Introduction to Physics - 1st year

A course in elementary physics, covers the basic concepts, principles and history of physics. Course topics will include selected topics in mechanics, heat, light, sound, electricity and magnetism, and modern physics.


By the end of the course, students will be able to:

1. Assess the role of science, and in particular, physics, in helping us to better understand the complex, technological society of which we are a part;

2. Trace the history of physics and the evolution of scientific thought from ancient to modern times;

3. Define and analyze the concepts of velocity, acceleration, force, inertia, mass, work, energy (kinetic, potential, etc.) momentum (linear and angular), gravity, tides, power, pressure, density, temperature, thermal expansion, heat, specific heat capacity, waves, sound, electric charge, current, magnetism, electromagnetic waves (including light), photons, and radioactivity;

4. Discuss the various types of motion, Newton's Laws (including his Universal Law of Gravitation), the conservation laws of physics, the laws of electricity (e.g. Coulomb's and Ohm's Laws) and magnetism. The properties of waves (viz. sound and electromagnetic, including light) and the basic principles of atomic and nuclear physics, relativity and quantum theory;

5. Solve a variety of basic problems in particle kinematics (uniform motion and accelerated motion including "free fall"), dynamics using Newton's Laws of Motion and the conservation laws of energy and momentum (e.g. collisions), fluid mechanics (including Archimedes' and Bernoulli's Principles), thermodynamics, wave motion, basic electricity (Coulomb's and Ohm's Laws), and radioactive decay;

6. Interpret the results of simple experiments and demonstrations of physical principles.


Course topics will include the following:

1. Mechanics

a. Speed and velocity
b. Acceleration
c. Simple types of motion
d. Force
e. Mass
f. Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion
g. Law of Universal Gravitation
h. Linear momentum
i. Law of Conservation of Momentum
j. Work
k. Energy
l. Law of Conservation of Energy
m. Collisions
n. Power
o. Angular Momentum

2. Fluids

a. Pressure
b. Density
c. Archimedes’ Principle
d. Pascal’s Principle
e. Bernoulli’s Principle

3. Heat

a. Temperature
b. Thermal expansion
c. First Law of Thermodynamics
d. Heat transfer
e. Specific heat capacity
f. Phase transitions
g. Second Law of Thermodynamics

4. Waves and Sound

a. Types of waves
b. Reflection
c. Refraction
d. Doppler effect
e. Diffraction
f. Interference
g. Nature of sound
h. Propagation of sound

5. Electricity and Electromagnetism

a. Electric charge
b. Electric force and Coulomb’s Law
c. Electric current
d. Resistance
e. Electric circuits
f. Ohm’s Law
g. Power and energy in electric currents
h. AC and DC
i. Magnetism
j. Interactions between electricity and magnetism
k. Principles of Electromagnetism
l. Electromagnetic waves

6. Optics

a. Light waves
b. Reflection
c. Mirrors
d. Diffraction
e. Interference
f. Polarization
g. Refraction
h. Lenses and Images
i. Dispersion and Color

7. Atomic Physics

a. Blackbody radiation
b. Quantum hypothesis
b. Photoelectric effect and photons
c. Atomic spectra
d. Bohr model of the atom
e. Atomic structure

8. Nuclear Physics

a. The nucleus
b. Radioactivity
b. Alpha, beta, and gamma decay
c. Half-lives
d. Nuclear binding energy
e. Nuclear fission
f. Nuclear fusion

Method of Instruction:

1. Lecture

2. Discussion

3. Slide Presentations

Types of Assignments:

1. Reading assignments

2. Solving problems

3. Quizzes and exams

Sample Text:

1. Conceptual Physics, Paul Hewitt (New York: Addison-Wesley Publishers, 2002)