Phys171: Introductory Physics: Mechanics and Relativity

Spring 2001, Section 0101, MARS #47629
MTThF 10:00-10:50, Room 0405


Ted Jacobson
Room 4117, Phone 301-405-6020 
Office hours: M 2:30-3:30, Th 2:30-3:30 (Room 4102), after class, or drop in.

Grader/Teaching Assistant:

Sheung-Wa Ng
Room 4210,  Phone: 301-405-6191
Office  hours: Tu 2-3, W 2-3

Undergraduate Teaching Assistant:

Robyn Sanderson
Room  TBA, Phone TBA 
Office hours: TBA

PHYS171:  First semester of a three semester sequence for physics majors and those desiring a rigorous preparation in the physical sciences: kinematics, Newton's laws, energy and work, linear and angular momenta, temperature and pressure, ideal gas law, and special relativity.  Prerequisites: MATH 140 (Calculus I; Introduction to calculus, including functions, limits, continuity, derivatives and applications of the derivative, sketching of graphs of functions, definite and indefinite integrals, and calculation of area.) and a high school physics course or permission of department. Corequisite: MATH 141 (Calculus II; Continuation of MATH 140, including techniques of integration, improper integrals, applications of integration (such as volumes, work, arc length, moments), inverse functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, sequences and series.)

Discussion/problem solving session: 10-10:50 am, Wednesday, Room 4208, led by undergraduate TA, Robyn Sanderson. This optional session serves to practice problem solving techniques and answer students' questions about the material in a setting where the professor is (usually) not present. Sample problems from the text will be covered as well as questions from lecture and conceptual questions.

Study Sessions:›››› 2:30-5:30 pm, Thursday, Room 4102 Physics.
These are informal group study sessions, where the professor or TA will be available to answer questions individually. You should feel free to stop by briefly at any time during the study session to ask a few questions, or to stay there to study or participate in discussions of other students' questions as well as your own.

Textbook: Physics, vol. 1, 4th ed., R. Resnick, D. Halliday, K.S. Krane  (John Wiley & Sons). Material: Chapters 1-18, 21-23  (not all material in each chapter will be covered).

Reserve books  A copy of the textbook will be on two hour reserve in the EPS Library:

E-mail:    I encourage students to make use of e-mail for quick correspondence with me (or the TA's) regarding lecture material, homework problems, or whatever. I will also use e-mail to communicate with the class at large. Students are responsible for making sure I have their correct email address. Please include PHYS171 in the subject line of your message.

Course web site: Class notes, homework assignments, and homework, quiz, and exam solutions will all be posted at the course web site,

Homework:   Assigned weekly usally on Friday and usually due the following Friday at the beginning of class. Late homework accepted only under dire circumstances. If you know it will be impossible to turn in an assignment on time you must discuss this with me in advance of the due date. Medical reasons accepted only with a doctors's note. You are encouraged to discuss the homework with others, but what you finally hand in should be your own work. Please make sure you include your name and the homework and course numbers and staple the pages together.Homework sets must show reasoning leading to the final answers in a clear and readable fashion to obtain credit.

Quizzes:  Each Friday at the beginning of class there will be a quiz, based on one of the sample problems in that week's reading assignment unless otherwise noted.

Exams:   Three mid-terms and a final. The final isprobablyTuesday May 22, 1:30-3:30pm.Notes, books and calculators will not be used in the exams. Absence from exams will be excused only under dire circumstances. If you know it will be impossible to attend and exam you must discuss this with me in advance of the exam.Medical reasons accepted only with a doctor's note. A missed exam with legitimate excuse might be replaced by an oral exam.

Early warning grades: Available by March 14.

Course grade: Based  on the homework, quizzes,  and exams. The lowest two homework scores will be dropped. The relative weights will be adjusted to maximize the total, with the homework in the range 25 +/- 10%, quizzes in the range 5 +/- 2%, each of the three midterms in the range 15 +/- 6%,  and the final exam in the range 25 +/- 10%. The letter grades will likely correspond roughly to the following ranges of percentage points, though these will be adjusted as seems fit: A (100 - 89), B (88 - 77), C (76 - 60), D (59 - 43), F (43 - 0).

Tips for doing well:

Suggested study plan: Begin by reading over the assigned problems for each chapter.› Then look through the figures, tables and sample problems in the chapter.› This will give you an idea of the material is organized and help you focus as you read the chapter.› Then read through the chapter, keeping in mind the questions that have been assigned for homework.› Work through the example problems carefully.› At the end of each section, see if you can do the assigned problems that correspond to that section.› Mark down questions if you get stuck and ask questions in class.› Don't wait until the night before the homework is due to begin working the problems!!› (You'll also get a lot more out of the study sessions if you've looked at the problems before you walk in the door.)

Challenges: If the standard course material is too elementary for you, let me know.  I will be glad to provide you with a challenging, interesting learning experience.

Academic honesty: For any questions about academic honesty, see› University policies at:

Assignments and class notes:

Listed in reverse chronological order. Q are "Questions" and P are "Problems" in RHK.

Week 1:
  • Reading: Ch. 1 and Ch. 2
  • Problems: Due at beginning of class,  Monday,Feb. 5.