Introductory Physics—Course Description:

Introductory Physics, 2016 — Course Description
By its definition, physics is a science that examines the fundamental principles and processes by
which the natural world operates. This course will cover most of such fundamental concepts in
the areas of classical dynamics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics and quantum physics.
It is a unique course, aiming to give a complete and coherent view of the physical world for
beginners (assuming the students have the solid high-school level of mathematics). Calculus is
not a prerequisite to follow this course, although students do need to be able to differentiate
simple functions.
The course will achieve two aims: (a) the students will form a complete qualitative picture and be
able to recognize the basic physical effects behind most natural phenomena; (b) the students will
understand the origin of, and be able to manipulate key physical equations to estimate
quantitative values of observed parameters.
There is no “textbook” for such a course, the lecture material will be distributed in class.
However, students are recommended, although not obliged, to obtain and read some of the
classical textbooks that cover the material of this course (and much more):
Fundamentals of Physics, D. Halliday R. Resnick and J. Walker (8th edition, Wiley 2008)
Feynman Lectures in Physics, R.P. Feynman et al. (Addison-Wesley, 1963)
Syllabus for Introductory Physics:
Chapter 1: Classical dynamics – Forces as vectors, action and reaction, equilibrium,
friction; Turning moments, center of mass, equilibrium; Energy: work, potential energy,
kinetic energy, conservation laws; Rotational motion: angular velocity and acceleration,
rotating frames, centripetal force, orbits, angular momentum, moments of inertia.
Chapter 2: Electromagnetism – Electric field, electrostatic potential, Gauss’ law in
electrostatics, images; Magnetic field, force on moving charges, magnetic flux, Faraday’s
law; Energy of electric and magnetic fields; Voltage, current and charge in electric
circuits, electrical resistance and capacitance.
Chapter 3: Oscillations and Waves – Simple harmonic motion, oscillators and
pendulums, amplitude and phase of oscillation; Resonance; Damped oscillators, energy
decay; Oscillations in electric circuits, impedance; Waves on a string, running and
standing waves, the wave equation, superposition of waves.
Chapter 4: Quantum Physics – Particle-wave duality, Schrödinger wave equation, wave
packets; Particle in a square well, tunneling, Heisenberg uncertainty principle; Bohr
description of hydrogen atom, quantization of angular momentum.
Chapter 5: Thermodynamics – Internal energy, heat and useful work, First law of
thermodynamics; Ideal gas law, Avogadro number, Boltzmann constant, heat capacities;
Reversible and irreversible processes, heat engines, second law of thermodynamics;
Statistical equilibrium, entropy and free energy.
There will be several short Tests at the end of each week / Chapter, each contributing 10% of the
final mark, plus a Final Test that will contribute the other 50%.