Physics 306

PHYS 306. Intermediate Mechanics

Three hours lecture (3).

Prerequisites: MATH 172

An intermediate treatment of Newtonian mechanics including variable forces, momentum and energy, rotation about a fixed axis, and non-inertial frames.

Detailed Description of Content of Course

This class will concentrate on classical Newtonian mechanics and its applications to a number of real-world systems. Topics to be studied in this class include:

1) Vectors and Kinematics
        a. Vector algebra
        b. Scalar and vector products
        c. Triple prodcuts
        d. Unit vectors
        e. Orthonormal basis sets
        f. Displacement, velocity, and acceleration
        g. Motion at constant and variable acceleration
        h. Velocity and acceleration in polar coordinates

2) Newton's Laws
        a. Newton's First Law: inertial and non-inertial systems
        b. Newton's Second Law and elementary examples
        c. Newton's Third Law and its significance
        d. Fictitious forces

3) Motion of a Particle
        a. One-dimensional motion witha variable force
        b. Simple harmonic motion
        c. The gravitational force
        d. Planetary motion (circular motion)

4) Systems of Particles
        a. Momentum
        b. Newton's Second Law for a system of particles
        c. Center of Mass
        d. The two-body problem
        e. Rocket motion

5) Energy
        a. Work and kinetic energy
        b. Conservative and non-conservative forces
        c. Potential energy and conservation of mechanical energy
        d. Energy diagrams
        e. Elastic and inelastic collisions
        f. Collisions and center-of-mass coordinates

6) Rotation about a Fixed Axis
        a. Angular momentum
        b. Torque
        c. Newton's Second Law for rotational motion
        d. Moment of inertia
        e. The pendulum
        f. Conservation of angular momentum
        g. Equilibrium of rigid body

7) Non-inertial systems
        a. Rotating coordinate systems
        b. Velocity and acceleration in a rotating system
        c. Motion of a particle relative to the Earth

8) Introduction to Lagrangian mechanics
        a. Generalized coordinates
        b. The Lagrangian
        c. Lagrange's equations


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The class format will be lecture/discussion. Part of the class time will be used for the development of the formal theory while the rest of the meeting time will be devoted to solving example problems. The majority of students’ time outside of the classroom will be spent in working on problems. Some of the assigned problems may be computer-based.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

The following student abilities are expected to be developed or enhanced due to this course:

1) Students will be able to apply Newton’s Laws to a broad range of physical systems.
2) Students will be able to solve problems involving both static and dynamic systems.
3) Students will develop proficiency in the basic mathematical methods used in everyday physics.


Assessment Measures

Student comprehension of the material will be based on instructor feedback on assigned homework problems, in-class discussions and students’ presentation of their solutions, and periodic exams.


Other Course Information



Approval and Review

March 1, 2018
February 22, 2016
New Course February 2, 2006