Physics 316

This term, we will tackle a variety of topics that we collectively call
intermediate mechanics. For much of the term, the topics will be familiar to you or you have
been introduced to the topics previously: forces and potentials, kinematics and dynamics,
momentum, rotational physics, oscillations and orbits. However, we will be expanding on these
topics, introducing further rigor, as well as developing a strong computational foundation for
treating these and other topics, and, finally, introducing a few (likely) new topics including the
variational principle and Langrangian mechanics. In short, we return to the study of classical
Newtonian mechanics that we began in PHY 141 (and a bit of PHY 142) to examine the classical
description of how things move and interact under the influence of forces. We do so now
equipped with a more sophisticated array of mathematical tools. In addition to additional
mathematical depth, we will also add conceptual depth and develop computational tools and
Course Goals: This course represents the completion of your introduction to physics. We have
three main goals 1.) Develop concepts in classical mechanics with mathematical and analytical
rigor to solve real work problems. 2.) Develop elements of computational techniques that help to
facilitate goal (1). 3.) Continue our quest to be better scholars by developing our problem
solving, project management and communication skills.
If you are pursuing a course of study in engineering, this class will serve as your vector
mechanics course and (along with Vector Statics – PHY 315) will prepare you for further study
in all areas of engineering. If you are pursuing a course of study in physics, this class serves as
the prerequisite for PHY 416 (Advanced Mechanics), in which you will learn about more
sophisticated treatments of classical mechanics such as the formalisms of LaGrange and
On the use of mathematics: I need only quote the great man:
“To those who do not know mathematics it is difficult to get across a real feeling as to the
beauty, the deepest beauty, of nature… If you want to learn about nature, to appreciate nature, it
is necessary to understand the language that she speaks in.”
―Richard Feynman (The Character of Physical Law (1965) Ch. 2)

Syllabus_Physics_316_Mauro_S2017 (1)