, Room 2135, 581-4753,

| Course Calendar | Lab Schedule | Homework Assignments | Dr D's Home Page |

PHYsics 1150 (PHY 1151/1152) is the first semester of a two-semester sequence of algebra-based Introductory Physics esp'ly for students majoring in Geology, Industrial Technology, and Health-related fields (preMed, preVet, preOptometry, etc). PHY 1150 covers Mechanics -- motion, both its description (kinematics) and its cause (dynamics), conservation ideas (energy, momentum, and angular momentum), simple harmonic motion, circular motion, gravity -- Heat and Thermodynamics, Periodic Motion, and Waves and Sound. PHY 1160 covers Electricity and Magnetism, Optics, and Modern Physics -- Special Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Atomic and Nuclear Physics.

PHYsics 1350, 1360, and 1370 cover these topics in greater detail and are calculus-based. PHYsics 3050G is a quick one-semester overview of Introductory Physics. PHYsics 1051G is a quick one-semester overview of Modern Physics.

Physics is a pump -- not a filter!

In the past Physics was known as "Natural Philosophy". I like the implication of that name; Physics is understanding the natural world around us. Physics involves understanding, not memorizing! Spend your time and effort understanding the ideas and the equations will (almost) take care of themselves. Equations are tools or summaries; they are not ends in themselves! Physics has the luxury of dealing with simple system -- often with a single variable -- so we really can understand these systems far better than more complicated systems (such as people, politics, economics, or societies).

Physics is a pump -- not a filter!



We will use Walker's Physics, 2nd edition, published by Prentice Hall; you should have received it from the Textbook Rental System. Saving a textbook as a last resort before an exam or before looking at homework problems makes the course more difficult than it needs to be.

Make life easy for yourself; read the textbook. Take a few class notes over this familiar material. Work all the assigned problems -- and a few more. Then relax for the exams will be easy.


Physics labs are quite different from, say, chemistry labs. While care must be taken in making measurements, finding the value of an unknown to a tenth of a percent is not the main reason for doing a Physics lab. The labs are designed to go along with the lecture and the textbook and to demonstrate principles discussed there. Again, understanding is the key idea. Think of why you are doing various steps in the lab. Never -- never, never, never! -- just blindly follow the procedure. Understand why you are doing something or what it will tell you.


Homework is vital in Physics!!!! I can not stress that too much. Physics is like SCUBA diving -- it requires participation and practice and learning from your own errors. You may be able to understand the Civil War by listening to lectures. But you can not successfully learn to SCUBA dive only by listening to lectures -- you have to get wet! Physics, too, requires that you "get wet", that you get your hands messy in the mire of homework problems and laboratory work. There simply is no other way to learn Physics. Most of the exams will not be strikingly different from the homework. Diligence with the homework will make the exams easy but ignoring the homework will make the exams impossible! Struggling with and learning from doing the homework is vital! You must do the homework -- just to survive.

Solutions are posted on the internet. Do not look at the solutions until after you have worked the problems yourself. Homework will not be turned in and graded; this requires great maturity and responsibility on your part.

The homework problems and solutions posted on the web and which I will discuss in class are not from Walker's textbook! Please look at problems from Walker's textbook on your own and ask me about them in class or during office visits.



Your grade for this course will be determined by the following:

Hour exams - 3 of 4 @ 100 pts              300 pts
Final exam (comprehensive, of course)      200         
Total                                      500 pts
There will be four exams, the lowest will be discarded, and the other three will be used. That also means that missed exams may not be made up.

In my opinion, there are two objective methods of grading.

One can determine grades strictly by a predetermined number (e. g.,

 ( 100 - 91,   A
    90 - 81,   B
    80 - 71,   C
    70 - 61,   D   etc)

One can also determine grades strictly "on a curve"

(e g, 15% will get A's; 20%, B's; 30%, C's; 20%, D's; and 15%, F's).

The first method requires that the instructor be able to write perfect exams. The second requires a perfect distribution of students. I have never found either condition met. Therefore, my grading "system" is some mixture of the two. You may consider the above grading scale a sort of "guaranteed minimum". An 82 will be a B. But a 79 -- or even a 78 -- may also be a B. That is, I will not raise letter grade requirements but I do reserve the right to lower them.



THE MECHANICAL UNIVERSE (TMU) video tapes are available in the Self-Study Materials Center (SSMC) of the library. I would like to show several TMU tapes in class. Other pressures of the course may prevent this. These are excellent tapes made a few years ago at CalTech and include short historical sketches, wonderful computer animation, and scenes that may be difficult or impossible to duplicate in the classroom. While they were made for a PBS audience they also include extensive examples of calculus. The video tapes are outstanding. Please don't worry about the calculus!

The TMU videotapes are wonderful but time pressures will doubtlessly prevent our viewing as many of them as I would like to use. But there is good news! The Mechanical Universe (TMU) videos are available online at The calendar page shows a few of the particular tapes that I would like to show. Go to the SSMC or to the web site and WATCH those videos -- and more! They are outstanding! But let me warn you once more that they do make extensive reference to calculus. Just tune out that part. Please do look at them online; this is great news!

TMU videos are available online at

Homework solutions, the course schedule, class lecture notes, and class hand-outs are posted on the Internet or the World Wide Web. You can link to the PHY 1150 material from my home page. Add a BOOKMARK for this page or the CALENDAR page for this course; that will make it far easier to find and use this web site.

My class notes this fall have undergone a serious and extensive revision to go along with Walker's text. That means every link has been changed. That also means there may be broken links that I have missed! If you find broken links -- or any other pblms on the web site -- please eMail me immediately!

COPYING someone else's ideas or creative talents is called plagiarism. Presidential candidates have had careers ruined because of plagiarism. Pulitzer prizes have been taken back because of plagiarism. Students have been expelled because of plagiarism. Unauthorized copying of computer programs is also called theft. We have licenses for all the software you will encounter in this course. University policy is that you should not illegally copy computer software. I expect you to abide by that.

| Course Calendar | Lab Schedule | Homework Assignments | Dr D's Home Page |

(C) 2005, Doug Davis; all rights reserved