Physics 142

Physics 142 provides a calculus-based introduction to concepts in classical physics: dynamics; waves; optics; and interference.  The goals of this course are:

  • To develop an intuitive understanding of fundamental physical concepts.
  • To use this conceptual understanding to quantitatively analyze and solve problems.
  • To look beyond the textbook exercises and think about how these concepts apply outside the classroom.

Course Philosophy:

Substantial research-based evidence indicates Plato had a few ideas right – at least, when it comes to physics education:  Physics knowledge cannot simply be put into your mind; you have to do work to learn physics concepts[1].  My role is to turn your mind’s eye toward the sun; your role is to use your mind to perceive the sun.

Therefore, lectures in this course will be devoted to promoting your understanding of the concepts of classical physics, not repeating the text word-for-word.  This requires commitments from you:  you must read the assigned reading before coming to class, and you should be ready to participate in class.  Be prepared for homework and exam problems based on material covered in the text but not in the lectures.

[1] See, for example, Hake, “Interactive-engagement versus traditional methods: A six-thousand-student survey”, American Journal of Physics, 1998.