Physics 112

PHYS 111:112

Catalog Entry

PHYS 111:112. General Physics
Three hours lecture; two hours laboratory (4:4).

Prerequisites: MATH 137 or equivalent.

Vectors, mechanics, heat, electricity, magnetism, sound, light and selected topics in modern physics.


Detailed Description of Content of Course


  • Vector Arithmetic - Addition, subtraction and resolution of vectors in one and two dimensions.
  • Kinematics - Displacement, velocity, acceleration and the description of motion in one and two dimensions.
  • Linear dynamics - Newton's Laws of Motion; friction; equilibrium; work, power and energy; conservation of energy; momentum and conservation of momentum.
  • Thermodynamics - Temperature and temperature scales; heat as a form of energy; thermal expansion; specific heat; heat transfer mechanisms; the laws of thermodynamics.
  • Properties of materials - Stress, strain, Young's Modulus, and Hooke's Law.
  • Wave motion and sound - Simple harmonic motion; resonance; transverse and longitudinal waves and their properties; sound and the human ear.


  • Electricity and Magnetism - Electric charge and Coulomb's Law; electric fields; electrical potential energy and potential difference; basic circuits; magnetic fields and moving electric charges; Faraday's Law of Electromagnetic Induction; generators, motors and transformers.
  • Geometric optics - Laws of reflection; Snell's Law; mirrors and thin lenses; ray diagrams; images and their properties; optical devices; the human eye and vision; light as an electromagnetic wave.
  • Atomic physics - The structure of the atom; energy levels and electron transitions; lasers.
  • Nuclear physics - Nuclear structure and the strong force; radioactive decay; mass-energy equivalence and nuclear energy; fission and fusion reactions; nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants; breeder reactors.
  • World energy/fuel supplies - Fossil fuels; nuclear fuel; other energy sources; exponential growth and its impact on fuel consumption and pollution production.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Lectures are designed to introduce the student to concepts in physics and application of those concepts to the solution of qualitative and quantitative problems. The instructor models problem solving behavior in working examples. Questions from the students are encouraged, both during the lecture presentation and the problem solving sessions. Problems assigned to the students and problems worked by the instructor are chosen, as often as possible, to illustrate technological applications of the principles involved. Issues raised by the interaction of science, technology and society are discussed extensively throughout the course.

Laboratory periods are devoted to the conduct of laboratory exercises designed to illustrate concepts and encourage active involvement of the students in the exercises. A laboratory manual is not used; exercises are described in handouts given out each week. Early exercises contain specific and detailed instructions on how to proceed with the activity. As the year progresses, instructions become less specific and students are expected to become more and more dependent on their own problem solving ability and their own creativity.


Goals and Objectives of Course

1. Students will acquire a knowledge base in physics as part of their professional preparation (chemistry and geology majors, students planning careers in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, physical therapy, sports medicine).
2. All students will develop the ability to think critically and to solve problems.
3. All students will develop some level of understanding of the process of science - the ways in which scientific knowledge is produced and evaluated.
4. All students will acquire a deeper understanding of the world around them.
5. All students will become aware of the interactions between science, technology and society, and consider those interactions in a critical and thoughtful way.


Assessment Measures

Student progress is measured by periodic tests, a comprehensive final examination (Physics 111 only), weekly laboratory reports in which the students analyze experimental data and provide a written report of their work, and in informal observation of student's work during laboratory sessions and individual conferences. A homework problem is also assigned with each laboratory activity and is graded by the instructor or a laboratory assistant.


Other Course Information




September 2001Reviewed by Walter S. Jaronski, Chair