PHYS 407 - General Physics I
Spring Semester 2004

Spring 2004: Professor Amitava Bhattacharjee

  • Office: Morse Hall, Room 407
  • Phone: 862-2507
  • E-Mail:
  • Lectures: MWF 12:10-1:00 PM    DeMeritt 152
  • Office hours:
    • W 2-3pm and T 11 am - 12 pm or by appointment

Text Book: Fundamentals of Physics, 6th ed., Halliday, Resnick, Walker (enhanced Problems Version, John Wiley 2003)

CPS Remote: Interactive device for class discussion

WebAssign Enrollment: Your entry for electronic homework assignments


Contents of this Syllabus:

  1. Purpose of the course
  2. Registration
  3. Prerequisites
  4. Text and References
  5. Homework
  6. Examinations
  7. Lectures
  8. Recitations
  9. Laboratory
  10. Grading
  11. Getting Help
  12. Miscellaneous Policies
  13. Approximate Course Schedule

0. Course Personnel

Recitation Instructors:





Chris Balling

DeMerrit 30/29


Recitation #2, 3:   Office Hours: MWF 10 am - 12 pm

Per Berglund

DeMerrit 203


Recitation #4:   Office Hours: T 3:30-4:30 pm; F 1-2 pm

Edward Chupp

DeMerrit 209AC


Recitation #5:   Office Hours: MWF 9 am-12 pm

Richard Kaufmann

DeMerrit 209D


Recitation #1, 6:   Office Hours: MW 11am-12pm; R 2-3 pm

Chung-Sang Ng

Morse 245B


Recitation #7:   Office Hours: M 2-3 pm; R 2-3 pm

Lab Instructors:





Vince Bonina

DeMerrit 3rd Fl


L4-6 Grade Cubes Office Hours: W 9 - 10 am

Anthony Marcolongo

DeMerrit 3rd Fl


L1-3: Grade Cubes Office Hours: W 3-5 pm

Aaron Torok

DeMerrit 3rd Fl


L10 Grade Cubes Office Hours: F 12:30 - 1:30 pm

Anupama Sankaran

DeMerrit 3rd Fl



L7-9: Grade Cubes Office Hours: W 11:30 am-12:30 pm;
R 5 - 6pm


I. Purpose of the course.

Physics 407 is a calculus-based study of the fundamental principles of classical mechanics. It is the first course of a three-semester sequence, intended for students of science and engineering.


II. Registration.

You must be registered for a lecture-recitation combination and a laboratory section. Please go to the Physics Department Office (Room 105 DeMeritt Hall; phone 862-1950; hours Monday-Friday 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM, closed 12:00 – 1:00 PM) to add or drop the course or to change either recitation or laboratory. Change of registration forms may be obtained at the Registrar's Office.

If you are repeating the course and have already successfully completed all required labs (of Physics 407 material) you may go to the Physics Office and request to have your previous lab grade transferred to this semester. You still must register for a lab section this semester, even if you obtain credit for work completed in another semester.

In addition, you need a “Remote Pad” (“Star Trek Communicator”, available at the bookstore) to participate in the interactive concept questions during class. You need to register the device for this class with the Enrollment Code and Serial # of your “Pad” and the Physics 407 Class Key (Q2632P766) on the e-Instruction website (, accessible also via the class website). Follow the instructions on the website after you log on.


III. Prerequisites.

You must have a basic understanding of algebra and trigonometry, and be registered for Calculus I (MATH 425) (unless you have already taken and passed MATH 425 or equivalent).


IV. Text and References.

Required Text:

On Reserve in the Physics Library:

More advanced but stimulating introductions to the subject may be found in:

Two other books by Feynman are also highly recommended:


V. Homework.

Doing homework is key to doing well in this class. Every week we will assign between 8 and 10 homework problems, which account for your Homework grade. Most of the problems are to be done through WebAssign and will be graded automatically (you need to buy the WebAssign enrollment card at the bookstore to be able to use WebAssign beyond the first 10 days). One of these problems will be pre-selected on WebAssign for submission to the grader. You are required to work out the pre-selected problem on paper and turn it in into the PHYS 407 Homework Box in front of the Physics Office. The grader will grade these. The lowest homework grade will be dropped.

Homework due day is Wednesday, unless announced otherwise. Late homework will not be accepted. It is better to hand in an incomplete homework rather than nothing at all because you are likely to obtain partial credit and the benefit of feedback from the grader (as well as WebAssign) even if your work is incomplete.

A separate sheet ion how to use WebAssign is provided along with this handout. Homework on WebAssign is due on Wednesday by midnight. WebAssign gives you immediate feedback on every submission. You can have up to five submissions for each assignment. Only your last submission will be graded.

The hand-graded homework allows us to give you detailed feedback on one question each week. The homework is due on Wednesday by 4:00 PM in the in the wooden lock box outside DeMeritt 105. The grader for this course is James DaSilva (TA).
For both WebAssign and hand-graded homework, please make sure that you understand the solutions. The complete solutions will be available in the Physics Library. Approximately 50% of the hour exam and the final exam problems will consist of problems qualitatively similar to the homework. Thus, understanding the homework problems will prepare you well for the tests.


VI. Exams.

There will be 4 closed book exams and 1 final exam. The examinations will consist of short answer questions (about 40%) and problems (about 60%). The dates are fixed. THERE WILL BE NO MAKE-UP TESTS. Of the four in-class exams, the one with the lowest grade will be dropped. If you miss an exam, that exam will be dropped. You must not miss the Final Exam (except for documented illness or family emergency). The following are the dates for the exams:




We, February 11 12:10 – 1:00 PM DeMeritt 152
We, March 3 12:10 – 1:00 PM DeMeritt 152
We, March 31 12:10 – 1:00 PM DeMeritt 152
We, April 21 12:10 – 1:00 PM DeMeritt 152

Final Exam:
Mo, May 17

1:00 PM – 3:00 PM TBA

VII. Lectures.

The purpose of the lectures is to give you a broad overview of the material. You are expected to have reviewed beforehand the lecture material. During lectures I will go over the key concepts, do examples, and illustrate the principles with demonstrations when possible.

Short Concept Questions and/or Interactive Activities will be included in almost every lecture. For the Concept Questions, please bring your “Star Trek Communicator” (Remote Pad) with you every class. It enables you to participate in this course interactively, and to contribute a fraction of the credit needed every time you use it in the classroom to answer the Concept Questions. Concept questions will receive attendance bonus and be instantly graded through e-Instruction (count towards 25% of lecture grade). Activities (written sheet) will be graded (count towards 75% of lecture grade). You will be required to discuss each Question/Activity with your neighbor. You will find these activities key to your learning process. The short questions in the one-hour exams will be partly based on these Concept Questions and Activities.

Possession of two or more clickers is a violation of Academic Honesty Policy and would be treated as such. Note that a student who gives his/her own clicker to another classmate to use in class is also in violation of the Academic Honesty Policy.


VIII. Recitations.

The focus of the recitations is problem-solving. During the recitation you will frequently take a short quiz on last week's material, have some time to ask questions about the next homework, and then work on a problem in groups (this group problem will also be graded). All recitation sections meet on Tuesdays in DeMeritt 303. By that time, you should have worked extensively on your homework so that you know the issues that need further discussion. Starting with the 2nd recitation, there will frequently be a brief quiz in the beginning (25% of recitation grade) and a group problem at the end (75% of recitation grade). The short questions in the one-hour exams will be partly based on these quizzes. You can change recitation sections only at the Physics Office, DeMeritt 105. Recitations will have their first meeting on Tuesday, January 18th in the Lab Room, DeMeritt 303.


IX. The Labs

The purpose of the labs is multi-fold. First, you gain hands-on experience with the physical principles that we discuss in lecture. Second, you begin to experience how science is done, including using a theory to design an experiment, taking measurements, and understanding sources of error. Third, in writing the lab reports, you will gain experience in technical writing. Labs are conducted by physics graduate students (listed on page 1). They will spend a few minutes at the beginning lecturing on the lab itself or on the relevant physics concepts.

Everyone should attend their first scheduled lab during week 2 (week of January 24th). The labs will meet in DeMeritt 101. Lab instruction manuals may be picked up at the first lab meeting. (There is a $25.00 lab fee, which will be collected by the University, and pays for the lab book and equipment.) You must purchase a spiral bound lab book and bring it to your first lab.

You must hand in all the laboratory write-ups to pass the course. Lab reports are generally due 7 days after the laboratory. Your lab instructor will let you know of any change in this rule. Labs should be placed in one the wooden boxes outside DeMeritt 105 that is marked with your TA's name and lab time. Every day your lab is late, 3 points are subtracted from your grade (all ten labs are worth 20 points each). Refer to the lab instructions that you receive at the first lab meeting for more detail. Your lab TA will give you more information on how lab reports are graded.

If you miss a lab in a particular week, you must make it up. We strongly suggest that you try to make it up that very same week (contact the lab TA of the lab you can attend) because that is when it will be of most help to your understanding of the physics. Otherwise, you can make it up during the last week of classes (week 15), and at this time you can make up no more than two labs. (Note that this is a very busy week for many students with projects, so this is another reason to make up a missed lab as soon as possible.)


X. Grading

The final grade will be composed of:

4 hour exams (best 3): 300 pts Lowest Exam grade is dropped
Final exam: 200 pts Mandatory!
Laboratory: 200 pts ALL Labs required for pass!
Recitation Quizzes 25%/Problems 75%: 100 pts Lowest Recitation grade is dropped.
Homework 100 pts Lowest Homework grade is dropped.
In Class Credit: Concept Questions 25%/Activities 75% 100 pts  
Total: 1000 pts  

Note the special role of the homework and laboratory units. You cannot use these units as the lowest Exam unit, they are a required part of the grade.

We strongly suggest that you keep all of your graded work at least until the end of the semester. On occasion, if a grade is not entered correctly, the only way we can correct it is if you show us your graded work.


XI. Getting Help.

Physics 407 is a demanding course, but you do not have to go it alone! There are several places that you can get help:

Last but not the least, you may consider enrolling in Physics 400 on problem solving. It is a one credit course (graded pass/fail) to introduce you to some useful problem solving techniques applied to Physics 407. In particular, you will learn how conceptual understanding helps you to solve problems, and how to choose which strategy to use when. The class meets once a week (Thursday from 2:10-3:30 in DeMeritt 106/107). If you have questions about the course, please contact the instructor (Prof. Dawn Meredith, DeMeritt 209C, 862-2063,


XII. Miscellaneous Policies

Here we collect several miscellaneous policies of importance:


XIII. Syllabus and Course Schedule.

Below we give an approximate schedule, subject to change. The test dates, however, are set.

Week              Lecture Material                                                         Lab                                    Exam