PHYS 131(F) Particles and Waves (Q)

We focus first on the Newtonian mechanics of point particles: the relationship between velocity, acceleration, and position; the puzzle of circular motion; forces; Newton's laws; energy and momentum; and gravitation. The historical context in which these ideas developed will be discussed. We then turn to the basic properties of waves, such as interference and polarization, with emphasis on light waves. Finally, we bring the two strands together with a brief discussion of the wave-particle duality of modern quantum mechanics. This course is intended for students who have not studied physics before or who have had some physics, but are not comfortable solving "word problems" that require calculus. (Students with strong backgrounds in the sciences are encouraged to consider taking Physics 141 instead.) Physics 131 can lead to either Physics 132 (for students wanting a one-year survey of physics) or Physics 142 (for students considering a physics or astrophysics major). Format: lecture, three hours per week; laboratory, three hours every other week. Evaluation will be based on weekly problem sets, hour tests, labs, and a final exam, all of which have a substantial quantitative component. Prerequisites: Mathematics 103. No enrollment limit (expected: 60).