PHYsics 3050G

Excursions in Physics

Spring 2002

Room 2153, Old Science

1300 - 1350 MTWRF

Dr Doug Davis, Room 1114, 581-6346

PHYsics 3050G, Excursions in Physics, is a one-semester survey course in Physics; it is one of the GenEd courses.. 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. The nature of this course will be to concentrate on the ideas and concepts, not on equations. Anyone desiring a more rigorous course may also enjoy PHYsics 1150, 1160 or PHYsics 1350, 1360, 1370.


Physics is . . .

Physics includes everything. That means we must pick and choose the topics that we will cover in this course. Physics might be divided or grouped something like the following:



Electricity and Magnetism

Heat and Thermodynamics



Quantum Physics

Physics includes everything! That means we must pick and choose the topics that we will cover in this one-semester course. We will start with a study of Mechanics, the part of Physics that describes and explains Motion. Position, velocity, acceleration, force, momentum, and energy will be important. What happens if you drop a feather and a hammer on the moon? What keeps a roller coaster going? Does an understanding of Physics really improve your game of billiards? We will also study an extension of Mechanics, Wave Motion and Sound. What is sound? Why does a "C" note on a saxophone sound different than the same "C" note on a piano? We will finish the course by looking at Light and Optics. Why do some of us wear glasses? What happens when you focus a camera? How does a magnifying glass work?



You should already have Paul Hewitt's fine textbook, Conceptual Physics. Please read the material before it is discussed in class. 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.

In addition to Conceptual Physics, and for the second half of this course, you will need Adventures in Physics. On-campus students can purchase a copy of Adventures in Physics from the University Duplicating Center in the Student Services Building. Adventures in Physics has material for Wave Motion and Sound and for Light and Optics. It will serve as the text for these topics. It is also available over the internet. The internet version is in full color. The version from the Duplicating Center is a hardcopy and can be picked up and carried about.



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. There simply is no other way to learn Physics. Most of the exams will not be strikingly different from the homework (The hour exams and the final exam will all be multiple guess). Diligence with the homework will make the exams easy but ignoring the homework will make the exams impossible!

You must do the homework -- just to survive. Solutions will be posted on the world wide web or the internet. Homework will not be turned in and graded; this requires great maturity and responsibility on your part!

A common and reasonable "rule of thumb" for any three-semester-hour course is that you must put in six to nine hours a week reading the material and thinking about and working on and answering the homework. It is probably not possible to survive (or pass) this course with a smaller time committment.

Online Quizzes: At the end of the homework solutions for each chapter, there are "typical multiple choice questions". These same questions also appear as WebCT quizzes. They are open book, open answer quizzes! They may be taken or retaken a maximum of five times if you like. For credit, they must be taken before the date the homework will be discussed in class as given on the calendar. There is no reason that anyone should not receive 100 points for these Online Quizzes!

You can link to the Online Quizzes from here or from the Course Calendar page.



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

Excursions - Live!

Hour exams - 3/4 @ 100 pts             300 pts
Online quizzes                         100
Final exam   (comprehensive)           200         
Total                                  600 pts


There will be four hour exams. Your lowest score will be discarded and only the other three will be used (No, a lower score on the OnLine quizzes or on the Final exam cannot be substituted). This also means there are no make-ups for the hour exams.

You can link to the bulletin board from here or from the Course Calendar page.

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

One can always 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).

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

100 - 91, A

90 - 81, B

80 - 71, C

70 - 61, D

Think of these as "guaranteed minima"

100 - 91, A

90 - 81, B

80 - 71, C

70 - 61, D



The Mechanical Universe (TMU) video tapes are available in the Self-Study Materials Center (SSMC) in the northwest corner 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 references to calculus. Don't let the references to "integrals" or "derivatives" frighten you; watch and listen for the ideas and the demonstrations and the historical vignettes.

Homework solutions, class lecture notes, and class hand-outs will be posted on the Internet or the World Wide Web. We will discuss the Internet very early in the class. You can link to the PHY 3050 material from my home page.

Class notes are also posted on the Internet or the World Wide Web. I hope these are helpful. However, do not use them as a substitute for reading the textbooks. The textbooks have all the details. My class notes are just that -- notes. When I use them in class, I pause and explain, I pause and demonstrate, I pause and give examples. I value your opinions on these class notes that are posted on the web. But please do not rely on them at the exclusion of your own notes and the textbooks.

Bulletin Board: Use the Bulletin Board. I expect this to be a very useful item. You may post a question or post a reply to someone else's question. I think this interaction -- this exchange of information -- is important. I will try to refrain from answering questions immediately to give you a chance to think about the question and offer an answer. There will be four "forums" or general divisions. I hope you will find the Bulletin Board Postings useful enough that you will use the Bulletin Board even tho' it is not required.

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.

I am in the process of adding some QuickTime movies to my web site. These will be indicated with this QuickTime logo in the corner of a still image. When you click on that image a QuickTime movie will be downloaded and will play. For this to work, your computer must have the QuickTime plug-in installed in your web browser. If you use a computer on campus the connections are fast enough that the QuickTime download should not take very long. If you do this from home, the download time may be long. Please give me feedback concerning this. I need to know if you are using a computer on campus which does not yet have the QT plug-in. I need to know what you think of the QT movies.

You can get your QT plug-in by clicking here.

Dr D's own QuickTime Gallery


Physics 3050G, Excursions in Physics, is a general education survey course of introductory Physics. While Physics includes nearly everything around us, this course will concentrate on Mechanics, Waves, and Optics.

Homework is vital in understanding Physics! You need to think about the questions, think about answers, ask other students about them, discuss them in class, and look at the posted solutions.



| Back to 3050's Home Page | Back to Dr D's Home Page |

 (C) 2003, Doug Davis; all rights reserved