Kinematics, Newton's laws and their applications to equilibrium and dynamics; special relativity.
Mechanics is about motion, which is fundamental in physics, and this course
provides an introduction to understanding motion. Mechanics can be separated
into two aspects, kinematics (the mathematical description of motion) and
dynamics (which explains the detailed causes of motion, and quantifies their
effects). Newtonian mechanics is an extremely successful theory for describing
and explaining many phenomena in our every-day experience. Using Newtonian
mechanics, we have been able to construct bridges, towers, homes, tall
buildings, machines, and so on, and they work beautifully as expected.
Airplanes, trains, cars, and even spacecraft all work well, and arrive at
planned destinations, in accord with Newtonian mechanics.
Understanding the inner workings of electronic devices (such as computers,
smart phones, etc.), lasers, solar cells, the interiors of molecules, atoms,
and atomic nuclei, energy production in the sun and stars, and all manner of
other exotic phenomena, requires more: electromagnetic theory, thermodynamics,
and the kind of deeper understanding of mechanics that only
became known in the 20th century: quantum mechanics. These topics are covered in
other Physics courses, but the skillset developed in this Introductory
Mechanics course will be directly transferable. Not only the
Newtonian mechanics is an excellent theory for the macroscopic world, it forms
the foundation of all other topics in Physics.
For objects that travel relatively slowly, such as baseballs, humans, and
rocketships, Newtonian mechanics provides an excellent description. For objects
that travel extremely fast, at a significant fraction of the speed of light,
an extended theory of mechanics is necessary for an adequate description and
explanation: relativistic mechanics (the special theory of relativity).
We'll provide a very brief introduction to relativity in this course, but
for a proper introduction to relativity, and for other more advanced topics,
you'll have to stick around for second-year physics and beyond.
What do I need to bring into the course?
This course is suitable for students with a high school science background. High school calculus or Physics are not required, but strong skills in elementary algebra, geometry, and trigonometry are necessary: the course is quantitative in nature. A good scientific calculator is required.
Our textbook is College Physics, second edition, by Urone, Hinrichs,
Dirks, and Sharma, published by OpenStax (Rice University). The book, a
solution manual, and other student
resources are available at https://openstax.org/details/college-physics.
a set of online resources organized as a full-scale Physics and Mathematics textbook.
There are two types of resources: in the left column there are FLAP (Flexible
Learning Approach to Physics), while on the right are supplementary self-assessment
modules. Think of the left-hand column as of the chapters of a complete
textbook, and of the right-hand column as of tutorials on a selection of
Supplementary (paper) texts
Some people like to have secondary sources to read in case they have
difficulty understanding the primary textbook in some places. This is not
required, but if you would like a secondary source, borrow one from a library,
or buy an inexpensive used algebra-based textbook from your favourite used
bookstore or internet source. Look for titles such as Physics or
College Physics. If your major subject is Physics or a related field,
and you would like a more advanced (say, calculus-based) textbook for
reference, look for titles that include "for Scientists and Engineers."
Weekly homework is assigned and graded through WeBWorK online testing system. Repeated attempts are possible, as the problems are randomly selected and modified. A mixture of qualitative and numerical problems.
11 tests, conducted during the Thursday time slot, in DHOWES for PHYS 1P21 or THSOS for PHYS 1P91. The problems are similar to those practiced in WeBWorK, solved by hand on paper.
You must pass the final exam (50% or more) in order to pass the course.
Both attending the lab and submitting a written lab report is required to complete a lab. All labs must be completed to obtain a final mark in the course.
Academic misconduct is a serious offence. The principle of academic
integrity, particularly of doing one’s own work, documenting properly
(including use of quotation marks, appropriate paraphrasing and
referencing/citation), collaborating appropriately, and avoiding
misrepresentation, is a core principle in university study. Students should
consult “Academic Misconduct” section in the Undergraduate
Calendar to view a fuller description of prohibited actions, and the procedures
and penalties. The University takes academic misconduct extremely seriously
and will follow its strict procedures to the letter in all cases.
helpful website explains Brock's Academic Integrity
Policy. Please consult it, as all students are expected to know and abide
by its provisions.
attend each test, with only a non-graphics calculator and writing instruments. Don't bring your formula sheet, as we'll give you one;
attend labs (PHYS 1P91) having prepared in advance by reading relevant parts of the lab manual, and having completed the prelab problems.
And most important of all, you must take responsibility for your own learning.
The lectures are there to guide you and assist you, but only you can actually do
the hard work of learning the course material. To get the most out of the
course, work on it a little bit every day. Daily work is key for placing your
learning in long-term memory, where it will be readily available to help you to
advance your knowledge in second year and beyond - and acing the final exam, of
course. Cramming on the night before may place the material in your short-term
memory and you might even do fine on a weekly test, where the amount of new
material is relatively small, but this approach will fail miserably on the
Your instructor will provide weekly textbook chapter references; read
through those section. The best way is to read them twice: once before the
lectures, just to orient yourself in the material, to identify those parts that
seem like they might need extra time and attention. Make a note of the questions that
arise in your mind. The lecture should answer some of them, and if it does not,
raise your hand and ask! It is likely that many others have the same
question. After the lecture, read the textbook again, with a pen and paper in
hand, repeating all derivations on your own, trying every solved example before
looking at the solution, then solving every follow-up questions at the end of
the section. Only one half of them have answers; you must learn to
have enough confidence in your skills to solve even those problems
where the answer is not known in advance. The odd-numbered problems will allow
your to make sure, and the even-numbered ones will allow you to test yourself.
Both are integral to the learning process.
Use your time effectively. Study smart, instead of hard.
Ask questions in class. Your instructor has an open-door
policy, so outside of a few restricted hours, you are always welcome to come
and ask a question one-on-one. Do not wait until you have a "worthy" pageful of questions -
that's too long to let them fester unanswered. There is also a Physics Help Desk,
with TAs available to help out. Find out where and when it is held, and come often.
It is better to come three times with one or two questions than once with a list
accumulated over the past several weeks, when things get too desperate. Asking
questions is a sign of active learning, not a sign of weakness.
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