PHYS 1210/1310 – Mechanics and Mechanical Waves

Spring 2014

Instructor Information:

Instructor: Michael Brotherton

Phone: 307-399-9524 E-mail:

Office: PS 217 Office Hours: 1:30-3pm MW or appt

Classroom: CR 314 Class Times: 12:00-12:50 MWF

Text: Sears & Zemansky‟s University Physics, 13th edition by Young & Freedman (older editions may vary substantially! Also, be warned that second hand books often come with expired homework key) for Mastering Physics. Read the chapters as noted on the class schedule at the end of the syllabus.

MasteringPhysics (homework): use picture link for 13th ed and choose University of Wyoming and select class MSB14Phys1210

Note that there is a homework #0 due this week (Tuesday evening 11pm, our usual weekly deadline) with bonus credit available. It will help you learn to use the masteringphysics system.

Lab Manual: Available at the book store. Author: Rudi Michalak. Make sure you get the

Phys 1210 manual and not the Phys 1220 one. There is a pre-lab to attend the first week. (Course Packet: We do not use the optional problem compilation. )


You will find lecture slides and other course-related information on my website

Check regularly for updates.

Polleverywhere: Traditionally, we use instant feedback hardware in our courses. Polleverywhere can be accessed via texting and labtop. Students who do have access to neither shall inform the instructor via email by the end of week 1.

To register your cell phone or laptop:

In the lecture (assuming you're registered):

If you are using a cell phone, you will have to text 217569 to 22333 at the start of each

lecture to initialize the session and play along .

If you are using a laptop, you must be logged in to your account so that I can track your responses by your name and/or email .

Standard text messaging rates may apply.

Course Content and Course Pre-Requisites:

This course is an introduction to the physical phenomenon of gravity and the field of mechanics. We will approach the material from theoretical and applied angles. Mechanics builds the foundation of classical physics. We will deal with the so-called Newtonian Mechanics and will concentrate on an understanding of the concepts of force and energy as cornerstones of the theory, and we will formulate the principles of Newton‟s Laws, Energy Conservation, Momentum Conservation, and Angular Momentum Conservation. These do all apply, too, in a bigger context than just Mechanics of Classical Physics, but their foundation lies in this field. We will then extend our understanding of Newtonian Mechanics to periodic motion and wave motion (Wave Mechanics). Time permitting, other specialized topics will be added (see tentative schedule at the end of the syllabus).

A working knowledge of calculus is required. Calculus I is a pre-requisite for this course! Calculus II is a co-requisite! Note, that the systematic of the science of physics does not follow the systematics of mathematics! We will have to use concepts like differentiation, integration, and vectors from week one on. Also, good success in this course is unlikely without a solid grasp of algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. All of the following information is tentative and I reserve the right to change any of it as seems

necessary to keep the class average on course. If such changes are made, they will be announced at lecture in class. It is your responsibility to keep yourself informed about any such changes.


Our course consists of a large amount of information and a complex logical network of reasoned argument. Perhaps unlike in some engineering classes, we DO place some focus on where equations come from and derive them. Perhaps unlike in some math classes, we pursue a much more applied angle and, when we focus on modeling, we place less emphasis on rigor and more on physical intuition. I have arranged the content into five major sections: Kinematics – the study of motion, Dynamics – the

study of the causes of change of motion, Laws of Conservation – how to build equations for solving problems, Rotational Motion- ibid., Special Cases - Law of Gravity & Periodic Motion and Mechanical Waves, etc.

Some technical notes:

The lecture will in part be presented in power point and in part on the white board. Demonstrations, videos, and web-applets may be used wherever helpful and when it fits into the time schedule. They can help to illustrate complex or new phenomena or principles. You need to write down the information on the white board as your lecture notes, or it will be lost. You are expected to take notes about videos and demonstrations. The content of both may be part of exam questions. From time to time, I may employ group work techniques during lecture. Our department‟s record has shown that the use of modern teaching techniques deepens understanding and reliably improves the outcome on standardized tes ts.

There will be brief quizzes at the start of class on Fridays to test concepts and problem-solving approaches presented earlier in the week.

Discussion Sessions and Laboratory

Participation in labs and discussion is mandatory. Both are integrated with the lecture but are less formal in character than in a regular lecture course. The idea is to apply

learned material right away and to get a better retention and understanding in turn.

Each lab consists of a pre-lab, a main lab, and a post-lab. The post-lab reports are due one week later and will be graded and handed back in the week after that. The pre-labs have the character of predictions and are not graded but must be handed in. Your TA may have their own syllabus and expectations, so listen to them.

Like labs, we have discussions beginning the first week of classes. We do not have them during week 2 due to the holiday.

There is also an SI available to you. She is named Mika and will hold help sessions on Mondays at 5pm in PS 234 (with the exception of week 2, when it will be Tuesday in PS 231).


Reserve Thursday evening 5-7pm for exams; there are no conflicts with calculus exams on Thursday evenings since the two departments have arranged to give exams on different weeks of the semester. We have two exams (chapters 1-5, chapters 1-10) during the semester and a cumulative final.

Exams are closed book and closed notes. I will provide you, however, with the formula sheet taken from the Phys 1210 master formulas in the lab manual. The use of any electronic equipment is not permitted during the exam. This includes calculators.

If you have a university excuse or other acceptable reason to ask for a makeup exam I will fairly consider that request. It should be sent to me by email as early as possible, preferably not later than three days before an exam.


We use the Mastering Physics online homework system (see course webpage). The online homework must be submitted by each student individually but you are allowed to work together on the solution method as long as everyone contributes an equal share and contributes to all problems. You will find that, if you try to take a free ride on these, you will fail the exams by a wide margin. Homework is designed to help you learn the material and get good grades.

The deadline for each homework is indicated in the tentative schedule below but is subject to change as announced during lecture. Be advised not to work last minute on the online submissions. The system tends to be busy at times and the internet connection could be down. It is your responsibility to work and submit before the deadline. I set the online hw system up to accept post deadline submissions for a set grade penalty. The system will close for late submission at the last day of classes.

The MP syntax requires some experience. I provide a no penalty training hw. Some problems in it can earn you a small bonus. It also gives you opportunity to learn the language syntax to avoid grade penalties in the actual homework.

A short list of common sources of grade loss in MP:

- Wrong spacer between multiple entries

- Wrong rounding of final or intermediate results

- Multiple attempts used up for the same wrong answer (note also: MP has a 2% answer tolerance criterion for grading)

- Student fails to press the final “submit‟ button of a problem

Some problems have hint boxes. Using hint boxes is not causing any penalty, even if you enter wrong answers into answer boxes. On the other hand, you can earn partial credit for a problem in a hint box. You find further information here:

An instruction video:

FAQ page :

PC requirements :

General info :

Grading Standards:

The grading scheme will be: A = 90+, B= 80-90, C = 70-80, D= 60-70, F < 60. I tend to round up, and I reserve the right to curve final grades in your favor.

Exams: 3 (60%)

Homework: 11 online, no grade skipped (15%)

Labs: 11, no grade skipped (20%)

Quizes: 11ish, one skipped (5%)

There will be a few small bonus opportunities based on extra homework opportunities, discussion performance, and perhaps others. These will be announced during the semester as they come up. I reserve the right to curve grades up, but I don't plan to.

Attendance/Participation Policy:

University sponsored absences are cleared through the Office of Student Life. This is a class with active student participation and normal attendance is expected. Please inform the instructor about any absences in advance whenever possible in order to make arrangements to keep up with course activities. It is a fact that students who attend regularly usually get better grades.

Academic Honesty:

The University of Wyoming is built upon a strong foundation of integrity, respect and trust. All members of the university community have a responsibility to be honest and the right to expect honesty from others. Any form of academic dishonesty is unacceptable to our community and will not be tolerated [from the UW General Bulletin]. Teachers and students should report suspected violations of standards of academic honesty to the instructor, department head, or dean. Other University regulations can be found at: )

Moreover, I would like to make it clear that success in science and engineering is based on one's integrity and reputation. Without those, a career is impossible. In engineering, dishonesty can even cost lives. If in doubt about the ethics of something, ask!

In short, please don't cheat.

Disability Statement:

If you have a physical, learning, or psychological disability and require accommodations, please let the instructor know as soon as possible. You must register with, and provide documentation of your disability to University Disability Support Services (UDSS) in SEO, room 330 Knight Hall.)

Additional help

See me or your TA when you need help during office hours or by appointment. Also keep in mind Mika's sessions on Mondays at 5pm in PS234. We want to help you succeed! We also have another resource available. "Physics at Night" help sessions will be held six hours each week in Physics 234, Monday and Wednesday evenings from 7-9pm, and Tuesday from 5-7pm.

Success in Physics I:

I will add some links to the course website, but here are some good ideas:

  1. Do the reading – really! Not necessarily everything will be covered in lecture, which is reserved for the tougher concepts usually

  2. Attend all lectures, discussions, and labs when possible

  3. If you do miss something, be responsible and find out what

  4. Pay attention in class

  5. Work outside of class in addition to the homework and the reading. That is not enough for many students, and it is expected. I worked 2-3 hours outside of class for every hour of lecture when I was taking undergrad physics courses.

  6. Communicate with me and/or your TA if you have any difficulties

  7. Work individually and in groups. Your peers can help explain things that perhaps weren't clear from the book or lecture or discussion. Don't depend on them for everything, however.

  8. Practice working problems! Practice makes perfect!

About Me

While I have a PhD in astronomy (from Texas) and my research specialty is supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies, astronomy is based on physics. My undergraduate degrees are in both Physics and in Electrical engineering (Rice). I understand engineers, I like to think, so don't assume I won't. I'm also a science fiction writer and have professionally published short stories and novels (Star Dragon, Spider Star), which are usually very science-based and as accurate as I can make them. I like to use science fiction examples to illustrate physics, and I hope that will make the class more interesting for you, too.